DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will exempt the Philippines’ deal with Australia on manufacturing offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Philippine Navy.
Lorenzana made this remark since Australia was among countries that voted in favor of the resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council filed by Iceland that seeks to look into the human rights situation in the country.
The Defense secretary reiterated the request he made to the President for the exemption of Australian shipbuilding company Austal to build the OPVs.
Speaking to reporters in Quezon City during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Leyte Landinds, with Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson in attendance, Lorenzana brought up the issue to the President when they went to Russia and said he agreed to it.
He also stressed that he still had to make a formal request about the exemption, “but I’m almost certain that he will approve it because…the mode of procurement is not being built outside [the country].”
Austal Philippines has a shipyard in Cebu province, where its country office is also located.
There is also a “60-percent” possibility that the contract of the ships may be signed within the year.
“So, we are very much looking forward to that because that goes to Australia’s commitment to the Philippines because Austal is going to use and expand its shipbuilding now down south and that is quite building technology, skills of Filipino people,” the Australian envoy said in the same conference with Lorenzana.
“It builds the potential for shipbuilding industry, it will really blossom here in the Philippines and that is a great feat and Filipinos will have a tremendous reputation for their involvement in shipbuilding and we see that all around the world and we want to capitalize on that end,” Robinson added. DEMPSEY REYES