The series of maritime incursions and groundings off Tubbataha Reef, Sulu Sea, is not a reflection on the professionalism and dedication of the Philippine Navy (PN) but on the fact that the country's territorial waters is too vast and our naval and air assets too limited in number to effectively secure these areas from continued encroachment.
This was said Tuesday by Col. Edgard Arevalo, head of the PN civil-military operations in Palawan, when asked why the Navy failed to detect the Chinese fishing vessel entering the Tubbataha Reef area.
The latter ship eventually ran aground at the south portion of North Islet, Tubbataha Reef around 11:45 p.m. Monday. "Two contemporary and complimentary realities: First, our borders are porous, and our coastline vast; and second, that we have only a number of ships and aircraft to patrol our territorial waters, we cannot guard every nook and cranny of our maritime domain," he said.
Arevalo also pointed that the the PN's small number of ships and aircraft are all in patrol and performing numerous other missions.
"Therefore, they do not and cannot stay on guard in a particular area all the time," he stressed. "Notwithstanding these backdrop, your Navy is unrelenting in performing its mandate to protect our maritime country's territorial domain with what ships and aircrafts we have at present," Arevalo stressed.
He also expressed hope that the ongoing procurement and delivery of additional ships and airplanes that are already in the pipeline will be realized soon and augment their existing capabilities.