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PH needs more work on maritime security: DND

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said the security threat due to the dispute in the South China Sea remains a challenge despite warmer ties with China.

Lorenzana made the remarks as he received three additional TC-90 aircraft donated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force during rites held at the headquarters of the Naval Air Group in Sangley Point Cavite City.

“We must admit that much still has to be done to boost our military capability in order to meet a number of persistent maritime security challenges,” said Lorenzana.

“These challenges range from territorial disputes with China and other Southeast Asian nations over the ownership of resource-rich islands in the West Philippine Sea, to piracy, movement of armed insurgents in the Sulu Sea and other transnational crimes,” he said.

Apart from the Philippines and China, the others that have laid claim over the chain of islands and islets in the South China Sea are Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. China has turned aggressive in its claims over the past years and even conducted land reclamation in several reefs.

“We, at the defense department, are doing all we can to enhance our capability and to modernize our military equipment, pursuant to the AFP modernization program,” said Lorenzana.

The ongoing modernization program of the Armed Forces calls for the acquisition of modern assets, including frigates and long-range patrol aircraft.

“This turnover ceremony of TC-90 aircraft is part of that effort,” said Lorenzana.

He said the aircraft will enhance the Navy’s capability in maritime patrol and surveillance and in giving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The three aircraft are part of the five TC-90s initially leased by the Japan for $24,200 per annum to boost the Philippine’s maritime domain awareness. Two were transferred to the defense and military establishment in March last year.

During the Association of Southeast Asian (Asean) summit in Manila in November last year, Japanese defense ministry officials signed an agreement with their Filipino counterparts to donate the five aircraft.

Lorenzana said the aircraft will be playing a huge role in the conduct of maritime patrol in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

“We already have five. The two that arrived earlier are already equipped with all the sensors, optical sensors, infrareds. They (military) can now operate day and night,” he said.

“So it will fill the gap on our maritime surveillance. The effect is huge, and it will ensure also that we can patrol our maritime domain and ensure security of passage of all ships,” he added.

Lorenza received the three aircraft from Japanese officials and then turned them over to the Philippine Navy which is in dire need of aircraft.

The aircraft were accorded with the traditional “water canon salute” upon their exit from the taxiway, going to their parking area at the NAG headquarters.

The aircraft arrived in the country on March 23 and were accorded a “meeting procedure” over Batanes, involving the two earlier-delivered TC-90 aircraft that escorted them to the Laoag airport.
Source: Malaya Business

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