By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- Two days after the Malacanang pronounced that it would be sending troops to insurgency-troubled Bicol, the Philippine Navy’s biggest vessel BRP Davao del Sur (LD 602) arrived in Legazpi City port over the weekend here.
The arrival of BRP Davao del Sur (LD 602) in Legazpi City on Saturday was mistaken as a Chinese vessel Albayanos promenading inside Embarcadero De Legazpi.
“Is that a China sea vessel? What are they up to in Legazpi? Is President Rodrigo Duterte allowing China’s vessels to dock in interisland territory of the Philippines? Edison Bombales asked the guard of Embarcadero de Legazpi who was also clueless about the arrival of the warship in Albay.
But Ensign Estella Sasil, spokesperson of Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol), said that Philippine Navy’s BRP Davao Sur (LD 602) arrived in Legazpi during the weekend for capability demonstration.
Sasil said the arrival of the country’s biggest amphibious sea asset is meant for the five-day capability demonstration, dubbed as “Exercise PAGSISIKAP 2018”.
“Pagsisikap” is an annual Fleet Marine Amphibious exercise that involves the sailors and marines from different Philippine Navy units. It will also participated in by Philippine Navy reservists coming from Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte.
This year, the Naval Forces of Southern Luzon is tasked to carry out the capability demonstration activity.
She revealed the Philippine Navy’s first amphibious assault sea craft can carry 500 marines, two naval aviator aircrafts and equipment.
“The BRP Davao Sur (LD 602) is our biggest ship with amphibious landing dock ship that can transport or carry 500 troops and equipment for amphibious operation plus a maximum of two aircrafts,” she said.
The BRP Davao Sur (LD 602) is manned by Commodore Homer Gonzalez.
The vessel was acquired and commissioned in 20017 and will stay for five days in Legazpi City. A capability demonstration for anti-terrorism and disaster response efforts was scheduled to be showcased yesterday, Nov. 28, in nearby Sto. Domingo town.
The mock amphibious raid conducted in the waters off Barangay Lidong, Sto Domingo, Albay, had nothing to with the supposed state of emergency in Bicol, sources said.
Earlier, Malacanang had declared Bicol, including Samar, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental under a state of emergency following Memorandum Order 32 released on instruction by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The declaration, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea on November 22, cited the alleged sporadic acts of violence committed by the New People’s Army in the areas specified earlier above.
The declaration also meant that more troops will be deployed in those mentioned areas, including the Bicol region.