AFP “modernization” for imperialist war provocation

This article is available in Pilipino

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has no independence and relies on foreign support. In times of war, it does not have the capability to defend the Filipino people’s freedom and livelihood. Its orientation, operation and even its weapons are closely tied to US strategies and interests in Asia.

From the onset, the AFP has been supplied with obsolete and refurbished equipment disposed by the US army. These go through programs such as the Excess Defense Article (EDA) and foreign military financing (FMF). The funds and weapons also flow through its Overseas Contigency Operations (once called “war against terror”) which maintains a permanent base in Mindanao (then the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, and since 2017, the Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines).

Over the past decade, the US boosted its program to arm the AFP in line with its pivot to Asia. According to a 2020 public report by a US defense agency, it dumped up to $11 million (₱550 million) worth of old weapons, and other equipment in the Philippines in 2011-2019. This forms part of the nearly $442 million (₱22.1 billion) worth of “articles” or equipment authorized by the US defense agency to be transferred to the Philippines during the period.

These include two C-130s, trucks and other military vehicles, small marine vessels, clothing, tanks, dental/medical equipment, water purifiers and others. During this period, the US disposed a decommissioned warship for the Philippines to navigate in the South China Sea.

The piling of the weapons was done in the midst of then president Rodrigo Duterte show of “separating” from the US. In 2019-2021, the US authorized the export of military equipment worth nearly $171.3 million (₱8.565 billion.) In 2019 only, before Duterte “suspended” the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US provided military equipment worth $ 24 million (₱1.2 billion) through the EDA. These included short and long guns, vehicles, missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs and mines, and machines.

The US embassy in the Philippines boasts that the US provided $1.14 billion (₱57 billion) military assistance to the Philippines from 2015 to 2022. More than 41% (₱23.9 billion) was in the form of FMF. Large equipment sold by the US to the AFP include two Cessna planes, ScanEagles drones, sniping weapons and anti-bomb equipment and guns, bullets and bombs. These are used by the AFP in its counterinsurgency war against the people in the countryside.

The AFP’s “modernization” was boosted in 2018 when the reactionary state allocated $5.6 billion (₱300 billion) for the next five years. The funds were used by AFP generals to buy more US-made weapons and equipment. They also set up the purchase of “cheaper” military equipment from US subsidiaries or partner military companies in South Korea (FA-50 airplane), Israel (Hermes UAV, ATMOS 2000), Poland (Black Hawk helicopters) and so on. These large purchases are accompanied with repair and parts contracts that are equivalent or greater than the purchase contracts. These contracts serve as milking cows for the military generals.

In the end, all of the weapons purchased and received by the Philippines are authorized by the US. The AFP rejected the “weak” rifles “given” by China. Defense officials also withdrew from the contract to buy Russian helicopters claiming these did not “fit” the AFP’s current systems and operations. In reality, the AFP does not make a single move that is not in line with the orders or direction from the US.

AFP “modernization” for imperialist war provocation