By ELENA L. ABEN
Manila Bulletin Monday, May 17, 2010 page 8
Security in the Visayas seaboards, as well as the rest of the archipelago,
is expected to be beef up once the Philippine Navy (PN) gets its wish of
acquiring a multi-role vessel (MRV), which costs around P5 billion.
This, after Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales committed to
complete within his remaining 45 days in office government-to-government
contracts for the acquisition of equipments needed for the Armed
Forces modernization program. President Arroyo herself has
expressed full support to the Navy's intention to procure an MRV, which
will help enhance the naval fleet's capability in territorial defense and
internal security operations, as well as humanitarian missions.
The need for a strong Philippine Navy has always been emphasized
in order to secure the country's maritime domain that spans 37,652
kilometers or 10.6 percent of the total 356,000kilometers of the world’s coastline.
Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman, said the Navy undoubtedly
faces a specially challenging gargantuan task with most of its
ships, as no less than former Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral
Ferdinand Golez admits, are even older than him and most of the
naval fleet's officers. "That has long been an open secret. To the pundits, external aggression
is remote at this time," said Arevalo, adding, "If the Philippines
wants to regain the respect of its neighbors and restore pride in the
hearts of its people, a strong navy is imperative."
In one interview, Golez told the Bulletin that the Navy at present
has obsolescent equipment, some of which are already 50 to 60-yearsold,
eyen pointing at the dock beside the Navy headquarters 'along Roxas
Boulevard, which he said has seen action during World War II and the
Vietnam War. Information obtained by this writer
also showed that one of the ships owned by the Navy
was commissioned way back in 1943 in the United States,
where its sister-ship is now displayed in a museum.
Yet despite its weakness in terms of naval capability due to obsolete,
inefficient, and ageing equipment, some of which have already reached
or are reaching the end of their lifespan, the Philippine Navy still
manages to serve well the nation and even deliver tremendous accomplishments.