It is time for the country to purchase modern equipment, particularly F16 fighter jets and submarines, to further strengthen the defense capability of the Philippines in the disputed territory of the West Philippine Sea (WPS). This comes amid the “laser attack” by China against a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship that temporarily blinded its crew.
The PCG ship was patrolling in the West Philippine Sea when the incident occurred. According to House Committee on Ways and Means Chair and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, amending the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Law is necessary to ensure that the country’s armed forces have access to top-of-the-line air and naval equipment.
The House tax panel, led by Salceda, is primarily looking into funding sources, so it will present an amendment to the ODA Law to ensure that the country has sufficient defense capabilities.
“No one wants war, but defenders don’t decide that. Aggressors decide whether they want war. And defenders have to be ready,” said Salceda.
Salceda explained that under the current ODA Law, there are restrictions on the provision of 40% of the total ODA loans and an estimated 25% of each loan.
Other limitations include the lack of provisions for private sector participation in financing, public bidding that hinders loan acquisition, and defense equipment that has only one supplier.
The lawmaker also added that the Philippines was already cleared to purchase F16 fighter jets from the United States in 2021, and the country also needs to acquire Harpoon missiles. Salceda’s statements indicate that the country must take steps to enhance its defense capability and be ready to defend itself against possible aggressors in the WPS.