by LLANESCA T. PANTI
Publish in Manila Times
THE Department of National Defense (DND) should acquire more missile-capable trainer jets in the next five years amid increased Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea islands within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, also officer-in-charge of the Defense Acquisition Office, made the proposal in response to a query of Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list on the country’s 2014 purchase of P18.9-billion South Korean squadron of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets that can deliver short-range missiles.
Zarate asked if there is still a need for the country to purchase more jets of such kind and other equipment, considering the recent purchase of South Korean aircraft just last March.
“If we look at the current situation, we made the decision to buy the equipment based on an assessment of what would our forces need two to five years from now. As part of the panel that discusses Armed Forces modernization, I would say we would need to acquire [more] of such kind under a multi-year contract to protect our interests in the West Philippine Sea,” Manalo pointed out during the Defense department’s presentation of its P141-billion proposed budget for 2015 before the House appropriations panel.
China has been accused of harassing Filipino authorities and fishermen in the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea in the last two years within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile EEZ.