The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) needs to acquire big-ticket naval assets such as a submarine to help the country build a credible defense posture in light of the territorial and maritime issues in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar stated this on Saturday, Sept. 9, as he bared the initiatives of the military in acquiring various maritime assets through their revised modernization program which is now on its third horizon.
“The acquisition of maritime assets especially that one that will be used by the Philippine Navy, being an archipelagic country, we are talking here of maritime zone law, we are talking of archipelagic [maritime] law,” Aguilar said at a news forum in Quezon City.
“These are very important assets that we have to acquire. First, we have to increase our capability to conduct maritime domain awareness. We have to see what is happening in our environment, that is why we are coming up with the radar systems and other capabilities that will make sure that we have a 360-degree capability to know what is happening,” he added.
However, Aguilar clarified that this does not mean the military is war-mongering or encouraging war.
“I’m sure everyone will agree that having a submarine is advantageous to any country but huwag naman sana ninyong isipin na war-mongering tayo (don’t think that we are war-mongering),” he said.
“We are just developing our capability because we just want to protect what is ours, what will benefit the Filipino people because that is our mandate,” he continued.
Buying a submarine had been included in the “wish list” of the DND under the revised AFP modernization program Horizon 3 which was submitted to the Office of the President.
But in October 2022, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong had announced that the acquisition of a submarine was not a priority of the DND at that time given the budget constraints they experienced.
The DND leadership had said that it was looking to buy two units of submarine reportedly worth P70 billion in total.
Among the interested suppliers in selling submarines to the DND was France, according to the DND. Reports added that there was also a proposal from Spain offering to the Philippine Navy its services to develop the latter’s submarine force.
The government has been pursuing military modernization efforts to attain a minimum credible defense posture in the midst of increased tension in the Indo-Pacific region.
A minimum credible defense posture means attaining a particular degree of military capability or enough defense capacity to make any aggressor think twice before engaging in hostile action.