The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) parade its military land assets during its 80th founding anniversary on Monday (Dec. 21, 2015) at Clark Air Base in Pampanga province. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

The Philippine government were asked on Monday by the Congress to study a proposal to issue a P150 billion ($3.2 billion) retail bond to fund a long-term military modernization plan to secure its strategic reserves in the West Philippine Sea.

“The bulk of the additional funds raised from the bond offering may be set aside to acquire new warships, like frigates and corvettes, for deployment to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea),” deputy minority leader at the lower house of Congress, Arnel Ty told reporters.

“We have to invest in new warships to secure the potential huge oil and gas deposits in the West Philippine Sea, which are the key to our energy independence.”

Ty said that they will ask the treasury to consider the bond issue to enable Filipinos to save and at the same time to be able to help secure the Philippines’ maritime borders against China.

Roberto Tan of Bureau of the Treasury told Reuters he had not been advised about the submission, saying “I still have to familiarize myself with the proposal”.

President Benigno Aquino, last month, vowed to leave behind a stronger and more capable military to face maritime challenges in the contested Spraty Islands when he leaves office on June 30, spending 83.9 billion peso for a five-year military modernization plan extending to 2017.

Aquino has spent about 50 billion pesos on military equipment, since coming to office in 2010.

The Congress this year, allocated 25 billion pesos to acquire two frigates, three anti-submarine helicopters, six close air support planes and munitions for the South Korean-made FA-50 light fighter jets.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has an ambitious 15-year modernization program to spend about 998 billion pesos to acquire submarines, advanced missile systems, and surveillance aircraft to match its South-east Asian neighbors. -John Esconde