Philippines warship: The Philippines acquired its second major warship Tuesday. It also plans to triple the number of coast guard vessels it has over the next three years, and spend $1.8 billion on military upgrades.
President Benigno Aquino greeted the decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter, renamed Philippine navy frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
He told the crowd: “It will further intensify our patrolling of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and our capability to quell any threat and bad elements, respond to search and rescue operations, and take care of our marine resources.”
The government has approved a plan to shift its assets closer to the South China Sea islands—a source of contention between the Philippines and China. Filipino officials say China has intruded on the oil-rich off-shore territory of the Philippines.
“[This ship] is strengthening the government’s military modernization program,” Aquino said, according to Voice of America (VOA). “And it is erasing the old image of a military that lacks equipment and makes things hard on personnel.”
The Philippines plans to invest $1.8 billion in military upgrades, including 12 fighter jets, two frigates, and an radar surveillance system, before the end of Aquino’s time in office three years from now, reports VOA.
It has also announced it will beef up its six-vessel coast guard with five vessels from France and 10 from Japan, according to VOA.
The United States supports the Philippines as a defense treaty ally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.