Philippines outlines $5.6bn plan to modernize forces by 2028

Soldiers take part in a parade during the 79th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon city, Manila December 18, 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 22 June 2018

Philippines outlines $5.6bn plan to modernize forces by 2028

  • Out of the roughly $5.6 billion approved by Duterte, $2.6 billion will be for the air force, $1.4 billion for the navy, $890 million for the army, and some for the government’s arsenal and for the AFP general headquarters
  • The 15-year RADPMP began during the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, but implementation of the program was delayed. It was only toward the end of the Aquino administration that the first phase of the program was approved

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte recently approved the second phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) with funding of about 300 billion pesos ($5.6 billion).
In an interview with Arab News, Defense Department (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said this will enable the government to get back on track establishing “a credible defense posture.”
Under horizon two of RAFPMP, which is expected to run from 2018 to 2022, new equipment will be acquired to modernize the country’s outdated military. This will include submarines, frigates, fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), howitzers, crew-served weapons and radar.
Some of the items, including the submarines, were originally slated for acquisition under horizon three of the RAFPMP set for 2023 to 2028. The Duterte administration, however, decided to bring the acquisition forward to the second horizon.
Andolong cited two reasons why the government has decided to track the military’s modernization. “One is our desire, and the president recognizes this, to bring our modernization back on track. And, two, is that the ever-evolving security situation calls for it already.” He also pointed out the geopolitical climate in the region, with rising tensions between the US and China, and other countries that have interest in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.
“Unfortunately, we are in the middle of all of that. The government has realized that we cannot afford to just sit back and wait for these things (AFP modernization) to happen on their own. We really need to have political will,” Andolong said.
The 15-year RADPMP began during the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, but implementation of the program was delayed. It was only toward the end of the Aquino administration that the first phase of the program was approved.
Out of the roughly $5.6 billion approved by Duterte, $2.6 billion will be for the air force, $1.4 billion for the navy, $890 million for the army, and some for the government’s arsenal and for the AFP general headquarters.
Equipment to be acquired for the air force includes multi-role fighters, radar systems, light utility and medium-lift aircraft, heavy-lift helicopters, UAVs, attack and combat utility helicopters, special mission and long-range patrol aircraft and trainer aircraft.
The navy will get frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, medium-lift helicopters and multi-role vessels. Purchases for the army will include towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple-launch rocket systems, light tanks, armored recovery vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment, individual weapons, crew-served weapons and night-fighting equipment.
Also on the shopping list are combat engineers, force protection, explosives ordnance disposal, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and medical equipment.
“If we do get all of this, it will enable to us to put us back on track our objective of attaining credible defense posture,” Andolong said.
“We are talking about our capability to fulfill our mandate to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is our capability to patrol our territory and repel any invaders.”
At present, the AFP lacks the capability to even verify reports such as missiles being positioned by another country in the Spratly Islands, or airborne intruders in Philippine airspace. “Information is provided to us by our allies and from the news,” Andolong said.
The Philippines’ plan is that by 2028 AFP should be a fully capable and modernized military.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 35 min 36 sec ago

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.