NSC seeks increase in military budget amid marine disputes | Inquirer News
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NSC seeks increase in military budget amid marine disputes

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 07:44 AM June 15, 2013

Defense Secretary and NDRRMC Chairperson Voltaire Gazmin. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The National Security Council (NSC) has asked the Aquino administration to increase the budget for the military by at least half a percentage point of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) amid a worsening territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

Speaking at a defense symposium in Pasay City on Friday, NSC Deputy Director General Vicente Agdamag underscored the much needed upgrade in the country’s military capability in the face of China’s aggressive posturing in the contested waters.

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At present, he said, the Aquino administration has allotted 1.1 percent of the country’s annual budget to the defense department.

With the enactment of Republic Act No. 10349, he said, the government would allocate P75 billion for the modernization of the Armed Forces.

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“We are recommending an additional 0.5 to 1 percent (of the GDP) not only to be at par with our neighbors (but), more important, to develop a modicum of a credible defense capability,” Agdamag said at the “Air Power Symposium” held at the SMX Convention Center.

“(This is) to protect our maritime and strategic interests…For the military, we will establish a minimum deterrent capability…which is defined as a capability that imposes risk that the hostile force would find unacceptable or untenable,” he added.

Speaking at the same forum, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the defense department would fast-track programs for the modernization of the military.

Gazmin said this included the procurement of “brand new and reliable air assets” that would allow the Air Force to meet its requirements for air operations.

Among these are “lead-in fighter trainers, surface attack aircraft, attack helicopters, light transport aircraft and medium transport aircraft,” he said.

But before the Philippines could beef up its military presence, Agdamag said it must maintain its good bilateral relations not only with China, but with the United States and other neighboring countries “in shaping a benign China.”

He said the Philippines must maintain a 7-percent to 8-percent economic growth annually in the next decade for it to have the financial resources needed to buy modern military equipment.

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“We need to pursue a healthy and friendly relationship with China and work with (China) for regional peace and prosperity. We can work closely with regional and local partners in shaping a benign China that respects the world order,” he said.

“(We need to) manage bilateral relations to buy us time to grow our economy and expand our military capabilities to defend ourselves…We need to enhance our security alliance with our allies and neighbors, especially the United States.”

Agdamag noted the increasing presence of Chinese military vessels in the West Philippine Sea. He said at least 18 Chinese maritime surveillance ships had been “operating” within Philippine territorial waters.

Echoing President Aquino’s message during Independence Day rites on Wednesday, Agdamag said: “Our message to the world is clear—what is ours is ours. We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours.”

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TAGS: Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, GDP, gross domestic product, marine disputes, military budget, National Security Council, NSC, NSC Deputy Director General Vicente Agdamag, Pasay City on Friday, Territorial dispute, West Philippine Sea
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