Exemption
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 2, 2019 - 12:00am

The DND is apparently in the process of securing a P30-billion loan from Australia to build six offshore patrol vessels for the Philippine Navy. The vessels will be made in Cebu where the Austal company is located. The project will create a lot of jobs for Filipinos besides the huge benefit that such ships can provide in safeguarding the country's territory. The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands so there is so much ocean to cover and protect not only from foreign incursions but also from criminal activities. The floating cocaine packets being discovered in the south is one example.

The Palace recently issued a memo that the country will no longer receive financial aid from the 18 countries that signed to agree to investigate the Duterte administration's bloody campaign against illegal drugs. This is another case of the administration not accepting criticism of their bloody campaign against illegal drugs. Australia is among the 18 countries apart from the UK, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain, and Austria. Countries that could also be tapped for weapons and logistics that would contribute to the modernization of the AFP. What Defense secretary Lorenzana wants to ask the Palace is an exemption from the memo for this particular financial assistance from Australia in order for the project to continue, one that would surely benefit the country. Note that Australia did not withdraw its assistance, rather the administration refused.

Hopefully, the Palace will grant this request from Lorenzana. The AFP is currently enjoying an unprecedented modernization program that was initiated by the past administration and being commendably carried on by the current. The coast guard cutters from the US have all arrived. Two new frigates being constructed in South Korea are well underway. The fighters from South Korea have been delivered. Amphibious assault vehicles from South Korea have also been delivered. We have new attack helicopters. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have just arrived from Israel. Drones are now the new weapons of all armed forces today. Japan has donated aircraft and sea vessels to the AFP to bolster our territorial defense and reconnaissance. There is still military aid coming from America even if President Duterte would prefer it didn't. He would rather make the shift to acquiring weapons from China and Russia, something the AFP would have to learn since it has been accustomed to NATO weaponry. It would be extremely unfortunate should the Australian loan be rejected. It is our Navy that needs the most out of the modernization program so we do not get bullied by China, a supposed friend nowadays. A friend that makes hidden, unannounced incursions well within out territorial waters. A friend that has sent ships to the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal supposedly blocking our ships conducting a resupply for our marines in BRP Sierra Madre. The need for the Navy to be at par with our ASEAN neighbors cannot be stressed enough. There is a need for some pushback when it comes to our territorial and sovereign rights.

PHILIPPINE NAVY
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