The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) underscored on Saturday the need to build a credible defense posture for the Philippine military amid the territorial and maritime issues in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, AFP Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana said that the AFP is committed to modernizing its naval assets and enhancing its maritime capabilities to protect the country’s sovereignty and interests.

“The AFP recognizes the importance of having a strong naval capability as we face the challenges in our maritime domain. We are continuously working to upgrade our equipment and improve our skills to ensure that we can perform our mandate of safeguarding our nation,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana made the remark as he attended the commissioning ceremony of the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), the second missile-capable frigate of the Philippine Navy, at the Alava Wharf in Subic Bay, Zambales.

The BRP Antonio Luna is a 107-meter long vessel equipped with advanced sensors, weapons, and communication systems. It can conduct anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations.

The BRP Antonio Luna is also capable of carrying a helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles. It has a maximum speed of 25 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.

The BRP Antonio Luna is the sister ship of the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), which was commissioned in July 2020. The two frigates are part of the Horizon 1 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

Sobejana lauded the Philippine Navy for acquiring the new frigate, which he said will boost the AFP’s operational readiness and deterrence posture.

“The BRP Antonio Luna is a testament of our strong partnership with our allies and our unwavering commitment to modernize our armed forces. This new addition to our fleet will greatly enhance our maritime security and contribute to our national development,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for their support to the AFP’s modernization efforts.

“We are grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and our Defense Secretary for their steadfast support to our modernization program. We assure them that we will always uphold our oath to serve and protect our people and our country,” Sobejana said.