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South China Sea: Philippines’ Marcos approves purchase of submarines to defend sovereignty, amid growing China tensions

Navy spokesman for the West Philippine Sea, Roy Trinidad, said on Thursday the third phase of modernisation reflected a shift in strategy away from internal to external defence.

“We may not be a large navy … but we would have a navy that will take care of our territorial rights and sovereignty,” Trinidad said.

The third phase of the modernisation plan, which underwent revisions to make it more attuned to the country’s needs, is estimated to cost 2 trillion pesos (US$35.62 billion) and will be implemented over a period of several years, said Trinidad.

Trinidad could not immediately say how many submarines the Philippines intend to acquire, but he said, “definitely more than one.”


Philippines races to upgrade its degrading military in the face of maritime disputes

While the first and second phase of the military’s modernisation plan were “land centric”, said Trinidad, the third phase will seek, among others, to boost military capabilities on the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing and Manila have traded sharp accusations in recent months over a succession of run-ins in the South China Sea, where each have overlapping sovereignty claims, including charges that China in December rammed a ship carrying the Philippine armed forces chief of staff.