National Defense Secretary Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told ANC’s Early Edition in an exclusive interview televised June 4 that the Philippines currently do not have enough capabilities to effectively defend the West Philippine Sea.
The defense chief said this is the reason why the Department of National Defense (DND) is working double time to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The AFP modernization program is now in its second phase.
“At present, we don’t have any capabilities to even just demonstrate to others that we are capable because we are not capable. We don’t have the capital ships, we don’t have the weapons,” Lorenzana said.
“Our sole airstrip in Pag-asa [Island] is still very short and it is unpaved, so [it is] time to pave that so that we can bring in our aircraft anytime,” he added.
Lorenzana also noted that at present, the Philippines can only land aircraft in Pag-asa Island if there were five days straight of no rain.
#ANCEarlyEdition: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says the PH does not have the military capabilities to defend PH territory in South China Sea from other claimants at present. #ANCRecap pic.twitter.com/CnPI51a9Z6
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) June 3, 2018
“It will take some time for us to be able to be ready to defend our territories the way we should defend it in the first place. We don’t have the capabilities now,” the defense chief said. “So we are making double time, but it depends on the funds we get from Congress if they will allocate more funds for our AFP modernization program.”