LAS VEGAS, Nevada—Martin Tuason has expressed his all-out support for the revival of the passing of the Self-Reliant Defense Program (SRDP), or now the Philippine Defense Industry Development Act within the year to empower the country’s national defense and create more jobs for the Filipinos.
Tuason, the chairman/president and chief executive officer of ARMSCOR Global Defense Inc. (AGDI), told the BusinessMirror he hopes the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. would continue his father’s promising programs on national defense.
“I’m taking what the President [Marcos Jr.] had said seriously to bring national defense back home to the Philippines,” the 48-year-old third-generation Tuason arms manufacturer said over breakfast Filipino journalists over the weekend.
He explained that the proposed law, which is already being tackled in the bicameral now, would not only stabilize the country’s national defense but would also help create jobs.
The son of Bolo Tuason also hopes the pending SRDP bill will be signed by President Marcos before his next State of the Nation Address.
The measure was first initiated in 1974 during the time of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
However, SRDP was no longer pursued after the Edsa Revolution in 1986.
Now with three leaders—President Marcos Jr., Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Speaker Martin Romualdez—all vowing to create more opportunities and jobs, Tuason believes the future looks very bright for the country and its national defense.
“So now, we have the opportunity to be a defense player, that’s why I really want to bring back the SRDP,” Tuason said, adding that he really wants the country to be more self-reliant when it comes to producing weaponry instead of importing.
“Why [are] our tax pesos going to Israel? Why are our tax pesos going to Brazil? Why are our tax pesos going to the United States? Why are our tax pesos going anywhere, but not to a Filipino pocket? That’s the question here to ask,” Tuason added.
For the SRDP program, the Armed Forces of the Philippines can directly negotiate with the private industry like ARMSCOR Global Defense and deliver more even on short notice, especially during times of national security threats like the Marawi Siege in 2017.
“Private industry through a bidding process was the only one who delivered during the time of actual five months of fighting in Marawi [Siege] because I was local and I offered to deliver more, but they said I couldn’t because of current laws and how things work,” Tuason explained.
If the Philippines Defense Industry Development Act is passed as a law, it will allow, he said, the AFP to negotiate with the local industries to start producing; forgse long-term contracts; make investment necessary; and provide more for the national security and base of employment in the Philippines.
Tuason’s ARMSCOR Global Defense is located in Marikina and considered as the largest manufacturer of firearms and ammunition in the Philippines; it never stopped even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It even hired people during those crazy times, he said.
“People are coming for us to be the leader to produce that [guns and ammos]. But what we really need is to stop exporting our tax pesos and keeping them at home. I want our country to be more self-reliant, and I will create jobs for the Filipino people,” he said.
ARMSCOR Global Defense is the mothership of the Armscor Cartridge Inc. in Montana, ARMSCOR/Rock Island Armory in Pahrump, Nevada and the Armscor gun manufacturing facility in Cedar, Utah.