Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., visited Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan town in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) today, February 23, to check on the troops assigned there and conduct an inspection of the facilities on the island.

Navy spokesperson for the WPS, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, said Adaci’s visit to Pag-asa Island is part of the navy’s command conference held here on Thursday. He claimed that a multi-sectoral group of stakeholders from the private sector is present with the navy chief and other senior navy officials.

“This is to show them not only what navy troops are doing there but also the marines, air force, army, PNP, and coast guard,” Trinidad explained.

“Together with the FOIC are representatives from the academe, private sector, and corporate world who give us insights and inputs to help us better chart the direction of Philippine Navy,” he said

He also said the trip aims to tell the people that Pag-asa Island is open and accessible to everybody.

“It is already open to tourism, it is ours, and I would like to encourage our kababayans to visit Pag-asa Island. It is also to show them what our troops are doing on the island,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Trinidad also said that while the attention of the people is primarily focused on Ayungin Shoal, where the Philippine Navy vessel BRP Sierra Madre (LT 57) was grounded to serve as a military station for the AFP, there are other features where the Philippines has military outposts.

It just so happens that Ayungin Shoal is in the spotlight because of the blocking and harassment by China Coast Guard and militia vessels against the Rotation and Reprovision (RORE) missions conducted by the navy aboard civilian vessels to support troops on the BRP Sierra Madre.

“I would like to emphasize that WPS is not just Ayungin Shoal. We have eight other detachments with AFP troops and PNP and Coast Guard troops all over these eight plus one,” he stated.

“It’s only in Ayungin Shoal that we experience illegal actions. In all other detachments, we have unimpeded access. We also conduct regular RORE missions, in fact, we completed one just yesterday (Wednesday), and we have no problem whatsoever. In doing the RORE mission in LD 57 in Ayungin Shoal, not every mission gets a rust through illlegal actions,” he explained.

Furthermore, Trinidad also said that the navy is thinking of different capability development plans to ensure that Naval Forces West (Navforwest) and Western Command (Wescom) will have the right capability to carry out their tasks in WPS.

Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Carlos expressed commitment and support to the Philippine Navy’s new direction and thrust, particularly in its goal of enhancing and strengthening its capabilities, particularly in external defense and security operations.

“Not only Wescom, but the whole AFP is ready to shift to external defense operations. The holding of the PN’s command conference here at WESCOM is a welcome sign for us and for those who are involved in external defense operations,” Carlos said.

“The command conference not only underscores the PN’s dedication to safeguarding national security but also highlights Wescom’s pivotal role in external defense operations,” he added.