By Mario Casayuran
Senator Richard J. Gordon doffed his hat off to the Department of National Defense (DND) for its plan to buy submarines as part of its military upgrade amid growing security challenges in the Southeast Asian region.
Gordon said the earlier than expected acquisition is a ‘’step in the right direction.’’
“We are one of four countries in Asia that do not have submarines. If the report about the purchase is true, I endorse (it) and I am elated by it. We should go by the way of the Japanese. During the Meiji Restoration, their motto was ‘enrich the nation; strengthen the military,” he said.
A few years ago, the Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed the appointment of a Philippine Navy officer who was subsequently sent to train on submarine warfare in Germany.
The DND has announced that the purchase of submarines had been moved from the military’s shopping list under Horizon 3 to Horizon 2. Projects under Horizon 2 will be implemented from 2018 to 2022, while Horizon 3 projects will run from 2023 to 2028.
Gordon said he has long been calling for strengthening the capability of the armed forces in view of the range of external and internal challenges that the country is facing, including insurgencies, natural disasters, and unresolved territorial and sovereignty issues with neighboring states.
“Matagal ko nang sinasabi na dapat itaas ang antas ng kagamitan ng ating Hukbong Pandagat, Hukbong Panghimpapawid at ng buong Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas para may laban naman tayo. Para katulad ng Finland, kahit papaano nirerespeto ng Russia dahil nilabanan sila in the 1930’s… Kung umangan tayo ng barko, umangan tayo ng eroplano nila e tiklop tayo. Dapat kahit papaano meron tayong panabla,” he added. ( I have long espoused for the modernization of the armed forces so that the country has a respectable military strength. Like Finland, a small country, it earned respect from mighty Russia for fighting back in the 1930s.)
Gordon pointed out that unlike some of its Asian neighbors like China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia, among others, the Philippines had one of the lowest military expenditure which is why it has one of the weakest militaries.
“The Philippines had one of the lowest military expenditures. We only spent around one percent of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on defense spending, which is behind the Southeast Asian average of around two percent of the GDP,’’ he said.
‘’It is really a positive development that DND had the fifth largest budget in this year’s budget GAA (General Appropriations Act). I also insisted last year on allocating a portion of the proceeds from TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) for the AFP modernization program,” he said.