Manila: A defence agreement signed between the Philippines and Canada recently, is part of the government’s efforts to maintain a “credible defence posture”, a palace spokesperson confirmed on Sunday.
Abigail Valte, in an interview aired by government-run dzRB, said a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the government and Canada, affirmed increasing defence ties between Manila and Ottawa.
“It [MoU] was a government to government transaction,” Valte said, while saying in the same breath that there is no cause for China to be alarmed by the development.
“It’s part of our goal to attain a credible defence position,” Valte added.
On Saturday, representatives of the Philippines and Canada signed an MoU on defence cooperation on Saturday, the second day of Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper’s visit to the Philippines.
Aquino and Harper witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Government-to-Government Transaction in Defence and Military-related
Equipment, Materials and System and/or Services at the palace.
Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast signed the MoU.
In a statement during the joint press conference, Aquino said he hopes that the memorandum of understanding on defence and procurement of military equipment would help the country’s efforts in building its capability to defend itself and secure its borders.
Aquino said the basic issue facing the country’s military capabilities is that it has a lot of outdated equipment that needs to be modernised.
He pointed out that the Philippines needs additional modern ships or patrol vessels to guard 36,000 kilometres of coastline within its 200-mile economic zone. The country currently has to make do with only 132 ships to do this job, with most of its vessels are six decades old.
With the MoU however, Aquino said, the Philippines would have access to expertise and skills from Canada with great value for money to satisfy the legitimate needs for military equipment.
Recently, plans by the Philippines to modernise its air force with the acquisition of an anti-ship missile-carrying helicopter, the Eurocopter, failed to materialise after the manufacturer backed out of the deal.
The Philippines was at the home stretch of negotiations and had already planned to spend 3.2 billion pesos (Dh286.3 million) to acquire 10 brand new helicopters when Eurocopter cancelled the deal for certain reasons.
Currently, the Philippines has no helicopter with the capability to challenge intruding naval vessels.