Tuesday, March 06, 2012

AFP unfazed by 11.2% China military budget increase


MANILA, Philippines- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not see the 11.2 percent rise in the military spending of China as a threat, a military spokesperson said Monday.
“Any sovereign country can plan and do what is deemed appropriate and necessary for the general welfare of its citizens,” AFP spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said in a press briefing.
China had already begun sea trials of its first aircraft carrier in 2011. Reports also say that it is developing a stealth fighter jet and missiles that are capable of hitting satellites.
The Philippines and China, as well as other Southeast Asian countries, are in a dispute over the Spratly’s group of Islands believed to be rich in oil resources. China had allegedly trespassed into Philippine territory and harassed local fishermen several times over the past years.
“It’s their right to upgrade their defense capability,” in the same way that the Philippines is upgrading its defense capability, Burgos said.
The AFP is upgrading its defense equipment under the AFP Modernization Program not only for internal security operations but also for external defense, Burgos said.
The Philippine Navy has already received the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, currently its largest ship, from the United States Navy.
Burgos said upgrading the AFP’s equipment will help to guard the “rich and abundant marine and natural resources” within the nation’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
“We assert our authority on what is ours,” Burgos said. “Our fishermen should be free to do their business within our territories,” he added.
The upgrade of the defense capabilities of the AFP will also help them in their battle against transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, poaching, and piracy, Burgos said.
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