Philippines steps up defense spending as China row continues


(Bloomberg) — The Philippines continues to increase its defense spending as it seeks private sector support to protect the country’s claims in the disputed South China Sea.

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Defense Minister Gilberto Teodoro said he is pushing for his department’s budget to rise to more than 1% of economic output, excluding military pensions.

The Philippines is trying to improve its defense capabilities and catch up with its neighbors at a time when its military assets are being hurt by frequent clashes with Beijing in disputed waters. Its defense budget was increased to 278.1 billion pesos ($4.8 billion) by 2024.

The defence chief is also asking the private sector to structure debt sales to raise money to support the Southeast Asian country’s claims in the South China Sea.

“It is up to them to see what the market need is at a particular point of time,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a business forum on Wednesday.

The intended buyers are investors looking to benefit from a possible improvement in the country’s credit rating and other defense industry companies, he said, adding that “there are many creative ways” to raise funds.

“The most important thing is to ease the government’s financial position and not sacrifice modernization,” Teodoro said.

–With assistance from Ditas Lopez.

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