Pres. Duterte stresses PHL sovereignty over territorial waters at commissioning of BRP Melchora Aquino



Highlights importance of Coast Guard visibility in West Philippine Sea at event marking 124th PHL independence Day

President Rodrigo Duterte delivering his speech during the commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino at the Manila South Harbor on Sunday, June 12, 2022. It is one of three events that President Duterte attended to mark the country’s 124th Independence Day. (Screenshot of Malacanang video)

 

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte said that the country has to “assert” its sovereignty even in disputed waters as he led the commissioning Sunday, June 12, of the Barko ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas (BRP) Melchora Aquino of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) which is expected to improve its capability to monitor the country’s coastlines.

“You know you have at one time in our national life that we have to assert the — what is ours,” he said during the commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino on Sunday, June 12, to mark the country’s 124th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence.

Duterte said he is friends with China’s President Xi Jinping and that in his many talks to him, he had told him that the Philippines would continue to assert its sovereignty over its territorial waters.

“We have talked a lot in the so many visits that I did in the past years. Pero I made it clear to him, giklaro ko lang sa kanya na we cannot give up sovereignty over the waters sa Philippine Sea, including the exclusive economic zone because it’s vital for our national life,” he said during his speech.

-Importance of oil and food security-

“The population is growing and we have to keep pace. You know even in the food security in the coming years mahirapan tayo. And the longer that this ruckus in Europe between Russia and Ukraine continues, mag-spiral talaga ‘yan,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte leads the commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino at the Manila South Harbor on Sunday, June 12, 2022. It is one of three events that President Duterte attended to mark the country’s 124th Independence Day. (Screenshot of Malacanang video)

Duterte said oil is very important in light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis that had caused the escalation of oil prices worldwide, but also threatened global food security.

The outgoing 77-year old Philippine leader noted this even as the country’s oil exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea had been suspended way back April. The Department of Energy had since been seeking the restoration of the oil exploration. It has requested the Security, Justice, and Peace Cabinet Cluster (SJPCC) to reconsider its decision of suspending oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea and allow them to resume operations.

Duterte said he had made the warning two months ago with the continuing Russia-Ukraine tensions.

“Sabi ko there is a fighting over there. But ‘yung flow ng oil will be disrupted. And so ‘yung hindi nag-ano sa… Maraming pera sila eh. Makakuha sila ng priority ‘yung — the nations that are rich. Tayo, we’ll have to be very careful to navigate and maybe there are countries will look kindly upon us to give us the fuel of the economy,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte leads the commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino at the Manila South Harbor on Sunday, June 12, 2022. It is one of three events that President Duterte attended to mark the country’s 124th Independence Day. (Screenshot of Malacanang video)

“Alam mo hindi gumana, itong ito, lahat ‘to nakita mo, this is oil. Lahat ng sahig ‘yan, that is oil, because galing ‘yan sa makina. Even the construction, ‘yung metal or whatever is being used there it’s produced by machines. And those machines get their power from the government.

‘Pag ‘yan ang naputol, we are really in a bind. Now the reason why I choose to talk to you, kaunti lang,” Duterte stressed.

The BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702) is the second 97-meter multi-role response vessel (MRRV) acquired by the Department of Transportation and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), along with the first-commissioned BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701) – two of the most advanced assets of the Philippine Coast Guard to date.

The BRP Melchora Aquino arrived at the PCG Headquarters in Port Area, Manila on May 27, or days after departing from Japan under the sailing crew led by Coast Guard Commander Patrick Babag.

According to the PCG, these two vessels are under the DOTr’s Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) Phase II, a Japanese-assisted project funded by the Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan from the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“With the commissioning of the two MRRVs, the PCG is now more capable of conducting patrols in the country’s maritime jurisdictions, including the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise,” the PCG said in a statement.

-Enhancing capability of the Philippine Coast Guard-

Duterte noted how the DOTr under the leadership of his former classmate, Secretary Art Tugade, had made great strides in improving the country’s transportation but also the Philippine Coast Guard and providing vessels that will be instrumental in protecting the country’s coastlines and maritime resources.

