Navy wants WPS gas platforms for monitoring
Photo release shows Navy officers inspecting the retired gas platforms in Palawan, which they want to use as a monitoring station in the West Philippine Sea
STAR/ File
Navy wants WPS gas platforms for monitoring
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Navy is moving to transform two retired gas platforms in Palawan into Littoral Monitoring Stations or LMS in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Such observation posts will “further enhance our capability to protect our maritime interests in these strategic locations,” the Navy said.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo visited the Nido and Matinloc platforms located in Malampaya, Northwest of Palawan on Saturday.

“This inspection intends to look at the viability of these retired gas platforms to be converted to observation posts for Recto Bank and Malampaya gas platform,” he said.

The Philippine Navy said the Department of Energy (DOE) last year ceased the over 40 years of production operations of the two gas fields.

The transfer of ownership of the now retired platforms was offered by the DOE in several meetings of the National Task Force in the WPS.

Bacordo said it is the Department of National Defense (DND) that is bent on acquiring the platforms and expeditiously transferring them to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The AFP plans to convert the two retired gas platforms into monitoring stations since the location of the platforms is deemed to be “strategic and vital” due to its proximity to Recto Bank, Malampaya and Galoc Gas Fields.

The Malampaya Gas Field is located 820 meters deep, 80 kms. off the coast of Palawan which falls under the area of responsibility of Naval Forces West.

Bacordo said the future LMS of the Philippine Navy in Palawan’s waters is a welcome addition to its improving capabilities “to better serve our maritime nation especially in its critical location near the nation’s source of natural gas.”

Before the inspection, the Navy chief visited the headquarters of Joint Task Force (JTF) Malampaya in El Nido, Palawan where he was accorded honors upon his arrival and met all personnel assigned there.

Naval Forces West commander, Commo. Renato David and 3rd Marine Brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Nestor Herico also joined the activity.

Transported by naval helicopter AW109, Bacordo was accompanied by JTF Malampaya commander, Navy Captain Donn Anthony Miraflor, and Naval Staff for C4ISR, Capt. Marcos Imperio.

Last week, AFP chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay called on his fellow military and defense officials in Southeast Asia to pursue the development of a code of conduct with China that will ensure peace and proper behavior in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines supports the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will be an important and lasting legacy of the ASEAN and China in ensuring peace, security and stability in the area,” he said in a speech delivered at the 17th ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Meeting (ACDFM) on Thursday.

Gapay underscored the country’s commitment to support the development of such a code, stressing the importance of maintaining mutual trust and confidence in the region and to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.

He noted that the flexibility of the ASEAN collaboration in both traditional and non-traditional challenges makes the partnership a strength in the region’s security arrangement as the ACDFM signifies the strength of the countries’ unity.

“I am confident that we will achieve a strengthened security relationship towards a cohesive and responsive ASEAN. After all, we have a shared commitment and mutual responsibility in dealing with common regional security challenges and in preserving the region’s stability,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has repeatedly given assurance that despite the challenges, the AFP continues to patrol and safeguard the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea.

Also last week, President Duterte, in a speech before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, invoked the 2016 arbitral ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines and vowed to reject efforts to undermine the decision that voided China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea.

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