MANILA, Philippines — Repeat 110 times: “We are a maritime nation.”
Now you’re in the good graces of the Philippine Navy chief, Vice Admiral Alexander Pama. (It’s vice because his equivalent in the Army is a four-star, not five-star, general.)
When he had lunch at Sofitel with “Bulong Pulungan” last week, the Admiral was bent on getting his mantra across, that if you don’t buy it hook, line, and sinker, then “we will never have the strong and credible navy” that this maritime nation deserves.
The Navy serves 67 percent of the population who live in coastal areas, in a country with a coastline longer than the USA’s, where in the midst of a grouping of 7,107 islands is the center of the center of marine biodiversity and fishing is a major source of livelihood.
Our waters are a rich source of marine life, yet they are also the graveyard of thousands of boat passengers who have gone down to the bottom of the sea.
What a shame that our Navy has 66 ships and boats, of which only 33 are in ship-shape condition, alas. What can we islanders and the Admiral or his successors do but sink or swim with the Navy?
Coming soon, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a $10-million, 30-year-old “new” Hamilton cutter, so “big and fast” she “can be deployed anywhere.” (More on Thursday)