Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday vowed to pursue the next phase of the military modernization program from 2017 to 2022 which focuses on having a credible defense and on securing maritime territory.
“In the long run, we will still follow our modernization because it jibes with long-term plans like having credible deterrence to secure our territory, maritime plan especially now that we have more water territory,” Lorenzana said.
The first phase of the AFP modernization used up P81 billion for the purchases of the jets and warships, Lorenzana said, expressing gratitude to the former administration.
The Defense chief said resupply missions to a Marine contingent in Ayungin Shoal will continue following a UN tribunal decision upholding the Philippine position in a maritime dispute with China.
He made this statement Wednesday after noting that the scheduled resupply for Ayungin Shoal, slated for last week, was cancelled pending the ruling of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Lorenzana said the mission was scrubbed to avoid giving the impression that the Philippines was trying to provoke China.
“There was a scheduled resupply sometime last week, but we postponed it because of the impending ruling to avoid giving the impression that we are trying to provoke China. I don’t know when the next resupply will be but definitely we are going there to resupply them by any means,” the DND chief stressed.
The Philippines has Marine units deployed in Ayungin Shoal, Pagasa (Thitu) Island, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, Patag (Flat) Island, Kota (Loaita) Island, Rizal (Commodore) Reef, Likas (West York) Island, and Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island.
At 5 p.m. July 12 (Manila time), the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration handed down its decision on the case which invalidated China’s claim over its “historic rights” to the disputed waters, stressing that its ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ claim has no legal basis.
The ruling also added that China violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone through meddling with Philippine fishing and oil exploration in the region, allowing the illegal entry of Chinese fishermen into the disputed waters and causing harm to marine environment in the region through its massive reclamation activities.
Such actions, according to the tribunal, has also caused the escalation of tension between the two parties. With PNA