The importance of territorial defense capability was thrust into public consciousness in February 1995 when the AFP published photographs of Chinese structures on Mischief Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group. Philippine territory had been annexed.
Congressional response was swift. Within the same month Congress passed Republic Act 7917 which amended the Bases Conversion Development Act to devote 35% of the proceeds of the sale of redundant military installations to the AFP to allow it to improve its capabilities.
Later in February, the legislature passed Republic Act 7898, The AFP Modernization Act. The law sought to modernize the AFP over a 15-year period, with minimum appropriation of P10B per year for the first five years, subject to increase in subsequent years of the program. The modernization fund was to be separate and distinct from the rest of the AFP budget.
The AFP, for its part, put forth a two-part modernization plan that supposed to have borne fruit by 2010. The following table was taken from a publicly available thesis, written by LTC Thomas Sedano completed in 2007 at Fort Leavenworth Kansas. The thesis, in turn, used a publicly available archive of a 20-year old game plan that’s been in the public domain for years.
In support of the program, Congress passed Joint Resolution 28 on December 16, 1996. The resolution approved the two-part modernization program proposed by the DND-AFP, and allocated 164,553.000,000 for Sub-program I. Although the resolution was silent about Sub-program II, the implication was that funding would be at a similar level if not higher.
It appeared that the AFP was finally going to get its due. But it was not to be.
In 1997, merely a few months after JR 28 passed, the Asian Financial Crisis struck the region. As part of austerity measures meant to shore-up the country’s efforts to ride out the the storm, JR28 was reversed, and the amount was never re-allocated.