SIGNED. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (center) shows the copy of the signed contract with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries in a virtual ceremony at the DND main office in Quezon City on Tuesday (Dec. 28, 2021). The contract is for the acquisition of two brand-new missile corvettes worth PHP28 billion for the Philippine Navy. (Photo courtesy of DND)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday signed the PHP28-billion contract with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the acquisition of two brand-new corvettes for the Philippine Navy, which are capable of conducting anti-ship, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare missions.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and HHI representative Ka Sam Hyun signed the deal in a virtual ceremony which was also attended by Minister Kang Eun-ho, head of South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration, and HHI president and chief executive officer Chung Ki-Sun.

Other ranking DND, HHI, and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), including chief-of-staff, Gen. Andres Centino and Navy chief Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado also witnessed the event.

Lorenzana, in his speech, said they are very pleased that they are able to meet their target of having the PN Corvette Lot 1 Acquisition Project contract signed before the end of 2021 despite the delays caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"We are finally signing the contract, the last phase of the procurement process. For a total approved budget of PHP28 billion, this project will give the PN two modern corvettes that are capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-air warfare missions," he added.

Lorenzana said acquiring the two corvettes from HHI, where the two Jose Rizal-class guided-missile frigates, will ensure commonality and interoperability.

The two ships will also serve as backstops for the two frigates now in commission with the PN.

"With a common shipbuilder for all our naval platforms, we expect ease of maintenance and repairs," the DND chief added.

Lorenzana also said he is commending HHI for being an active and reliable partner in the modernization program of the PN.

"Like the two frigates which were built in record time, we expect this acquisition project will likewise run smoothly," he added.

The Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for the 15 percent advance payment for the PN's Corvette Acquisition Program (CAP) was released by the Department of Budget and Management last December 10.

The SARO worth PHP3.75 billion is intended to "cover the funding requirements for the 15 percent advance payment for the CAP of the PN under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program."

"They are smaller than the (two Jose Rizal-class frigates) but will also be sufficiently armed," Lorenzana said when asked for a description of the ships.

The two Jose Rizal-class frigates measure 107 meters and weigh around 2,600 tons. (PNA)