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Ochoa says reforms in AFP ongoing

Press Release
February 9, 2011

MALACAÑANG  –  Reforms in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are underway to institutionalize the much-needed improvement and transformation of the military, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday said.

Ochoa said the reforms were in line with the Aquino Administration’s determination to address the problems and issues raised in the Armed Forces.

“We know that we really need to make some improvements and reforms and we’re doing that. I have talked to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and asked him to line up actual and detailed reforms that we’re trying to institute now,” Ochoa said.

“My only appeal is for people not to drag everybody in the AFP or the entire institution into any of these (controversies). This is the more important thing,” he added.

The Executive Secretary explained that when Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin took office in July 2010, steps to tighten budget spending, process of procuring supplies and equipment, and internal controls were implemented.

These efforts are intended to ensure that transactions are transparent and that the AFP coffers will be safe from abuse and misuse, Ochoa said.

One of the key changes is the strict enforcement of the provisions of the Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 97-2002: Reinstatement with Amendments of the Rules and Regulations on the Granting, Utilization and Liquidation of Cash Advances Provided under COA No. 90-331 to address the “conversion” of the AFP funds.

In line with this, the administration has designated special disbursement officers (SDOs) whose task is to attend to the financial requirements of the Department National Defense (DND) agencies and AFP units through the cash advance system.

The administration also has strengthened the internal control systems in all agencies and units under the AFP and DND by conducting a pre-audit on all procurement activities.

This process eliminates ghost deliveries of goods and services and complements the post-audit operations to be performed by resident COA auditors assigned to all procuring units of the AFP and DND.

At the same time, a memorandum of agreement forged by the DND Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) with the Coalition Against Corruption expanded the group’s representation to the committee proceedings.

Aside from representatives from the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development and the Makati Business Club, three members of the Defense Press Corps will sit as observers in the BAC deliberations.