PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), provided P600 million to the Philippine Navy for the purchase of new sets of speed boats as part of the intensified surveillance and patrol actions along the southern sea borders of the country.
Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, during the inauguration of the newly-renovated Camp Panacan Station Hospital last Wednesday, July 19, said they will procure around 20 to 30 speedboats to be utilized by the marines and naval special operations group.
Although there is still no precise date as to when the speedboats will be ready for use, Mercado said it is expected to be released anytime in August.
Last July 4 to 12, combined Philippine and Indonesian forces conducted an eight-day patrol in the common boundary of Davao Gulf and along Celebes Sea.
Even when the bilateral sea border monitoring was already finished, Mercado said the Philippine Navy is still improving the country's maritime surveillance as there is a wide scope of maritime area in the southern sea border.
Several littoral monitoring stations, he added, were already completely established in the islands surrounding the southern Philippines. These stations are equipped with radars that detect incoming watercrafts outside the borders.
"We already moved most of our ships down south so that we can have more ships patrolling in those areas. Yet, I have to admit that our ships are very limited and that is when multi-lateral patrol with Indonesia and Malaysia comes very helpful," Mercado said.
He added that Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia have agreed to work together regarding counter-terrorism measures and strategies in the Celebes Sea.
Though Mercado said he cannot assure that there will be zero terrorism threats due to the multi-lateral monitoring, he said this contributes to an improved maritime surveillance, making it difficult for the threat personalities to use southern sea as a route going to the country.