MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Navy on Monday said it has limited resources to patrol Benham or Philippine Rise, a 13-hectare undersea plateau off the coast of Aurora province.
Rear Admiral Erick Kagaoan, commander of Naval Forces Northern Luzon, said the Navy still needs new ships to patrol the area.
“As far as resources is concerned, we have limited resources in the Navy. We still need capital ships especially in that part of the country, the eastern part of the country,” Kagaoan said in a Senate hearing. Capital ships are large warships like aircraft carriers and battleships.
He said the Navy needs frigates similar to the high-endurance cutters that the United States turned over to the Philippines.
The Philippine Navy has a unit deployed at Poro Point in La Union that can send floating assets and aircraft but does not have ships available to patrol the eastern seaboard.
“We don’t have that much floating assets that area available to patrol that area,” the Navy officer said.
He said the Navy can monitor the presence of ships in the area unless these turn off their identification system.
Kagaoan also admitted that they have monitored the presence of vessels that “did not have clearance” to be in the area.
The Navy first deployed BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a former US Coast Guard cutter, to patrol the Benham Rise region in March 2017 following reports of Chinese presence in the area.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said then that the Navy would patrol the area regularly. The Coast Guard, on the other hand, started patrolling the region in April 2017.
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