Marcos admin keen on PH developing own defense industry–Zubiri | Global News

Marcos admin keen on PH developing own defense industry–Zubiri

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:50 AM August 08, 2023

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri pushed the Philippines and Japan to start exploratory discussions on crafting a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). japan pact US partnership military

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri. Senate PRIB file photo

President Marcos has become “very keen” on developing a homegrown defense industry as part of the government’s efforts to improve the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to defend the country given the repeated incursions by China on Philippine territory.

“Amid growing national concern over our sovereignty, it is very timely that we now consider the merits of revitalizing our self-reliant defense posture program and building a local defense industry that would supply the needs of our (military),” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Monday at the hearing of the Senate national defense committee.


“While we value our defense cooperation with our foreign allies, we cannot afford to rely on them entirely,” he said.


The country’s “overreliance” on its foreign military allies would only leave the Philippines “on the back foot—always waiting and always dependent on what they will supply us with,” he added.

According to Zubiri, he was able to discuss with the President the need to pass Senate Bill No. 315 during the meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

Zubiri filed SB 315 or the proposed Philippine Defense Industry Development Act (Pdida) in July 2022. It is pending at the committee level.

The bill intends to encourage businesses involved in the manufacturing of defense and military hardware to invest in the country by providing them with tax incentives. Among others, the proposed Pdida seeks to give preferential treatment to companies in the Philippines when it comes to the manufacturing of military equipment and armaments.

According to the bill, this will not just generate local employment but also reduce foreign exchange outflow to international defense suppliers.

Top importer

The Senate leader pointed out that the Philippines was among the top importers of defense equipment in Southeast Asia, spending a total of $338 million in 2021.


“We discussed this with the President and he is really very keen on coming up with our own defense industry,” Zubiri said.

“We must give priority to those who build their armaments here,” he stressed. “When you build a rifle here in the Philippines, as long as these Philippine-made rifles pass the stringent tests and requirements, they should be given priority (in the AFP’s procurement) because they were made here.”

Zubiri also underscored the need to exempt the AFP and other law enforcement units from the stringent rules on procurement and auditing to allow them to buy refurbished fighter jets and ships.

“I think we will not have a problem because we needed these equipment yesterday… We need to buy more ships, more frigates, more patrol boats and planes. We need to buy missile systems,” he said.

He disclosed that a European country has expressed its willingness to sell two squadrons of F16 fighter jets from the United States.

The fighter jets were only “slightly used” since these were commissioned less than 10 years ago.

“With all the spare parts and the training equipment, including the simulators, (they will be sold) for a fraction of the price of brand-new ones,” Zubiri said.

He, however, said the government’s current procurement law limits the AFP from acquiring secondhand equipment.

Acting fast

The Philippines, he reiterated, should act fast in the wake of last Saturday’s incident wherein a China Coast Guard vessel fired water cannons at a Philippine Coast Guard vessel and a supply boat of the Philippine Navy. (See related story on this page.)

“Our brave men and women of the Armed Forces deserve more and deserve better,” Zubiri said. “Enough of the rhetoric. We need to help our Armed Forces.”

Responding to Zubiri’s queries, Defense Senior Undersecretary Irineo Espino said the AFP’s current arsenal program was only able to manufacture ammunition for short firearms.

He said Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. had already directed the Department of National Defense to improve the AFP’s arsenal system.

“[Teodoro] wants us to also produce ammunition for one of our artillery pieces. Right now, we are not still manufacturing those ammunition. We are still importing,” Espino said.

The defense official said the siege of Marawi City by the Islamic State-linked Maute group in 2017 highlighted the need for the country to have a local manufacturer of defense equipment.

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“We had a shortage of ammunition during the Marawi siege. That is what we do not want to experience in the near future,” Espino said.


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