Brunei claims territory in Sarawak, such as Limbang, and it is one of many nations to lay claim to the disputed Spratly Islands. Several small islands situated between Brunei and Labuan, including Kuraman island, are contested between Brunei and Malaysia. However, they are internationally recognized as part of the latter. Can countries like the Philippines and Laos, to name but two, ever modernize their armed forces to Malaysian or Singaporean standards? It will be hard for the Philippines and Laos to reach the standards set by Malaysia and Singapore militaries, because it cost lots of money which the former two do not have.
While the rest of ASEAN has made sustained efforts since 1975 to develop their conventional warfare capabilities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been preoccupied with serious internal security challenges stemming from the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Muslim Moro rebellion in the south. Another preoccupation has been political factionalism and involvement in domestic politics, a trend encouraged by Marcos and which later led to a breakdown in cohesiveness during the Aquino era from 1987. Moreover, the poor state of the Philippine economy has been a serious constraint on military modernization.
The Philippines, a former colony of the United States and an ally in most of its moves, has armed forces of about 120,000 men plus a police force of 100,000 men. Most of its equipments are of World War II vintage or recent US Army discards. Philippines has for decades requesting the United States for military aids and replacements of its “ flying coffins “ planes, but the pleas passed thru deaf ears of Washington officials. But what they can do, which is being done by the Philippines, is to ask military 14 assistance from rich countries like USA, Japan, Britain and France.
They could also shop around for second-hand or surplus equipments which are not so out-moded. And also, they could manufacture equipments that they are capable of producing. They could also augment their capability lieu of sophisticated equipments the by improving their military trainings. The Philippines seems to be successful in this aspect, as evidenced by the fact that it is in full control of its internal insurgency problem. . The Philippines was able to circumvent the problem of external defense through the security alliance with the United States.
But, Philippines has a chance to catch up in the near future, considering that it has 90 Million populations with a very literacy rate of more than 90%. It posted an economic growth rate of 7. 5%, the highest in the region last year 2007. Will this lead to the creation of strategic ghettos in the region? Inequalities in degree of modernization could result in strategic ghettos. But this could be prevented if mutual military defense agreements with other sympathetic and capable countries could be made. Due to military agreements, countries no matter how poor it is can control its local insurgencies.
History have shown that the downfall of a government is not usually due to the condition of its military equipments, but most often due to lost of trust by the governed Philippines and the United States of America became treaty allies almost half a century ago when the two countries concluded a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in 1951. The bilateral Philippine-American defense relationship that was built on the MDT has been a bulwark for the external defense of the Philippines and a major instrument that has helped preserve the security of East Asia.
As the Philippines and the United States prepare to enter the 21st Century, both countries believe their defense alliance remains essential for regional peace and stability. The East Asian region has more than its share of serious regional tensions and potential security flashpoints. Faced with this environment of regional uncertainty, the Philippines seek to enhance its defense capability and strengthen the effectiveness of its bilateral relationship with the United States. The Visiting Forces Agreement was designed for this purpose.
Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Utilization of the Military Engineering Equipment Assistance Loan Provided by China to the Philippines. Signed in Beijing on 29 July 1996. 9The RP-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) is a bilateral agreement between the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and the Commonwealth of Australia concerning the status of visiting forces from each state while in the territory of the other state.
The agreement was signed in Canberra, Australia on 31 May 2007 by Philippine Defense Secretary 16 Hermogenes Ebdane and his Australian counterpart Defense Minister Brendan Nelson. The signing was witnessed by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. CONCLUSION- Military Modernization is a necessity. But not everybody could afford it. Despite of these, there are some ways for these poor countries to mitigate its military capability deficiency- like seeking mutual cooperation with friendly countries, and also seeking assistance from rich countries.
Modernization of a country must depend on its financial capability and security needs. Regional security is dependent on combinations of external and internal influences. Every country has its goals, and sometimes, in the process of aspiring to attain this, the rights of another country are affected. Thus, military capabilities tune-down these wayward aspirations. Military might is said to induce hostilities, but it also, most of the times, prevents it because it breeds respect for each other strength. http://www. dfa. gov.ph/vfa/frame/frmpri. htm 9http://www. philembassy- china. org/relations/agreements.
html 17 Bibliography Washingtonpost. com China: Containment Won’t WorkBy Henry A. Kissinger PostMonday, June 13, 2005; A19 Ott, Marvin C. Strategic Forum 10/1/2006 www. japanfocus. org/products/details/2627 Journal article by Jian Yang; Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 25, 2003 Morton Abramowitz YaleGlobal, 8 January 2008 http://www. trinstitute. org/ojpcr/1_2sama. htm Tan, Andrew. “Force Modernization Trends in Southeast Asia” (Singapore: IDSS Working Paper No. 59, Jan 04).