MANILA, – The Philippines might put resources into its first ever submarine fleet to ensure and defend its territory in the disputed West Philippine Sea, (South China Sea) President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday.

President Benigno Aquino III

Aquino said the Philippines could lose its entire west coast should China succeed in enforcing its claims.

“We’ve had to accelerate the modernization of our armed forces for self-defense needs,” Aquino told reporters.

“We are a natural transit point into the Pacific and we are now studying whether or not we do need a submarine force,” he said.

“The uncertainty breeds instability. Instability does not promote prosperity,” he said.

“We have no illusions of ever trying to match, trying to engage anybody in an arms race or in a military build-up,” Aquino added.

Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine –

The impoverished nation, which has never before operated submarines and until now relied largely on US surplus ships, has been ramping up defense spending in response to China’s military expansion in the region.

But while the Philippines is fortifying its defenses, Aquino, who will step down in June when his single six-year term ends, said that as an impoverished nation the government would prioritize “butter rather than guns.” – Jason E.