Sen. Escudero pushes more troop deployments to UN peacekeeping missions

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 28, 2010-Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense is pushing for more deployments of police and military troops into various United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions to explore the potential of modernizing the nation’s defense forces.


The senator wanted to find ways to institutionalize the deployment of Philippine troops to peacekeeping missions abroad to maximize individual and national benefits from such operations.


“I am coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Government Procurement and Policy Board to move forward in this direction,” Sen. Escudero said, adding that he wants to actively pursue international commitments and to accrue benefits for the country, the soldiers and police.


Sen. Escudero furthered that the UN peacekeeping could become a viable source of modernizing our defense system if we are able to put in place proper funding and operational mechanisms into our participation to these missions.


The Philippines has been contributing its share of maintaining international peace and security as called for in the UN charter wherein the country’s troops and humanitarian personnel were first sent to the UN action in Korea in 1950 to 1953.


The country has a total of 1,025 peacekeepers posted in at least seven (7) UN missions overseas and has deployed two (2) Force Headquarters Security Units based on DFA records.


Sen. Escudero explained that the UN does not deploy its own army and military personnel as well as provide its own logistical and technical requirements. Member states voluntarily extend the manpower and technical needs.


He pointed out that we want the optimal force and equipment deployment. The country will stand to earn more if it deploys equipment-heavy units instead of infantry battalions to allow it to receive more reimbursements from the UN.


He said that the UN reimbursement and lease payments for pieces of equipment could self-liquidate to recover the investment made to purchase such technical requirements and at the same time stand to own the equipment to add to our arsenal.


The government should recognize our own constraints at the home front that we do not have sufficient equipment for our own internal forces. How do we meet the requirements stipulated by the UN, adding that he proposed a separate peacekeeping operation funds.


The funding should serve as seed money and should not be realigned for other purposes. We are currently making multi-agency projections so we can include this in the budget proposal for 2011.


With the lapse of Republic Act No. 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act the 15-year modernization program that was enacted in 1995, adding that under its funding provision, only around 10 percent had been released out of the total initial appropriation of P331 billion over the 15-year implementation period due to lack of money should be proposed. (Jason de Asis)