Legislator proposes P150-billion bond offer for AFP modernization
Amid the country’s raging territorial tiff with China, a lawmaker on Monday proposed that the next administration should ascertain the feasibility of offering up to P150 billion worth of retail bonds to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Party-list Rep. Arnel Ty of LPG-MA, in a news statement, said the bond float would enable patriotic Filipinos to save money and help defend the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) against Chinese incursions.
“The bulk of the additional funds raised from the bond offering may be set aside to acquire new warships—additional frigates and corvettes—for deployment to the West Philippine Sea,” Ty said.
A large portion of the West Philippine Sea is being forcefully claimed by China, which has been building artificial islands on top of partially submerged reefs.
Ty, citing a Congressional Planning and Budget Office report, said the administration has so far spent P50.73 billion for the military’s ongoing capability upgrade program (CUP).
The Department of National Defense’s P116.1-billion budget for 2016 also includes another P25-billion allotment for the CUP, the lawmaker added.
However, Ty said the next administration has to spend more to quickly build up the AFP, especially the Philippine Navy.
“With or without the dispute with China, we really have to reinforce the Philippine Navy in particular. We should, at least, make our naval assets comparable to those of Indonesia. Because like Indonesia, we have a large group of islands and vast territorial waters to protect,” he said.
“We have to invest in new warships to secure the West Philippine Sea’s huge oil and gas deposits, which are the key to our energy independence,” Ty, a senior member of the House Energy Committee, added.
The Philippines has indefinitely suspended all oil- and gas-exploration activities in and around the hydrocarbon-rich Recto Bank off Northwest Palawan due to the lingering quarrel with China.