THE Philippine Navy will showcase its capability before its guest of honor, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, during its 116th anniversary celebration today in Ulugan Bay in western Palawan province.
The government has allotted P500 million for development of the bay into a new naval facility.
“The capability [demonstration]will show to the President the connectivity of the headquarters of the Philippine Navy in Manila with its operation units in the field,” Col. Edgard Arevalo, group commander of the Navy Civil-Military Operation Group, said on Monday.
Arevalo explained that the capability demonstration is part of the Navy’s effort to attain sustainability in the conduct of maritime operations of its Naval Forces in the field in support of the unified commands.
The demonstration “will be an opportunity to bring to the attention of the President what other mission essential capabilities the Naval Forces need,” he said.
Arevalo, however, declined to give details on the capability demonstration, saying they are operational matters, and disclosing them would jeopardize naval operations.
“Suffice it to say that [the demonstration]will enhance and sustain our conduct of maritime operations,” he added.
It will be the first time that the Navy will observe its founding anniversary celebration outside its headquarters in Manila.
Ulugan Bay is some 50 kilometers or an hour’s drive from Palawan’s capital Puerto Princesa City, facing the disputed Spratly group of islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
It will soon be the home of the Naval Forces West (NFW), which oversees and protects the country’s interests in the south, including the West Philippine Sea.
Arevalo said the development of Ulugan Bay has nothing to with the territorial conflict between the Philippines and China in that sea.
The intention, he added, was to improve the relationship between national headquarters and frontline units and the support system between them.
Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda also on Monday said the President will be shown the master plan of Naval Station Carlito Cunanan (NSCC) in Puerto Princesa City.
It was not clear if the master plan is part of the P500-million development of Ulugan Bay.
He added that the NFW, the Navy’s primary operational command securing the West Philippine Sea, is at the “forefront” of territorial defense operations in the Kalayaan Island group there.
“Its upgraded Command Center, equipped with secure communications equipment and a satellite-based vessel tracking system, will further bolster our defense capabilities and ensure stability in the area,” Lacierda said.
According to him, NSSC has been “slated for redevelopment,” which includes the rehabilitation of the pier, living quarters and support facilities.
“These efforts are in line with the enhanced defense cooperation agreement, through which we hope to further improve our defense capacities,” he said, referring to the recently signed Edca between Manila and Washington.
Lacierda added, that the government will also commemorate today the sacrifices of the country’s Marines, who have “bravely devoted themselves to protecting our territorial and maritime borders.”
“We recognize their hard work and dedication, and in them find renewed inspiration to maintain our commitment to protect our national sovereignty,” he said
China has stepped up its activities to assert its extensive claim over the energy-rich West Philippine Sea. Also claiming territories there are the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
William B. Depasupil And Catherine Valente