Armed Forces’ modernization long overdue
It is incomprehensible why amid our worsening maritime dispute with China, the P60-billion proposed budget sent to Malacañang as early as July 2013, to address the pressing need for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was sent back to the Department of Budget and Management still unsigned by President Aquino.
Not only equally incomprehensible but also perplexing is why there is a P25-billion proposed spending for the same AFP defense program in the 2016 national budget, a much lower appropriation after a two years’ delay.
What could explain these developments may be the “teka-teka” syndrome. The Philippines, however, cannot afford to procrastinate any longer. How can we still be so sluggish in strengthening our territorial and internal security defenses, given our circumstances?
The only saving grace, so far, is the effort of our Department of Foreign Affairs to reawaken the sense of patriotism among our countrymen through the media, while drumming up international sympathy and support for our cause, especially when we elevated our case to the United Nations Arbitration Tribunal.
Peace remains stable when there is friendship and/or balance of power among nations. Regrettably, the opportunity to have a good relationship with China was lost when the Aquino administration bungled the rescue operation in the 2010 hostage crisis in Luneta and continually rejected the demand of Hong Kong (a subordinate government of China) for Mr. Aquino to apologize. Did we not anticipate that a maritime problem with China then could escalate to a crisis, as what we have now?
Thus, with friendship gone, the option that remains is to keep the balance of power. That the United States, together with Japan, is providing us—as a means of preventing war. What if China insists that the structures already in place should not be dismantled anymore?
The world is closely watching how we respond to this turn of events considering our so-called centuries-old friendship with China (just look around the generations of Chinoys in the Philippines). Now it is imperative that we make up for lost time: by rushing the modernization of our defense program. We owe it to ourselves to make it known to the whole world that we are doing our best to defend our territorial sovereignty despite our limited resources. As the saying goes, “Better late than never.” For how could we expect the global community to support us if we do not do anything at all?
Indeed, the AFP modernization program is long overdue, regardless of the need to protect ourselves from foreign aggression. As George Washington, American general and commander in chief of the colonial armies during the American Revolution, and thereafter first president of the United States, said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
—ARMANDO LIBRANDO ALPAY, c/o email@example.com
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