BAGUIO CITY: The Philippine Navy has begun patrolling the Philippine Rise (Benham) following President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders, Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad, Flag Officer-in-Command, said on Sunday.
“We have Hamilton vessels that will do the patrolling there,” said Empedrad during the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming here.
The US Navy decommissioned the Hamilton-class cutter vessels, which the Philippines then acquired during the term of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd. They were acquired under the US Excess Defense Article and a military assistance program.
Two were named BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
These ships have been deployed to other disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.
In early February, Duterte ordered the Navy, as well as the Philippine Air Force, to deploy more of their assets to patrol the Philippine Rise.
The added patrols came after China renamed several undersea features of the Philippine Rise which, it claimed, were “discovered by the Li Shiguang Hao ship of the China Navy Hydrographic Office in a survey in 2004.” DEMPSEY REYES