Navy: Threats to territorial integrity ‘real and present’
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 27, 2014 - 6:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Navy is on its way to shifting its focus to territorial defense as it admitted that the threats to the country’s territory are “real and present.”

Navy chief Vice Adm. Jesus Millan said they are ready to fulfill their mission despite the challenges that confront them.

“The menace of various threats to national security and territorial integrity are real and present. The geopolitical landscape changes with the latest developments and volatile situation in the region,” Millan said in a speech delivered during the Navy’s 116th anniversary in Palawan.

“But the Navy commits to remain steadfast to surmount the odds and meet the expectations of our people,” he added.

Millan said the military’s gains in maintaining internal security would allow them to perform its task of protecting the country’s territory.

“With the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) relative success in Internal Security Operations, the strategic direction for our Navy today is to shift to its territorial defense role,” he said.

To accomplish the mission, Millan said there is a need to upgrade the Naval Station Carlito Cunanan located in Ulugan Bay, an area facing the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“We need to build mission essential facilities like boat houses, hangars, traiing facilities, additional living quarters, and other necessities so we can adapt to the tempo of their operations,” the Navy chief said.

“The Navy leadership knows that this cannot be accomplished overnight. But with the help of our President, we are confident that our dreams will not remain as dreams,” he added.

Aquino thanked the Navy for their dedication to their mission despite the limitations and challenges they are facing.

“Despite the limited capabilities of our uniformed men, I never heard you say ‘Sir, we can’t do it; we lack capability here.’ The truth is I have confidence in your decisions and I am confident that you will attain your objectives because our armed forces is strong” the president said.

“My appeal to you this: I hope you do not change.”

Aquino said the Navy plays a vital role because the linkages among the country’s islands depend on the sea. 

“It is but appropriate for the state to take care and strengthen you, soldiers who also care for our entire nation,” he said.

Aquino said the holding of the Navy anniversary in Palawan is meaningful as the Naval Forces West, whose headquarters is located in the province, is a major operational command that patrols the West Philippine Sea.

“The upgrading of our equipment here translates to strengthening efforts to secure of our territory,” he said.

“Every peso allotted to this station is equivalent to uplifting the national dignity and the security of our people.”

The Cunanan naval station is near the Oyster Bay, an area facing the West Philippine Sea and one of the sites that the military wants to develop.

The government has allotted P500 million to develop the Ulugan Bay base, including P313 million to improve the pier, harbor and support facilities at Oyster Bay.

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