The Armed Forces will develop bases to respond to intrusions by other countries to Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea, the new military chief said.

“Recent developments in the West Philippine Sea compel us to look into maritime security deeply,” Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa said in his assumption speech as the 43rd AFP chief Monday.

“Development of Navy and Air Force bases to respond is something we can no longer ignore,” he said.

Dellosa, who took over from retired Gen. Eduardo Oban, outlined his administration’s “focus” as territorial defense, internal security, disaster preparedness, and organizational reforms.

“We will continuously upgrade our capabilities… We shall aspire for the continuity of the modernization program of the AFP,” he said.

Last March, Chinese navy vessels reportedly “told off” a Philippine oil exploration team at the Reed Bank basin – now known as Recto Bank – off Palawan.

A Chinese maritime survey ship was spotted unloading tide-measuring poles at the Amy Douglas Shoal-Iroquois Reef, which is near Philippine-occupied islands, on May 21 and 24 while Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie was on a visit to Manila.

The incidents prompted the government to file diplomatic protests and speed up the acquisition of Navy equipment, including the patrol gunboat BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

On June 4, an unidentified foreign jet “buzzed” a Philippine fishing boat near the Dalagang Bukid Shoal, flying only 20 to 30 feet above the boat’s mast. (John Roson)

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