Having the Palawan-based Western Command secure Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is very ideal militarily as securing territorial waters is the unit’s “core competency”.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala Tuesday stressed this when asked whether the Western Command will be overextended by this task.
The transfer took place last week.
This was done through the orders of AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
“That is their core competency (securing territorial waters). Remember that the Western Command traditionally is commanded by an Air Force or a Navy officer primarily because of (its) external (defense implications),” he added.
By this, Zagala means that the Western Command is geared towards handling threats from the air and sea.
He also clarified that the decision to transfer Scarborough Shoal from the Northern Luzon Command to the Western Command aims to enhance the “unity of command and assets of the AFP” in terms of external defense capabilities.
“We want to enhance our external defense capabilities and in order to do that it should be commanded by one commander,” the AFP public affairs chief stressed.
Zagala stressed that no major upheaval will take place despite Scarborough Shoal being attached to the Western Command areas of responsibility, as the said unit is primarily tasked to defend Philippine territorial waters.
Western Command is tasked to secure Palawan territorial waters and the Western Philippine Sea.
“These are all at sea, if you look at it and the Western Command has the necessary assets (both air and sea) that can address territorial defense and monitoring,” he added.
And should there be an immediate need to deploy naval assets to respond to possible incidents in Scarborough Shoal, Zagala said that the Western Command can always use prepositioned naval assets in nearby areas. PNA