The Philippines’ first and only industry magazine that deals with safety and security matters pervading the environment today.

Chinese Incursions Drive Investment in the Philippine Defense Industry

The increasingly aggressive activities of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea have thrust the Philippines into the international spotlight, particularly piquing investor interest in the nation’s burgeoning defense and security industry.

One notable example is EID, a prominent high-technology and innovation company from Portugal, exploring establishing a local manufacturing facility for its tactical communications and military messaging equipment. This endeavor would be in collaboration with a private-sector partner in the Philippines.

EID’s Strategic Expansion

Gregory Flippes, EID’s marketing and sales director, emphasized the company’s intent to expand its presence in the Philippines, which it views as a critical market due to the country’s ongoing military modernization efforts.

“We are exploring all kinds of industry participation,” Flippes remarked during the Defense Services Asia Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. EID is also keenly awaiting the signing of a cooperation agreement between Portugal and the Philippines, which is anticipated to catalyze further investments from Portuguese enterprises.

Advancements in Local Defense Manufacturing

Jeruel Sanchez, president and CEO of Asia Defense and Firepower Corp. (ADFC), noted that multiple foreign companies have expressed a strong interest in the Philippines’ defense sector. He mentioned that discussions around localization are highly advanced, with several commercial offers for military hardware and software submitted to the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last year.

One significant development includes a Spanish shipbuilder’s proposal to construct a state-of-the-art shipbuilding facility in Bataan province. This facility aims to build and maintain navy warships locally, emulating Australia’s success in developing its naval capabilities over the past two decades.

“Traditionally, our modern warships had to travel overseas for maintenance and repairs,” Sanchez explained. “With this new facility, repairs can be conducted locally, allowing our vessels to spend more time patrolling and protecting our territorial waters.”

Pending Legislative Support

However, the delayed passage of the Philippine Defense Industry Development Act (PDIDA) needs to improve the influx of foreign interest and proposals. This proposed law, also known as the Self-Reliant Defense Posture Act, aims to develop the domestic defense industry and enhance the production of advanced weaponry and equipment within the country.

Sanchez urged Congress to expedite the passage of PDIDA, emphasizing its importance for enabling private companies and foreign investors to undertake significant projects such as munitions manufacturing under a clear state policy of defense self-reliance.

“Reviving the nation’s self-reliant defense posture program and maximizing the capabilities of the defense industry is essential, particularly as security threats loom large and evolve rapidly,” he asserted.

Enhancing Domestic Capabilities

A key provision of the PDIDA is the preference for locally produced military equipment for the country’s defense forces. Importation will only be considered if local production is unfeasible, with the ultimate goal of acquiring the technology to produce these requirements domestically.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, a proponent of the bill, highlighted the importance of self-reliance in defense. “While we value our defense cooperation with foreign allies, we cannot rely on them entirely,” he said. Zubiri noted that the Philippines, one of the top arms importers in Southeast Asia, could significantly benefit from developing its defense manufacturing capabilities with the assistance of foreign partners.

“We need to be able to produce our own needs on our own time,” Zubiri added. “We have the resources, the manpower, and the skills. I hope we also have the political will to push this through. That is why PDIDA is vital for a truly self-reliant defense program.”

As the Philippines navigates the complex geopolitical landscape of the West Philippine Sea, developing a robust, self-sufficient defense industry is seen as a crucial step in bolstering the nation’s security and sovereignty.