Press Release
August 8, 2023

TENSION WITH CHINA NO EXCUSE FOR PANIC BUYING OF DEFENSE EQUIPMENT, CHIZ SAYS

While tensions in the West Philippine Sea highlight the country's need for modern weapons, it does not give the government the excuse to go into panic buying for defense equipment, Sen. Chiz Escudero said today.

"It is expected that arms merchants are beating a path to our door because they sense sales opportunity from a crisis. But we should be picky buyers because we don't have unlimited money," Escudero said. "Parang paalala sa pagbili ng gamot. Piliin kung ano ang mabisa at abot-kaya. Huwag pa-budol sa quack medicine."

The Bicolano senator reminded the government not to let its desperation lower its guard when shopping for defense material.

"Smart buying is the key because we don't have the resources to engage in an arms race. Magkano ba ang sticker price ng isang barko? Bilyun-bilyon. Hindi naman online shopping iyan na swipe, and add to cart. We have Rolls Royce dreams on a tricycle budget," he pointed out.

Escudero shared that he is seeing a fad in the highest policy circles, egging us to boost our defense posture without providing ways on how to finance it.

"Will we be using money for farms to buy for arms? Huwag naman po sana. Hunger is a more dangerous enemy," he said.

Another thing to be considered, he said, is the country's pathetic lack for planes, boats, and motor vehicles to respond to challenges like calamities within our territory.

Hence, the veteran legislator urged the government to consider "dual use" assets that can be used during military operations as well as rescue and relief operations in times of calamities.

"May lumubog na banca sa Laguna Bay, wala man lang tayong air rescue capability sa isang lugar na malapit lang sa Manila. Wala ngang modernong Coast Guard boat doon," he lamented.

"Ganun din sa ngayo'y Great Lake of Central Luzon. Kailangan ng amphibian boats doon. Kung mananawagan tayo ng bagong destroyers para sa laot, baka naman pwede isabay o unahin ang mas murang mga rescue boats," he added.

Escudero said he has been advocating for a floating hospital that will double as a power plant, rescue headquarters, food pantry that will sail towards typhoon-hit areas.

He said the equipment the nation will buy must be capable of being scrambled during calamities or emergency situations where lives are at stake.

"Ang ipinupunto ko lang ay ibalanse, pumili ng wasto, at iprayoridad batay sa pangangailan at kakayahan," he said.

Escudero said boosting defense capability should begin with the tapping of local manufacturers with a proven track of producing world class products.

"We have excellent boat builders. We have gun manufacturers whose products have gotten great reviews. Pati mga sasakyan pang lupa, pwede na kunin dito," he concluded.

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