Press Release
September 10, 2020

Hontiveros backs Senate audit on BCDA operations amid questions on AFP remittances

Senator Risa Hontiveros today sought a Senate-led 'comprehensive audit' of the operations of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) use of its shares in BCDA's earnings over the years, amid questions on the remittances being made by the BCDA to fund the military's much-needed modernization program.

The senator filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 520, which calls for an investigation in aid of legislation on the AFP's use of its shares in proceeds derived by BCDA from the sale of military assets, "to ensure that vital national security interests are actually upheld."

"Ngayong patuloy ang banta ng terorismo at ang pang-gigipit ng China, kailangan natin siguraduhin na may sapat na pondo para sa modernisasyon ng ating sandatahang lakas. We need to conduct a comprehensive audit of the proceeds from BCDA's operations over the years, to determine whether the AFP has been receiving its rightful share of such proceeds to finance its modernization projects," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros' call came after General Gilbert Gapay, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the AFP, told lawmakers that the BCDA has failed to remit at least P13.2 billion from its earnings to the armed forces, as required by law. The Bases Conversion and Development Act (RA 7898) mandates the BCDA to remit 35 percent of proceeds from the sale of former military reservations to help finance the different projects under the multi-year AFP Modernization Program.

The BCDA however denied that it had failed to remit the PhP13.2 billion to the AFP, claiming that the amount was "parked" with the Bureau of Treasury, awaiting appropriation.

"The conflicting claims of these two agencies should be investigated and reconciled. Nasaan na ba talaga ang P13.2 billion na hinihingi ng AFP? Bakit hindi pa ito ginagamit para pondohan ang mga kailangan na barko, eroplano, weapon systems at ibang kagamitan?," Hontiveros said.

According to Hontiveros, government auditors in the past years have already flagged how the AFP has not been able to receive its share from earnings generated by the BCDA from the sale or disposition of military properties.

She pointed to a Commission on Audit (COA) Annual Audit Report in 2017, which found that the AFP had no share in the proceeds derived from BCDA operations in military camps outside Metro Manila, including the Clark Special Economic Zone, and recommended that legislation to correct this deficiency be enacted by Congress.

In another report, the COA also found that the AFP was left out and denied its share of earnings when the BCDA donated a property to the City of Taguig in 2008, which the city later leased to SM Prime Holdings Inc. for the development of a community and retail complex which now includes SM Aura.

"Despite the BCDA's claims of record remittances, the fact remains that there is still a whopping P300 billion worth of unfunded projects in the AFP Modernization Program which are yet to receive a single centavo from the BCDA. Hindi katanggap-tanggap ito," she said.

"Any shortage of funding for the AFP modernization program seriously threatens our ability to protect Filipinos from various threats, including terrorist attacks and aggression by foreign countries in our territorial waters. Ang bawat piso na hindi naibibigay sa modernisasyon ng AFP ay naglalagay sa buong bansa sa alanganin," Hontiveros concluded.

*Please see attached Senate Resolution No. 520 in pdf

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