My “rhk111’s Military and Arms Page” blog celebrates its first year anniversary this month. I can’t exactly recall when I founded this site, and WordPress doesn’t have the tools to let me find out. Anyway, I first started blogging about military stuff again one after the other on my “rhk111’s Blogspot” site before finally spinning off this blog dedicated to military stuff and matters.
The biggest reason for me writing a lot again about military topics is because of President Benigno Aquino’s (or PNoy) decision to start buying brand new military hardware for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and buying a LOT of it. For the longest time under the three different administrations of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo, we hardly bought any meaningful stuff. They were always saying, “… there’s no money … there’s no money … there’s no money …” And then PNoy comes along and makes a fool out of all of them by buying all of these stuff.
He did this by using “Honest Governance” which lessened corruption and allowing more money to be available to buy other stuff, and by prioritizing the budget for military procurement instead of putting almost all of the money to civil projects like his predecessors did so their lawmakers and local government official allies could skim off most of it. He set aside a budget of P 85 Billion for the AFP Modernization for the duration of his administration.1
Before, it was pointless for me to write about stuff because we weren’t really buying anything worthwhile, hence all the effort would go to waste as I would be basically just fantasizing about them. But now that we are actually buying stuff, there is a good chance that some of the stuff I dream about would actually come true.
With only two more years left under the PNoy Administration, much of the modernization efforts should be/are being concentrated not on what to buy anymore, but on actually making the planned buys happen. I hope they all push thru, and I hope to see a little bit more sense of urgency on the part of the AFP to ensuring that not only will the biddings be completed but that orders are made during these last 24 months.
Looking further out, I hope that the next two Administrations will continue the AFP Modernization program, and here are what I hope at the very least they will be buying:
- 2016-2022 Administration
- – Twelve brand-new Advanced Multi Role Fighter Aircraft
- – Two brand-new General Purpose Frigates
- – One second-hand Coastal Submarine (for Submarine Operational Experience and Training)
- 2022-2028 Administration
- – Two brand-new greater than 1,000 ton Diesel Electric Submarines
- – Two brand-new General Purpose Frigates
However, I do foresee a somewhat “dark” future (both literally and figuratively) in terms of the AFP Modernization in the next (2016-2022) Administration, and that is in the person of Jejomar Binay. “Dark” literally due to color of his skin which, unfortunately, also what makes him more easy to identify with the common man; And “dark” figuratively as there are indications that a Binay Presidency will mean a big speed bump to the AFP Modernization. Of course, a Binay Presidency is not a sure thing, but he is the CURRENT frontrunner in terms of the surveys to be the next President, and not only that, it doesn’t seem to be an even close match as Binay has a VERY comfortable 25% lead over his closest rival as per a recent Pulse Asia survey result.2
Binay will not be good for the AFP Modernization for a number of reasons. First is that he has expressed the willingness to compromise with China on the issue of our territories in the Spratly’s Islands, favoring policies like “Joint Exploration” with them,3 the same strategy that President Arroyo made with China. That’s not really a bad thing per se, in fact, I am now sort of leaning towards that due to the reluctance by the US to come to our aid on the issue of the Spratly’s Islands.4 But my biggest fear is that he will use this as an excuse to slow down the AFP Modernization. If the threat is lessened, then he will just say there is no need to buy more stuff for the AFP.
This fear is supported by the fact that his lucky (lucky because despite having no decent qualifications to speak of she is now a Senator) daughter Nancy Binay had said in public that she favors a military that is focused more on Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) than external defense.5 Hence, it is likely that a Binay Presidency will likely bring us back to the dark days of the Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo Presidencies, those long years of mediocre arms procurement for our armed forces.
‘Ray of Hope?’
There is a little bit of a ray of hope even if Binay does end up slowing down the AFP Modernization, and that is he may prove us wrong in our negative expectations of him. I am basing this on the fact that, I will admit now, I was wrong about PNoy. If you’ve read my other blogs, you will know that before he became President, I was pretty critical of him, I didn’t think he would be a good President. I thought he would be an incompetent President, but he has now proven me and other doubters wrong about him. It’s not a perfect Presidency, he did miss the mark a couple of times also, but overall the good outweighed the bad.
Perhaps all the criticism helped drive him to strive to be a better President, but whatever it is, in the same vein Binay could end up a better President than expected. Then again he may not, and that is a pretty big chance to take for the fate of the country for the next 6 years of his Presidency. Personally, I don’t think I am wrong this time about Binay, especially if you look at how “notorious” are the people he considers as “allies” now: Toby Tiangco, the lapdog of Gloria Arrovo; Joseph Estrada, a CONVICTED plunderer; And Jinggoy Estrada, one of the main accused in the corruption of the Presidential Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The fate of how our country will be run under the next President will be in the hands of the ‘Bobotante‘ masses, whether our country will continue to improve in military strength or not. Of course I could still be wrong and things will just turn out fine even if Binay wins, but why take the chance at all? Despite all these equipment bought by PNoy, we have still a LONG way to go before we can come up with a credible deterrence, mainly because our adversary is so formidable, the second biggest economy and one of the most powerful militaries in the world right now. Hence I don’t think we can afford to have an Administration slow down our modernization plans from hereon.
In the meantime, all we can do now is just try to enjoy our “Season in the Sun” of AFP Modernization as much as possible, it may not last that long …
P85 B needed for AFP modernization,
Binay top pick as president—Pulse Asia survey,
If Veep Jojo Binay becomes president…,
US President Obama promised to defend Senkaku but not Spratlys,
Billions for jets but no money for sat phones?,