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Higher AFP Reserve Force budget needed

FORT BONIFACIO, TAGUIG CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command (AFP RESCOM) concludes its celebration of the 36th National Reservists Week at the national headquarters of the Philippine Army, 22 Sept. 2018. Senator Win Gatchalian, who served as the occasion’s guest of honor, is calling for a sizable and respectable budget for military reservists in 2019 citing that the full potential of the country’s reserve force remains untapped due to budgetary constraints. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Recognizing the role of military reservists in disaster response and nation-building, Senator Win Gatchalian has vowed to fight for an increase in the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Force (AFPRF).

Gatchalian commented during the Senate hearing on the budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) that the full potential of the country’s reserve force remains untapped due to budgetary constraints.

The senator said that the ₱14.1 million budget allocated to the AFPRF under the DND budget is not enough to provide training for the more than 700,000-strong reserve corps.

“Hopefully, we can allocate a sizable and respectable budget for our military reservists in 2019. ₱14 million is not sufficient to provide our reservists with adequate training and, I understand, that lots of our reservists spend their own money just to get trained,” said Gatchalian, who was conferred with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Philippine Army Reserve Force last month.

Data provided by the DND show that there are a total of 741,937 AFP reservists. 93,062 of these comprise the Ready Reserve Force Unit, which is made up of able-bodied personnel between 18 and 35 years of age who have undergone military training, while another 20,451 are part of the Affiliated Reserve Unit.

Both units may be activated at any time to augment the manpower strength of the full-time AFP units, not only in times of war or national emergency but also to meet local emergencies arising from calamities, disasters, and threats to peace, order, security, and stability in any locality.

The remaining 628,424 reservists belong to the Standby Reserve Unit, which is mobilized only in times of national emergency or war.

The lawmaker pointed out that the government may always activate the country’s reserve forces in times of calamity, citing the recent onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.

Ompong, which was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines so far this year, affected 800,000 people across 7 regions and resulted in 74 fatalities.

With this in mind, Gatchalian quizzed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana about his vision for the country’s reserve force. Thus, the senator requested the DND to submit to the Senate Committee on Finance its long-term vision for the reserve force, as well as the budget required to achieve this goal starting next year.

“I believe that we should maintain and develop the AFP Reserve Force to help our country respond to the disastrous effects of natural calamities caused by climate change. We need more boots on the ground,” the senator said.