By Jeanne Michael Penaranda, Correspondent
MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the military’s revised modernization for new weaponry and equipment costing P 2 trillion to bolster the country’s defenses against threats in South China Sea and West Philippine Sea and others.

This developed as the Philippine Navy reported that some 15 to 25 Chinese warships have been spotted around Mischief Reef or Panganiban Reef, just some 25 miles away from Ayungin Shoal where the government is set to deploy a resupply mission for troops at a military outpost there.

Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said that 200 Chinese militia ships and 10 to 15 China Coast Guard ships were also observed around the area.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will also continue with the resupply missions at the BRP Sierra Madre despite the swarming of the Chinese vessels near Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal.

The P2 trillion modernization plan was disclosed by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. in a speech before the Manila Overseas Press Club.

Teodoro said the acquisition plan called “Re-Horizon 3” will focus on “an array of capabilities which will range from our domain awareness, our connectivity, our intelligence capabilities or C4iSTAR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, targeting acquisition and reconnaissance) … to our area denial and deterrence capabilities on both the maritime and the aerial domains.”

It replaces Horizon 3 — the supposed final stage of the three-phase modernization program that would have started last year and run until 2028 — consisting of equipment mostly geared for external defense

The previous Horizon 3 list included multi-role fighters, radars, frigates, missile systems, and rescue helicopters.

Meanwhile, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año  slammed the China Coast Guard’s claims that Beijing has an “indisputable sovereignty” over the Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal) and its adjacent waters, reiterating that the waterway is located inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

He added that Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of Philippine territory, being part of the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales province.

“It is located 124 nautical miles west of Luzon mainland and is well within the 200-nautical mile EEZ and the Philippine continental shelf,” Año said in a statement.