The Philippines is an archipelago with more than 7,100 islands. It makes eminent sense therefore that the government should beef up security both in the high seas and in our inland waters.
It's good that we have stepped up efforts to modernize our navy fleet. Recently, the Philippine Navy completed the purchase of its first-ever ship-borne missile systems, boosting its maritime deterrent. The Israeli-made Spike ER missiles are fitted on locally manufactured gunboats, known as multi-purpose attack craft. These are short-range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missile systems that will enhance the Navy's capability to patrol the West Philippine Sea as well as our southern waters.
The missile system will be a deterrent because it can punch holes in both small and large ships. The missiles have a maximum range of eight km (5 miles).
We will be spending $11.6 million in total for the system and the missiles will be installed on three boats from its fleet of small, fast gunboats.
Our warships, which include two South Korean-made frigates, will be armed with advanced, longer-range missiles.
Our inland waters are the responsibility of the Philippine Coast Guard. We understand that the PCG is itself being modernized to allow it to patrol coastal areas against possible intruders and poachers of our marine resources.
The government has allocated P125 billion over the next five years to acquire frigates, fighter jets, helicopters, surveillance planes, drones and radar systems.
This is a welcome development as we have one of the weakest militaries in Southeast Asia. What's sad is that we had been heavily dependent on military assistance from the United States since the postwar era, much of it hand-me-down planes, helicopters and ships, among others.
Now that the economy is doing well compared to previous decades, we can be self-reliant in our over-all defense posture and adequately protect our land, seas and air from any threat. It's about time.