MANILA—Amid plans of the Duterte administration to utilize the USD 500-million loan being offered by Chinese government to modernize the Philippine military, a senator on Tuesday urged the government to first consider tapping local industries to create more jobs.
“Buy local, create jobs. This should be the new mantra of the government,” Senate Pres. Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement.
Recto made this remark following Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that the government plans to use the loan to procure defense equipment from China.
“We must stop relying on foreign suppliers to modernize the military equipment of our armed forces,” he added. “There is no need to borrow from China. We should tap our domestic industries for the equipment needed by our policemen and soldiers.”
He said that the only equipment or parts that the Philippine government should import are those which the country cannot produce locally.
“We should not bypass local industries which can provide parts or whole of the defense equipment being sought,” Recto said.
He pointed out that if defense equipment can be made locally and the products are of the same price and quality as the ones bought abroad, then they should be manufactured in the Philippines.
“We should look inward and develop our own capability. It is cheaper to produce and maintain them locally, than to import them. That way, jobs are created for the Filipinos and the local industries are given the chance to grow,” he added.
The senator cited the existence of local firearms industry which has been exporting its products for many decades noting that “some of them were licensees of world’s leading gun makers.”
“There are many of them, from boat builders to vehicle manufacturers to firearm/ammunition makers who can step up to the plate once there are firm orders from the government,” Recto said.
Recto said the country’s car manufacturing industry can supply military and police vehicles.
Moreover, he said that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s home province of Cebu can even build coastal patrol ships.
“We have a world-class shipbuilding industry in Cebu, but our government agencies have yet to harness its potential as a major source of military and civilian boats,” he added.