MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) still considers its deployment to the Middle East a success despite most overseas Filipino workers opted to stay following the easing of tensions in the region.
“Remember, we are only part of this Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force ‘Pagpauli’ headed by the AFP vice chief-of-staff, Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado,” PN public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas told the Philippine News Agency Thursday.
In February, two PN ships, BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) arrived at Port Sultan Qaboos, Muscat, Oman with the mission of ferrying home OFWs that might be affected by the then looming hostilities between Iran and the United States due to the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike in Baghdad last January.
The ships left Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on January 13 and after a provisioning and refueling stop in Colombo, Sri Lanka later that month, arrived in Oman by February 5.
“With the ‘green light’ from the higher headquarters, our Navy able to prepare and execute this mission in a short period of time. We were able to transit the Indian Ocean and Strait of Malacca, proceeded for the very first time to Sri Lanka and Oman without any problem encountered. This deployment manifests your advancing Navy that is now capable to provide humanitarian assistance to our fellow ‘kababayans’ wherever they are in the world,” Roxas said.
While it is fortunate that tension in the Middle East subsided and OFWs returned to normal work situations, she added that only the IATF can assess the certainty of the situation.
“It is better for our Navy to be there to serve as a sea-based platform just in case something will happen,” Roxas said.
Aside from the crew of the two ships, a PN delegation named Naval Task Force 82, is also aboard the naval vessels.
“So, while waiting for instruction, our Navy put this as an opportunity to promote naval diplomacy in the region and to be an instrument of patriotism for our Filipino citizens who are now in these areas. Through a series of community engagements, we let them develop their sense of pride as a Filipino wherever they see the presence of our PN vessels,” she added. (ia/PNA)