Written by Recto Mercene / Reporter
THE 10 multirole patrol response vessels (MRRV) that the Philippines asked Japan to finance through official development assistance (ODA) will be delivered in 12 to 18 months.
Half of the boats will be manufactured in the Philippines.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said two of the boats would be given by the Japanese government and the eight would be acquired by the government through a soft loan.
Soft loans are loans that have low interest rates with flexible payment terms under Japan‚Äôs ODA.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said procurement of the 40-meter long boats, costing $11 million each, is not aimed at any one country but were acquired to enhance the capability of the Coast Guard to patrol the country‚Äôs extensive shoreline.
‚ÄúThe boats are multirole, meaning they could be used in search-and-rescue, to assist during calamities, to conduct surveillance and other functions of the Coast Guard,‚Äù Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
He added that Japanese experts are already training some of the Filipino sailor who will man the boats.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs such cooperation, exchanges have already started,‚Äù Hernandez said.
The Philippines and Japan are currently locked in an increasingly tense game of one-upmanship over contested islands, shoals and reefs on the East China Sea and the South China Sea, part of which the country had named West Philippine Sea.
The China Daily took note of the patrol boats purchased by the Philippines, and asked how far Manila and Tokyo can enhance their strategic partnership.
‚ÄúWith Japan being involved in its own dispute with China over the Diaoyu Islands and the strong anti-Japanese sentiments in Philippine society, how far Manila and Tokyo can enhance their strategic partnership is open to question,‚Äù a China Daily senior writer wrote.
The newspaper added: ‚ÄúNeither country should make strategic misjudgment and underestimate China‚Äôs determination to safeguard its territorial waters.‚Äù
The article started by citing a Chinese proverb which says: ‚ÄúWhile the tree craves calm, the wind will not subside.‚Äù
China Daily said this is a proverb the Chinese media frequently quoted¬†¬†when commenting on the rifts between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea.
‚ÄúAt the start of the new year, the wind from Manila is again blowing in the wrong direction, as politicians in the country have made irresponsible remarks that will stir up new tensions on the disputed waters.‚Äù
China Daily said that recently, del Rosario asked China to explain its deployment of a patrol ship to guard islands and waters on the South China Sea, saying the move has sparked new tensions over the disputed waters.
‚ÄúThis is a false accusation and Manila‚Äôs top diplomat should not forget that his own country raised the tensions in the disputed waters in the first place last year.‚Äù
The article added that ‚ÄúIf Manila takes further steps in this regard, it is sure to meet with strong opposition as well as countermeasures from China. It is now crystal clear that Manila is determined to play the role of a troublemaker and seeks every opportunity to escalate tensions in the South China Sea.‚Äù
‚ÄúTo confront China over the issue, Manila has painstakingly enlisted support from other countries, including some from outside the region,‚Äù referring to the Philippines asking help by citing its Mutual Defense Treaty (MTD) with the United States.
The MDT dictates that both nations would support each other if either were to be attacked by an external party.
The Chinese mouth piece said that last year, the Philippines took steps to strengthen its military alliance with the United States, with the intention that once its disputes with China slip out of control the sole superpower will be dragged into a head-on confrontation with China.
The Philippines has also pledged support to Japan, which wants to play a bigger role in the region, and has proposed bilateral maritime security cooperation, the newspaper said.
Last week del Rosario and visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida discussed how Japan could help in improving the Philippines‚Äôs Coast Guard capability.