MANILA, -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is hoping that Congress would allocate more than two percent of the country's gross domestic product to defense spending.
Lorenzana made the remark even as the Department of National Defense continues to have one of the biggest allocations with P134.5 billion under the P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017.
"You know I've been talking to some of the congressmen. Sabi ko sa kanila we should increase our budget. We have been underfunded for the past 50 years kaya hindi tayo makabili ng equipment e," Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana said Singapore was spending three percent of its GDP for defense while other countries in Southeast Asia were spending at least two percent.
"That's why they have more aircraft, they have more ships, they have more everything," Lorenzana said.
"Well. we are now having maybe 1.2. Siguro kung doblehin lang nila, doblehin lang nila yung 1.2, mga 2.4, 2.5... We'll be happy with that," he added.
Lorenzana said the Philippines was lagging behind in the region because the country didn't want to spend.
"Hindi puwedeng magtipid tayo diyan dahil mahuhuli ka and then before you know it, kawawang kawawa ka sa paningin ng iba," Lorenzana said.
"So i hope that the Congress could also give us sufficient funds," he added.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana said the AFP was looking to revive its bilateral military exercises with Singapore called the "Anoa-Singa."
Lorenzana said Singapore—despite being a small country of only six million people—had improved its defense capabilities since the exercises were suspended.
"We will look into that, for the revival of that Anoa-Singa, maganda kasi yan e dahil we could also learn a lot from the Singaporeans," Lorenzana said.
"They have also developed their defense industries, gumagawa sila ng kanyon, gumagawa sila ng terex, the terex is the infantry fighting vehicle," he added.
Lorenzana said he and Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen will have further discussions on the matter which he hopes would lead to a new round of exercises by 2018.
"We talked about it, sabi niya we'll talk some more about this so that... Gusto rin nilang mangyari yun [Anoa-Singa], they would like to conduct exercises with us also," Lorenzana said.
"If we can finish the discussion this year and look at the [memorandum of understanding] again maybe we can implement that next year," he added.
The Philippines is pondering to buy two to four Russian-made combat helicopter, either MI 17 or MI 24 to enhance the nation’s defense capability against conceivable internal and external threats.