Philippines MoD Seeks Funding to Protect its Exclusive Economic Zone from Chinese Intrusion

Procurement of naval vessels and submarines on cards
  • Bureau
  • 11:28 AM, October 16, 2023
  • 580
Philippines MoD Seeks Funding to Protect its Exclusive Economic Zone from Chinese Intrusion
Image for representation only @Philippine Navy

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has made a resolute appeal for increased funding to bolster its naval capabilities, with the aim of safeguarding the nation's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) against potential threats, most notably from China.

AFP Chief General Romeo Branwer Jr. unveiled a plan to acquire naval vessels and diesel-electric submarines in a recent interview, emphasizing the imperative to safeguard the Philippines' EEZ. The acquisition of at least two submarines is under consideration for Horizon 3 of the AFP's modernization program, currently in its finalization stage.

The proposed budget for this ambitious submarine acquisition program ranges between PHP 80 billion and PHP 110 billion. This allocation encompasses not only the procurement of the submarines but also their basing, maintenance, and crew training. General Branwer affirmed that the Philippine Navy's requirements for additional naval vessels might also be incorporated into Horizon 3, set to span from 2023 to 2028.

The reconfiguration's primary focus on protecting the EEZ was recommended by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND), Gilberto Teodoro Jr., following his appointment in June, succeeding Defense Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who was reappointed as Presidential Peace Adviser. This defensive strategy aims to align with the United States' "forward defense" approach, wherein threats are deterred as far away from national territory as possible.

Under this revised strategy, the AFP's main objective is to safeguard Philippine-held islands in the West Philippine Sea, which include Pag-asa, Panata, Parola, Likas, Patag, and Lawak. Additionally, the Philippines also maintains a presence on four other features in the West Philippine Sea: Kota Island, Likas Island, Rizal Reef, and Ayungin Shoal. To fulfill this mission effectively, General Branwer emphasized the necessity of acquiring equipment capable of projecting defenses forward.