PH latest warship to defend territory
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose L. Cuisia Jr. told the crew of the country’s newest warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), that the Philippines will exert efforts to ease tensions in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) but will also defend its territory if needed.
On Sunday, June 9, during a farewell reception of the Alcaraz at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in South Carolina, Cuisia said that while Manila supports regional stability it is also prepared to “defend what is ours.”
“As you know, there are some tensions in the West Philippine Sea and this may put you in harm’s way but there is no doubt that you will perform your duty of protecting Philippine territory if needed,” Cuisia, adding he hoped “diplomatic efforts would [still] ease these tensions.”
The 378-foot Alcaraz will start its voyage to the Manila on Monday, June 10, after a month of sea trial. The vessel had undergone refurbishment and refitting at a cost of US$15.6 million since it was acquired by the Philippine government in May 2012.
Alcaraz is the second Hamilton-class cutter that was acquired by the Philippine Navy. The first, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF15), was turned over to the Philippine Navy in May 2011.
In 2012, the Del Pilar was involved in the Scarborough Shoal standoff.
Earlier in May, the Philippines protested China’s "provocative and illegal presence" near Ayungin Shoal, part of the Kalayaan Island Group off Palawan. Around 30 Chinese fishing vessels, including 3 Chinese government ships, have been sighted around the shoal but China insisted the area was part of its territory.
‘Live up to his reputation’
Cuisia told Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the Alcaraz, and his officers that they are all expected to live up to the reputation of the late Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a World War II hero, in whose honor the warship was named.
Alcaraz was credited for downing 3 enemy aircraft while commanding the Q112 Abra, a 55-foot offshore patrol boat, during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Alcaraz was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese but survived the war and went on to serve in the Navy until he retired in 1966. He died in 2009.
“Ramon Alcaraz had a very distinguished record in serving our country and our people. You are expected to live up to his reputation,” Cuisia told the 88 officers and crew of the warship.
The vessel left at 10 am on Monday and is expected to arrive in the Philippines first week of August. – Rappler.com