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Philippine warship now patrolling west sea
Publication Date : 13-12-2013
The Philippines’ second warship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), has arrived in Palawan province for what military officials described as a “routine patrol” of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“This is a routine mission… She will stay here on the side of Sulu Sea,” said Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, commander of the military’s Western Command based in Palawan.
Deveraturda refused to discuss the Alcaraz’ specific mission in Palawan, except to say that it is its duty “to patrol (the Philippines’) sovereign waters”.
The Alcaraz had travelled to Palawan from Tacloban City where it was deployed, along with its sister ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), for a humanitarian mission following the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda”.
The Del Pilar remains in the typhoon-ravaged area while the Alcaraz arrived in Palawan last Tuesday.
Navy spokesman Lt. Commander Gregory Fabic said in a separate interview that the Alcaraz will patrol the WesCom area of responsibility, including the Kalayaan Island Group and “some parts of the West Philippine Sea”.
“PF 16 will be safeguarding critical infrastructure in Palawan like the Malampaya gas platform. [Both the] PF-16 and the Del Pilar class are suited for high seas such as the West Philippine Sea. That’s where they are really intended because they are huge ships,” Fabic said.
Fabic said the Del Pilar is “more often” deployed to the Subic area in Zambales province.
He said it would be likely that the Philippines’ only two recently acquired warships would be deployed either in the Western Command or Northern Luzon Command areas.
Both commands have jurisdiction over the disputed territories between the Philippines and China.
China is claiming ownership of the Scarborough Shoal, off Zambales province, as well as the Ayungin shoals in the Kalayaan Island Group, near Palawan, both of which are within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines sought arbitration by the United Nations in a bid to resolve the territorial row but China has refused to participate, insisting on a bilateral discussion.