(MANILA BULLETIN/ Mark Balmores)
The proposed Philippine Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program–one of four remaining bills on the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) list–has been overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.
Embodied in House Bill (HB) No. 9713, the measure was passed during plenary session Tuesday, Jan. 23, or just the second session day of the year.
The measure, which aims to boost the country’s national defense industry, garnered 194 affirmative votes during nominal voting. Only three House members voted in the negative, while there were zero abstentions.
The three remaining LEDAC measures out of the list of 57 are the bill proposing amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which is under technical working group finalization; and Budget Modernization Bill and National Defense Act, which are both under committee consideration.
“The bill provides that the concept of self-reliance shall be manifested in the continued preference on local production of materiel, when feasible, for the country’s defense forces through the partnership between the military and civilian establishments,” House Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a statement after HB No.9713’s final passage.
“The aim is to develop the defense capability of the country and rationalize defense acquisition,” he noted.
It intends to support the country’s defense force through military and civilian partnership and local production of materiel. This refers to military technology; materials and equipment, including arms and ammunition; and combat clothing.
“Recourse to importation will only be resorted to for requirements that cannot be locally produced. The bill essentially provides for government support to the technical and financial needs of civilian manufacturers materiel,” added Romualdez.
Section 6 of the proposed law allows in-country enterprises engaged or proposing to engage in the manufacture, servicing, and operation of materiel for the government to be registered with the Board of Investments and avail of incentives under the National Internal Revenue Code.
Meanwhile, Section 14 creates the Office of the Undersecretary for Defense Technology Research and Industry Development, which will manage a databank for analysis, research, and development for defense industry promotion.
The bill also seeks to establish the Self-Reliant Defense Posture Trust Fund.
This fund will come from the savings generated from the annual net income of the government arsenal, shares of the government revenues from proceeds of reclamation projects determined by the President, grants and donations, and other sources as may be determined by the Department of National Defense (DND).