MANILA – The Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. on Friday slammed groups opposing the possible sale of American military equipment to the Philippines.
“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,” its statement read.
The State Department on April 30 notified the US Congress of its “determination approving” two possible foreign military sales to the Philippines.
These include six AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and support equipment valued at USD450 million while the other are six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment at about USD1.5 billion.
Some groups, including the Human Rights Watch, opposed the said sales, citing the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs and counter-insurgency operations.
The embassy, meanwhile, said that Manila’s defense modernization program has been pursued not only by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte but also by previous leaders.
“The program is critical to national security and necessary to achieving a credible defense posture,” it said.
In addition, it positions the Philippines as a “more robust and effective security partner” for countries in the Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.
READ: DND chief says PH budget for US attack helicopters ‘too tight’
While the government acknowledged the State Department’s approval, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said Manila’s current budget for the attack helicopter program is only PHP13 billion or approximately USD256 million by the current exchange rate.
The Philippine Air Force is considering the acquisition of Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 helicopters. (IA/PNA)