Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today cautioned the Duterte administration against the reported plan to take on the $500-million loan being offered by the Chinese government to modernize the Philippine military.
“We must stop relying on foreign suppliers to modernize the military equipment of our armed forces,” Recto said, after hearing Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that the country plans to utilize the said loan to procure defense equipment from China.
“There is no need to borrow from China. We should tap our domestic industries for the equipment needed by our policemen and soldiers,” Recto said.
Recto cited the existence of a vibrant local firearms industry which has been exporting its products for many decades now.
“Some of them were licensees of world’s leading gun makers,” he pointed out.
There are many of them, from boat builders to vehicle manufacturers to firearm/ammunition makers who can step up to the plate once there are firm orders from the government, Recto said.
“We should look inward and develop our own capability. It is cheaper to produce and maintain them locally, than to import them. That way, jobs are created for the Filipinos and the local industries are given the chance to grow,” the senator added.
The only equipment or parts we should import, Recto said, are those which we cannot produce locally.
“We should not bypass local industries which can provide parts or whole of the defense equipment being sought,” Recto said.
“Hindi naman pwede na mula helmet hanggang boots imported. If some of the things can be made locally and the products are of the same price and quality as the ones bought abroad, then let us manufacture them here,” Recto said.
He said the country’s car manufacturing industry can supply military and police vehicles.
Recto said President Duterte’s home province of Cebu can even build coastal patrol ships.
“We have a world-class shipbuilding industry in Cebu, but our government agencies have yet to harness its potential as a major source of military and civilian boats,” said Recto.
“Buy local, create jobs. This should be the new mantra of the government,” the senator added.