Andres Bonifacio, probably the last of its kind, is coming

While the United States was preoccupied in the run up to the elections and the Philippines was busy with the controversy over the Marcos burial issue in the past 2 weeks, over in Alameda, California, US and Philippine officials silently launched the voyage of BRP Andres Bonifacio on November 1 to its new home in the Philippines.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio is the third ship of its class to be retired by the US Coast Guard and handed over to the Philippine Navy. The ship, formerly under the name USCGC Boutwell, was retired from US Coast Guard service last March 16. The Hamilton-class cutter used to be the largest ship in the US Coast Guard and was in service since the 1960s. The first two Hamiltons, now renamed BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz in 2011 and 2013, respectively, were acquired by the Philippines thru a defense agreement formalized by the two countries.

But the future of this defense cooperation now hangs in the balance after President Duterte's pronouncement of a foreign policy "separation" between the two countries. Duterte has threatened to terminate war exercises with US forces and end the dependence of the Philippines on hand-me-downs from the US military.

But the winds changed a bit after Donald Trump's win, with Duterte apparently warming up (hyperlink: 11/10/16/duterte-says-to-stop- quarrels-with-us-after-trump- win) to the US President-elect, signaling a probable change of course for the 4-month old administration.

For the boys aboard the BRP Andres Bonifacio, around 80 of them who have been training since early this year for the turnover, their immediate task is to steer away from politics and stay on course for their arrival expected in the middle of December.

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