China-Philippines Scarborough Shoal Row Pushes Manila To Upgrade Military

The Philippines, which is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, is set to acquire new warplanes within two years as part of its strategic defense plan.

Speaking at the 65th anniversary of the Philippines Air Force on July 6, 2012, the country’s defense minister, Voltaire Gazmin, said that the country’s military upgrade plan includes the purchase of attack aircraft, lead-in-fighter-trainers, attack helicopters and transport aircraft. Gazmin’s speech is available on the Department of National Defense website from July 7, 2012. 
The defense minister's announcement came just a few days after President Benigno Aquino said that the Philippines could place a request to the United States to deploy US P3C Orion spy planes over the South China Sea, The Straits Times reported on July 2, 2012. 
The weakness of the Philippines military was highlighted when the Philippines got into a standoff with China in April, 2012, over the Scarborough Shoal, an outcropping of rocks in the South China Sea that both countries claim territory. The Scarborough Shoal is coveted both by China and the Philippines as the region could contain oil and gas reserves.
Beijing claims almost all the South China Sea, but Manila says that the shoal is well within its (230 miles) 370 kilometers exclusive economic zone. The Scarborough Shoal is termed as Panatag by the Philippines and Huangyan by China.
The Philippines have had earlier rows with China over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The Spratly Islands have been a flashpoint for confrontation between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei on many occasions. All six lay claim to the Spratly Islands, which sit on potentially rich offshore oil and gas blocks.


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