Philippine Navy hopes next admin will continue modernization program

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2022 01:45 PM | Updated as of May 13 2022 01:52 PM

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MANILA— The Philippine Navy on Friday said it was hoping the next administration would continue the military's modernization program, as there was still room to train personnel and improve the country's defense system. 

"We expect, ang expectation naman namin, kasi batas naman itong modernization program, is ipagpatuloy pa rin yung prioritization niya," said Commodore Joe Obre, the Philippine Navy's offshore combat force commander. 

(We expect the next administration to continue the prioritization of the military's modernization program.)

"Kung ikaw ang commander in chief, ikaw ang presidente, maintindihan namin ang magiging concerns. But as far as we are concerned, we are hoping na maipagpatuloy itong pagmo-modernize ng ating sandatahang lakas," Orbe added in a public briefing. 

(If you are the commander in chief, the president, we will understand the concerns about it. But as far as we are concerned, we are hoping that the modernization of our fleet will continue.)

So far, they are waiting for the contract of 6 offshore patrol vessels through the Department of National Defense. If the contract gets signed this year, it will arrive on March 2026, he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said these cost P32 billion, and they plan to buy the patrol vessels before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down by end-June. 

"Ito po 'yung ginagamit natin offshore patrol, mas lower capability ito, hindi siya equipped ng missiles pero magagamit natin ito sa pagpatrolya ng ating karagatan lalong-lalo na sa mga lugar kung saan kinakailangan talaga ang presensya ng ating Philippine Navy," said Orbe. 

(We use this for offshore patrol but has a lower capability. This is not equipped for missiles but we can use these to patrol our seas most especially in areas where the presence of our Philippine Navy is needed.)

The commander vowed to still do "everything" to get the equipment and training they need for any threats in the future under the new government. 

"Yung adversaries natin, malalakas militarily kaysa sa atin pero hindi tayo papatalo sa ating dedikasyon, sa ating pagsasanay, sa ating kahandaan sa utak man o sa isip man o sa damdamin, dedepensahan po ang soberenya ng ating bansa," he said. 

(Our adversaries are strong militarily compared to us but we won't stop our dedication, our training for our preparation mentally or emotionally. We will defend our country's sovereignty.) 

Manila's military was one of the most poorly equipped in Asia when Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino, began a modest modernization program in 2012 — but it is still no match for its superpower neighbor China. 

Tensions over the South China Sea has recently spiked, with Manila and Beijing accusing each other of territorial violations.

Despite the 2016 ruling, China has aggressively encroached and conducted military activities in the disputed waters.

— with a report from Agence France-Presse