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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:56am

Manila boosts military to resist ‘bullies’ as ties with Beijing sour

Aquino pledges to protect Philippine sovereignty in a speech marking navy's 115th anniversary

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 6:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 1:45am

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has announced a US$1.8-billion military upgrade to help defend his country's maritime territory against "bullies", amid a worsening dispute with China.

In thinly veiled comments referring to China, Aquino yesterday vowed in a speech marking the navy's 115th anniversary that the armed forces would be given the resources necessary to protect Philippine sovereignty.

It came as Manila protested the presence of Chinese ships near Ayungin Shoal, which Manila describes as "an integral part of its national territory, in the disputed Spratly Islands.

"We have a clear message to the world: the Philippines is for Filipinos, and we have the capability to resist bullies entering our backyard," Aquino told naval chiefs. "We will also improve our communications, intelligence and surveillance systems."

We have a clear message to the world: the Philippines is for Filipinos, and we have the capability to resist bullies entering our backyard
Benigno Aquino

Aquino detailed a 75-billion-peso (HK$14 billion) military modernisation programme that gives priority to upgrading the navy, one of the weakest in Southeast Asia.

He said by 2017 Manila would acquire two new frigates, two helicopters capable of anti-submarine warfare, three fast vessels for coastal patrols and eight amphibious assault vehicles.

Aquino said the government had spent 28 billion pesos upgrading its military over the past three years, including two refurbished Hamilton-class cutters bought from the US Coast Guard.

The first, renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar, entered service as the navy's new flagship in 2011. The second is due to be delivered in August. Manila also announced this year that it would acquire for its coastguard 10 new patrol boats from Japan.

The increasingly bitter territorial dispute with China is over competing claims to parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit above vast amounts of oil and gas. It is home to rich fishing grounds.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Manila had filed a protest with Beijing over the "illegal" presence of a Chinese warship and two other vessels off Ayungin Shoal.

The shoal, 200 kilometres from the southwestern Philippine province of Palawan, is guarded by a Filipino marine unit based in a rusty warship that ran aground on a coral outcrop several years ago.

Hernandez said the protest was filed on May 10 and China had not responded.

China claims sovereign rights to most of the South China Sea, including waters approaching the coast of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

Additional reporting by Associated Press


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This article is now closed to comments

Unlike you with your racist Han-phobic delusions, you will notice that our comments are directed against the Phillipine Government & its policies - not its people.
$1.8 Billion is nothing for a countries military hardware! They also have to take into account one third will "Disappear" along the way as is normal in the Philipines.
Can the Philippine government even afford such a huge amount of $$$?..........Doubt it..........otherwise why would hundreds of thousands of their Filipino women work overseas as maids for piddly $$$............the Filipino government wouldn't even have the intellect to use such as large amount on their military even if the money was given to them............what a bunch of idiots.
Carioca no Coracao
in ASEAN, Manila has the worst infrastructure, yet the govt. prefers to spend $1.8 billion on guns. this is the same american playbook. no money on infrastructure, school but all the $$$ for guns.
Sorry to have shown you the mirror, zippy. Look at the comments and even more at your appalling behavior.
Love manila, always yell bullying when they always pull the guns out and occassionally shoot first.
What was that retraction about HK people not being all that racist? Seems that they did not see these postings. Chinese seem to excel at racism and have no problem with it.
Can the Philippine government afford such a huge amount of money? Of course.
Former president Corazon Aquino (president's mommy) once said that the Philippines is "a rich country pretending to be poor".
Hire a maid, and pygmies equip themselves with more guns? You know what they should do? They should impose a travel ban on Chinese tourists, less idiots to shoot at...


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