PNoy welcomes warship, thanks US for support

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2013 03:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2013 04:21 AM

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE - President Aquino thanked the United States for its support as he formally welcomed the arrival of a second-hand refurbished warship purchased from the country’s strategic ally.

The ship docked at the Alava Pier on Subic Bay.

The President said the country’s second Hamilton class cutter, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, will boost the Philippine Navy’s ability to patrol the country’s exclusive economic zone, repel threats, respond in disasters, and protect the country’s natural resources.

The government has previously purchased its first Hamilton class cutter which was named BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

“Sa tulong nito, naging mas pangmatagalan, mas malawak, at mas mabilis ang pagtatanod sa ating mga baybayin. At ngayong narito na rin ang BRP Alcaraz, tiyak na lalo pang mapapaigting ang pagpapatrolya natin sa Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone; at ang kakayahan nating sugpuin ang anumang banta at masasamang elemento, tumugon sa search and rescue operations, at sa pangangalaga ng ating mga yamang-dagat,” Aquino said.

Aquino thanked the United States government, represented in the ceremony by US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr., for its support to the country’s efforts to modernize the military.

“Nagpapasalamat rin tayo sa ating mga kaalyado, galing sa Estados Unidos, na walang tigil po sa pagtutulong sa atin sa mahabang kasaysayan,” he said.

Previously used by the US Coast Guard and named US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, the the 45-yesar-old ship was purchased under the United States Excess Defense Articles and Military Assistance Program.

The Navy has purchased gun systems that would be installed in the ship to replace those that were removed prior to the turnover to the Philippine government.

Aquino challenged the Navy to emulate the example of World War II hero Commodore Ramon Alcaraz after whom the ship was named.

Alcaraz was commander of a patrol Q-boat which managed to shoot down three Japanese aircrafts during the war.

“Ibig sabihin: dehado sa gamit, dehado sa sitwasyon, dehado sa kasanayan, pero hindi siya nagpatinag sa kalaban. Nagawang daigin ni Commodore Alcaraz ang tila napaka-imposibleng sitwasyon dahil mulat siyang walang ibang magtatanggol sa ating bansa kundi tayo rin lang,” Aquino said.

The ship will also be deployed to patrol the West Philippine Sea, parts of which is being claimed by China.

More military hardware and equipment are expected under the extension of the AFP modernization program where P75 billion is being allocated in the first five years of its implementation.

A crowd waving Philippine flags welcome the arrival of the Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz at the Alava Pier in Subic Bay, Olongapo City on Tuesday. The Hamilton-class cutter was acquired from the U.S. as part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Photo by Rolex Dela Peña, EPA