DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is looking at concluding by December negotiations with a private Korean firm for the acquisition of two new patrol ships, to ensure its delivery within the term of President Duterte.
Lorenzana, in a chance interview at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in Busan, South Korea, said talks with Hyundai Heavy Industries for the purchase of two corvettes are stuck on the financing issue.
Lorenzana said among the issues being finalized is the term of payment or how long the country can pay for the vessels which are about $20 billion.
He said once acquired, the corvettes would be used to patrol the country’s southern boundaries, particularly the Celebes Sea and Sulu Sea areas.
Asked if the corvettes would be used to patrol the West Philippine Sea borders, Lorenzana it is unlikely because of the bigger and stronger waves in the area.
He said the corvette is smaller than the frigates that were acquired, also from Hyundai, but faster.
The West Philippine Sea covers areas being claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea. The other claimants in the South China Sea are China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Lorenzana said the two frigates acquired from South Korea are set to be delivered either in April or May of 2020 and the other one in December 2020.
He also said President Duterte did not have the time to “shop” and inspect the defense equipment because of the hectic schedule during the summit.