The government plans to buy two more patrol ships like the one President Benigno Aquino III welcomed Tuesday.

“We are seriously discussing, proposing based on our absorptive capacity, maybe another two more,” Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said after the arrival ceremony for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

The Gregorio Del Pilar’s presence “sends a big message” to other countries who are entering territories in the West Philippine Sea, Pama told reporters. “It shows we mean what we say and we say what we mean,” he said.

The 45-year-old ship, acquired from the US Coast Guard, will patrol oil and gas projects off Palawan, Aquino said in welcoming the vessel at the Manila South Harbor.

The President vowed to push for the acquisition of more equipment for the military and police during his administration. “Hindi tayo titigil sa mga barko, hindi tayo makokontento sa mga helicopter,” he said.

Among the items to be acquired are trainer jets, strategic sea-lift vessels, naval helicopters, patrol ships, tanks, and coast watch systems, Aquino said.

The Navy is still studying whether it is practical to buy a submarine, he said.

“Pinagaaralan natin dahil masalimuot talaga, we don’t want to commit a mistake by jumping into something, we don’t want to buy something which eventually we cannot chew and swallow,” Pama said. (John Roson)

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