MANILA - A lawmaker on Sunday said government should go ahead with its plan to acquire its first three submarines even after an Indonesian submarine had sunk, killing all 53 crew members on board.
Submarines should be a part of the Philippines' defensive combat ships as it is an archipelago, said Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
“The attack submarines that our Navy intends to procure will be particularly helpful in protecting our maritime domain in the deeper waters of the West Philippine Sea,” the chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee said.
“They can stealthily conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against unwelcome Chinese maritime militia vessels."
The Philippine Navy plans to obtain three Scorpene-class submarines from France, according to Pimentel.
Meanwhile, the German-made Indonesian submarine that sank in the Bali Sea during a torpedo drill was 4 decades old and had been refurbished several times, he said.
“It was quite old and vulnerable,” the lawmaker said.
Manila and Beijing's maritime spat flared again in March after more than 200 Chinese boats were spotted in the West Philippine Sea. China has refused repeated calls from the Philippines to withdraw the boats, prompting Manila to intensify maritime patrols in the area.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not withdraw Philippine ships from disputed waters after he drew flak over his remark that his campaign promise for fishermen in disputed seas was a joke.
Duterte forged friendlier relations with China upon assuming power in 2016, even setting aside the landmark arbitration award that invalidated Beijing's sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea, in favor of economic aid and investments.