2014-01-03 17:46:36 - Fast Market Research recommends "Philippines Defence & Security Report Q1 2014" from Business Monitor International, now available
In Q413, Typhoon Haiyan has unsurprisingly been at the centre of defence and security developments in the Philippines. Recent estimates suggest that the cost of reconstruction may reach over US $5 billion. The latest figures put the death toll at over 5,000, with many more people still missing. The Pacific Disaster Center puts the number of destroyed or damaged houses at over 1 million. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan many questions have been raised regarding the response of the Philippine military in disaster affected areas. This has led to discussions over the priorities of the Philippines military as well as the quality and quantity of its equipment. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the typhoon renewed speculations has arisen about
the Philippines close relationship with the United States. In other developments, the Philippine government strongly rejected China's newly declared 'air defence zone' in the East China Sea. This once again reaffirms the Philippines commitment to boosting regional alliances to counterbalance China's increasing assertiveness.
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The Philippine military's response to Typhoon Haiyan highlighted many deficiencies in its ability to respond effectively to natural disasters. There have been numerous accounts citing the army's lack of sophisticated communications equipment. Instead messages were ferried between provincial headquarters and disaster stricken areas via an impromptu courier system of motorcycles and boats. Furthermore the Philippine military claimed that it only had three functioning transport aircraft to deliver troops and supplies in the days after Typhoon Haiyan.
Consequently, renewed discussions over the future path of the Philippine military have developed. Typhoon Haiyan has the potential to significantly shape the development path taken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). A challenging geo-political environment, a susceptibility to natural disaster such as typhoons and earthquakes, as well as domestic counterinsurgency operations, have left the AFP overstretched. There is a developing opinion that that AFP must choose between orienting itself towards external defence or humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR). However, given China's increasing aggression in asserting its regional territorial claims - most recently demonstrated by its declaration of an 'air defence zone' in the East China Sea - the AFP is left with a strategic dilemma regarding the allocation of finite resources.
With China's deployment of an aircraft carrier to the South China/West Philippine Sea in late November 2013, as well as China's occupation of the disputed Scarborough Shoal since July, the Philippines fears that China may encroach further into areas currently under Philippine control. Consequently we can expect to see the Philippines deepen security and defence relations with its main ally, the United States. This is especially likely given the Philippines need to balance external defence and HADR demands. Indeed, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has said that the US military deployment in the Philippines post-Haiyan highlighted the need to conclude more long-term basing arrangements for US forces in the country. In a joint press conference between Del Rosario and two US Congressmen in November 2013, it was also highlighted that the permanent basing of US forces in the Philippines was needed because of 'great common potential opponents', namely China.
Besides the United States, Manila has continued to engage with a number of allies in an attempt to modernise its armed forces. In November 2013 the Philippine Air Force (PAF) signed a contract for eight twin engine AW 109 Power Helicopters from Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland. While no agreement has yet been signed, latest reports suggest that the Philippines will continue to pursue its acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea. In mid-October 2013, President Beigno Aquino III vowed to speed up the process for the procurement, as currently the Philippines has no fighter jets in its fleet. In other developments the Philippines announced in November a tender for a naval base upgrade on Palawan Island. This will consist of a new port at the Ulugan Bay Naval Station on the South China Sea side of the island.
In terms of domestic security, peace negotiations continue between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim rebel group located on the southern island of Mindanao. According to the Philippine government's chief negotiator discussions were, as of November 2013, moving slowly but heading in the right direction. Negotiations are focused on establishing a semi-autonomous, power-sharing agreement that would give MILF a self-governing Muslim homeland. In late November, two feuding Moro factions signed a truce, paving the way for more progress in negotiations between MILF and the government in the coming days, weeks and months.
* Defence expenditure is forecast to constitute 7.44% of government spending in 2014, rising to 9.10% of government spending by 2020.
* In November 2013 the PAF signed a US$78.7mn contract with AgustaWestland for eight brand new AQ 109 Power helicopters.
* Philippine DoD issues tender for naval base upgrade on Palawan Island.
* Reconstruction costs following Typhoon Haiyan estimated to exceed US$5bn
* USA and Philippines announce need to build more permanent basing facilities for US troops in the Philippines.
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