Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday shrugged off reports that China was boosting its military spending by more than 11 percent this year, calling this a “sovereign right” of the nation with a booming economy.
“We are impressed with the economic growth of China and we praise them as this growth is no doubt benefiting the Philippines as well,” he said in a statement.
But “with an expanded economy and military,” Del Rosario said, “we are relying on China to fully utilize its vast global influence in a more responsible way, especially in terms of promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the region.”
Last week, Del Rosario told a media forum the Philippines had “committed ourselves to improve our national defense by building a minimum credible defense posture to protect out national sovereignty.”
Given the country’s lack of resources, he said “it behooves us to proactively seek the assistance and cooperation of our various international partners to achieve this minimum credible defense posture, which is a fundamental attribute of any sovereign country.”
Increased US aid
Del Rosario said Manila would receive from Washington this year at least $144.66 million in defense aid, an increase of $21.4 million over the previous year’s assistance.
“We also acquired a Hamilton-class cutter from the United States last year and are expecting the delivery of a second cutter this year. Negotiations are likewise underway for more defense articles, including newer air assets for the Philippine Air Force,” he said.
US Deputy Chief of Mission Leslie Bassett said on Sunday that the United States was looking for ways to improve military engagement with the Philippines.
“We are not talking about anything beyond what we’ve already got in the terms of agreement. What we’re looking at is whether the Philippines might be interested in changing our military engagement, making it a little bit more profound, shifting its emphasis a little,” Bassett said at the close of a three-day road show “America in 3D” that includes planting mangroves and painting schools.
But he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the conversations were “very preliminary” and that the Philippines had “complete sovereignty and the complete decisions to decide what it does and doesn’t want to do.”
The Philipine Air Force (PAF) on Monday said it expected to acquire aircraft and assets for territorial defense in the remaining four years of the Aquino administration.
According to the PAF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Okol, the first phase of their upgrade program dubbed “Back to Basics” is nearly completed.
From this year up to 2016, the PAF will move to the second phase dubbed “Horizon 2” that targets air assets apt for defense against external threats.
On Friday, the PAF will formally accept four of eight new “Sokol” multipurpose combat utility helicopters ordered from PZL-Swidnik in Poland for P2.8 billion.
Four more helicopters are expected to be delivered in the last quarter of the year.
The first phase targets to acquire assets meant for internal security operations, including eight combat utility helicopters, seven attack helicopters, one C-130 cargo aircraft, a long-range patrol aircraft and 18 basic trainer aircraft.
The second phase or “Horizon 2” will take place in the 2012 to 2016 time frame, according to Okol.
“For Horizon 2, PAF expects the delivery of territorial defense assets such as surface attack aircraft, lead-in fighter jet trainers, long range patrol aircraft, air defense radar and a special mission aircraft, which will greatly boost the country’s defense stance against external threats,” he said.
The new Sokol helicopters, which will replace the PAF’s Vietnam War-vintage UH-1H “Huey” utility helicopters, will greatly boost the PAF’s search and rescue, medical evacuation and combat utility missions since the choppers are reliable in all weather conditions. With a report from Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas
Originally posted: 2:37 pm | Monday, March 5th, 2012