The Philippines will not buy second hand naval equipment from the USA

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippine government might not buy but lease the equipment from the United States, adding the aim is to become a strong US ally.

The Philippines will not buy second hand naval equipment from its ally, the United States, said a senior official who announced the arrival of long range aircraft that will oversee the country's claim on the contested South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) and the Spratly Archipelago.

The government will soon have very long range patrol aircraft and also watercraft on the West Philippine Sea, facing the eastern seaboard of the country, said Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

"We have to see if we can afford it," Gazmin also said.

He did not give details about the amount to be spent for the equipment and the manner of payment for the said purchase.

First phase budget this year for upgrading the Philippine Navy was estimated to cost P 11 billion ($ 252 million). Aside from the US long range aircraft, the Philippines already shows interest to acquire 6 Italian or Korean made Warplanes.

Chinese forces opened fire on Filipino fishermen, harassed a Philippine oil exploration and erected structures on six areas on Philippine territory, the Philippines complained earlier.

Philippine President Aquino called for US assistance because of these problems. Then Manila baptized the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.

Like Manila, Vietnam also accused China of activities that increased tension in the South China Sea.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippine government might not buy but lease the equipment from the United States, adding the aim is to become a strong US ally.

The list of the Philippine government was already given to the US Navy, he added. The new equipment will supplant the F5 fighter jets which were retired in 2005. The Philippine Navy is still using World War II vintage Rajah Humabon, a former US Navy frigate.

In reaction, militant groups said that the Philippine government might have allowed the United States to stockpile naval equipment at the South China Sea.

They also blamed President Benigno Aquino for drawing the US into the contested claims on the South China Sea and the Spratly Archipelago.

In 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the US-proposed extension of the now defunct Military Bases Agreement. Since then, the Philippines stopped hosting of the largest two US overseas war facilities in central Luzon. The former US Naval Airbase in Olongapo, Zambales and the Clark Air Base in Angeles, Pampanga were transformed into commercial use.

But soon after, the US has proposed to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the establishment of non-permanent US bases in the Pacific region.

This was not yet acted upon.

China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim some parts of the Spratly Archipelago.

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