My Google Page Rank

China dispute an opportunity for PH defense industry


"This is what we need to face China" was the recurring comment from visitors as they admired four types of automatic rifles displayed on a rack at a recent gun show held at SM Megamall.

Designed by Government Arsenal, an agency of the Department of National Defense, the rifles are enhanced versions of the M16 and are scheduled to replace the Vietnam War-era M16 models of the Philippine Army and other security forces for added firepower.

One is a sniper rifle variant, which can take out targets at 1,000 meters. Another is an assault rifle version that fires bullets larger than those used by M16s, packing more punch.

Thousands of enthusiasts troop to the annual gun show, going for 20 years now, held by the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines. But the July 19-23 expo was the first time that Arsenal participated in the event.

Unlike the dozens of gun makers and dealers at the expo, Arsenal was not there to sell but to give a message, particularly, about what it does and what it can do to modernize the feeble Philippine military.

For now, Arsenal's facilities at Camp General Antonio Luna in Bataan Province churn out ammunition. Soon production of the new rifles will begin once the necessary paperwork is done. The most significant about the rifles is that they will be produced locally as part of efforts to the make the military self-reliant, according to Government Arsenal Director Jonathan Martir.

"Our armed forces now is more a like a consumer armed forces because it buys everything from abroad. You have an army that buys its camouflage uniforms from China. The navy and the marines buy their camouflage uniforms from Taiwan, combat boots from Taiwan and Singapore," says the former Philippine Marine general. "The only last thing that is proudly Philippine-made — as we say in the Arsenal — is our ammunition."

In 1987 President Corazon Aquino issued an executive order giving Government Arsenal the job of designing and producing weapons for the military, which fell from being the envy of Asia in the 1970s to being among the world's weakest. It will remain the weakest unless the Philippines develops its own defense industry. "We should have a Filipino-first mentality," Martir says.

He adds that a law might be needed requiring the armed forces to source its weapons and equipment locally when possible. He cited a recent bidding held by the Philippine National Police for the supply of 59,000 9-mm pistols. The contract initially went to a local dealer that sells Israeli-made Jericho pistols. But the winner was disqualified and the contract went to the second lowest bidder, which imports the lightweight Glock, made in Austria.

Armscor pistols on display
Landing in fourth place was Armscor, the only Philippine gun maker among the bidders. The bidding results triggered protests from Filipino nationalists angry at China's territorial grab in the South China Sea, also referred as West Philippine Sea.

George Chua, Armscor executive vice president and chief operating officer, says the bidding should've been limited to local gun makers if the government wants a local defense industry to develop.

Established in 1905, Armscor is the Philippines' oldest gun maker and among the country's big three. Armscor had the largest exhibit at the expo, where it launched its new company logo as part of its bid to become a known international brand with the likes of Colt and Walther.

Armscor exports to 60 countries. Its most popular firearm is the 45-caliber M1911 pistol, which made its debut in the Philippines in 1911 when it became the US Army's standard-issue sidearm.

Chua says the Philippines' territorial dispute with China has opened an opportunity for a local defense industry to grow.

In his July 23 State of the Nation Address, President Aquino refused to budge in the dispute with China and pledged to modernize the military. "If someone enters your yard and told you he owns it, will you allow that?," he told Congress. "And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice."

What is seen as China's bullying "has raised the awareness of the people about our territorial rights," Chua stresses. "It has, in a way, unified Filipinos. The Philippines is involved here. Not the people of Palawan or Zambales. Pilipinas. But we need to translate that awareness into government action."

For Chua, time is of the essence. "It cannot be through the bidding process. Because during times of peace and plenty, everybody will try to get the business, everybody will give you a cheap price. But you have to remember that is not always going to be the case," he says.

He suggests that Philippine defense officials need to think far into the future like chess players planning several moves in advance explaining its advantage:  "When the situation becomes urgent, what are you going to do? The country that we're buying weapons from might become our enemy someday. They are not going to sell to us weapons that we can use against them."

