By Dempsey Reyes/Manila Times
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday brushed aside claims of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison that the military’s modernisation programme is a “waste” of government funds.
“It is never a waste of money to invest in the security of our people and our territory,” Lorenzana told Manila Times in a text message.
He said the government’s “neglect to spend” funds was the reason behind a “very weak” military “that we cannot even protect our exclusive economic zone(EEZ).”
“He (Sison) would prefer that our soldiers are ill-equipped so that his (New People’s Army) fighters will have an advantage,” Lorenzana added, referring to the armed wing of the CPP, the NPA.
Last week, Sison posted on his social media account a news report indicating that President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the second horizon of the military’s modernisation programme, amounting to around P300bn.
He claimed that Duterte’s spending for the military upgrade is a “waste” of taxpayers’ money and borrowed funds from other nations.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had said it does not expect decent statements from Sison and that the modernisation programme would be the communist leader’s “worst nightmare.”
Under the second horizon of the AFP modernisation programme, the military will acquire equipment such as submarines, frigates and corvettes for the Philippine Navy; multi-role fighters and radar systems for the Philippine Air Force; and howitzer tanks and night fighting system for the Philippine Army, among others.
In 2015, the Japanese government said it will donate a Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion patrol aircraft to the Philippine military.
Lorenzana said there was no official communication yet with Tokyo regarding the agreement with Manila in 2015 for the patrol plane.
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