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New Navy chief vows safer Phl waters

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-installed Flag-Officer-in-Command (FOIC) Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano on Wednesday vowed that he will do what is necessary, including employing methods never attempted before, to make sure that the country’s territorial waters will remain safe.

“If we are achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never attempted before,” Alano said in a speech after assuming command of the 23,000-strong navy from outgoing navy chief, Vice Admiral Alexander Pama.

President Aquino, as commander-in-chief, presided over the hand-over of navy’s command from Pama to Alano held at the Philippine Navy (PN) headquarters along Roxas Boulevard in Manila on Wednesday afternoon.

Pama and Alano, as well as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa, belong to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1979. Alano is retiring in May 2014. Pama on the other hand, is expected to join the civilian government as announced by the President.

Under “exciting times” without mentioning any, Alano said the Navy can make a major contribution to the AFP’s missions and objectives.

“We should be a responsible partner in keeping our waters safe and secured by maintaining security stability in the (West Philippine Sea) so that freedom of navigation and international trade may continue to flourish," he said.

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To do this, he said the Navy will continue to review its maritime security strategy of active archipelagic defense in such a way that true and accepted scientific and quantitative and qualitative processes are prioritized.

“The course has been plotted, sea details have been set and the command to cast off all lines has been given. Our personnel are our most major concern. What we need are not warm bodies but able-bodied sailors and marines who are motivated, disciplined and professionals," Alano declared.

He added: “It is but up for us (the Navy) to seize this golden opportunity since the presiding officer has taken helm as the President and our Commander in Chief,” Alano said.

With the country’s problem on insurgency on the downturn, Alano said strategic situation and the security environment now requires the defense department to be more active in the region in ensuring maritime security in Southeast Asia by being a responsible partner of keeping the country’s territorial waters safe.

As a maritime nation, the Navy, amid its aging fleet of warships, has an enormous task of guarding the country’s waters, including those in hotly-contested West Philippine Sea.

At present, the Navy has only four warships considered as real sea combat capable, to include the decommissioned Hamilton Class United States Coast Guard cutter, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar,the country has acquired from the US and commissioned as a frigate.

Del Pilar now serves as the Navy flagship. Another US Coast Guard cutter, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is due to arrive in April next year as it is still undergoing major repairs and refurbishment back in the US.

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