Strategy Page, on the Philippines’ financial and strategic problems:
The Philippines is asking the U.S. for some used F-16 jet fighters. The Philippines is broke, so the proposed deal is for free F-16s, with the Philippines paying for any upgrades or modifications needed for service in the Philippines Air Force. Normally, the Philippines has no practical need for a jet fighter force. But this has changed because of possible clashes with China, the Filipinos are being practical. China is claiming Filipino territorial waters, including places where the Philippines authorized drilling for oil and gas. The Philippines could never afford to buy, or even just maintain warplanes sufficient to deal with a Chinese air threat. The Philippines depends on its friendship with the United States for protection. American warplanes provide better protection than any jet fighters the Philippines could put in the air. But the Philippines would like a dozen or so F-16s just so they can chase away Chinese warplanes that increasingly fly into Filipino air space.
Six years ago, the Philippines removed from service its eight F-5 fighters. These 1960s era aircraft were not much of a match for more recent warplanes, and were expensive to maintain. In the meantime, the Philippines has been using armed trainer aircraft for strikes against Moslem and communist rebels.