MANILA, Philippines – Negotiation for the acquisition of two warships from Italy may be completed within the year.
In an interview, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR the Navy is expected to come up with a decision package, a document needed to make the ships ready for operation.
“I would like to say that it (negotiation) is in its advanced stage,” he said.
“When we receive a decision package, we will submit to the (defense) secretary the acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) and then submit the proposal to the president for approval,” he said.
“We are just waiting for the decision package from the Navy.”
Manalo said a decision package includes the terms of reference for the refurbishment of the ships, the needed training for personnel that will man the vessels, munitions and other things needed to make them operational.
“The ADM would start the procurement and would signal the implementation of the project,” he added.
Manalo said negotiations may be completed within the year and the warships may arrive in the Philippines within the term of President Aquino if the project pushes through.
“G to G (government to government) negotiations are fast,” he said.
“Even with little delay in implementation, we can still hit that before the end of 2012.”
Last August, the Department of National Defense bared plans to acquire two missile-firing warships from Italy to enhance the country’s maritime security capability.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the two warships would be acquired from the Italian Navy at a cost of about P11.7 billion.
The two warships have anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities, and missile systems and modern radars, he added.
The Maestrale-class ships were commissioned in 1982 and are more capable than any of the vessels in the Navy’s inventory.
The frigates may be delivered to the Philippines in November 2013 if the government manages to sign a contract by January.
If the acquisition pushes through, the Italian warships could beef up the country’s defense posture in the West Philippine Sea.
The ships are also expected to strengthen the military’s anti-terror drive and the enforcement of maritime laws.
In an earlier interview, Manalo said Italy has expressed readiness to include the weapon systems and other vital accessories of the ships.
Last year, the Philippines acquired its first Hamilton-class cutter BRP Gregorio del Pilar from the US Coast Guard to boost its territorial defense capabilities.
Another warship acquired from the US – the BRP Ramon Alcaraz – is expected to arrive by February.
The DND initially intended to acquire a third warship from the US, but has put the plan on hold to focus on equipping the Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz. Source: Philstar.com
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