Phil star with PNA, Thursday, June 16, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine Navy gunship was dispatched today to Spratly Islands to monitor the latest developments in the disputed territory.
Defense Undersecretary Eduardo Batac said BRP Rajah Humabon will also check the removal of foreign markers on the reefs and banks in the disputed islands near Palawan.
The official did not says what are the other specific instructions of the Philippine Navy to the gunship, which is the largest capital warship of the Philippine Navy.
The BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) is the last Destroyer Escort/Frigate in its fleet, and considered as one of the oldest active ships of the fleet, and in the world. She is one of three ex-USN Cannon-class destroyer escorts that served the Philippine Navy, the others being BRP Datu Sikatuna (PF-5/PS-77) and BRP Datu Kalantiaw (PS-76).
The Philippine gunship was sent to the disputed territory after United States Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas assured that it will support the Philippines on its territorial dispute with China.
Malacañang has recently announced that it may invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty with the US to help ease tension in the disputed island, which was caused by the alleged incursions by Chinese naval forces.
Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay yesterday said that foreign markers or wooden posts were removed from Reed Bank, Boxall Reef in the Spratly Islands, and in the nearby Amy Douglas Bank.
Tonsay said that the posts were removed last month, before the Philippines formally protested the alleged incursions by Chinese navy in its territorial waters.
“They were foreign markers because they were not installed by our military or our government. So we dismantled them because they are part of Philippine territory,” he said.
The Philippines had accused China of putting posts and a buoy in Philippine-claimed waters, but Tonsay said the Navy had not been able to determine who placed the wooden posts that it removed in May.
He said that the markers had no "Made in China" labels and oly had numbers on them.