Funding for 2 PH Navy corvettes released
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ budget department has released initial funding for the acquisition of two corvettes for the Philippine Navy.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued the special allotment release order (SARO), a document allowing disbursement of funds, last Dec. 10. It has allocated P3.75 billion for the 15 percent advance payment for the corvette acquisition project.
The release order will allow the Department of National Defense to issue the notice to proceed and finalize the contract.
“I am delighted. We have been waiting for this for the procurement process to proceed,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters when asked for comment.
“They are smaller than the frigates (Rizal-class) but they will also be sufficiently armed,” he said.
South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was expected to build the two corvettes for the Philippine Navy. The project, which is estimated to cost P28 billion including weapon systems, is one of the big-ticket items in the Philippine Navy’s upgrade program.
HHI also built two multi-role frigates for the Navy worth P16 billion, although it was initially beset with controversies.
On Friday, Navy chief Vice Adm. Adeluis Bordado said initial deliveries for the corvettes and offshore patrol vessels were expected in two to three years.
The Navy is in need of more ships to bolster its presence around the archipelago as it faces a wide range of maritime security challenges, ranging from the West Philippine Sea dispute to terrorism.
The underfunded Philippine armed forces, one of the weakest in the region, has been trying to upgrade its capabilities in recent years with a meager budget.
The Philippines intends to go on a shopping spree for military hardware with six months left in President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
Last week, Lorenzana said the DBM has approved funding for six offshore patrol vessels and 32 Black Hawk combat utility helicopters. The budget department is also expected to release funding for the acquisition of Russian heavy-lift helicopters.
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