The government is committed to defending the country against any foreign aggression and seeks to modernize and fortify its armed forces, Malacanang said on Saturday, following China’s recent posturing in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Deputy Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino 3rd has pushed for the modernization of the Armed Forces so that the country can have a credible defense.
The Philippines and the United States are nearing an agreement that will allow American troops to share Philippine military bases.
“The President’s position has always been to strengthen our Armed Forces so we can have a minimum credible defense posture. The President walks the talk in the sense that he funds the modernization program of the Armed Forces,” Valte said in a radio interview.
The Philippines has just purchased a squadron of FA-50 fighter-trainer jets that can deliver short-range missiles.
Valte, however, clarified that the acquisition of new military equipment should not be viewed as a direct response to China’s intimidation.
“The purchase was done in accordance with our Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Plan. With or without conflict [on the West Philippine Sea], we seek to modernize our Armed Forces,” she said.
In his speech during graduation rites at the Philippine Military Academy on March 16, the President announced that the government would purchase 63,000 new rifles for soldiers. The AFP will also soon have modern boats and combat utility helicopters.
Early this month, the Philippines filed a protest against China for driving out Filipino fishermen from the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal by using water cannons.