DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday reiterated that procurement of submarines for the Philippine Navy (PN) is not a priority at the moment, stressing that it is focusing on the implementation of modernization contracts signed by the previous administration.

"Although submarines are on our wish list for Horizon 3, the Department is prioritizing the implementation of contracts signed during the previous administration, cognizant of the limitations in the resources available to the government,” DND spokesperson Arsenio R. Andolong said in a statement.

He also added that the DND is recalibrating its proposed projects under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.

"We would like to clarify that, contrary to published reports, DND Officer-in-Charge Senior Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. said in a recent interview that the procurement of submarines is actually not yet a priority for the Department as of now,” Andolong stressed.

While many suppliers have expressed interest to sell submarines to the Philippines, Andolong said there is no truth to reports claiming that France has offered to exchange submarines in exchange for permission to explore the country's waters.

“We do have a 2016 arrangement with France on defense cooperation, and in the course of the Department’s engagements with representatives from France, there was never a mention or discussion of such a proposal,” he added.

Andolong also said agreements entered by the DND shall always be in accordance with the country's Constitution and laws and will always uphold the national interest.

"The DND continues to pursue the modernization of the AFP with the acquisition of multi-role and game-changing platforms, that can be used for internal security, territorial defense, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations," Andolong said.

Horizon 3 is slated from 2023 to 2028 while Horizon 1 started in 2013 to 2018 while Horizon 2 is from 2018 to 2022.

Earlier, the DND earlier said all major modernization contracts for the military signed under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte and then Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will proceed.

These included the contracts for the two missile corvettes to be acquired from South Korea, the BrahMos missile system from India, 32 more S-70i "Black Hawk" combat utility helicopters from Poland, and another six offshore patrol vessels also from South Korea.

The funding for these contracts is already assured by the government. (PNA)