In spite of the President’s ambiguous stance with the US government, the US State Department approved the possible Foreign Military Sale to the Philippines of 90 various types of boats with armaments and equipment with an estimated total cost of $126 million.
Earlier, the Philippine government had requested to buy from the US, thirty-six (36) 9 meter-long scout boats; thirty-six (36) 10-meter assault boats; and eighteen (18) 16-meter Light Support Boats (LSB) for the Philippine Navy.
On July 30, 2020, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced it had delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.
Included in the proposed sale are heavy armaments, boat spare parts; spare engines and engine components; safety and rescue equipment; training; contractor engineering technical services; engineering technical assistance; transportation cost services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.
Once approved by the US Congress, all these 90 military boats would be built in the US. The principal contractor for the scout and assault boats will be Willard Marine Inc., Anaheim, CA. The principal contractor for the light support boat will be determined through an open competition contract.
The DSCA said: this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner that continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South-East Asia.
It will improve the Philippines’ capability to meet current and future threats by force multiplying the Army’s present ability to operate and control both inland and coastal waterways of southern Philippines.
In spite of this favorable development from the US, President Duterte ordered the country’s Armed Forces three days ago not to join any military exercises by other countries in the South China Sea.
The move was seen by many as favoring China since the military drills led by the US Navy are aim at checking the aggressive Chinese expansion in the disputed area even in the midst the COVID-19 pandemic.