Lower House OKs bill boosting PH arms production, exportation capability

Published February 3, 2021, 7:22 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill proposing to boost the country’s arms industry and encourage exportation of conventional weapons and equipment.

MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO

With 196 affirmative and six negative votes, House Bill 8212 or the Special Defense Economic Zone (SpeDEZ) Act was given a swift approval as majority of House members are optimistic the measure will help improve the country’s bid towards economic recovery.

   Authored by Bataan Rep. Jose Enrique S. Garcia III, HB 8212 provides for the establishment of a SpeDEZ inside the government arsenal defense industrial estate in Camp Gen. Antonio Luna located in Limay, Bataan.

Passage of HB 8212 drew strong support from the  House Committees on Economic Affairs, on Trade and Industry, on Ways and Means and on Appropriations.

However, all six members of the Makabayan block thumbed down the bill.

“While it is true that any nation must cultivate its own capability to manufacture defense equipment and material in its own territory without relying on external suppliers, such aim fails flat when a regime directs its guns on its own people,” stated Garbiela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas in explaining her “no” vote.

Brosas said building an SpeDEZ cannot translate to “better and more viable defense capability” because the government continues to prioritize militarism in the country.

“We also strongly doubt that creating a Special Defense Economic Zone will reduce our reliance on hand-me down military hardware and supplies from foreign countries, especially with the Duterte administration’s mendicant foreign policy and the annual funding of the AFP Modernization Program that seeks procurement from external sources,” said Brosas.

Proponents of the measure said the bill seeks to “establish a globally competitive, centralized, government-sanctioned arms industry”.

Despite importing weapons for security and anti-crime efforts, Philippines is actually capable of producing conventional weapons and equipment for domestic use and export, said Garcia.

He said HB 8212 will convert the government arsenal in barangay Lamao, Limay into a SpeDEZ that will be managed by a proposed Special Defense Economic Zone Authority.

To encourage foreign business groups to invest in the arms-making endeavor, the bill provides investor’s visa for a minimum $200,000 investment.

The bill also mandates an authorized capital stock of P3 billion to be subscribed wholly by the national government.

 
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