A senior administration congressman on Sunday, May 16 underscored the need for the Philippines to acquire its first three “attack” submarines in protecting the country’s maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said government should not be disheartened by the recent sea accident that resulted in the loss of an Indonesial submarine and its crew.
Pimentel said it is vital for the Philippine government to have the submarines delivered, saying the underwater vessels have significant uses in protecting Philippine territories.
“The attack submarines that our Navy intends to procure will particularly (be) helpful in protecting our maritime domain in the deeper waters of the West Philippine Sea,” said Pimentel, a former deputy speaker.
Now chairman of the House Committee on Strategic Intelligence, Pimentel stressed: “They can stealthily conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against unwelcome Chinese maritime militia vessels,” he said.
“We are not just a coastal state like Vietnam and Malaysia, which by the way have their own submarines. We are in fact one of the world’s largest archipelagic states, just like Indonesia,” Pimentel said in a statement.
“We are completely surrounded by waters, so submarines should form part of our mix of defensive combat ships,” Pimentel added.
Pimentel raised the proposal amid the continued intrusion in WPS areas that belong to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Philippines has repeatedly complaint to China against its “swarming and threatening presence” in the Philippine EEZ, demanding immediate withdrawal of its vessels in affected areas.
Filipino diplomats have exercised caution in taking action on the issue so as not to worsen the current situation in the area.
However, Pimentel said the Philippine Navy should push through with its plan to obtain three Scorpene-class submarines from France.
The submarines, Pimentel explained are on top of the 165 surface warships that the Philippine Navy lined up for acquisition between now and 2028.
The Indonesia submarine in the Bali sea during a reported “torpedo drill” recently. At least 53 Indonesia Navy personnel who operated the 42-year-old died as a result of the accident.