Press Releases

Salceda to underscore PH readiness for defense against aggressive naval incursions, terms of US-PH mutual defense treaty in 2024 budget deliberations

July 9th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says that he will be fielding questions to enhance discussions on the country’s maritime defense capabilities and updates on the review of the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty during the budget deliberations on the 2024 General Appropriations Act, in the wake of a larger-than-usual incursion of some 48 Chinese vessels into Philippine waters this week.

“I’m glad Secretary Teodoro is now on board the administration because we have serious questions of maritime defense capabilities that need to be addressed in the 2024 budget. I will be sending in questions that I hope the DND, the National Security Adviser, and the Philippine Coast Guard can provide answers to during the budget hearings,” Salceda said.

“To the extent that discretion allows, it is the public’s interest to know what preparations are being made to defend our territorial waters and what resources are needed to ensure we are ready,” Salceda added.

Salceda also says that “a fuller picture would help us understand what policy reforms are needed to bolster our defense capabilities.”

As an example, Salceda says, the Ways and Means committee worked on amendments to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Law, to accommodate more foreign aid from European countries in the areas of defense.

“So, what we really need from the DND is how much would it take to get us to adequate readiness. It doesn’t matter what we can afford. We can explore different sources. What matters is how far we have gone and what steps we still need to take,” Salceda added.

PH to acquire advanced defense capabilities this year

Salceda also said he supports the acquisition of advanced defense capabilities as part of AFP modernization.

“This year, we will be acquiring US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Indian BrahMos anti-ship cruise missiles. They have lethal capacity to maritime aggression. This is one of the most underreported accomplishments of the President, and I fully support him in this. We in Congress will make room in the budget and our foreign aid policy for this.”

“PBBM is accomplishing many things under the radar. One of the major strides of his administration is AFP modernization. He’s able to do that because his emphasis on peacemaking and internal unity is allowing us to focus more on external threats.”

“Moving forward, my Committee also hopes to support with policy our capability to build ships, and a homegrown defense industry. Every decent military force has one.”

Updates on PH-US defense treaty review needed

Salceda also says he intends to ask the DND on whether there are updates or changes to the previous administration’s policy of reviewing the PH-US mutual defense treaty, including the triggers and extent to which the US will help defend Philippine security interests.

“The US has dramatically expanded its military footprint in the Philippines, so it is important that lawmakers understand how, when, and to what extent that presence will be used. What counts as an act of aggression that the US will defend the Philippines from? I think clarity on that scale is also a deterrent to would-be aggressors. Otherwise, what’s the point of having the US here with their big guns?”

“I don’t think we should be content with the US’s policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ in Asia-Pacific. I support the reinvigorated partnership between our countries. But having more US bases here serves their security interests. It’s a fair price to ask for clarity,” Salceda added.

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