By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA, Nov. 17 (PNA) — After touring the Filipino frigate, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (formerly the US Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton) Tuesday, American President Barack Obama reiterated the US commitment to the region’s security.
This took place at Manila South Harbor where the Filipino warship was moored.
The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is the first ever ship transferred to the Philippines during Obama’s term.
It was commissioned by the Philippine Navy (PN) in December 2011.
“The United States has been committed to the security of this region for more than 70 years. We have a treaty obligation, ironclad commitment to the defense of our ally the Philippines,” he said.
Obama arrived in the Philippines Tuesday for the Nov 18-19 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Manila.
“Our visit here underscores our shared commitment to the security (of the) waters of this region and freedom of navigation,” he said.
American help was demonstrated in the recent construction of a Coast Watch Center which was funded by US grants and instrumental in helping the country protect its maritime borders along with the former US cutter.
“This watch center was built with US grants. The ship that I just toured, former US coast guard vessel, helps the Philippines respond to disasters, perform counter-terrorism missions and patrol the South China Sea,” Obama stressed.
In line with this, he also announced American intentions to transfer two additional ships to the Philippines.
This consists of a research vessel and another decommissioned US Coast Guard cutter.
“I can announce that we intend to transfer two additional ships to the Philippine Navy – a research vessel to help man its territorial waters and another Coast Guard cutter to bolster the Navy’s ability to conduct long endurance patrols,” Obama said.
He added these ships worth USD 250 million are part of their larger plan to increase maritime security assistance to their allies and partners across the Pacific Region.
“More capable navies and partnership with the United States are critical for the security of this region,” Obama said. (PNA)