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:

Potatoes from Zamboanga?

24 Feb 2017 Hits:45

Zamboanga City to be a major producer of potatoes? That is exactly the goal of City Hall, relying on the City Agriculture Office that has embarked on potato seedling production, envisioning[...] Read more

WE are proud of you, guys!

24 Feb 2017 Hits:49

(Enlightenment —Passage of the DAY) BEING lazy doesn’t sit well with our Father who’s in heaven. Listen! “If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.” (Proverbs 20: 13) Email: —****—****—*** ONLY OVER[...] Read more

Busted Thief

24 Feb 2017 Hits:45

Two nights ago, February 22, a notorious thief intruded a house, in Purok 6 Boalan. He still thought that, as the usual, he could take valuables and easily get away[...] Read more

Repost: EDSA 1986, US made, not Filipino

23 Feb 2017 Hits:66

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: ” …  Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established[...] Read more

De Lima's Call

23 Feb 2017 Hits:168

The only known, at least to this corner - should there be another or others of it - the only highlighted piece of legislation ever authored by friend Rudy Bayot[...] Read more

How degrading!

23 Feb 2017 Hits:64

(Enlightenment—Passage of the Day) GOD’S DIVINE LOVE/AGAPE LOVE GOD wants us to us love one another— even if they’re our enemies. He teaches not to hate, but to love one another. And[...] Read more

Renamed to be the Task Force South

23 Feb 2017 Hits:94

Partner Richard Falcatan is one of Barangay eMedia’s correspondents in the island of Basilan. He is the station manager of DXNO, Isabela City. Well, when the renowned scalawag policemen, from[...] Read more

'POPS' for Zambo's security

22 Feb 2017 Hits:98

So it’s true, the separatist rebels are utilizing children in their war atrocities as couriers and support staff. This was confirmed when the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) released Sunday[...] Read more

Beneficiaries of the Marcos Wealth?

22 Feb 2017 Hits:69

Partner Kap Fred Atilano went to interview some people, or some a kind of group, which are calling themselves a non-governmental organization (NGO), in Salaan. Allegedly, they engage in an[...] Read more

CAAP boss is the happiest if airport transfer happens

22 Feb 2017 Hits:67

(Enlightenment –Passage of the Day) THIS is how important the words of God are: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the words I[...] Read more

Finger-pointing in Rizal tragedy is necessary

22 Feb 2017 Hits:79

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice…” (Proverbs 17:23, the Holy Bible). -ooo- FINGER POINTING IN RIZAL TRAGEDY IS NECESSARY:I am sorry if I[...] Read more

Plot to oust Duterte heats up

21 Feb 2017 Hits:74

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts…” (Isaiah 1:23, the Holy Bible). -ooo- PLOT TO OUST DUTERTE HEATS UP:The Free Legal[...] Read more

De Lima's court battle begins

21 Feb 2017 Hits:73

Athletes from the Zamboanga Polytechnic University have expressed dismay over the cancellation of their flight to Manila on Sturday, which prevented them from reaching their destination on time. The cancellation[...] Read more

BENG hits back her critics

21 Feb 2017 Hits:114

(Enlightenment—Passage of the Day) WE NEED REPENTANCE FOR SALVATION Without repentance, we have no right whatsoever to talk about our own Salvation, In short, there’s no Salvation to talk about. The Bible[...] Read more

Heinous Crimes of Rape

21 Feb 2017 Hits:86

Everyone thought that the weekend of La Bella was fully pristine, but not what it seemed. Unbelievably, there were possibly four cases of rape which were reported amongst the different[...] Read more

“Walk for Life” part of Duterte ouster plot?

20 Feb 2017 Hits:100

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…” (Matthew 4:1, the Holy Bible).-ooo-THE IMPORTANCE OF BAPTISM FOR BELIEVERS:One important[...] Read more

Walk for Life

20 Feb 2017 Hits:91

What was termed as a "runway obstruction" caused the cancellation of the Cebu and Manila flights to this city early Saturday morning, affecting hundreds of passengers.This was confirmed by Rey[...] Read more

We deserve a breather in Freddie “Anak”Aguilar

20 Feb 2017 Hits:89

(Enlightenment—Passage of the Day)GOD is the only one who can pass judgment on us. Listen: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or[...] Read more