Philip­pines can’t af­ford full mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

The Philip­pines can only af­ford a “fru­gal” mil­i­tary up­grade, de­fense of­fi­cials said Mon­day, even though mar­itime ten­sions with main­land China are grow­ing.

De­spite a pro­posed 25-per­cent rise in next year’s de­fense bud­get, the gov­ern­ment must still di­vide re­sources be­tween ex­ter­nal de­fense and in­ter­nal threats like in­sur­gen­cies and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, De­fence Sec­re­tary Voltaire Gazmin and other se­cu­rity of­fi­cials added.

Since Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino took of­fice in mid-2010, the Philip­pines has ac­quired two for­mer U.S. coast guard cut­ters, three land­ing craft from Aus­tralia and South Korea and seven sur­plus UH-1H he­li­copters.

“The goal of up­dat­ing and mod- erniz­ing our armed forces is a long and painstak­ing process,” Gazmin told a cer­e­mony for the com­mis­sion­ing of 10 more newly ac­quired air force he­li­copters.

“That means we have to be fru­gal and ac­quire re­li­able plat­forms at very rea­son­able costs ... as al­lowed by our mea­ger fi­nan­cial re­sources.”

The mod­est up­grade has been prompted partly by main­land China’s moves to stake its claim to most of the South China Sea.

These in­clude build­ing new is­lands in the Spratly ar­chi­pel­ago and tak­ing ef­fec­tive con­trol of Scar­bor­ough Shoal af­ter a stand­off with the Philip­pine Navy.

Philip­pine Air Force chief Lt Gen. Jeffrey Del­gado said the 10 new he­li­copters will be used to ad­dress in­ter­nal se­cu­rity prob­lems.

AP

Mil­i­tary chap­lains sprin­kle holy wa­ter on eight brand new Bell-412EP he­li­copters that were pro­cured by the Philip­pine Air Force from Bell He­li­copter Tex­tron and two at­tack he­li­copters, the Au­gusta West­land AW-109E from Italy as part of its mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram at Vil­lamor Air Base, in the sub­ur­ban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philip­pines, Mon­day, Aug. 17.

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