Defense industry dev’t bill: No more ‘begging for arms’
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — The Philippines is poised to take a major step closer toward having its own vibrant defense industry with commitments from the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass the proposed Philippine Defense Industry Development Act (Pdida) as early as June.
In an interview here on the sidelines of the ongoing Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (Shot) Show, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Speaker Martin Romualdez had already promised to expedite the passage of the Pdida at the House.
At the Senate, Zubiri said Senators Ronald dela Rosa and Jinggoy Estrada had also pledged to shepherd the bill that was filed by Zubiri in July last year. The bill is pending at the committee level.
“We need it,” said Zubiri, adding: “After what we saw during the Marawi siege, we were trying to go around begging for ammunition, begging for firearms, which is not necessary since we have the development, the technology, the people that can do it in the Philippines.”Armscor
He pointed to the Marikina-based Armscor Global Defense Inc., the largest manufacturer of firearms and ammunition in the Philippines and Southeast Asia which was able to respond to the urgent call for firearms and ammunition during the Battle of Marawi from May to October 2017.
The five-month fighting between government forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists had displaced more than 350,000 people and reduced much of the city into rubble.
Armscor was one of the major exhibitors at the annual Shot Show, the world’s leading trade show for shooting sports, hunting, outdoor recreation and firearm manufacturing.
Zubiri was on hand to open Armscor’s booth at the Shot Show, where the company also launched its latest sporting pistol, the RIA 5.0 that was manufactured in the United States under Armscor’s Rock Island Armory brand.
“That is why we are pushing it. We have to have our own defense self-reliance program. We have to, not only because of internal security problems but also external security problems. We can build it in the Philippines by Filipinos,” Zubiri added.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.
“Through the Pdida, we hope to limit Philippine dependence on allies for the provision of defense requirements and develop the defense capability of the country,” Senate Bill No. 315 read in part.
The previous Congress had already approved on third reading the bill pushing for the revitalization of the Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) program and the development of the country’s defense industry.
It did not progress to become law, however, as the Senate ran out of time to approve it as it was transmitted too close to the 2022 elections, Zubiri said.Under first Marcos admin
This time around, Zubiri expressed confidence that it would be passed by the 19th Congress, especially as President Marcos had already expressed his support for the bill that would effectively pick up where his father’s administration had left off.
The SRDP Program was first implemented in 1974, as the government’s response to the Muslim secessionist movement in Mindanao and support for the immediate and growing military hardware requirements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.Zubiri is pushing for its revival citing the Philippines’ position in the volatile Indo-Pacific region and its involvement in maritime issues against its neighboring countries.
By having its own defense industry, the Philippines will improve its ability to secure its sovereignty and integrity of national territory, he said.
“Apart from external threats, an impervious defense force is also needed to respond to and quell internal attacks, lawless elements and terrorists coming from the domestic front,” he added.
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