'Use pork to buy warships'
MANILA, Philippines - Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio called on the government Thursday to use next year's pork barrel to buy warships to help deter China’s intrusion into Philippine-claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea.
Speaking to reporters after a speech before the Philippine Bar Association in Makati, Carpio said the Philippines has enough funds to buy weapons for self-defense but lacks the political will to do so.
“We have to admit that as a nation we have neglected to maintain a credible defense force, particularly our naval assets, despite us being an archipelagic country with an extensive coastline and a vast exclusive economic zone,” he said.
“We are paying dearly for this neglect – we lost Mischief Reef in 1995, Scarborough Shoal in 2012 and more likely Ayungin Shoal in the near future.
“To maintain a sovereign and independent nation, to maintain our territorial integrity, to avoid further humiliation, to maintain our self respect as a nation, we must build and maintain a credible defense force.
“There is simply no alternative to this. No nation can remain independent and sovereign for long without a credible defense force. We have the money but we don’t have the political will.”
Carpio said the government was able to buy the BRP Ramon Alcaraz for P650 million, had it refurbished and equipped with ship-to-ship missiles.
“If we use the proposed P27-billion pork barrel fund for 2014 to acquire warships, the Philippines can buy 41 BRP Ramon Alcaraz types of warships,” he said.
“41 harpoon firing ships are more than enough to keep intruders out of our maritime zones in the West Philippine sea – that is, if we have the political will.”
Carpio said if the pork barrel is discontinued, government still has enough funds from the Malampaya gas fields off Palawan to cover its defense expenses.
“We can use just seven months of our income in Malampaya worth P26 billion – based on the P46 billion income in 2011 – so that we can acquire 41 BRP Ramon Alcarazes,” he said.