Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Former finance sec, private sector move to save the PH navy

By Donna Z Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Prominent figures in politics, business and civil society, led by former Finance Secretary Jesus Estanislao, have taken up the cudgels for the Philippine Navy by leading a fund-raising and support drive.

They have taken it upon themselves to organize a foundation that seeks to marshal support and resources from the private sector to support the Navy’s modernization and capability-building programs.

They would serve as the founding board of trustees of the “Support Your Navy Foundation”, which was formally launched Tuesday during the Navy’s 113rd anniversary rites.

The multi-sectoral group, however, has served as board of advisers to the Navy since last year.

“We accepted the invitation of the Flag Officer in Command (Vice Admiral Alexander Pama) to serve as board of advisers to save the Navy because we wanted to bring down the many walls keeping the various sectors of society apart,” Estanislao told Navy officers and personnel during the anniversary program.

“We decided to take the lead … We want to say that our Philippine Navy can not do it alone. Our Navy needs the support of all sectors,” added Estanislao, who is chairman of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia.

In his own speech, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin did not mince words as he described the Navy’s state as “truly deplorable” since it has no modern ships and vessels, and hardly any aircraft. The Navy is still using 65-year-old warships from World War II.

“We have thus solicited the support of our stakeholders through the representation of the members of the Navy board of advisers, like-minded professionals who believe in the advocacies of the Navy,” Pama said during the anniversary.

He said the board of advisers has “voluntarily champion(ed) such well-meaning cause through their wise counsel and sound advice on the Navy’s strategic concerns.”

Estanislao said the Support your Navy Foundation would serve as a “major bridge” between the Navy and the private sector to achieve the Navy Sail Plan goal of becoming a “strong and credible Navy” by 2020.

“We believe that together we can become a great maritime nation. We hope we can contribute to a strong Navy,” he said.

The other members of the foundation’s board of trustees are former senator Leticia Shahani; Development Bank of the Philippines president Francisco Del Rosario; Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos; National Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director General Margarita Songco; newspaper columnist Jarius Bondoc, former defense undersecretary and Asia Pacific Security Forum president Rodel Cruz; retired vice admiral Eduardo Santos; Asian Architects co-managing partner Miguel Guerrero; University of the Philippines professor Aileen Baviera; lawyer Antonio Oposa; and Doris Magsaysay-Ho of the Magsaysay Group of Companies.

Pama and Capt. Augustus Iglesia who is director of the Naval Resource Management Office, will serve as ex-officio trustees.

Capt. Giovanni Bacordo, director of the Center for Naval Leadership and Excellence, said the foundation would help fund Navy programs since seventy per cent of their budget goes to personnel salaries, while the rest goes to maintenance and operating expenses so there is hardly left for capital outlay.

“Through this foundation, we will no longer be one hundred per cent dependent on the GAA (General Appropriations Act) for the things we need,” he said.

Bacordo said donations to be raised by the foundation may include equipment upgrades, scholarships for Navy personnel, housing facilities and other morale and welfare programs.

He said the foundation would be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in June or July.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said through the foundation, well-meaning private groups and individuals could actively participate in the Navy’s programs.


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