AFP: Higher budget for Cafgu allowance, not recruitment

 

THE Army said on Sunday that the increase in the budget of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) under the 2016 national budget is due to the higher daily subsistence allowance of the military and not because of new Cafgu recruitment.

The clarification was made by Army Spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao in response to a statement from one of the members of the House of Representatives who said “there can be no justification for the Cafgu budget increase to P3.4B in 2016.”

Hao said the subsistence allowance of military personnel was increased from P90 to P150 per day. The increase took effect in mid-2014, but was fully implemented this year.

“Just like the regular soldiers, Cafgu members also now receive P150 subsistence allowance daily, or a total of P4,500 or P4,650 per month. This is the main reason for the increase of the Cafgu budget in 2016,” he said.

“Since this is the only monetary entitlement the Cafgu receive, their deployment and utilization are done in a manner that their livelihood activities are not impaired.”

In order to ensure the welfare of Cafgus, the Army facilitates special benefits for them, including individual clothing and individual equipment, scholarship for dependents; maintenance of Cafgu bases; Philippine Health Insurance Corp. benefit; and insurance benefits.

The Army said it was also putting on hold the recruitment of Cafgu members this year in compliance with the provisions of the General Appropriations Act Fiscal Year 2015 (GAA FY 2015).

Section 3 of the General Provisions of GAA FY 2015 provided “No new Cafgus shall be recruited for training and the corresponding costs attendant to the training of existing Cafgus shall be gradually scaled down in anticipation of its planned demobilization as a result of the implementation of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.”

As of August this year, there were 53,004 Cafgu members deployed to the 14 battalions of the Philippine Army which administer the Cafgu units. The Cafgu strength at the start of 2015 was around 56,000.

The average monthly loss of Cafgu members nationwide in the Army roster is 400. This is due to deaths, voluntary termination of service and administrative cases.

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Rene P. Acosta covers defense, law enforcement and national security for the paper. He had written for a number of publications, including abroad before he joined BusinessMirror. His works had appeared in the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Asia Pacific Defense Forum, both in the US. He took up regional security with the International Visitor Leadership Program, US. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines which he had headed in 2009.

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