SOUTH KOREAN OFFER. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says South Korea will finance the country's Corvette Acquisition Project (CAP), in an interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday (August 23, 2019). The project is part of the modernization of the Philippine Navy. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA -- South Korea has offered to finance the country's Corvette Acquisition Project (CAP) that will acquire two ships as part of the efforts to modernize the Philippine Navy (PN), the Department of National Defense (DND) said Friday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said a government-to-government approach would be an advantage for the Philippines.

"(South) Korea is willing to finance muna, bayaran natin (we will pay) through the years, five to 10 years. That is a very enticing proposal dahil nga wala nga tayong outright na pera (we do not have outright funds at the moment)," Lorenzana said in an ambush interview at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The budget for the CAP, he said, is placed between PHP28 to PHP30 billion.

Lorenzana said while the country is yet to sign a contract with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the two corvettes, the PN is recommending that the company be the one to construct these ships for commonality and interoperability.

"(The contract for the) corvette(s), di pa naman napirmahan sa (these have yet to be signed by) Hyundai, pero yun ang gusto ng Navy dahil para iisa lang ang gagawa ng ating frigates tsaka 'yung (but this is what the Navy wants because we only have one maker of the frigates and the) corvettes. Para yung sistema nila is pare-pareho (So that their system is the same), yung mga (the) parts, whatever, interoperability para kung may (masira), madali lang ma-repair (in case something is damaged, it is easy to repair)," he added.

The two Jose Rizal-missile frigates, which is also being constructed by HHI for PHP18 billion, including its weapon systems and munition, is expected to be delivered by next year, with the lead ship, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), expected by April 2020 and the second ship, BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), by September of the same year.

When asked on how the process will take, Lorenzana said he expects it to be done as soon as possible, adding that the concerned parties are now doing the paperwork. (PNA)