South Korea starts building ship for Philippine Navy

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
South Korea starts building ship for Philippine Navy
Keel laying for the Philippine Navy Corvette No. 1.

MANILA, Philippines — South Korea is ready to partner with the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its modernization, and a shipyard in that country has started building the Philippine Navy’s first Corvette.

Philippine Navy chief Toribio Adaci Jr. visited the HD Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan City for the keel-laying ceremony of Navy Corvette No. 1 and the steel cutting for Navy Corvette No. 2, the Philippine embassy in Seoul reported yesterday.

The ceremony formally marks the beginning of the shipbuilding process.

In Manila, South Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa said his government is trying to take on a stronger role and responsibility in upholding and enhancing a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Under the Indo-Pacific strategy, South Korea gives priority to fostering close partnership with its friends, including the Philippines, that share core values – freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

“In this regard, we believe that for the modernization of the Philippine Armed Forces, there is no other friend who has more experience and track record for cooperation in this area. Korea is the most well-prepared and ready partner,” Lee said during a lunch meeting with the Philippine media last Tuesday at the ambassador’s official residence.

Senior officials and dignitaries from both sides attended the event in Ulsan City, which the embassy said  demonstrates the strong defense modernization partnership of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.

During the recent visit, Adaci conveyed the Philippine Navy’s strong expectations and determination for the successful completion of the Corvette Acquisition Program with the Republic of Korea.

Adaci called on Philippine Ambassador Theresa Dizon-De Vega to relay the outcome of the ceremonies and his meetings with Korean counterparts on common maritime interests and strengthening mutual cooperation.

Dizon-De Vega emphasized the importance of continued active exchanges between the Philippine and Korean navies for Philippine defense modernization.

With the bilateral relations between the two countries reaching new heights, more high-level visits are expected and hope to elevate the bilateral partnership to a “strategic partnership,” Ambassador Lee said.

“We will not stop at rhetoric but will push ahead to expand and deepen substantive cooperation in various areas, including maritime security,” he added.

The South Korean embassy earlier expressed deep concern over the bombing during a Catholic mass at the Mindanao State University in Marawi on Sunday.

“We believe that violence, especially against innocent civilians, can never be tolerated under any circumstances. As the Philippines mourns the tragic loss of lives, we stand in solidarity with the government and people of the Philippines and extend our deepest condolences to the victims,” Lee said on Monday.

Lessening swarm

The Philippine Cast Guard (PCG) said the number of Chinese maritime militia vessels swarming in the vicinity of Juan Felipe (Whitsun) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) has gone from 135 to 28 after some “actions” taken by Philippine authorities.

During yesterday’s hearing of the House special committee on WPS chaired by Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, PCG spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela noted the Chinese vessels started swarming the reef on Nov. 5 and 6 but these vessels have lessened considerably.

Asked by ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro if this is worth celebrating, Tarriela responded in the affirmative considering the “limited assets” of government.

He cited that there are only three Philippine vessels in Palawan notwithstanding “how vast WPS is,” but gave assurance the PCG and AFP are taking turns in patrolling the country’s territory.

The House of Representatives has adopted last night a resolution, “strongly condemning” China’s illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea.

House Resolution 1494, principally authored by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Mandaluyong’s Gonzales, also urges the Philippine government to “assert and protect the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.” – Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan

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