by Business Mirror | October 1, 2019
THE Department of National Defense is awaiting the go-ahead from Malacanang to work out a loan deal with Australia to beef up the Philippine Navy’s assets, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.
The Defense chief told senators at a budget hearing they are already seeking the President’s approval to sew up the loan for the Navy.
He disclosed the ongoing negotiations for a P30-billion soft loan from Australia before the Senate committee on defense and national security.
He added that the AFP acquisition includes 30 offshore patrol vessels under a soft loan deal with Australia.
Lorenzana said earlier he will ask President Duterte to exempt the defense establishment from an order, made public last week, for government agencies to suspend loan and grant negotiations with 18 countries—including Australia – that voted in favor of the Iceland resolution at the UN Human Rights Council. Of the 47 UNHRC members, 18 voted for the resolution seeking an inquiry into the Philippines’s war on illicit drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings that went with it.
According to Lorenzana, they are in talks with the Australian government, and if it approves giving a loan to the Navy, he will then seek an exemption from Duterte from the loan negotiations ban.
Lorenzana is hopeful Duterte will grant an exemption since the purpose of the loan is to boost national security and create jobs for Filipinos. The patrol vehicles will be done by an Australian company in Cebu, where 95 percent of workers are Filipinos.
The offshore patrol vehicles are small vessels suited for coastal and territorial waters where foreign ships – and possibly terrorists and other threats – go through.
If the Australian government agrees to grant a loan, Manila will pay only 10 percent of the loan, and amortize the rest over several years.