MANILA – Outgoing President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III delivered his last speech before the Philippine Navy during its 118th founding anniversary celebration in South Harbor on Thursday. This will be the last ceremony of the Navy to be attended by Aquino as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
In his speech, Aquino expressed his gratitude to the navy for their “overlapping wisdom, ability, and strength” which is instrumental in keeping safety and peace for Filipinos at all time.
Navy Chief Vice Admiral Caesar Taccad expressed his commitment to defend the country’s territory.
“Today, the enemy stands at our doorstep and we can no longer over-exaggerate the urgency of the threat against our maritime interests and possibly our territorial integrity,” Taccad said.
“Our commander-in-chief once said, ‘what is ours is ours.’ Sir, rest assured that your Navy will abide by its duty to defend and protect what is rightfully ours,” he added.
Commissioning a new ship
Before the ceremonies, Aquino commissioned the fleet’s newest vessel, BRP Tarlac, a 7,200-ton amphibious landing dock — first of its kind in the fleet. The BRP Tarlac is an Indonesian-made vessel capable of transporting a landing force and choppers, which can be used not only for military operations but also for humanitarian assistance, disaster response, logistics, and evacuations. The 400-foot landing dock is the biggest vessel of the Navy, with another dock vessel scheduled to be delivered next year.
Three Australian-made landing craft heavies were also commissioned in the ceremonies.
Brewing Talks with China
Amidst renewed commitment to territorial defense of the armed forces, Davao City Mayor and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte hinted on possible warming of relations between China and the Philippines. As part of standard tradition for diplomatic relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to the Davao Mayor congratulating him for his victory in the recent May 9 polls.
Chinese news agency Xinhua, in a report, said that Xi hoped for the restoration of bilateral relations “back on the track of sound development”. In response to the message, Duterte expressed his gratitude to the Chinese president.
“I was honored, receiving a congratulatory message from a great president.” Duterte said, who will be assuming the Presidency on June 30.
Relations between the Philippines and China frosted within the term of Aquino, when the Philippine government filed a case against its neighbor before the United Nations tribunal over its claims to the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte, on the other hand, expressed his willingness to engage in bilateral talks with China about the issue. (Hector Brizuela)