If the government can source PHP18 billion for two Navy frigates, the government could also be able to produce funding for locally-made Pasig River ferry boats, floating hospitals, environmental patrol boats, and other ships needed by a disaster-prone archipelago where half of the towns lie along the coast.
This idea was raised by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
“If we were able to find the means to buy our Navy more ships, then we should also be that resourceful in meeting the needs of other agencies for more floating assets,” Recto said in statement.
He said the government can “buy Filipino” by tapping the vibrant shipbuilding industry of Cebu, as well as Navotas and Subic.
Senator Recto also noted that 2 Navotas-made 50.5-meter multi-mission vessels – BRP Lapu-Lapu and BRP Francisco Dagohoy – under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were commissioned on December 21, 2017.
“P250 million lang ang halaga ng bawat isa. Katumbas lang ng downpayment natin doon sa mga Dalian trains ng MRT na hindi naman nagagamit,” Recto said.
“We need a hospital ship. Kahit maliit lang. Or two all-purpose mercy ships which can be used as floating headquarters when all land structures have been destroyed. We are an archipelago. And when there’s a typhoon and the roads are destroyed, the only way to reach the victims is by sea,” he added.
“At kung mga barko lang for coastal or river patrol, then our local shipyards make them. The weaponry can come from abroad pero siguro yung barko pwede na dito. How can we keep our rivers and seas clean when our ecological police cannot set out to sea for lack of boats?” he said.
Recto said government should also reach out to local shipbuilders “in optimizing the unused resource that is the Pasig River in solving Manila’s traffic.”