After five days of its maiden journey from its manufacturer’s shipyard in Ulan, South Korea, the Philippine’s first missile-ready warship has finally arrived in the Philippines last May 23 in Subic, Zambales.
The FF150, BRP Jose Rizal, is the very first of its kind of vessel that is now owned by the Philippine Navy. According to Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, the Navy’s Flag Officer-in-command, it is the biggest and first brand new fighting ship that is owned by the country. Commander Offshore Combat Force Commodore Karl Decapia also added that the arrival of this warship also “signals the realization of a modern navy” – something capable of defending the territories of the country.
BRP Jose Rizal Features
The 107-meter long fighting vessel is equipped with missiles, torpedoes, and other weapon systems. BRP Rizal is also capable of anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare that can stay at sea for up to 30 days straight with a maximum speed of 25 knots and range of 4,500 nautical miles.
BRP Jose Rizal is actually just one of the two frigates that the Philippines contracted under Hyundai Heavy Industries. The second frigate, which will be named as BRP Antonio Luna (FF151) is expected to arrive in the country by the end of this year.
BRP Jose Rizal will have its commissioning ceremony on June 19 – the same birthdate of the ship’s namesake. As of now, it undergoes a two-week quarantine in accordance to the health protocols implemented by the Department of Health against the spread of the corona virus.
BRP Jose Rizal part of AFP Modernization Act
The procurement of these warships is said to be “part of the national leadership initiative enhance the country’s defense capabilities to secure our seas against current threats”. As Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained, “We consider this a breakthrough in the Philippine Navy’s transformation journey in our goal of building a strong and credible maritime force”.
However, it can be recalled that this is also part of Republic Act No. 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act under the leadership of former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995. The sole goal of this law is to modernize all branches of AFP – which includes the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Army. It was intended to last for 15 years with an initial budget of 50 billion. Sadly, because of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the funding was put to halt and the administration that followed totally neglected this law until it expired in 2010.
It was only in 2012 that the law was amended by the Revised AFP Modernization Act (RA 10349) under the leadership of former President Benigno Aquino III. An initial budget of 75 billion was allocated in order to continue the project – this was when the sea dispute of China in the West Philippine Sea began.
The revised program of the AFP was divided into three horizons – 2013 to 2017 (Horizon1), 2018 to 2022 (Horizon2), and 2023 to 2028 (Horizon3). Current President Rodrigo Duterte approved the P300billion shopping list of Horizon 2 on June 20, 2018 of which the Navy’s warships are included.
We have yet to see what other projects will be ticked off on the second part of the second Horizon, as well as the third. Whoever would be leading the country by that time, we must not forget to be proud of ourselves for having to work together as one Filipino community to contribute to these projects by paying our taxes. May all our efforts go a long way.