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:

US access to RP military facilities unconstitutional

13 Apr 2014 Hits:223

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors…” (Isaiah 53:12, the Holy Bible). “SALAMAT PO NG MARAMI”:I thank God, in the name[...] Read more

Gold won’t get you into glory!

13 Apr 2014 Hits:151

This article is not designed to be an attack on prosperity. It is not saying stand with your arm raised and swear to get out of a successful business or[...] Read more

LTO- 9 operatives ready for “Oplan Semana Santa”

14 Apr 2014 Hits:168

THE WORD:“I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before GOD’s throne. AND, the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to[...] Read more

A Poem for Lent

14 Apr 2014 Hits:190

Rags for heavenIt isn’t in the exercise of powerThat one gains strength But in its constant restraint;The greatest being that ever livedWon eternity in his stillness; It isn’t in[...] Read more

Fiestas as thanksgiving to God

14 Apr 2014 Hits:170

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything…” (Ecclesiastes 10:19, the Holy Bible). REMEMBERING A WWII VETERAN:[...] Read more

POOR Mayor Beng, she cracks!

09 Apr 2014 Hits:272

When GOD created the whole universe, He made it appear by His spoken words only. But, when He created you & me(human beings), He not only spoke but He used[...] Read more

Political winter

09 Apr 2014 Hits:144


Why is RP disregarding its war veterans?

09 Apr 2014 Hits:160

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS:  …‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord’…” (Leviticus 19:32, the Holy Bible).WARNING UP FOR[...] Read more

A "new" Iloilo revisited

08 Apr 2014 Hits:812

I had a quick  overnight revisit of  Iloilo City  -- my place of origin with Guimbal town as my birthplace -- over the weekend to attend the national board meeting[...] Read more

WHY Zamcelco opts for CAMEC over LIN Man

08 Apr 2014 Hits:282

ANY LIFE that doesn’t include eternity is not real life. It’s like a dream that when we wake up, it’s no longer there. In this physical world, we’re only given[...] Read more

Life-changing radio program at INC radio

08 Apr 2014 Hits:331

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:28,[...] Read more

WHO issues deadly health warning

05 Apr 2014 Hits:154

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees… all these curses will come on you and[...] Read more

What RP needs is to be “born of God”

07 Apr 2014 Hits:146

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 descent,[...] Read more

98 Hog-tied Barangays

07 Apr 2014 Hits:212

The Local Government Code of the Philippines was enacted in 199l via Republic Act 7160. Now we are already on the 2nd quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 which means that[...] Read more

OFW’s dream came to reality

06 Apr 2014 Hits:133

5 years ago, 28-year old Jamira Z. Omar found herself planning her career path as a Staff Nurse in Saudi Arabia. As a registered nurse, she wanted to experience what[...] Read more

3-yr. old evacuee contracted with gonorrhea is shocking!

06 Apr 2014 Hits:411

“May your Kingdom come, your Will be done on Earth as it’s in Heaven.”( Mathew: 6: 10)(Words of enlightenment).GOD wants that His Will be done on Earth as it’s being[...] Read more

Will Jinggoy & Bong return?

06 Apr 2014 Hits:340

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…Whoever says, `I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person… and all liars… will be[...] Read more

(Dist. 1) Indigents:“Where can we find Cong. Celso?”

04 Apr 2014 Hits:335

“Their worship is farce, for they teach man-made ideas, instead the commandments of GOD. For you ignore GOD’s laws and substitute your own tradition.”( Mark: 7: 7-8).(Words of enlightenment).OBEYING the[...] Read more

Web Hosting