PH own defense industry eyed; P1-B seed fund set
MANILA, Philippines — Senators have proposed earmarking P1 billion as seed money to finance the development of the country’s own defense industry in the wake of China’s more aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea.
The senators, led by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, jointly filed Senate Bill No. 2455, or the Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) Revitalization Act, to encourage businesses to invest in the local manufacturing of defense equipment.
“[I]t is imperative to revitalize the country’s self-reliance defense posture program and to fully harness the potential of the defense industry at a time when security threats are imminent and continue to evolve,” the bill read in part.
“Toward this end, the state shall undertake to develop the defense industry and its capability to locally produce advanced weaponry and equipment for its armed forces through technology transfer, partnerships with and incentivizing the private sector,” it added.
Joining Zubiri as coauthors of the bill are Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Imee Marcos and Sherwin Gatchalian.
New DND office
Under the measure, a new unit will be created within the Department of National Defense (DND) to oversee the implementation of the program and all related projects promoting the domestic production of military supplies.
It said the proposed Office of the Undersecretary for Defense Technology Research and Industry Development will be responsible for conducting research and development studies and in crafting policies.
The new DND office will also be tasked with spearheading the collaboration between the relevant state agencies with private entities in ensuring the success of the country’s SRDP program.
According to the measure, the SRDP program will cover all military equipment “essential to and designed to effectively counter and address chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and cyberattacks or incidents.”
To entice foreign defense companies to set up factories in the Philippines, the bill provided several incentives, such as exemption from paying import duties.
“In the interest of national security, the Board of Investments shall adopt a special procedure in the processing of applications for registration by enterprises in the industry and offering goods and services to the government,” it said.
State-owned financial institutions, the measure added, “are highly encouraged to support the industry by formulating and extending financial products that would benefit its hastened development.”