Press Release
April 9, 2024


The Philippines cannot wage a war empty-handed, no matter the amount of posturing and rhetoric, Senator Imee Marcos stressed on Tuesday as the nation commemorates the 82nd anniversary of 'Araw ng Kagitingan.'

"We cannot even ensure the integrity of our weapons and ammunitions production lines, yet some of us are engaged in warmongering," the senator said, noting the basic weapons and ammunition production shortfall by the Government Arsenal (GA) last year despite increased spending by 420%.

A recently published Commission on Audit (CoA) report showed the GA, a bureau under the DND, failed to produce enough small arms and ammunition (SAA) despite spending almost PhP455 million from its 2023 budget for MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses), compared to only PhP87.4 million in 2022.

"This is sad news about basic weapons for our soldiers and policemen. Money is being wasted. Will the lives of our men in uniform be wasted as well?" the senator asked, amid escalating tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos, however, stressed only a meaningful dialogue with China can prevent the situation from further deteriorating.

"No weapons system, not even the most advanced ones, can stop a war -- if that is what some of us want to achieve with all the noise. Constant dialogue, not only on the level of our foreign affairs department, coast guard, and defense establishment, but also the legislature and the president himself -- the architect of our foreign policy and commander-in-chief of our armed forces -- is key to overcoming the quagmire we are in," Marcos added.

The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, pointed out the need to step up from the usual filing of note verbale whenever an incident occurs in the disputed waters, as she pushed for multilateral discussions among all claimant countries in the South China Sea namely, the Philippines, China, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

"I've said this before, and I'll say this again, we must take this up with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the United Nations. We cannot be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result each time," Marcos said.

"And again, on this important day when we pay tribute to the valor of our soldiers in Bataan, I am pressing on with the need for us to revive the Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) program, which has long been overdue. Filipinos do not suffer from a lack of talent, skills or expertise to produce our own defensive weapons, but suffer from gross government neglect and a lack of appreciation for the importance of and wisdom in relying on ourselves for our defense," she added.

Initiated by her father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the SRDP program is aimed at weaning the country off dependence on foreign suppliers for firearms and related equipment.

Under the program, the Philippines was producing M-16 rifles, hand grenades and various other ammunition, patrol boats, and military jeeps, among others.

"Nasubukan na natin yan, at kinaya natin. The problem is, we clearly do not walk our talk. Hindi lang dapat sa salita ipinaglalaban ang bayan, mahalagang hindi tayo nabubutasan pagdating sa gawa," she added.

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