By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Wednesday, January 5, 2011
President Aquino yesterday promised to back the Philippine Navy's desperately needed modernization but also called on the group to continue security the country's seas, particularly those that host ongoing petruleum exploration.
In his speech during the turnover of command from Rear Admiral Danilo Cortez to new Navy Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, Mr. Aquino said these critical areas include the seas around Kalayaan Island Group, Malampaya, Palawan, Mapun and Sulu.
"I salute you on the accomplishment of your duty to protect our territory despite such obstacles as antiquated vessels and the lack of some important equipment. Be assured that your government will also work double time to come up with effective ways to improve these things and maintain the integrity of the Navy," President Aquino said.
"I am quite confident that while we strenghten your ranks and upgrade your equipment, you will continue to take care of the security of our seas especially in the areas of petroleum exploration in the Kalayaan Island Group, Malampaya, Palawan, Mapun and Sulu," he added.
President Aquino said the Navy's role in securing these areas is proof of its huge contribution not only in the country's security aspect
"but also in strengthening the potential of our national economy."
Before ending his prepared speech, Mr. Aquino turned spontaneous and said he was unpleasantly surprised when he learned that one of the two vessels tasked to patrol waters off Palawan was still running on outriggers.
"In one of the briefings on the Kalayaan Island Group, I was shocked- I know that we have a shortage of ships-(but) I was surprised when I learned that of two boats (in Palawan).. one of them still had outriggers," President Aquino said.
President Aquino said the Navy does not lack lobbyists for funding for more modern ships and equipment.
he mentioned former Marine commandant and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the House committee on national defense; former Navy officer Cavite Rep. Jun Abaya, chair of the house committee on appropriations; and Marine reservist Vice President Jejomar Binay.