President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday pledged to provide full support for the Philippine Navy’s (PN) modernization of assets and enhancement of defense capabilities.
Marcos reaffirmed his support during the PN’s 125th anniversary celebration at its headquarters along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
“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 in his keynote speech.
“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 added.
Marcos said he looks forward to the completion of the Horizon 3 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization which is significantly devoted to the naval aspect of the country’s military operations.
This, as he lauded the PN personnel for their efforts to defend the sovereignty of and maintain peace in the Philippines.
“Our Navy serves not only as valiant guardians of our seas and shores, but peaceful emissaries as well. Highly disciplined and experienced in international engagements, it adheres to the [internationally] recognized codes of conduct, such as the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the recently approved ASEAN Guidelines of Maritime Interaction,” Marcos said.
Marcos also acknowledged the navy’s “manifold achievements and accomplishments” since its inception, including its significant contribution to securing the Philippine archipelago, especially in the Batanes and Kalayaan islands, the Philippine Rise and the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
He hoped that the PN would continue to work for unity and champion respect for constitutional order and the rule of law.
“As we celebrate the Philippine Navy’s 125th Anniversary, we pay tribute to the institution and the men and women behind it, both uniformed and civilian, for they have continued the noble cause of defending the Republic’s sovereignty and keeping the peace,” he said.
“We recognize not only their progressive naval and amphibious warfare skills that have earned international acclaim, but also the humanitarian acts that are likewise inherent to the calling of the Navy,” the Commander-in-Chief added.
Currently, the PN has seven operational commands: Naval Forces Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Central, West, Western Mindanao, Eastern Mindanao and Fleet-Marine Ready Force. It has also 14 support and command units.
As of May 15, the Navy has a total strength of 26,830 officers, enlisted personnel and candidate soldiers, supported by 1,378 civilian employees.
Marcos said he is also considering procuring submarines for the PN.
He said there are offers from different countries not only for submarine acquisition but also for domestic assembly and construction of naval assets.
“So, it is still part of our plan. But right now, we are in the middle of developing mostly our anti-submarine capabilities. So, ‘yun ang uunahin natin (that’s what we will prioritize), and then hopefully, when the time comes and the conditions are agreeable, then we might be able to acquire those submarines,” Marcos said.
He made the remark, as he acknowledged the importance of the offer, particularly for the country’s defense and local job generation.
In 2022, the Department of National Defense (DND) said procurement of submarines for the PN was not a priority, stressing that it was focusing on the implementation of modernization contracts signed by the previous administration.
The DND added that while the submarines were on the wish list for Horizon 3, it is prioritizing the implementation of such contracts, “cognizant of the limitations in the resources available to the government.”
Horizon 3 or the final phase of the AFP Modernization Program which started this year and would run until 2028. It covers equipment geared for external defense.
Marcos said the modernization efforts will pave the way for the holistic transformation of the AFP into a “stronger, modern and formidable organization.”
“Rest assured that as your Commander-in-Chief, this Administration will work tirelessly not only to improve the Armed Forces, but are also looking for ways and means to improve your individual welfare and those of your families,” he said. (PNA)