PH Navy honors COVID-19 frontliners on its 122nd anniversary celebration

By Martin Sadongdong 

The Philippine Navy (PN) celebrated on Wednesday its 122nd founding anniversary with a tribute to health care workers and other frontliners leading the fight to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, PN Flag Officer in Command, led a "distinctively simple and solemn" celebration at the Navy headquarters at Naval Station Jose Andrada in Manila. The PN was founded on May 20, 1898.

With the theme "Sailing These Turbulent Times Towards Our Maritime Nation's Defense and Development," the celebration commenced with a flag raising ceremony with the flag flown at half-mast.

It was simultaneously observed in all PN units across the country followed by a prayer, one-minute of silence and synchronized blowing of ships' horns and sirens.

"All of these were to pay tribute to all medical workers and other frontline personnel tackling the coronavirus disease, especially those we have lost along the way," Bacordo said.

The honor roll includes Dr. Aileen Baviera, a longtime member of the Navy board of advisers who died of COVID-19 on March 21; and Navy reservist Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Simplicio Dasargo.

In his remarks, Bacordo underscored the need for the Navy to take advantage of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic "to sense the relevance and urgency of making our Navy a better, more responsive, more credible and efficient protector of our Filipino people. "

"With the unique opportunity to revisit our systems and procedures as we face this crisis, I encourage you, our navy personnel, our maritime stakeholders, our government leaders, the Filipino people, to support the Navy’s effort to achieve our vision," he said.

The Philippine Navy has been contributing in the national government's fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Various naval assets were being used to transport and fetch medical supplies and equipment here and abroad to equip the country's frontliners.

Presidential yacht BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS-25) was also converted into a floating quarantine facility which houses suspected COVID-19 patients.

Thousands of sailors, marines and Navy reservists are also deployed to assist the police in manning quarantine control points across the country.

The celebration was attended by select Navy personnel who strictly observed physical distancing, Bacordo said. The ceremony was shown through a Facebook live and witnessed by different Navy units via live video conferencing.

Meanwhile, outstanding units and personnel were also feted during the ceremony headlined by the Philippine Fleet as the Type Command of the Year; Naval Forces Western Mindanao as the Operating Forces of the Year; Naval Reserve Command as the Support Command of the Year; and Naval Intelligence Security Force as the Support Unit of the Year.

According to Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting director of the PN public affairs office, the Navy "does not waver in transforming the vision of becoming a strong and credible Navy set in this banner year of 2020 into a reality by being a constant and dependable partner of the government, other agencies and stakeholders in providing much needed services to the Filipino people" amid the pandemic.

"True to its anniversary theme 'Sailing These Turbulent Times Towards Our Maritime Nation’s Defense and Development,' the deployment of our sailors, marines and reservists, and utilization of sea, air and land assets have helped the nation cope up with the current ordeals and provided an enduring hope for all to heal as one," she said.