MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines only has World War 2-era ships to guard against China's intrusion into the country's territory, President Benigno Aquino admitted Tuesday.
In a forum with students of The Learning Tree Child Growth Center, Inc. at Sikatuna Village in Quezon City, Aquino said the Philippine Navy has 132 ships to patrol the country's coastal areas and 200-mile (exclusive) economic zone.
"Do we have a modern Navy? We have 132 ships to guard the 36,000 kilometers. So bahala ka nang mag-divide, ano. How many kilometers does each ship have to guard? And it's just the coastline," the President said.
"Most of these ships are (since) World War II or older. So parang they were shortly -- parang mga 1940s," he said.
Aquino issued the statement in response to a question made by a student if the Philippines has any efficient and modern equipment if the need to defend Panatag Shoal from China arises.
He said the Navy only has 2 relatively new ships -- the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz -- which are former US Coast Guard cutters.
The President said the government, in trying to protect the country's rights, won't "necessarily mean we have to go to war with China."
"Don't forget, there are 1.3 billion Chinese in the People's Republic of China. We are 95 million Filipinos. They are a world superpower; they are a nuclear power; and it doesn't help us nor does it help the Chinese to go into war," he said.
He said the Philippines can go to international bodies to find redress. "So when we protect our rights, we can go to court. Amongst the fora that we can go to is a body under the UN called the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas where we can make our case and we think we have a very good case. And once that tribunal recognizes it or other fora that we can go to, then China will have to recognize our rights."
"I am mandated to protect our national integrity and our national sovereignty. But none of us in government and I don't think the Chinese also would want to go into a war over uninhabitable rock formations," he added.