Thursday, March 17, 2011

Navy activates 3 new offices

By Alexis Romero
The Philippine Star, Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Navy activated yesterday three new offices including a body that will study proposals on how to tap the private sector to fund its modernization program.

Navy spokesman Capt. Giovanni Bacordo said activated were the Public-Private Partnership Office (PPPO), the Naval Human Rights Office, and the Philippine Navy Protocol Office.

Bacordo said the PPPO is in line with the government’s plan to lease some of its properties to support its capability upgrade program.

“The PPPO will study the proposals of the proponents. It will assess the plans related to the public-private partnership,” he told The STAR in a phone interview.

Bacordo said the PPPO will be led by the Navy vice commander, a post currently held in an acting capacity by Fleet Commander Rear Adm. Jose Luis Alano.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act, which took effect in 1995, has given the military the opportunity to modernize in 15 years with a total fund of P331 billion.

More than 16 years have passed since the law was enacted but critics said the AFP is not even close to a modern battle force. The delay in the implementation of the law has been attributed to lack of state funds.

During his first State of the Nation Address last July, President Aquino said he is studying a proposal to lease military lots to support AFP modernization.

He said this will allow the military to procure equipment without bloating the deficit, which is expected to hit P290 billion this year.

At least six firms have expressed interest in the project, including Malaysian Resources Corp. Berhad, which submitted a proposal that would involve the lease of a 33-hectare property at Fort Bonifacio.

Navy data showed that out of the 53 patrol ships in the inventory, only 25 are operational. These patrol ships are of the average age of 36.4 years old. The bigger of these vessels like the minesweeper frigates and patrol craft escorts are 66 and 67 years, old respectively.

Only two of the seven Navy transport vessels are operational and are already 15 years old. The non-operational vessels are 64 years old.

On the other hand, only four of the 10 Navy auxiliary ships are operational. From among the 32 small crafts, 23 are operational and are of an average age of 21.3 years old.

The Navy also activated its Human Rights Office in compliance with the military’s policy to educate troops about existing humanitarian laws.

“The office aims to safeguard and ensure that human rights of the people and Navy personnel, as well as of its stakeholders are well-respected and preserved,” Bacordo said.

The office will be headed by Lt. Col. Jesulito Calimag.

On the other hand, the Protocol Office will be tasked “to preserve customs, traditions, and ideals” of the Navy.

The office, which aims to promote discipline among Navy personnel, will be led by Cmdr. Carlos Sabarre.

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