House OKs bills on self-reliant defense posture, chemical weapons ban
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on third reading two key security bills — including a Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) priority legislation that would mandate the government to pursue a self-reliant defense posture.
During the session on Tuesday, the House passed House Bill (HB) No. 9713 — or the proposed Philippine Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program Act — with 194 lawmakers voting in the affirmative and three voting against it, with nobody abstaining.
HB No. 9713, labeled a Ledac priority bill, aims to develop the country’s defense industry by creating ways to boost the local production of defense equipment like materiel and bullets.
“The underlying concept of self-reliance shall be manifested in the continued preference on local production of materiel, when feasible, for the country’s defense forces through the partnership between the military and civilian establishments, and taking the recourse to importation only for those requirements that cannot be locally produced with the ultimate objective of acquiring the technology for the production of these materiel,” the bill read.
“Paramount to the attainment of this objective is the responsibility of the military and other government agencies to provide technical and financial assistance to civilian defense manufacturers,” it added.
According to House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, self-reliance would mean that the government would only procure items that cannot be locally produced yet.
“The bill provides that the concept of self-reliance shall be manifested in the continued preference on local production of materiel, when feasible, for the country’s defense forces through the partnership between the military and civilian establishments,” Romualdez said.
“Recourse to importation will only be resorted to for requirements that cannot be locally produced. The bill essentially provides for government support to the technical and financial needs of civilian manufacturers materiel,” he added. “The aim is to develop the defense capability of the country and rationalize defense acquisition,” he added.
If enacted, Section 14 of the proposed measure would create the Office of the Undersecretary for Defense Technology Research and Industry Development which will be responsible for “managing and administering a databank for analysis, conducting research and development and technology transfer, facilitating defense industry promotion, establishing public-private partnerships, and setting up domestic and foreign collaborations”.
Meanwhile, HB No. 9571 — or the proposed Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act — was approved with 197 lawmakers voting in the affirmative, with no negative votes or abstentions.
Under this bill, the following activities are deemed prohibited:
- develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, or retain any chemical weapons
- transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to persons
- use chemical weapons
- engage in any military preparations to use a chemical weapon
- assist, encourage, or induce a person in any way to engage in any activity that is prohibited to a state party under the convention
- use a riot control agent as a method of warfare
- engage in any other activity prohibited to a state party under the convention
- export and import Schedule 1 chemicals to or from a state not a party to the convention, including transit through such state
Individuals found guilty of committing the above-mentioned prohibited acts will suffer imprisonment of 12 years up to life imprisonment, and a fine ranging from P2 million to P5 million.