Gov’t tells Alejano: Trip to Panatag shoal OK but should be cleared

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2019   •   1920

Senatorial candidate Gary Alejano (📷 Twitter)

Everyone may visit the disputed Panatag Shoal off Zambales, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said on Monday.

Balilo made the statement after Otso Diretso Senatorial candidate and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano wrote a formal letter to the PCG to request for permission to visit the contested shoal.

The letter, dated April 13, was addressed to PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino.

“Sir, the PCA ruling in 2016 clearly stated that the Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino and Chinese fishermen, hence, both of our fishermen can fish there. However, our local media has reported otherwise, which, if left unchecked would greatly undermine our people’s rights to the resources found there,” Alejano’s letter read.

Balilo said there is no policy that prohibits people from visiting Panatag Shoal as long the trip is properly coordinated with the PCG station for rescue operation in case of emergency.

However, the Philippine Navy said Alejano and other opposition senatorial candidates cannot just sail to the disputed area, saying this should be cleared with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM).

The Philippine Navy said Alejano’s request should be forwarded to the AFP-NOLCOM as it has operational control of the navy ships deployed in Panatag shoal.

Nevertheless, authorities expressed doubt that the trip would be permitted if it’s going to be used for something other than fishing.

The PH Navy also stressed it can always deny request to travel to Panatag Shoal as it is not a tourist destination that anyone can visit.

The military said the AFP-NOLCOM’s priority concern is safety, and the current maritime dispute between the Philippines and China comes second. – Robie de Guzman

PH Navy ships arrive in Oman for repatriation amid Middle East tensions

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 7, 2020

The Philippine Navy ships, BRP Davao del Sur (LD602) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16), have arrived in Oman to help in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the tensions in the Middle East.

The ships arrived at Sultan Qaboos Port late on Wednesday afternoon (February 5).

In a statement, Philippine envoy to Oman, Ambassador Narciso Castañeda said the navy contingent are “all safe and sound” upon arriving in Oman.

“The troops are very happy and in high spirits since this event serves as another milestone for our Navy that we can already transcend across the deep waters of Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea,” he said.

He also assured that the embarked sailors and marines “are ready to assist and support the government effort in repatriating our unsung heroes, the OFWs in this Middle East conflict.”—AAC

New PH Navy chief officially assumes position

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 4, 2020

Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo

Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo officially assumes the position as the 38th Flag Officer In Command of the Philippine Navy on Monday (February 3).

The Philippine Navy conducted a change of command ceremony which was presided by President Rodrigo Duterte.

During his speech, Bacordo said that as the new Philippine Navy Chief, he will implement programs that will ensure that the new defense capabilities will remain capable through time.

“Not only we will have modern platforms, but also modern systems and modern mindsets to ensure that we will continue to fulfill our mission and remain to be a strong and credible Navy that our maritime nation can be proud of,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte lauded former Navy chief, Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad for his contribution and told members of the Philippine Navy to rally behind the new navy leadership under its newly assumed Flag Officer In Command.

Empedrad retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on his birthday on Monday.—AAC

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PH Navy donates relief goods to Taal victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Philippine Navy (PN) donated P700,000 worth of relief goods to the municipality of San Luis in Batangas on Sunday (January 26).

According to the Philippine Navy, three evacuation sites where identified for the distribution of the relief goods: San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Brgy. Poblacion, Taliba Evacuation Center in BrgyTaliba and San Luis Academy in Calumpang West.

Around 4,000 relief goods were given to the evacuees in the three said areas which include a pail, 1 kilo of rice, assorted canned goods, food packs, bottled waters and personal hygiene kits.

Other relief goods from various organizations were also distributed.

“150 mattress foamS from Uratex Company and dozens of various relief items from other PN stakeholders were also distributed in this activity,” according to the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said he wants to ensure proper assistance is provided by the Philippine Navy before he retires. Empedrad will be retiring from office by next week.

“We are always willing to assist our stakeholders as we assure everyone that your Navy is always ready to serve in every situation and that you can always count on us,” he said.—AAC

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