MANILA - For Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Philippines should instead invest in research and development instead of purchasing firearms with the $500-million loan from China.
Noting that the Armed Forces of the Philippines has its Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) program, Lacson on Tuesday said: "Kasi ang nangyayari bili tayo nang bili, di tayo nag-i-improve sa development. Ang daming talented people, R and D. Kulang ang pondo natin sa DOST (Department of Science and Technology)."
"Bibili na naman tayo, maglo-loan tayo ng $500M. Di ba mas practical mag-set aside tayo ng popondohan ang R and D para ma-harness ang talent, at di na tayo bibili in the future? Tayo na mag-manufacture?," he told reporters in an ambush interview at the Senate.
Although military's SRDP program has been in place since the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Lacson noted that it still stands and there had actually been a "collusion" between the DOST and the Department of National Defense last year to enhance it.
However, he said the program did not take off because it lacked funding.
Lacson, a former police chief, also lamented that in terms of budget, the DOST is a "neglected agency," when the country would have gained so much if it would do its own research and development.
"Ang problema kasi, whenever we procure, sa halip na research and development natin nagtatrabaho para paghusayan ang ating pag-imbento, ang ginagawa, ang nire-research, Google. Nagre-research sa internet kung anong bibilhin," he said.
"More often than not... sa halip na user-friendly, ang end-user makikinabang, nagiging supplier-friendly tayo. Kung sino may available na supply at may kakilala ng nagpo-procure, doon bibili maski di kailangan."
"Pero kung made-develop natin ang research natin at tayo magpo-produce ng sariling firearms, sariling armament, ang equipage, ang laki ng matitipid natin. Makapag-export pa tayo. Sayang eh," he added.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said China offered a $500-million loan to the Philippines, which can be used for procuring defense equipment once the military's modernization fund has been depleted.
He also revealed that Philippines might procure defense equipment from China, and that the government will sign a letter of intent to deal with Chinese arms manufacturer Poly Technologies Inc.
- With reports from Sherrie Ann Torres and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News