Philippines, favorite customer of the criminal Elbit System
Billions of pesos in Filipino people’s money have been cornered by the Elbit Systems, an Israeli company, which is one of the main weapons suppliers for the supposed “modernization” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The latest contract includes two old ATR 72-600, commercial planes that will be refurbished for surveillance and combat operations. The contract is worth $114 million or ₱3.135 billion per airplane.
Elbit is the largest Israeli company directly involved in the genocide of the Palestinian people and is considered a war criminal. Since 2007, this company has been on the list of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement led by the Palestinian people and supported by many groups in the world. This movement calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli companies involved in Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, and maintenance of the West Bank wall that imprisons Palestinians in what is known as “biggest prison” in the world.
Israel is the main ally and partner of the US in the Middle East. It is the biggest recipient of US military aid in the world, in violation of the 1982 United Nations Security Council resolution that called for a comprehensive military embargo against the country. The military industries of the two countries are closely linked.
Consistently a puppet of the US military, the AFP is a “favored customer” of old and refurbished Elbit weapons. Most of the contracts awarded during then Duterte regime are being continued by the current Marcos regime.
Among the military equipment the AFP purchased or asked refurbishing from Elbit are the following:
- Sabrah tanks to form the 1st Tank Battalion Armor Division to base in Tarlac. The contract for this amounts to ₱9.4 billion. General Dynamics Land Systems, an American company, manufactures the tanks.
- M125A2 tanks which arrived in December 2021. Some were deployed to the 76th IB in Barangay San Luis, Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro; to the 3rd ID for military use in Central and Western Visayas; and to the 4th Mechanized IB in Pantao Ragat, Lanao del Norte.
- Merkava IV-based armored bridgelayer worth $27.7 million delivered in July 2022. Merkava bridgelayers are tanks built by private US military contractor Leonardo DRS, and repaired by Elbit.
- Autonomous Truck Mounted howitzer System (ATMOS) worth $47 million or ₱215.41 million each. They are deployed in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Maguindanao, and in the 3rd ID in Western Visayas. The AFP formed and trained the 10th Field Artillery Battalion in 2022 to operate them.
- M-17 towed howitzers worth ₱410.85 million and deployed to various battalions including the 7th Field Artillery Battalion in Butuan City.
- THOR and other drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and their ground stations worth $163 million (₱8.965 billion).
- UAVs worth $175 million. These consist of nine Hermes 900 and four Hermes 450 which have been flown since August 2019.
- contract for the installation of remote controlled weapons systems on 100 M-113 armored personnel carriers. These APCs, provided by the US in 2014, were used in the AFP siege on Marawi City in 2017.
Apart from these, Elbit is involved in the construction of the Armor Maintenance Depot of the Philippine Army at Camp O’Donnell in Barangay Santa Lucia in Capas, Tarlac. Elbit-refurbished armor and mechanized vehicles of the AFP will be stored here. In April, the military’s “installation battalion” evicted hundreds of farmers and residents of Barangay Santa Lucia and Barangay Lawy to make way for the expansion of the said military camp.