WE refer to the July 3 column of Juan L. Mercado, particularly, to his comments on the AFP Modernization Fund.
This is not the first time that he raised a question on the fund. In his Jan. 6, 2005 column, Mercado wrote: ?Under President Fidel V. Ramos, the Armed Forces Modernization Fund disappeared without a trace, leaving soldiers with worn-out boots, shoddy uniforms and tin helmets.? We promptly responded with a letter to the editor dated Jan. 7, 2005, to correct this absolutely wrong statement. Unfortunately, we were not given the space and opportunity to present our side. Even more unfortunate was the fact that Mercado, to whom a copy of the letter was sent, simply ignored what we said.
Mercado is now repeating the same old story and, this time, he is looking for the ?P54 billion, or more than $1 billion? AFP Modernization Fund.
Since the total purchase price of the Fort Bonifacio Property paid to BCDA by the buyer?Bonifacio Land Corp., is only P30.359 billion, the 35 percent share of the AFP Modernization Fund (computed on the net proceeds, after deducting the items specified by the law) could not have, by any equation amounted to P54 billion!
The first letter we sent to the Inquirer and Mercado cited the Bureau of Treasury document which clearly showed that the AFP Modernization Fund in the amount of P5.484 billion went into a special account of the Bureau of Treasury. The same letter also cited the Feliciano Commission Report which confirmed that the Special Account for the AFP Modernization Fund in the National Treasury remained intact at the end of the Ramos administration.
Indeed, the Ramos administration did not purchase military equipment under the AFP Modernization Program because the Trust Fund (which was mandated by law to manage the AFP Modernization Fund) became ready and operational only on April 30, 1998, barely two weeks before the national elections and two months prior to the assumption of office by a new president. Not wanting to embark on ?midnight purchases? and as prudence dictated, the handling of the fund was left to the incoming administration.
The Pew Foundation?s ?Statement of Shared Purpose,? which Mercado himself quoted in his April 29, 2010 Inquirer column, would be relevant and a timely reminder: ?Journalism?s essence is a discipline of verification. Seeking out multiple witnesses or asking various sides for comment signal such standards. This discipline separates journalism from propaganda, entertainment, etc. Journalism must develop a system for testing the reliability of journalistic interpretation xxx. The source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform.?
spokesman of former
President Fidel V. Ramos