MANILA - The Philippine government has reiterated the importance of purchasing helicopters and other defense equipment from the United States amid opposition to the sale.
In a statement, the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC said the Philippine military’s defense modernization program “is critical to national security and necessary to achieving a credible defense posture” and will help make the Philippines “a more robust and effective security partner” in Asia and the Pacific “especially at a time of traditional and emerging security challenges.”
“It is unfortunate that certain groups seek to take advantage of this issue to advance their own political agenda, even to the detriment of the long-standing alliance between the Philippines and the United States,” the embassy said, adding that the defense modernization program has been pursued not only by the Duterte administration but also by previous administrations.
The US State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to the Philippine government of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale in April. The notice of a potential sale is required by US law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
Several groups in the US have opposed the possible sale, citing alleged human rights violations of the Duterte government. After the notice, Congress will have a window to review the proposed sale.
Earlier this month, it was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana himself who said the US purchase would be too expensive for the Philippines and that government was looking for other suppliers.
In a statement, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency justified the proposed sale, saying it “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in Southeast Asia.”
“The proposed sale will assist the Philippines in developing and maintaining strong self-defense, counterterrorism, and critical infrastructure protection capabilities. The Philippines will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces,” it said.
The Philippines is considering either the AH-64E or the AH-1Z to modernize its attack helicopter capabilities.
“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the US Agency said.
The principal contractors will be Boeing and Lockheed Martin.