Over the last two months there have been several significant developments in improving the maritime capabilities of three Southeast Asian states: the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
In December 2014 President Benigno Aquino enacted the 2015 General Appropriations Act, approving governmental expenditure of Pesos (P) 2.6 trillion ($59 billion).
On December 17, Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad, head of the Philippine Navy’s weapons systems, announced that as part of his country’s 15-year P90 billion force modernization program, P39 billion ($885 million) would be allocated for the procurement of three guided missile fast attack craft, two guided missile stealth frigates, and two anti-submarine helicopters. The admiral also indicated that the Philippines was planning to acquire three submarines in future.
Admiral Taccad reported that France, South Korea, and Spain had submitted tenders for the frigates. Shipyards in Taiwan, India, Spain, France, and South Korea were in the running to provide the three multi-purpose missile attack craft, while Indonesia and Italy submitted bids to provide the two helicopters.
According to Admiral Taccad, “The events in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) actually gave some urgency on the acquisition.”