The Philippines is poised for a major military transformation. Over the next decade, the country has pledged to spend up to 2 trillion pesos ($35 billion) to bolster its military capabilities, a firm step toward asserting its claims in the South China Sea.
The defense spending plan, known as Re-Horizon 3, marks the final phase of a three-phase modernization initiative that began in 2013. The move comes amid the Philippines' reassertion of its rights in the disputed waters, where China's claims have expanded.
Under the initiative, the Philippine government will intensify the acquisition of advanced weapons and equipment to strengthen its defense capabilities against increasingly complex threats. The focus will be on increasing domain awareness, improving connectivity, and enhancing surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence capabilities.
According to a statement by Col. Francel Margareth Padilla quoted by Bloomberg, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved a modernization plan. The plan aims to strengthen all aspects of the military, including the navy, air force and existing surveillance systems.
Last month, Armed Forces chief Romeo Brawner Jr. announced that the military is seeking to increase the number of ships, aircraft, and radar systems in its modernization program. This effort is part of its efforts to modernize and strengthen the country's defense capabilities.
Before to this initiative, the Armed Forces of the Philippines proposed an earlier iteration known as "Horizon 3". In this blueprint, they planned to acquire various military equipment such as multi-role fighter aircraft, frigates, missiles, and radar systems. Like the primary goal of Re-Horizon 3, this blueprint also aimed to strengthen the Philippine military, which is still considered one of the weakest in the region.
However, financial constraints forced the Armed Forces to revise and update its weapons wish list. The current version also emphasizes a "comprehensive archipelagic defense concept" that allows the Philippines to project military power into areas that require additional protection.
In the face of maritime tensions with Beijing in resource-rich waterways, Marcos has ordered the military to shift its focus to external defense. Meanwhile, efforts to strengthen security ties with countries such as the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom have also become a priority.