MANILA: The Philippines Navy, charged with protecting more than 7,000 islands and its surrounding waters with rickety or ageing vessels, is practically non-existent, armed forces chief of staff General Dionisio Santiago said yesterday.
“We are saying that we have a navy that is practically non-existent,” he said at a joint news conference with legislators who are considering defence department appeals to upgrade the fleet.
Prospero Pichay, the head of the House of Representatives defence committee, said of the 114 vessels in the fleet, “only 56% are operational.”
He said the military was seeking congressional approval to spend part of the 5bil-peso (RM345mil) special budget for the modernisation of the military to repair some vessels.
The country is in a territorial dispute with neighbours including China over small groups of islands in the South China Sea, such as the Spratlys. – AFP