As an archipelago, a strong Philippine Navy is of utmost importance to secure and preserve the safety, sovereignty, and independence of the country. The Navy is our first defense against incursions in the Philippine shores.
Under Article X, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, “The defense and security of the regions shall be the responsibility of the National Government.” The modern Navy has, among others, the mandate to protect and defend our territory form external aggressions, secure the Philippine maritime areas from all forms of intrusions and encroachment, and assist other government agencies in protecting our marine resources and environment.
Back then, our ancestors have long been seafarer warriors living along the coastal areas of the country, traversing the seas in their delicate boats. As an archipelago, we have been dependent on the resources of the sea as early as pre-colonial times. The safety and security of the community depended and still currently depends on the capability of our maritime defense.
With the issues on maritime security in the West Philippine Sea and the encroachment against our sovereignty and sovereign rights, it is high time to give priority to the modernization of our Philippine Navy. In so doing, the maritime position of the country relative to its territory and sovereign rights under international law becomes stronger with a powerful Philippine Navy at its disposal.
This prioritization is seen as early as the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. Last May 2022, the Naval Operating Base (NOB) Subic was reported to be up and running. The NOB Subic would serve as the Philippine Navy’s main naval support and logistics hub, which would house our fleet marine units, such as the Jose Rizal-class missile-frigates, Del Pilar-class offshore patrol ships, and the Tarlac-class landing docks.
In addition, earlier this year, I had the privilege to launch the new 12,000-hectare support facility and naval air detachment inside the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport.
I reiterate my stand that the heightened training and modern weapons would certainly boost the morale of our Navy. The foregoing modernization efforts, among other notable efforts of the government, would allow for a stronger Philippine Navy that is ready and able to provide territorial defense and heightened operations and presence in the West Philippine Sea and its adjoining areas.