By Elena L Aben
Manila Bulletin, Sunday, 23 May 2010
At 112, the Philippine Navy (PN) is one of the
oldest in Asia, and at one point during the ‘60s,
it was the envy of the region.
Other developing nations in Southeast Asia that
were then beginning to form their own navies even
took guidance from the Philippines where maritime
defense in concerned.
However, five decades later, the Philippine Navy
is now considered the weakest in Asia — owing to a
series of internal conflicts and political crises
that resulted in a turn back in the country’s naval
defense development. Add to this the fact that the
government had been spending less — compared to its
Asian neighbors — for its military forces.
With the Philippines being an archipelagic nation
with a maritime domain that spans some 37,652
kilometers or 10.6 percent of the total 356,000
kilometers of the world’s coastline, the need for a
strong navy has always been emphasized.
In an interview, Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy
spokesman, said the Navy undoubtedly faces an
especially challenging gargantuan task with most
of its ships, as no less than former Navy
Flag Officer-in-Command, Vice Adm. 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
Navy officials openly admit that the PN, at present,
has obsolete equipment, some of which are already
50 to 60-years-old.
One of its ships, in fact, has seen action during
World War II and the Vietnam War. Another ship
being used by the naval fleet was commissioned 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 the
nation well and even deliver tremendous
Among the remarkable achievements posted by
Fleet-Marine units in Basilan and Sulu was
the neutralization of several leaders of
the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG),
including Khadaffi Janjalani, Abu Sabaya,
and recently Albader Parad.
To this, no less than outgoing President
Arroyo remarked that the Navy’s accomplishments
makes her proud to have become its
Rear Admiral Danilo Cortez, acting
vowed to continue the Navy’s initiatives,
particularly those set by his predecessor,
Vice Adm. Ferdinand Golez who retired from
active military service last May 15.