Skip to main content

Scarborough shows need for strong Navy; internal strife stunted fleet devt - Romulo

MANILA, Philippines -- The Scarborough Shoal standoff between Manila and Beijing has betrayed the need for a strong Philippine Navy capable of asserting national sovereignty in disputed waters, House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo said Tuesday.

“Effective diplomacy is the best approach to disagreements over our territorial waters. A stronger Navy will surely reinforce our diplomacy,” said Romulo, a senior member of the House foreign affairs committee.

Unfortunately, he noted, decades-long internal armed conflicts have kept the Philippines from developing a robust Navy, which Romulo said “is supposed to be absolutely imperative for an unusually large archipelago with more than 7,100 islands.”

Instead of being “primed to ward off potential foreign aggression, our Armed Forces have been wholly geared up to suppress domestic dissidents. This is why we have a big Army, but a small Navy,” Romulo said.

The AFP troop strength is divided thus: Army, 80,000; the Navy, 26,000; and the Air Force, 17,000.

The Philippines has been fighting communist rebels on one hand and militant Islamist groups on the other hand for decades.

Owing to prolonged local strife, Romulo said the Philippine military has been forced to grow in another direction.

“We’ve developed a bulky infantry trained to fight on foot local dissidents in our mountains and jungles. Sadly, this was achieved at the expense of building an adequate Navy, or a passable Air Force for that matter,” Romulo said.

 What makes the situation ironic, he said, is that “the Philippines is one of the five biggest archipelagos in the world, along with Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Yet, we also have one of the smallest and most poorly equipped navies in the world.”

“We really have to build up our Navy. Even our non-archipelagic neighboring states such as Malaysia and Thailand have naval forces that are more respectable than ours,” Romulo pointed out.

The Philippine Navy’s largest warship -- the frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar -- is no more than a 45-year-old decommissioned US Coast Guard cutter. The ship was retrofitted and gifted to the Philippines last year under America’s Excess Defense Article Program.

Two maritime surveillance vessels from China prevented the flagship Del Pilar from accosting a group of Chinese fishermen found poaching in Philippine waters near Scarborough shoal on April 10, triggering the standoff.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Comments

More Philippine Defense News

DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the p…

No reduction in AFP manpower size

THERE will be no reduction in the number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it implements the streamlining of commands by 2013, a senior officer told the Manila Standard in an exclusive interview.
“Under the Force Structure Review, there will be streamlining of units but this does not mean reduction in terms of the number of soldiers. In fact, the FSR calls for more recruits in the future,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
At present, the military has a total of 125,000 soldiers, of which almost 85,000 are in the Army and the rest in the Navy-Marines and Air Force.
The FSR calls for an in-depth study of the AFP history in reference to pertinent laws of the land in conjunction with the challenges of internal and external defense.
The study also calls for the establishment of a strategic command that will focus on external defense where the main force would be the Air Force and Navy.
On instructions of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former military ch…

Philippine Armored Vehicles with ad-hoc wood slat armor

While searching for Philippine armored vehicles for the updates being done for both the blog and the Facebook page I chanced upon images of Philippine Army and Marine armor assets covered with thick wood planks as slat armor for protection from rocket propelled grenades. This caught the eyes of Popular Mechanics who published an article last June 8th just for this subject.


According to the article,
Wood armor on armored vehicles won't save them from ISIS rockets. Not sure, I'll leave that to the actual reports from the Philippine Military in using wood as an ad hoc protection for rpg's, but yes this is only during emergencies. The Philippine Army and Philippine Marines should employ or use the real add-on armors currently in the market for armored vehicle protection. Or they could just simply buy new thicker-armored vehicles to be used for front-line operations and have the old vehicles to be used in secondary missions or as support vehicles.



Nonetheless the fast-thinkin…