Having a budget of $2.56 billion for military modernization this year, the Philippine Defense Department is seeking the support of the local shipbuilders industry to help develop the country’s defense and security sectors.
The announcement was made this week by Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana during the opening ceremony of the 2017 PHILMARINE Conference in Manila attended by maritime and related industries that include exhibitors from the Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and foreign and local marine engineering business organizations.
Lorenza appealed to local shipbuilding representatives to take part in the Philippine’s Self Reliant Defense Posture Program, a concept developed to stimulate the local economy in the country. The program is expected to provide opportunities for providing military equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program.
“This is where our maritime defense industries are called upon to participate,” Lorenzana told conference delegates. Speaking on the topic, “Self-Reliant Defense Industries: A Challenge to Maritime Defence Industries,” he challenged maritime suppliers to study procurement rules.
The Philippines Armed Forces have been described by Asian media as one of the least developed military forces in the Asia Pacific region, and the threat of ISIS-inspired ideology of militants, maritime piracy and Maoist insurgency continue to haunt both the Philippine government and neighboring countries.
The Philippines, Malaysian and Indonesian governments have forged a trilateral partnership to conduct regular joint navy patrols in their respective maritime borders to address the movement of terror groups between and among the countries. This is causing the Philippine government to push for modernization to be on par with her Asian neighbors and at the same time suppress terror threats in the region.
The modernization program is divided into three phases of development: 2013-2017, 2018-2022 and 2023-2028. The second phase will focus on the acquisition of patrol boats, drones and helicopters to monitor the movement of armed militant groups operating in the in the Southern Philippine seas.
There are 150 shipbuilding and shipping repair business shops registered in the Philippines, and it is ranked as the fourth largest shipbuilding company in the world next to Japan, Korea and China. This can partly be attributed to the availability of skilled manpower in the industry.
Philippine-based shipyards are known for building bulk carriers, container ships and passenger ferries, and the government envisions making the Philippines the world’s next marine hub. To sustain this strategic competitive advantage, the Philippine government has allowed foreign shipbuilders to operate in the country, thus increasing the export of ships made in the Philippines.
To strengthen the shipbuilding sector, the Philippine government also has developed new policies directed towards enhancing free market competition in the industry and to encourage more investment.