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

By Norman Sison, VERA Files/ yahoonews

Related news items:
Newer news items:
Older news items:

Prev Next Page:

Understanding the legal status of Sulu Sultanate nation-state (Part V)

23 Nov 2015 Hits:152

It is defined in the International Law that “A State is a community of persons more or  less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, having a government of[...] Read more

A brutal double murder in Bunguiao

23 Nov 2015 Hits:149

A mother and a daughter were hacked to death, in a secluded place in Bunguiao, East Coast, by an unidentified person or persons, during the weekend. Barangay eMedia was able[...] Read more

“BG” has new eye-popping edict worth implementing

23 Nov 2015 Hits:134

(PASSAGE of the Day):“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Email:****--***--** “BG” INITIATES ONE LAUDABLE PROJECTTHE youngest honorable member, right now, of the[...] Read more

Fatal blade

21 Nov 2015 Hits:163

There was a couple of police reports, two days ago, which were quite disturbing, and both were perpetrated via a fatal blade. The first was about a child, in Vitali,[...] Read more

Obama’s assurances unreliable?

21 Nov 2015 Hits:806

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… It is time for you to act, Lord;  your law is being broken…” (Psalm 119:126, the Holy Bible).-ooo-OBAMA’S ASSURANCES CANNOT BE RELIED UPON? I really do not[...] Read more

WMSU has seen its own “heartbreaks”

21 Nov 2015 Hits:240

(PASSAGE of the Day):THE real temple of God is the body of a human being free of the serpent seed where God wants to dwell.“Destroy this temple and in three[...] Read more

The grandstand’s rehabilitation plan

20 Nov 2015 Hits:186

The siege of 2013 permanently altered many things locally here in Zamboanga City. Albeit, many of the ordinary Zamboangueños, up to now, are still pretty undecided or undetermined as to[...] Read more

Why are Poe and Chiz leading in surveys?

20 Nov 2015 Hits:209

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6, the Holy Bible).-ooo-WHY ARE POE AND CHIZ LEADING IN SURVEYS? Why is Sen. Grace Poe continuing to[...] Read more

EXPECT a better image of our public market

20 Nov 2015 Hits:138

(PASSAGE of the Day):“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3: 15). Email:***--**--**WHY DESTROY ROADS[...] Read more

What a rainy Wednesday yesterday!

18 Nov 2015 Hits:207

Due to the heavy rains of the early dawn of yesterday—November 18, the CDRRMO-Zamboanga City sent a soft-copy public service to Barangay eMedia as to advice the people, to wit—[...] Read more

Sun ready to burst and burn the heavens?

18 Nov 2015 Hits:189

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… `If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire[...] Read more

FIGHT like David!

18 Nov 2015 Hits:147

(PASSAGE of the Day):“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:[...] Read more

Bags of Smuggled Rice and Sugar

18 Nov 2015 Hits:162

The baranggay of Talabaan is a cozy outskirt of the City, in the East Coast. One cannot suspect that contrabands can now be found there, even the rated TV host/announcer[...] Read more

THOSE “spillovers”

18 Nov 2015 Hits:149

(PASSAGE of the Day)“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6: 33). Email:—***—**—**THOSE KNOWN “SPILLOVERS”THIS is[...] Read more

“Amen”: one of the Names of God

15 Nov 2015 Hits:177

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God---children born not of natural[...] Read more

Previous administration not criminally and administratively liable on Magay fire

15 Nov 2015 Hits:213

The burning of the public market in Magay on October 31, 2015 that claimed the lives of 15 persons prompted the city government to conduct an investigation to determine the[...] Read more

It was Ayala National High School

15 Nov 2015 Hits:505

Thursday evening, November 12, the personnel of Barangay eMedia busily discussed amongst themselves, in a meeting, to finally recap the details for an important event which the company, and the[...] Read more

(Sharing Time) THE importance of GOD’s WORD

15 Nov 2015 Hits:161

THERE are other important details that can’t simply be divulged, at all. THEY’RE said to be highly confidential, hence, as they: “These are all for your eyes and ears only.”AND[...] Read more