Manila, Philippines – Instead of submitting a wish list that would include acquisition of fighter jets and modern military hardware, the Philippines should ask the US government to supply it with cargo aircraft, choppers, and sea transport to beef up its relief operations and defense against natural calamities.
Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, backed this proposal by saying that confrontation with typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural disasters are more imminent compared to a threat of war over the dispute for West Philippine Sea (also known as the South China Sea) territories against China.
This developed as the Movement 188 and other members of the House of Representatives agreed to donate P1 million to the victims of the earthquake that hit Central Visayas.
Aside from the convenors of Movement 188, House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. and Region 6 congressmen will also contribute to the fund.
Movement 188 convenors who will contribute to the fund are Reps. Maricar Zamora-Apsay (Compostella Valley), Joy Bernos (Abra), Bem Noel (An Waray), Rodel Batocabe (Ako Bicol), Ben Evardone (Eastern Samar), Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes), Mel Sarmiento (Western Samar), Roger Espina (Biliran), Maximo Dalog (Mountain Province), Roy Loyola (Cavite), Carlo Lopez (Manila), Leo Ocampos (Misamis Occidental), Rene Relampagos (Bohol), and Nancy Catamco (North Cotabato).
Movement 188 is the group of congressmen who signed the Articles of Impeachment against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
“The effect of the recent quake to the people in the Negros-Cebu region is truly heartbreaking. It is imperative that we join together and consolidate our efforts to help our brothers and sisters that were affected by this tragedy,” Rep. Alfredo “Albee” B. Benitez said.
Benitez, whose district was affected by the recent earthquake, led the initiative of the members of the House of Representatives. He contributed P500,000 from his personal resources and the other half came from the other convenors of the Movement 188 and the district representatives from Region 6.
Biazon’s made his recommendation as the country’s defense leadership confirmed that talks for increased US military presence in the Philippines have been set in a bid to guarantee peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region despite reports of China’s military build up near the disputed West Philippine Sea areas.
“But our level of concern is internal security, protection of our exclusive economic zone, protection of our Malampaya. We need to secure these through acquisition of modern military hardware. But I am going to reject fighter jets,” he said.
A former senator and Defense chief, Biazon said the Philippines requires additional patrol boats but it also need air and sea cargo transportation for quick response to areas severely afflicted by calamitous events.