Tap local manufacturers in modernizing AFP, PNP: lawmaker

Increased defense spending should be accompanied by more purchases of locally-made defense and police equipment, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

“There should be local dividends from the equipment shopping spree,” Recto said.

He cited the quality of the products of domestic firearms makers, “which are being bought by other police forces in the ASEAN region.”

One locally-made shotgun, he said, is even a best seller among local police departments in some states in the USA, Recto said.

The senator said “one government-owned asset whose potential must be expanded” is the DND-run Government Arsenal in Bataan.

With only 10 out of its 300 hectares of land being used, this can even be transformed into an export processing zone, he explained.

“The know-how is there, the land is there. It is strategically positioned to become a hub for armaments that can be exported,” he added.

Furthermore, tapping local manufacturers in producing “entire or even components of vehicles, ships, arms” will create local jobs and generate revenues for the government, Recto explained.

“The first thing that must be done is to impose as a policy that, when local technology is available, these equipment shall have a local component. Kahit minimal, huwag lang CKD ang dating,” Recto said.

One disincentive that must be removed, Recto said, is government’s wrong implementation of tax laws “because at present, foreign suppliers of equipment can evade local taxes, which local manufacturers cannot.”

Big-ticket items needed by the AFP can also be supplied by local makers, Recto added, citing the Philippines’ best shipbuilding skills.

“‘Yung missiles siguro hindi natin kaya, pero kung coastal patrol ships, troop carrier ships, hospital ships, police boats, kaya na natin ‘yan,” Recto said.

“These can be built in Cebu, where we have a world-class shipbuilding industry. One BFAR research vessel was built in Navotas,” he said.

Recto said the government has a deficit of floating vessels–which Cebu and other areas where shipbuilders operate, like Navotas and Bataan, can help wipe out.

“If other nations find these Philippine-made ships exceptional, then we should, too,” Recto said.

For 2020, the PNP will buy 5,000 pieces of short firearms, and 7,413 pieces of long firearms.

Also next year, the DND will be given P35.7 billion for the AFP modernization. SENATE.GOV.PH