The Philippine Navy will conduct an assessment on the “needs” of its field units in the wake of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s call to his country’s navy to prepare for “military combat.”

“The commander on the ground will have to make an assessment of what the situation [is], kung anong mga pangangailan nila, kami naman sa Navy sa abot ng makaya natin eh we are ready to provide,” Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama told reporters Thursday.

Pama made the remark when asked if there were “adjustments” in the Navy following Hu’s call on the Chinese naval force to “make extended preparations” for military combat, which was translated by Beijing media as “warfare.”

Pama said it was Hu’s prerogative to make the Chinese Navy prepare, just as the Philippines is building its maritime defense capability.

“Kung ano man ‘yung kailangan nila (Navy units), sa abot ng makaya natin ay ating ipapadala,” he said.

Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, Armed Forces spokesman, said the AFP will not back out from the West Philippine Sea (Manila’s official name for the South China Sea) because of China’s “posturing.”

“We shall continue to maintain our presence in the area, consistent with our constitutional mandate of safeguarding our citizens, securing our territory and upholding our sovereignty,” Burgos said in a statement.

Next Wednesday, the Philippine Navy will commission its newest patrol ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, Landing Craft Utility BRP Tagbanua, and a refurbished helicopter to build its maritime and territorial defense capability.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a Hamilton-class cutter acquired from the US, is being eyed for deployment to the West Philippine Sea to guard Philippine-occupied territories there.

The Navy plans to buy another patrol ship like the BRP Gregorio del Pilar next year. (John Roson)

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