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Philippine Navy welcomes 119 new reservists in Batanes

MANILA, March 11 ------ The Philippine Navy welcomed more than 100 new reservists in Batanes province as the country ramps up its military presence in the northernmost parts of the Philippines. A total of 119 Batanes locals, called the Ivatan people, attended the graduation rites in the province’s capital of Basco town after completing their basic citizen military training. 


Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr., who is in command of the Philippine Navy, said the recruits will serve as an additional mobilization force during national security situations, as well as in humanitarian and disaster response, among others. “’Pag nangangailangan ang ating gobyerno ng mobilization, additional force, kayo ang magiging base ng ating expansion,” Adaci told graduates in his speech. He said Philippine Navy’s recruitment of reservists is a step to boost security in the region and combat external threats. “Ang Batanes group of islands ang itinuturing na last and northernmost frontier ng ating bansa, at malaking bahagi pa nito ang kailangan nating tuklasin. Kaya naman dapat lalo nating paghusayin ang ating kakayahan at paigtingin ang proteksyon laban sa mga nais sumakop nito,” Adaci said.  


The army has an existing extension community defense center in Batanes, where residents can apply to become reservists. Local government officials also encouraged residents to join the training. “Ang pagiging isang reservist ay hindi madaling tungkulin. Kaakibat nito ay dapat lagi tayong handa na tumugon sa tawag ng serbisyo upang ipagtanggol ang ating mahal na bayan laban sa ano mang uri ng panananakop, karahasan, at mga hindi kanais-nais na pangyayari,” Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco said. “If more individuals like you committed to the service of our community, we can only strengthen our island and its future,” said Basco Mayor German Caccam, also a navy reservist.  


Mavulis island in Batanes is located just less than 150 kilometers from Taiwan’s southernmost tip. Prof. Renato De Castro of the De La Salle University Department of International Studies sees the need to tap civilians to strengthen the country’s strategic archipelagic defense posture. “What is emphasized by this concept [Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept] is whole-nation approach. The national security of the country is a responsibility of every Filipino citizen kaya they have, basically to take that responsibility of being able to defend their own islands,” he told ABS-CBN News in an interview.  


Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. on Friday said the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines have adopted the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept to protect the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and ensure that the country would benefit from the natural resources in its territory. Part of this is to ensure an increase of the military presence in Batanes. Prof. Jay Batongbacal of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea said that the Batanes region is part of the great maritime crossroads in the Pacific Ocean. 


Batanes is also being eyed as one of the venues of this year’s exercise Balikatan exercises between the Filipino and American forces. Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said planning for joint military exercises is still under the “finalization stages,” but disclosed the country is also looking into having drills with France, Japan, and Australia. “Ito pong mga exercises na ‘to is to enhance our defense posture and looking at like-minded nations on how we would be reacting on certain instances,” she told Teleradyo Serbisyo on Saturday.  



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