Press Release
March 31, 2022

Tolentino leads inauguration of Casiguran naval operating base intended to guard Philippine Rise

CASIGURAN, Aurora - Senator Francis 'Tol' N. Tolentino on Thursday led the inauguration of the Casiguran, Aurora Naval Operating Base (NOB) intended to strengthen the country's naval presence in the 13 million-hectare Philippine Rise.

Tolentino, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense, said the newly-launched naval facility will enhance the Philippine Navy's capability to ensure that the country's territories remain "guarded and free."

The base, constructed through a pact between the Philippine Navy and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco), would multiply the Philippine Navy's force in defending the country's waters and preserving resources, Tolentino said.

"Itong ating pinapasinayaan will play a crucial role in safeguarding marine treasures that are unique to the Philippines, hindi lang sovereignty and national security ang pangangalagaan nitong estruktura na ito, bahagi na rin ang likas na yamang dagat na wala sa ibang lugar," Tolentino said.

"10 years from now, 15 years from now, I envision this to be a multi-structured area, napakaraming buildings dito balang araw. Nakikita ko po, ito 'yung magiging pahingaan kapag tayo ay may Balikatan exercises sa Philippine Rise," he added.

The base, which would serve as a naval support facility and naval air detachment in Casiguran, Aurora, is close to Philippine Rise, a 13 million-hectare undersea region east of Luzon.

"For countless years, the Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas has been a formidable bulwark that protected the nation and the people from maritime intrusion, encroachment, aggression and such other acts that impinge upon the freedom and independence of the Filipino people," Tolentino said.

Tolentino also emphasized that his office has "diligently worked to enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Navy, our armed forces as a whole, in order for them to serve the country and the people with greater efficiency and dedication."

In 2019, Tolentino filed Senate Bill 1143 or the Philippine Archipelagic Defense Act seeking to allocate funds for the creation of a 'naval chain' from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.

The bill tagged the Casiguran, Aurora naval operating base as a 'priority site' of the Philippine Navy's forward operating bases under the Strategic Basing Plan 2040.

Plans to construct the naval operating base in Casiguran town began in May 2017 when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that the government will boost its efforts to secure the resource-rich Philippine Rise.

Likewise, Tolentino said "a number of other infrastructure and capacity building projects for our military personnel are already in the pipeline, or have already been included in the 2022 national budget."

"Rest assured that we continue to advance the interests and welfare of the Philippine Navy as well as the rest of our national defense force. As your fellow uniformed personnel, my unwavering commitment is to be your partner in strengthening our national defense capabilities," the Senator said.

"Let us continue to serve our country and our people in the traditions of honor, integrity and valor. May you all remain faithful to your sworn duties to protect Philippines seas and to secure our future," he added.

Present during the inauguration were Rear Admiral Antonio Palces, Acting Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy; Commodore Francisco Tagamolila Jr. commander of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon (NFNL); Israel Manucdoc, President of Apeco; Kirby Tolentino, Operations Manager of Apeco; Roynald Soriano, Vice Mayor of Casiguran; Antonio Chua, representative of Casiguran Mayor Ricardo Bitong; Dr. Cesar B. Chavez, Vice President of Manila Broadcasting Company and Station Manager of DZRH; and several representatives of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and PNP Casiguran.

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