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More countries willing to help boost Navy’s capability

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo disclosed that five more countries have offered to provide ships to boost the Navy and improve the country’s maritime security capability.

Manalo said many countries have seen the Philippines’ determination to upgrade the capabilities of its armed forces.

“Other countries all over the world now believe that we are really serious in modernizing the armed forces. Previously, they do not want to participate (in the Philippines’ capability upgrade efforts),” Manalo told reporters over the weekend.

“Before, they do not trust our processes. Now they are here and they want to participate,” he added.

Manalo said among the countries that are ready to provide defense assets are South Korea, Spain, Israel, Croatia and Australia.

Italy had also offered two Maestrale-class missile-firing warships with anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities.

The Italian Navy vessels were commissioned in 1982 and are more capable than any of the vessels in the Philippine Navy’s inventory.

Officials previously intended to sign a contract for the Maestrale-class ships before the end of 2012.

The government, however, is still studying if the capabilities of the Italian ships would suit the Philippine Navy.

“We are evaluating the Maestrale and doing due diligence whether the Maestrale will really provide us the capability that we need, whether Maestrale is economical in the long term,” Manalo said.

He said the Italian ships are now being compared with the naval vessels of the other countries that have recently offered to provide ships to the Philippines.

He said Italy made the offer in January 2012 while the other countries’ offers came in the fourth quarter.

The Philippines had acquired two warships from the United States that were commissioned in the Philippine navy - the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which arrived last year and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz that is expected to arrive in the country in April.

Manalo said nothing is final until a contract has been signed.

President Aquino signed last month the new Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization law that allotted P75 billion for the first five years of the capability upgrade program.

The law seeks to enhance the capabilities of the military that have been seriously depleted due to lack of resources.

The law requires the military, defense, and budget departments to submit to the President a list of equipment to be acquired. Once approved, Malacañang will submit the list to both chambers of Congress.

 

 

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

CROATIA AND AUSTRALIA

DEFENSE UNDERSECRETARY FERNANDO MANALO

ITALIAN NAVY

MAESTRALE

MANALO

PHILIPPINE NAVY

PRESIDENT AQUINO

RAMON ALCARAZ

SOUTH KOREA

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