Aquino: BRP Gregorio del Pilar proof of transparent, honest gov’t transaction
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday welcomed the BRP Gregorio del Pilar Patrol Frigate (PF) 15 and lauded the Philippine Navy for its purchase of its biggest vessel.
In his speech during the welcoming ceremony for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, Aquino noted that the Navy’s acquisition of the vessel was proof that the government under his administration’s mantra “daang matuwid” (straight road) could hold transparent and honest transaction.
Aquino issued the statement as the Senate has been investigating allegations that second-hand helicopters were sold as brand new to the Philippine National Police in 2009. First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo has been accused of being the owner of these helicopters, which he has denied.
Aquino said the BRP Gregorio del Pilar would be deployed to the Naval Forces West and would greatly elevate the troop’s ability to protect Philippine territorial waters.
The 378-foot vessel arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, August 21, after several weeks of voyage from Hawaii.
Aquino arrived at the Manila South Harbor Pier 13 at around 9:00 a.m.
Aside from Aquino, also present were US Ambassador Harry Thomas, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, and Philippine Navy PF 15 Commanding Officer Captain Alberto Cruz.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a Hamilton class US Coast Guard – Weather High Endurance Cutter, was acquired through the US Excess Defense Act using funds from the Department of Energy’s Malampaya project.
The Philippine Navy spent P450 million to refurbish the ship and for fuel for its voyage from Hawaii to the Philippines.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar, currently colored white, will be repainted gray to match the colors of the Navy’s fleet.
The ship, which can carry up to 180 crew members and was first launched on December 1965, is classified by the Philippine Navy as a surface combatant ship. It equipped with a helicopter flight deck, a retractable hangar and other facilities to support helicopter operations. The Philippine Navy has trained 13 officers and 82 enlisted personnel to man the ship.
The BRP Gregorio del Pilar was formerly used by the US Coast Guard for drug and illegal migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue operations, maritime resources protection and defense readiness.
The Philippine Navy will use the multi-mission vessel for maritime security patrols and search and rescue missions.
Specifically, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be deployed to air maritime security of the Malampaya project.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar was turned over to the Philippine Navy last May 13 in a ceremony at Coast Guard Island Alameda, California.
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