“We have gone a long way to improve. Pasalamat ako kay Arthur, including the railways. In our own humble way, sabi nga niya, we delivered. And that is all,” he said.

“We do not need any adoration. We do not need any excessive inordinate thanksgiving kasi lahat tayo sa gobyerno at bayad tayo. So we are really expected to do our respective duties. So far, the Coast Guard has an excellent record and participation even sa struggle sa Mindanao. You have helped government a lot maintaining its independence and integrity as a republic. So bilib ako sa inyo,” he said.

Duterte said that the DOTr under Tugade gave importance to the Coast Guard, and that he is “very much impressed” with this performance.

-Duterte expresses hope he can ride with the Coast Guard to WPS someday-

Duterte, who will be stepping down on June 30, said he hoped he could ride with the Coast Guard on board one of the vessels even after his retirement to see the West Philippine Sea.

“But anyway, someday I could maybe ride with the Coast Guard to see. Maski na civilian na ako, sana bigyan ninyo akong kaunting ano lang — I do not expect more — ‘yung kaunting — that you can invite me to ride with you and hindi naman ako. It does not have any ramifications because civilian na ako. And I could maybe ride with you diyan sa West Philippine Sea. It is a gamble,” he said.

“By the authority vested in me as President of the Republic of the Philippines, I hereby commission BRP Melchora Aquino also known as MRRV-9702 in the service of the Department of [Transportation], Philippine Coast Guard effective today,” he said before ending his speech.

President Rodrigo Duterte leads the commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino at the Manila South Harbor on Sunday, June 12, 2022. It is one of three events that President Duterte attended to mark the country’s 124th Independence Day. Courtesy Malacanang)

Named after Filipino revolutionary Melchora Aquino, considered the Mother of the Katipunan, the MRRV 9702 is one of the two largest white ships acquired by the DOTr for the PCG through its Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) Phase 2.

The PCG said that apart from enhancing the Coast Guard’s maritime response capability in the Philippine waters, “the MRRV will boost the agency’s search and rescue, maritime environment protection, and other maritime operations.”

Duterte stressed the importance of the Coast Guard maintaining its visibility in the country’s territorial waters, especially in light of the increasing activity of China’s Coast Guard.

“That is why tayo sa Pilipinas vis-à-vis with China — I’m glad that they have also adopted the same behavior — we continue to talk. If there is any — huwag lang gray ships — Coast Guard, well Coast Guard to Coast Guard lang kayo. We do not send gray ships there because ‘yung mga barko na ano panggiyera ‘yan. It would project a different picture for everybody,” he said.

-Better to continue talks with China, says Duterte-

Duterte said that “we cannot afford fighting with China,” reiterating his stance that it is better to talk with the superpower.

“We cannot win and we will lose and the population will suffer. The Filipino nation would be in a very tight situation, a quandary of how to go about I said navigating the geopolitical issues in Europe and here, Taiwan. Ako I am praying that this can be sorted out by just talking,” he said.

Duterte said he was saddened that the commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino was marred by the rains that fell that day. At the start of his speech, he told the commanders manning the PCG officers at the event to order their men to seek shelter from the rains.

“Kindly retire. Do not allow yourselves to be soaked in the rain. Matatanda na tayo,” he said.

Previous to this, he led the commemoration of the 124th anniversary of the Philippine independence at the Rizal Park, and laid a wreath at the Jose Rizal Shrine, in the hot morning weather.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte raises the Philippine Flag as he leads the 124th Philippine Independence Day celebration themed “Kalayaan 2022: Pagsuong sa Hamon ng Panibagong Bukas” in Rizal Park, Manila on June 12, 2022. The President is joined by Manila Mayor-Elect Honey Lacuna, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Andres Centino, and NHCP Chairperson Rene Escalante. ROBINSON NIÑAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The commissioning of the BRP Melchora Aquino was his second event to mark the country’s independence, and the third was the event marking the lowering of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and inspection of the subway depot of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) [delivered at the MMSP compound in Valenzuela City.

The three events were Duterte’s last Philippine independence Day rites as the country’s president.

 

(Eagle News Service)



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