Speedy OK of bill on small naval bases pushed

Speedy OK of bill on small naval bases pushed

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:25 AM March 19, 2024

Sen. Francis Tolentino

Sen. Francis Tolentino–(Voltaire F. Domingo / Senate Social Media Unit)

Amid continuing tension in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the recent sighting of Chinese research vessels near Benham Rise, Sen. Francis Tolentino wants the passage of the bill establishing the locations of the Philippine Navy’s “forward operating bases” (FOBs) fast-tracked.

Tolentino, chair of the Senate special committee on Philippine maritime and admiralty zones, presided over the first public hearing on Monday on Senate Bill No. 654, or the Philippine Navy Archipelagic Defense Act, which he filed in July 2022.


“These bases will serve as a strategic outpost, allowing our Navy to respond swiftly to any threats or challenges that may arise in our waters, including calamities, by investing in our naval infrastructure and expanding our presence in key maritime areas,” he said.


“We will be able to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to defending our sovereignty and promoting regional stability,” he added.

President Marcos earlier said the recent reported presence of Chinese vessels in Benham Rise was a “clear intrusion” into Philippine territory and a matter of “great concern.” He added that the sighted Chinese vessels were suspected to be more than ordinary research vessels.

Under SB 654, FOBs refer to small-scale naval and military facilities or outposts where the Philippine Navy can carry out its basic functions and duties.

The bill enumerates 12 possible sites where the bases may be established.

In a separate statement, Tolentino explained that a forward operating base, which was smaller than a main naval base and operating base, would not require the same budgetary allocation as a regular naval base but will serve as an outpost in strategic locations near the WPS and Benham Rise.

READ: Marcos vows ‘pushback’ if sovereignty over WPS ‘questioned, ignored’


“These FOBs are to be established as naval and military facilities that can immediately carry out the Philippine Navy’s mandate in the country’s far-flung areas and as potential sites for future upgrades and expansion,” he added.

Tolentino said that SB 654 identified strategic sites nationwide that were either being developed or eyed for development.

“However, acquiring these properties or developing these areas is difficult due to a lack of resources,” he said.

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Tolentino gave an estimate of a P1 billion initial budgetary requirement once the Senate bill is approved into law, saying the amount may be included in the Department of National Defense’s budget. INQ

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TAGS: bill, Senate, West Philippine Sea, WPS

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