The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today condemned the Duterte regime for formally placing its order of P2.4 billion worth of artillery systems from Israeli company Elbit Systems amid the Covid-19 crisis. The Department of National Defense (DND) issued a Notice to Proceed with the purchase early last month.
“The Duterte regime’s plan to squander public funds through this extravagant arms procurement program is a flagrant insult to the Filipino majority who are suffering and urgently demanding adequate public health response and immediate economic relief amid the Covid-19 crisis,” said Marco Valbuena, Chief Information Officer of the CPP.
The P2.4-billion arms deal covers the procurement of two ATMOS 2000 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzer systems, including two batteries with six mobile firing units each and associated support systems.
The said system has a maximum range of 41 kilometers and a fire rate of 3 rounds/15 seconds on burst mode, 5 rounds/minute on rapid mode, and more than 80 rounds per hour on sustained mode.
The procurement program, which was made under the AFP modernization program, primarily aims to boost the Duterte’s arsenal in a vain attempt to fulfill his promise to decimate the armed revolutionary movement before the end of his term.
Valbuena pointed out that conducting artillery shelling is ineffective against highly mobile guerrilla units. He noted, however, that “the use of oversized cannons and helicopter gunships will only result in indiscriminate destruction of communities and the environment, endanger people’s lives and livelihood, and cause psychological trauma especially on children.”
The completion of the delivery of the aforementioned war materiel is set on April 2022 based on a 24-month contract. The first set of artillery system is expected to be delivered next year.
Earlier on Sunday, the CPP also condemned the US State Department’s issuance of a certification last April 30 approving the Duterte government’s request to buy P75 billion worth of attack helicopters, missiles and other war materiel and services.
“The Filipino people demand the cancellation of these procurement contracts and the realignment of the budget intended for these to fund much needed heath services and economic measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people,” reiterated Valbuena.