This month marks the second year anniversary of my “rhk111’s Military and Arms Page” which I started in 2013. Over 90 blogs and over half a million views in two years … Not bad, in fact pretty good in my view.
The year 2013 was an important year not only for the current administration but for the Philippines as well as it marked the year when PNoy announced his “Shopping List” of items for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and it was quite a considerable list. Back then we thought that almost anything was possible, that we will finally have the kind of armed forces that we have always wanted. That initial, enthusiastic drive to acquire a lot of military equipment was one of the main reasons why I started this defense-themed blog.
‘Delays, delays, delays’
Two years later and some of the sad reality of the Universe we live in has hit. Some acquisitions have pushed thru, like the following:
– Two Gregorio Del Pilar class Frigates;
– The twelve FA-50 Fighting Eagles, the first two of which will arrive by December 2015;
– Two Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSVs), actually Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) that will be among the biggest and most impressive ships of our navy;
– Thirteen AW109s for the Philippine Navy (PhN) and Philippine Air Force (PhAF), ten of which are armed versions;
– Five former Balikpapan-class Landing Crafts;
– Three C-295M Medium Lift Aircraft;
– Two C-130 Heavy Lift Aircraft;
– Over 50,000 M4 Assault Rifles
However, others have not, with some of the projects either being delayed, cancelled, or whose status has remained unknown:
– The bidding for the Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) , Close Air Support Aircraft (CAS) and Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mk3 has been delayed indefinitely;
– The new Frigate Acquisition Project has now been going on for one year and eight months, with no end in sight;
– Along with the delay in the new Frigate acquisition also comes the delay for their Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters;
– The status of the Shore-based Anti-Ship Missiles and Surface to Air Missile (SAM) acquisitions remain unknown;
– No visibility on what happened to the RPG-7 acquisition and the Pohang Corvette donation that was supposed to have arrived last December 2014;
– Still no missiles for our Del Pilar ships;
Ironically, much of the delays were reportedly caused by no less than the President himself, who has NOT approved some of these procurement yet as he reportedly needed more time to thoroughly “scrutinize” each project.  And judging by how the recent acquisition of the UH-1 Huey Helicopters and M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) ended up mired in corruption allegations, he may indeed have good reason to do so.
But then again, the fact that he has only twelve months left in his Administration makes you think, couldn’t he do the “scrutinizing” faster? Couldn’t he have done it earlier, especially since his Administration had been thinking of getting these things for the last 2-3 years? At the rate things are going, it’s possible that the President could just end up thinking that instead of making more acquisitions that could be tainted by corruption charges, he could just cancel most if not the rest of the procurement altogether so as to not give a possible hostile next Administration something to use against him when he leaves office.
‘As Good as it Gets?’
PNoy’s purchases have been no more than modest at best by the standards of other South East Asian countries, worsened by the fact that only about HALF have pushed thru with the other half suffering delays. Mediocre as things are right now, I shudder at the prospect that they may even get worst with the next Administration. The AFP modernization won’t stop under the next President, of course, but it will likely slow down even more, meaning we will be buying even less than what we have done now.
I hate to think that this modest acquisition is about as good as it gets for our AFP Modernization, but then it does seem that way for now as NONE of the WINNABLE Presidentiables seem to have the inclination to continue the AFP modernization further. I hope that I am wrong, though, I really do, but it seems that, to borrow a term from the “Game of Thrones” TV series, the “Winter” of military equipment procurement has started.
I don’t like ending my second anniversary blog on a sad note, but then it is what it is …
^ DND: P60-B projects facing delays undergo Aquino’s scrutiny,
^ BIR employee: DND tailor-fitted P1.2-B chopper deal to favor bidder,
^ EXCLUSIVE | DND used P800-M US fund for tanks to buy cheaper APCs – JV, Chiz,