Americas News

US Senate eyes $500-M annual US military aid for PHL

MAKATI CITY – The United States Senate is waiting for a detailed analysis from the US Department of Defense (DOD) on the proposal to increase the annual US$40 million US military aid or Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to the Philippines to at least US$500 million.

Republican Senator William Francis Hagerty of Tennessee and Democrat Senator Tim Caine of Virginia proposed the Philippines Enhanced Resilience Act of 2024 (PERA) last April 10, which seeks to authorize a total of US$2.5 billion in FMF grant assistance to the Philippines for a span of five years, from 2025 to 2029.

In an interview in Makati, US Senator Christopher Coons said he did not sign the bill as a co-sponsor due to “some debate about the absorption capacity of the Philippine military” for them to deploy US$2.5 billion in defense financing.

Coons is a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees.

“I’m waiting to get the analysis of the US Department of Defense on whether we can allocate US$500 million a year. This would lock us into doing that for five years, I’d like to see us do it once and have it be successful,” Coons told the Philippine News Agency.

“To go from US$40 million to US$500 million in one year would be a significant move. My argument would be, let’s show that we can do that first,” he said.

Coons sees the bill as an important bipartisan indicator that there is support for the “deepening and strengthening” of the US-Philippines military partnership.

“I take it as a good sign, but I’d like to see us prove that we can actually do it. I am waiting to hear the analysis from the US Department of Defense about what the systems are, what’s needed, on what timeline, and what can actually be absorbed,” he said.

Through the FMF, the measure aims to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program and allow the Philippines to safeguard its territorial sovereignty; improve maritime domain awareness; counter coercive military activities; and strengthen cooperation on counterterrorism, among others.

As of January 2024, the Philippines is the largest recipient of US grant assistance for defense capabilities in the Pacific region, according to the US Department of Commerce-International Trade Administration. (Jeanne Michael Penaranda)

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