05 Maret 2016

PHL Looking into Weapons Purchase from Slovenia amid Sea Row with China

05 Maret 2016

Slovenian Valuk 6x6 armored vehicle (photo : slovenskavojska)

The Philippine military is looking into acquiring new maritime and air defense communication equipment from Slovenia amid the continuing presence of Chinese patrol vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

This was among the topics discussed during the meeting between Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo and a Slovenian delegation led by Secretary of State Ales Cantarutti in Intramuros, Manila, on Thursday.

"When we talk of maritime defense, we're talking of brigades. We're talking of sensors that must be installed in brigades. We're talking of anti-submarine helicopters. We're talking of stategic vehicles. We're talking of amphibious assault vehicle. We're talking of other system that is needed to protect our territories," Manalo said.

Cantarutti, who also heads Slovenia's Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, was in the country to discuss business opportunities including those involving their defense products.

Although the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) have denied reports indicating China has already occupied Quirino Atoll—an area near Palawan that is clearly within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone—the DFA said Chinese presence in the area may cause additional tension.

Manalo said although there are no new sightings of Chinese vessels in the Quirino formation, the country must be ready to secure its territory at all times.

"When we talk of naval maritime defense we talk about brigade, we talk about missiles, we talk about any other countries will ask in order to secure its integrity," he said.

Manalo said the timing of Cantarutti's visit was "perfect" as the Philippines is now aggressively looking and canvassing for defense products to complete the requirements as part for the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Modernization Program.

Manalo said the DND will propose a higher budget for the program in the next few years.

For the year 2017, Manalo said the budget proposal for the program will reach up to P25 billion. He said this could reach P40 billion in 2020.

"Tthe budget proposal for the modernization will increase from P20 billion in 2016 up to P50 billion somewhere in 2025," he said.

The DND, however, clarified that the AFP Modernization Program and their active search for new defense equipment are not meant to provoke any country.

Manalo also said Slovenia is just one of the countries and corporations that are being considered as sources of defense supplies by the Philippines.

Cantarutti, for his part, said they have enough resources to supply the needs of the AFP.

"Slovenia has quite a strong cluster of companies that produce services or I should say solution and products for defense industry and in retrospect I think this could be an opportunity also for increase in cooperation between the Philippines and Slovenia," he said.

The Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Island served as host for the Slovenian delegation in cooperation with the DFA.

(GMA Network)

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