Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday said the country’s defense spending should be doubled from its current P190 billion or even P200 billion, noting defense spending should be a minimum 2 percent of GDP.
“Looking at the budget of DND, I was surprised to see that their budget is 4.6 percent of the national budget, but only 1 percent of GDP. Our GDP today is P20 trillion,” he said.
Since the country’s economy is P20 trillion, Recto said this meant only 1 percent. “So we should be spending double,” he said during the hearing of the proposed P191.3-billion DND budget for 2020.
During the interpellation, Recto told Senator Panfilo Lacson that he would like to put into perspective the defense budget with regard to the Philippines’ Asean neighbors.
“Mr. President, isn’t it true that one’s defense is dependent on the size of the economy and of the population?” asked Recto—to which Lacson replied that it should be a minimum of 2 percent of the economy.
In fact, Recto said US President Donald Trump called on Washington’s NATO allies to spend at least 2 percent, because some of them are spending less than that.
Of GDP, he said US spends roughly 3 percent of GDP for their armed forces, around $600 billion.
“If China spends $170 billion, the US outspends them 3:1. And that’s why they have the biggest navy in the world. And that’s why we use the US dollar as well in global trading,” said Recto.
He then inquired from Lacson the defense spending on the entire ASEAN region and asked on who should be our partners not only in trade, but also, supposedly, for defense.
Lacson responded saying that the Philippines was ranked number 5 among the ASEAN countries. He said Singapore, Indonesa, Malaysia is next to us at number 6.
Meanwhile, Minority Senator Francis Pangilinan raised espionage and data privacy questions on the entry of third telco Dito Telecommunity Corp., a consortium which includes a China-owned company, into Philippine military camps.
“Under their Counter-Espionage Law of 2014 and Chinese National Intelligence Law of 2017 the Chinese government lays down instances wherein its citizens and organizations can be mobilized in support of espionage activities as well as information and intelligence gathering,” he said.
“We are also concerned about personal information of our kababayans. Again this is information communication technology. We do hope that before an approval is made, there is serious assessment regarding putting safeguards in place to ensure that the personal information of those using this telco will be protected, that there would be no breach,” he added.
At the plenary budget hearing of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Pangilinan asked the defense establishment about the co-location memorandum of agreement.
Pangilinan quoted provisions of the Chinese laws.
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