By Roy Mabasa
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will conduct official visits to France and the Czech Republic this September to look around for military equipment as part of the ongoing modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the French National day celebration in Makati City on Monday night, Lorenzana said the Philippines has yet to decide which equipment should be procured as they were still in the process of formalizing, through discussions, the memorandums of understanding with both France and the Czech Republic.
The defense chief said the Philippines was considering purchasing submarines and airplanes from France.
“The Navy is considering France to be the source of our submarine. Magaling sila gumawa nyan, sa eroplano din (they’re good in manufacturing that, even airplanes),” he said.
Last month, French Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne confirmed that discussions were underway with the Philippines on possible procurement of military materials from Paris.
“Those discussions will continue… of course, we have great expertise in submarines and in the region, we established a strategic partnership with Australia and it’s a proof of the quality of our industry,” Lemoyne told Filipino journalists during his two-day visit in Manila.
Lorenzana also confirmed his visit to the Czech Republic, which will coincide with the celebration of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Air Force Day to be held in the northeastern Czech city of Ostrava.
The Czech, according to the defense secretary, was specifically offering firearms.
But Lorenzana said they may also look into the drones and body protection equipment.
Both the Philippines and the Czech Republic have just concluded the conduct of the first Joint Defense Committee (JDC) meeting in Prague, a move that could potentially open the door for possible defense cooperation between the two countries.