MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine's defense chief says the government has signed separate contracts worth 163 billion pesos (about $39 million) with Italian and South Korean companies to supply helicopters and trucks as part of efforts to modernize its poorly equipped military.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday the Philippines will purchase three multi-purpose AW 109 helicopters for its navy from AugustaWestland SPA of Italy amounting to 1.33 billion pesos ($32 million).

He says Kia Motors Corp. will supply 60 field ambulances and 12 trucks all worth 300.78 million ($7.33 million) pesos.

Gazmin says the purchases show the country's "louder and clearer" intent to modernize its military.

The Philippine military is fighting a decades-long communist insurgency and battling Islamic militants while facing increasing tension over territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

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