South Korea

FACT CHECK: South Korea will not give free submarines to PH

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FACT CHECK: South Korea will not give free submarines to PH
In a call with Rappler, the Philippine Fleet says there is no such offer from South Korea

Claim: South Korea will cover the costs for the acquisition of submarines for the Philippines. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a Facebook video posted on May 16. The video has 884,000 views, 43,000 reactions, and 933 comments as of writing.

The video states: “Sa isinagawang Philippine Fleet Defense Expo 2023, ipinakita ng South Korea na tuloy pa rin ang kanilang offer ng submarine sa Pilipinas. Sa offer na ito, South Korea ang gagastos lahat upang magkaroon ng dalawang submarine ang Pilipinas. Hindi lang iyan! Pati submarine base, crew training, transfer of technology, at marami pang iba.”

(During the Philippine Fleet Defense Expo 2023, South Korea showed that their offer for submarines for the Philippines still stands. South Korea offered to pay for all expenses so the Philippines can have two submarines. Not only that! Submarine bases, crew training, transfer of technology, and many others are included too.)

Facts: In a call with Rappler on May 24, the public affairs office of the Philippine Fleet clarified that there was no offer from South Korea to pay for the acquisition of submarines during the Philippine Fleet Defense Expo. The Philippine Fleet, a type command under the Philippine Navy, is the unit primarily responsible for conducting the event.

The Facebook video showed clips of a presentation for the DSME 1400PN by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME). The South Korean shipbuilder earlier offered its 1,400-ton submarine to the Philippine Navy in 2021

According to a 2021 article on Naval News, DSME is also offering crew training and soft loan as part of its “total solution package” offer. The same details were mentioned in a 2021 video interview of a DSME official in South Korea and in photos from the 2023 Philippine expo.

While the Facebook video claims that South Korea will fully shoulder the cost, DSME’s offer is for a “soft loan,” which is a loan with no interest or below-market rate of interest, according to Investopedia. The DSME presentation video also stated that under this offer, there will be “no repayment during the construction of two submarines over approximately 7 years.”

No confirmed deals: DSME and other firms from the maritime and naval defense industries were present at the Philippine Fleet Defense Expo 2023, which was held from May 11 to 13 at the Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point. According to the Philippine News Agency, the event gave a “glimpse of the Navy’s upcoming assets like submarines, offshore patrol vessels, unmanned systems, naval weapons and combat systems, cyber and electronic warfare, ISR systems, naval aviation, force protection, logistical systems, and support systems.”

A report from NHK about the event also mentioned the deputy commander of the Philippine fleet as suggesting “a plan to acquire the country’s first submarines.”

As of writing, there have been no confirmed reports regarding the Philippines’ submarine acquisition. According to a 2022 report, DSME had offered its Chang Bogo-class diesel-electric submarines to the Philippines, but the country is also considering a French offer. Neither the Philippine Navy nor the Department of National Defense has released any statements confirming any agreements. – Ailla Dela Cruz/

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