House to boost defense budget, backs Palace’s stance on West Philippine Sea
November 11, 2023 | 11:36am
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Martin Romualdez confirmed on Friday that Congress will increase the defense budget in the 2024 national budget to strengthen efforts in securing Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.
This comes as Romualdez reiterated Congress’s “full support” behind Malacanang’s policy to secure the West Philippine Sea, at the same time condemning China’s continued intrusion in Philippine waters.
The lawmaker made the statement Friday evening at “The Defense Forum” organized by the National Defense College of the Philippines Alumni Association at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, where Romualdez was keynote speaker.
“Under the proposed 2024 budget, the allocation for the defense sector is P282.7 billion or 21.6% more compared to the P203.4 billion allocation under the 2023 budget. This fund will support the ‘Land, Air, and Naval Forces Defense Programs’ totaling P188.5 billion, as well as the UN Peacekeeping Mission, among others, to ensure domestic security,” Romualdez said.
“This amount does not include P1.23 billion worth of confidential and intelligence funds, which the House of Representatives realigned to the frontline agencies in charge of ensuring national security and protecting the country’s territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
Romualdez outlined the defense budget reallocation, which encompasses P300 million for the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, P100 million for the National Security Council, P200 million for intelligence activities and ammunition for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and P381.3 million for the development or expansion of Pag-Asa Island Airport under the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The House leader’s statement coincides with ongoing incidents of Chinese ships harassing Filipino sailors in the West Philippine Sea, which involve the firing of water cannons at Filipino resupply boats in Ayungin Shoal.
“Make no mistake about it. The House of Representatives fully supports the position of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that we should continue to assert our sovereignty in the West Philippine Seas and that we should defend every inch of our territory,” Romualdez said.
“We have embarked on a strategic journey, not only to modernize our military assets but also to ensure that our personnel are equipped with the fortitude of skill and the assurance of a nation’s unwavering support,” he added.
Romualdez also acknowledged the “brave men and women in uniform” in his speech, describing them as “sentinels of sovereignty, safeguarding our nation’s territory against constant challenges.”