Military commander eyes port improvements to enhance PHL Rise patrols

In order to enhance the country’s capabilities to protect the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise), Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) head Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat is looking at the possibility of upgrading the various ports near the above-mentioned territory.

He made this statement when asked on whether there are plans to construct a naval facility in Casiguran, Aurora, the landmass nearest to the 13-million-hectare Philippine Rise.

The Nolcom chief was aboard BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), the lead ship of the Filipino flotilla tasked to arrange the commemoration of the first anniversary of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 25 which renamed Benham Rise to Philippine Rise on May 16, 2017.

The BRP Davao del Sur was joined by eight ships from the Navy, Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Two FA-50PH jet fighters, a Coast Guard Islander plane and a Navy C-90 patrol aircraft also made a series of fly-by during the dropping of a buoy where a Philippine tricolor was drawn.

“As of now, I don’t have an idea except that they have a proposal to, I myself have (a) proposal (to) upgrade and capacitate (the) development of our port facilities so that they can sustain (our) rotational presence here in Philippine Rise,” Salamat said.

“Without port facilities, our ships, our maritime (patrol vessels) cannot sustain sustain longer (operations) in the seas,” he added.

He admitted, though, that these proposals, should they near fruition, need a considerable amount of resources.

The Philippine Rise buoy laying and flag-raising mission, he said, will set the tempo on more patrols in the area.

“Of course as (soon) as the requirements (we need) are (provided as soon as possible to) Nolcom and (Area Task Force North) in coordination with other maritime agencies like the Philippine Coast Guard, the BFAR, we will continue our rotational presence in Philippine Rise,” the Nolcom chief said. PNA