MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy needs almost P500 billion to buy ships to effectively secure the country's vast territorial waters, a Navy official said Thursday.
The amount will go to the purchase of frigates, corvettes, patrol vessels, landing craft, submarines, and other vessels and equipment, according to Lt. Commander Nerelito Martinez, Philippine Fleet acting chief of staff for plans and programs.
He said the need for such vessels and new equipment was thoroughly assessed during the Navy's strategic planning workshop last year.
"Current market research and assessment will give us a figure of about P497 billion for the acquisition of all the listed equipment. It may be costly at our current standards but is not unrealistic," Martinez said.
The vessels that the Navy needs now are 6 frigates configured for anti-air warfare. The frigates will be able to carry helicopters.
"The vessels shall be deployed for naval deterrence and naval presence in critical areas. The vessels shall also be deployed to support the country's international defense and security engagements having (the) capability for long-range high seas navigation," Martinez said.
He added that the Navy also needs 12 corvettes, 18 offshore patrol vessels, and 3 submarines for undersea defense, and 3 mine countermeasure vessels.
The list also inclues 4 strategic sealift vessels; 18 landing craft, 3 logistics support ships, 6 tugboats, 12 coastal patrol vessel, 30 patrol gunboats, 42 multi-purpose assault craft; 24 rigid-hull inflatable boats, 8 amphibious maritime patrol aircraft, 18 naval helicopters, and 8 multi-purpose helicopters.
The Philippines and China are currently locked in a territorial dispute over ownership of Scarborough shoal in the waters just off Zambales.