BAGUIO CITY: The Philippine Navy and the Air Force are conducting patrols in the Philippine Rise (Benham) in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the military to deploy more assets to secure the area and “chase away” foreign vessels spotted within the 13-million hectare plateau located near Aurora province.
“We have Hamilton vessels that will do the patrolling there,” said Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad, the Navy flag officer in command.
The Philippines acquired the Hamilton-class cutters from the US during the term of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Two of the cutters were named BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
The ships were also deployed in territorial areas of the Philippines such as the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Asked whether the ships will “chase away” foreign ships, Empedrad said they will only be patrolling the area.
“We do not know if foreign vessels are there,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr., Philippine Air Force commanding general, said other government agencies will also patrol the area.
“We have sovereign rights and we have sovereignty over some features there so we are going to do both because of our mandates,” Kintanar told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Military Academy alumni homecoming here.