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PH eyes Russia’s, China’s help to boost defenses

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 04:21 AM November 21, 2016
Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping

President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping greet each during a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Lima, Peru on November 19. REY BANIQUET/ Presidential Photo

The Philippines plans to beef up its defense capabilities with the help of countries like Russia and China, as it seeks to establish industrial defense complexes in areas considered highly “vulnerable to attacks.”

These complexes, which will house defense-related manufacturing firms, are targeted to be put up in places like Palawan, since it faces the Spratlys and Zambales, because of the Scarborough Shoal, said Charito B. Plaza, director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza).

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“We have military reservations that can be utilized as defense industrial complexes depending on the studies to be undertaken by the Department of National Defense (DND). I suggested that we should put up these defense industrial complexes in vulnerable areas of attacks like Palawan and Zambales,” Plaza said.

 ‘Window shopping’

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She also suggested that two defense industrial complexes be put up in Mindanao. “This is not just about the transfer of technology. We will also be able to modernize our armed forces and the police.”

Plaza explained that Peza had begun “window shopping” for prospective locators from Russia, China, Israel and other countries that have sophisticated defense industries.

The target is to have locators from these countries to manufacture drones, equipment as well as the hardware and software needed by the military and police both for export and local use.

Peza started to scout for possible locators during a military exhibit in Qatar, which saw the participation of 86 countries that have defense industries, according to Plaza.

She said many of them had expressed interest in joining the country’s defense industrial complexes.

“It will be mainly for export. But we will come up with an agreement wherein instead of these companies leasing the land, they can pay in terms of equipment so we will be able to modernize (our defense capabilities). For example, within how many years, these companies should be able to deliver a squadron of military aircraft, or fleet of ships for the Navy,” the Peza director general said.

First complex in Bataan

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The first of these complexes is expected to be put up in Bataan.

“We have in Bataan an existing arsenal owned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the DND. It will be the first defense industrial complex that the DND and Peza will be partnering for,” Plaza said.

She said Peza was inviting locators to the Bataan complex. “We’re in a hurry to do this. The advantage of the Philippines is that it is in a strategic location economically, politically and military-wise, and so, all these countries we’re looking at, the superpowers, are looking to establish their presence in the Philippines,” the Peza chief said.

Plaza said she had shared her plans to set up this new type of ecozones to President Duterte, who was reportedly “excited that we will have our own defense industrial complex so we can modernize and equip our military and the police.”

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