THE worrisome situation that continues to intensify across the Indo-Pacific theater — India-China border, Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, South China Sea — is subverting diplomatic efforts to restore peace and order, and escalating the prospects of an armed conflict due to clashing core interests of the great powers between China and the United States.
While our interdependent foreign policy seeks to push the peace envelope as the rational path towards diplomatic settlement for human and ecological security we, at the same time, are preparing for the worst, foremost of which is exemplified by the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Our defense buildup has been hobbled by:
1. Fund diversions for civil defense due to the pandemic and economic disruptions;
2. Lack of government cohesion to remove legal, administrative, attitudinal and behavioral obstacles hindering speedy and trouble-free acquisitions;
3. Lackadaisical application of the National Security Policy and Strategy; and
4. The continuing failure to allocate a minimum of 2 percent of GDP for the AFP’s annual modernization and sustainment (parts, repairs, maintenance) needs.
We must resolve these asap. All those factors are within our control. Diplomacy must be supported by credible deterrence. There’s no excuse for our continued negligence to exercise our duty and responsibility to defend ourselves, protect our people, secure our resources and uphold national honor.
The government should use a portion of our foreign exchange reserves now reportedly at around $110 billion to offset the GAA’s diversion of modernization funds for social amelioration as well as accelerate the building of defense infrastructure and acquisition of air-sea-land weapons, systems and munitions.