Obama tour at PH warship 'pleasant,' capped with selfie—official | Global News

Obama tour at PH warship ‘pleasant,’ capped with selfie—official

/ 12:33 PM November 18, 2015

At US President Barack Obama’s short visit in a Philippine warship on Tuesday, it was Captain Vincent Sibala, commanding officer of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, who showed him around.

READ: Obama to visit Philippine Navy flagship


Sibala, the fourth commanding officer of the ship since it was acquired in 2011, said the tour was a “very pleasant one.”


“The discussions we had aboard the ship was very informative,” he told reporters at Pier 13 in South Harbor, where the warship was docked. He did not elaborate further.

Sibala said that Obama was pleased to see that “the ship was much in better condition” than before it was handed to them.

Del Pilar was once a US Coast Guard Cutter that served for about four decades. It was acquired by the Philippines through the Excess Defense Articles program. Today, it is one of the most capable ships of the Philippine Navy.

It was a symbolic choice for Obama’s visit, as it was the first Coast Guard cutter donated by the United States and it was the same ship that figured in a standoff with China in Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea in 2012. Tensions between the two countries continued since then.

Although the United States said it does not take sides in the sea dispute, it has been helping its Asian allies to modernize its maritime capabilities. The Philippines, in fact, is the biggest recipient of US naval assistance.

Obama also asked Sibala how to drive ships and the skipper gamely taught him a quick lesson.


“He also talked to every sailor that he got close contact with and he basically thanked them for their service to the country,” Sibala said.

Onboard the ship, he also met with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief General Hernando Iriberri, Philippine Fleet chief Rear Admiral Leopoldo Alano and other officials.

And what is the best way to cap off the ship tour with the world’s most powerful man? A selfie, of course.

“He sat on my chair and I asked him: Mr. President, for my children, as a proof that you actually visited my ship. May I ask for a selfie?” Sibala said as he showed his smartphone to reporters.

Del Pilar was commissioned to the Philippine Navy on December 2011. It was eventually the Philippine flagship and one of the country’s most advanced ships.

Del Pilar is a 378-foot weather high endurance cutter which patrols waters in the homeland including the Philippine claims in the South China Sea.

Del Pilar was one of the youngest generals who fought in the Philippine Revolution against Spain. He was killed at 24 years old in the Batle of Tirad Pass.

The ship is made for open ocean and long range operations and is capable of staying at sea for 30 days without refueling.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

READ: Obama to give PH 2 warships

On the same day, Obama also pledged to give the Philippine Navy two more ships—one research vessel and another US Coast Guard Cutter which is the same class as Del Pilar. RAM

TAGS: 2015, APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, Philippine, President Barack Obama, US, Warship

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.