Duterte leading 9-ship flotilla to Philippine Rise

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A 9-ship flotilla, spearheaded by Philippine Navy’s BRP Tarlac and BRP Davao del Sur with President Rodrigo Duterte onboard, will be sailing to Philippine (Benham) Rise this week. This was bared by Jay Batongbacal, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Director of UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

The flotilla will be accompanied by Philippine Air Force (PAF) aircraft.

Earlier last week, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque tackled about the activity in Philippine Rise. “The President will be commemorating the renaming of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise by visiting the Philippine Rise itself; and this is on May 15 to 16,” Roque said.

Secretary Roque added that President Duterte will send off around 50 scientists who will conduct maritime scientific research in the area.

“The 9-ship flotilla sailing with aircraft fly-by’s will probably be the single largest coordinated mobilization of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force in recent years, possibly its first major operation in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean,” Batongbacal said.

“It will also be a proud moment for the Philippine Navy as it involves the use of its largest and newest ships and equipment,” he added.

However, Batongbacal noted that “PRRD should not make it a side-show with colorful but empty utterances of protecting sovereignty and sovereign rights, nor claims of willingness to go to war over them. Such statements would only be bad comedy in light of his administration’s actions of the past week.”

“PRRD should maintain solemnity and pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who sacrifice and endure to guard our waters and our lands, despite their limited means, and promise them and his countrymen, of present and future generations, that he is not trading away what they are trying hard every day to protect,” he said.

Batongbacal added that President Duterte “should show some grit and at least try to show that he is not leading the country into vassalage under China.”

“From the ceremonies at sea, PRRD should get on the Navy or PCG C-90 aircraft at Casiguran and be on a Maritime Air Patrol, escorted by FA-50s, all the way to the Kalayaan Islands and Scarborough Shoal,” he said. “That is how he should wave the flag, from the Pacific Ocean to the West Philippine Sea.”

Sources: https://www.facebook.com/jay.batongbacal/posts/10156431569244485; https://pcoo.gov.ph/press_briefing/press-briefing-of-presidential-spokesperson-harry-roque-10/