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Subsea fever: Philippines open to acquiring submarines

Credit: PIA NCR

Republic of the Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr has spoken publicly that there is a plan being developed for the country to build or acquire submarines.

Republic of the Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr has spoken publicly that there is a plan being developed for the country to build or acquire submarines.

President Marcos made the comments during a speech and media briefing at the 125th Philippine Navy anniversary celebration at the PN headquarters in Manila on 26 May.

The event was attended by senior Defence officials from the Philippines including the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Andy Centino, Flag Officer-in-Command Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr, commanding generals, officers, and enlisted personnel.

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“There is a plan (to acquire a submarine for the Philippines). It’s still being developed,” President Marcos said.

“(A) submarine is not a small commitment, it is a very large commitment because the training that is involved, the equipment that is involved, and the operational requirements that are involved are quite significant.

“It is still part of our plan. But right now, we are in the middle of developing mostly our anti-submarine capabilities. Then hopefully, when the time comes and the conditions are agreeable, then we might be able to acquire those submarines.

“Not only to acquire submarines but also to build them here in the Philippines. If they are built here and we can actually build submarines here and provide those submarines to other countries, then that’s another source of jobs, and of income, and increased capability for our Navy.”

Submarines are the flavour of the month in the Indo-Pacific with Australia announcing its intent to buy three US Virginia Class nuclear submarines and build a fleet of its own nuclear submarines under the AUKUS Defence agreement in March.

During the event, President Marcos addressed concerns that Indo-Pacific neighbours are gearing up their navies to face security and humanitarian concerns.

“We’re already doing it, that’s why we partnered with them. We have held the very large-scale Balikatan exercise, then we had another smaller scale exercise with the Australian armed forces,” he said.

“Of course, centre of all of that is going to be in the Navy because we are an archipelago and what we are guarding are our islands.

“There is no need to divide between the forces that are going to be used for external; for defence against external threats and for those used for civil defence.

“We will really look at when we acquire, when we procure materials, equipment we always think of a dual role, not just defence but also helping when a disaster comes here in the Philippines.”

Two new Israeli-made fast attack interdiction craft-missile gunboats (PG-903 and PG-905) were officially commissioned at the event. Each patrol craft can reportedly carry a selection of non-line-of-sight missiles or 30mm main cannons with .50 calibre machine guns.

“As we celebrate the Philippine Navy’s 125th anniversary, we pay tribute to the institution and the men and women behind it, both uniformed and civilian, for they have continued the noble cause of defending the Republic’s sovereignty and keeping the peace,” President Marcos said during the ceremony.

“Considering the changing tides of our national security and the significant gains that we have made in terms of internal security, our Armed Forces is working to recalibrate its focus more towards external defence of our borders.

“In this crucial transition, full support for the Armed Forces must be guaranteed, especially for the Philippine Navy’s priority goals of enhancing its intelligence, defence, and coordinative capabilities.

“With the commissioning of the two vessels today, we look further forward to the completion of the AFP Modernization Program (self-reliant defence posture program), more especially Horizon 3, which is significantly devoted to the naval aspect of our military operations.

“This endeavour will pave the way for the holistic transformation of our AFP into a stronger, modern, and formidable organisation. By then, the AFP will be more effective in its military aims and more responsive to our national goals.

“The seas that stretch before us are not to be seen as boundaries that divide our nations, but they must be seen as channels for mutually beneficial exchanges and collaboration. Our Navy serves not only as valiant guardians of our seas and shores, but peaceful emissaries as well.

“As it sails on towards the next century, the Philippine Navy remains ever relevant in our nation-building and continue to be indispensable to the attainment of the aspiration of a more comfortable and secure way of life for all Filipinos.

“This is an opportune occasion to renew our commitment and dedication to the cause of strengthening our republic, of its peace and prosperity.

“Rest assured that as your Commander-in-Chief, this administration will work tirelessly not only to improve the Armed Forces but are also looking for ways and means to improve your individual welfare and those of your families and loved ones as well.”

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