MANILA, Philippines – Aside from the Ulungan Bay naval base in Palawan, defense and military officials are eyeing construction of two more naval bases that could accommodate various types of vessels to help secure the West Philippine Sea.
The planned naval base is expected to be the home of new warships that would arrive starting next year from defense contractors abroad.
Aside from the guided missile boat Pohang Class corvette that South Korea is giving to the Philippine Navy (PN) for free, the government is also expecting delivery of two brand new frigates from the South Korean government and two strategic sealift vessels (SSV) and other vessels it procured from Indonesia.
“To avoid port congestion in the future, we are building more naval bases in Palawan,” an informed source bared, adding the military leadership is now looking to Japan to supply the Navy with patrol vessels after the country relaxed its export ban on military equipment.
At present the Navy is developing the Ulugan Bay Naval Base that would be home to its Naval Forces West (Navforwest) and transform the nearby Oyster Bay into a modern naval facility.
Ulungan Bay is directly facing the West Philippine Sea where tension has been mounting due to the massive maritime claim by China in line with its “creeping invasion” of almost the entire South China Sea.
The Philippines, with a weaker military, could only oppose China’s action through legal measures before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) that Beijing has rejected.
For security reasons, the source declined to give the location in Palawan of the planned additional Navy facilities that would soon rise.
The source said once the naval facilities become operational it would be much easier for the Navy to respond to any kind of maritime disaster and security emergencies in the region.
The Ulugan Bay naval station is near Oyster Bay, an area facing the West Philippine Sea and one of the sites that the military wants to develop.
The AFP wants to offer Oyster Bay as a possible site for the US facilities to be built under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Military officials are hopeful that the EDCA, which provides US troops greater access to Philippine bases, will facilitate the development of the site.
The government has allotted P500 million to develop the Ulugan Bay base, including P313 million to improve the pier, harbor and support facilities at Oyster Bay.
Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/12/26/1406636/military-eyes-2-more-naval-bases-palawan