President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s approval of the third phase of the military’s modernization plan, which includes the procurement of the country’s first submarine warship, has been welcomed by Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, one-time chairperson of the House committee on strategic intelligence.
“We have to build up the capability of our armed forces to conduct naval warfare using a combination of surface ships, submarines, and aircraft, to fully secure the integrity of the national territory,” Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday.
“As an archipelagic state, we are most vulnerable to potential foreign incursions by sea, and in the future, we are counting on submarine patrol operations to effectively deter such external threats,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel is proponent of a bill that seeks to put up naval forward operating bases that would protect the West Philippine Sea’s gas and oil reserves that he said “are absolutely needed to assure the country’s long-term energy security.”
He is also author of a bill that seeks to develop the 37.2-hectare Pag-asa Island – the largest Philippine-occupied landmass at the northeastern section of the disputed Spratly archipelago – as a recreational fishing tourism destination.
Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad earlier said Malacañang has already approved the acquisition of “more than one” submarine as part of the next phase of the multi-year Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (AFPMP).
Pimentel said the AFPMP has P50 billion in programmed and unprogrammed appropriations in the 2024 national budget.
“The new appropriations will be used exclusively to support the funding requirements for the modernization projects of the military,” Pimentel said.
Meanwhile, Pimentel expects the Department of National Defense “to give sufficient consideration” to Indonesia’s offer to sell anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to the Philippines.
“Offhand, the Philippine Navy could use the aircraft to defend against possible submarine attacks,” Pimentel said.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had offered to sell the Indonesian-made ASW aircraft to the Philippines during his bilateral meeting with Marcos in Malacañang in January.