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MANILA, Philippines - The government should invest in the production and development of locally-made firearms and vessels to supply the requirements of the uniformed services including the Navy and Coast Guard, according to Senator Ralph Recto.
Such policy shift will support local enterprises, create more jobs and help the Armed Forces generate savings, he added.
“Let’s favor our local enterprises and support Filipino entrepreneurs who are already making great strides in this endeavor,” said Recto, Senate ways and means chairman and senior member of the national defense and security panel.
He said it’s time the country starts producing its own firearms and vessels for its uniformed services, including the Navy and Coast Guard.
“The almost docile manufacturing sector could be restored to its robust health by developing a local firearms industry which could produce world-class handguns for use by state security forces,” Recto said.
His advocacy comes on the heels of media reports that many Filipino gunsmiths who cut their teeth in what used to be cottage industries in the countryside have since progressed, their skills tapped by foreign multinational arms makers.
The senator said that actually, the country already has an existing firearm-making industry that only needs a super boost from the government.
“The super boost will come in the form of government subscribing to these locally-made firearms and making our men in the uniformed service as the walking and breathing endorsers,” Recto said.
He stressed that arming state security forces with locally-made and procured service firearms would, in fact, increase the country’s capability to achieve a “minimum credible defense posture.”
“In building up our defenses, we must start producing our own firearms and vessels for our security forces and even for the Coast Guard,” Recto pointed out.
The senator said local gun manufacturing could also serve as impetus in positioning the country as a manufacturing hub with government economic managers projecting a $10-billion annual foreign direct investments under the Aquino presidency.
“If we are already No. 4 in shipbuilding, why can’t we produce our Navy and Coast Guard vessels? We also have a robust small firearm industry, why can’t we use them for our uniformed security personnel? Why import firearms when we can have our own?” he stressed.
The senator stressed that in choosing a foreign-led supplier, the country is favoring foreign workers and not preserving Filipino jobs.
All-Filipino Armscor group was among those which participated in the recent bidding for the firearms purchase of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Armscor is a Filipino company engaged in the manufacture of firearms and likewise makes Tanfoglio Force 99 for Italy’s Fratelli Tanfoglio.
The senator said the price difference between the foreign-led suppliers and the Filipino group could be due to the tax treatment and electricity cost.
Recto noted that favoring local suppliers complies with the constitutional mandate that the state must help promote Filipino labor and locally produced goods.
Article 12 Section 12 of the Constitution provides that: “The State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods, and adopt measures that help make them competitive.”
Recto nevertheless said that after boosting locally-made firearms, the country, through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), could turn to beefing up the navy and the coast guard fleet with “our very own locally-made patrol ships and gunboats.”
He said the President’s SONA promise to beef up the Navy with new boats could be seized as an opportunity to source and manufacture the boats locally and create thousands of jobs.
Recto said the country is now in a position to build its very own Navy and Coast Guard fleet as more Japanese shipyards are turning to Filipino skilled workers to roll out bigger and modern vessels.