Marcos launches 2 navy gunboats; cites shift to border defense

Amid the "changing tides" in the Philippines' national security, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said the country is working to recalibrate its focus more to external defense of its borders.

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President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. (Betheena Unite)

As he witnessed the commissioning of the two brand new Israeli-made fast attack interdiction craft (FAIC) platforms—BRP Gener Tinangag (PG903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG905) during the 125th anniversary of the Philippine Navy on Friday, May 26, Marcos reiterated that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is facing new challenges.

This, he said, prompts the country to "recalibrate its focus" in ensuring national security.

"Considering the changing tides of our national security, and the significant gains that we have made in terms of internal security, our Armed Forces is working to recalibrate its focus more towards external defense of our borders," he said.

The President stressed that at this time, the government's full support to the AFP, especially the Navy "must be guaranteed.

"In this crucial transition, full support for the Armed Forces must be guaranteed, especially for the Philippine Navy’s priority goals of enhancing its intelligence, defense, and coordinative capabilities," Marcos said.

Marcos said the commissioning of the two vessels will pave the way for the "holistic transformation" of the AFP into "a stronger, modern and formidable organization."

"By then, the AFP will be more effective in its military aims and more responsive to our national goals," he said.

"With the commissioning of the two vessels today, we look further forward to the completion of the AFP Modernization Program, more especially Horizon 3, which is significantly devoted to the naval aspect of our military operations," he added.

For external defense

The commander-in-chief also bared that the newly-commissioned vessels will also be used for patrol in the West Philippines Sea.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. graces the 125th anniversary of the Philippine Navy on May 26, 2023 where he witnessed the commissioning of two Israeli-made gunboats. (Ali Vicoy)

"Oh yes. Oh yes. Lahat 'yan ginagamit talaga natin pang patrolya, hindi lamang sa West Philippine Sea kung hindi pagka diyan sa civil defense (All of that are actually being used for patrol, not just in the West Philippine Sea  but also for civil defense)," Marcos said.

"Since they have already commissioned, then talagang ito ay isasama na batin sa imbentaryo ng ating mga barko para gagamitin (we will include this to our inventory of our ships that will be used) both for the defense from external forces and also for civil defense sa pagtulong sa mga disaster na nangyayari ngayon sa Pilipinas (for responding to disasters happening in the Philippines now)," Marcos added.

Aside from this, the vessels will also play an important part when it comes to search and rescue and relief operations.

The brand new Israeli-made vessels are the third and fourth components of the Acero-class patrol gunboats of the Fleet's Littoral Combat Force.

The vessels are part of the effort to acquire nine Israel-made Shaldag Mark V missile boats worth around P10 billion.

BRP Gener Tinangag and BRP Domingo Deluana were named after Philippine Marine Corps heroes and Medal of Valor awardees for their heroism in the 2017 Marawi siege and 2000 Poblacion Matanog, Maguindanao firefight, respectively.

These vessels will be deployed to the vital choke points, major sea lines of communication, and littoral domains in the country.

According to the Navy, the gunboats will provide added muscles to the Navy's capability to secure the seas with their quick-intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles.