PANTUKAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/27 Jan) – Thousands of residents, including high school students, gathered at a beach resort here to witness the amphibious military exercise that showcased the latest sea vessels of the Philippine Navy as well as the warfare capabilities of the Marines and the elite Navy Seals.
Both the Marines and the Navy Seals demonstrated theirs skills in a mock raid and captured a “high value target” located 50 meters away from the shoreline.
Commodore Philip Cacayan, chief of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, said the military exercise dubbed “Exercise Pagsisikap 2011” also displayed the capabilities of the Navy to conduct amphibious landing in areas where it cannot be reached by land transportation, especially during times of natural disasters.
“This exercise demonstrates how our Navy will respond or deliver aid to victims of typhoons, floods and other natural disasters. These vessels are capable of bringing in relief aid into areas not accessible by land,” said Cacayan.
In the exercise, the Navy showcased two of their three multipurpose attack crafts (MPAC), which were acquired in 2009 for over P70 million each.
The vessel is capable of amphibious landing, closer to the shoreline, since it is not equipped with propellers but water jet engines.
The mock raid took place for about 15 minutes using blank rounds and smoke grenades. It was participated in by 40 soldiers, including the Navy Seals on light patrol boats.
Contrary to rumors circulating in a social networking site that American forces will take part in the drill, Mayor Celso Sarenas clarified that it was only for Philippine Marines and Navy Seals.
“I received a lot of calls asking if there are US troops coming here for the drill,” Sarenas said. “As you can see, they are all our soldiers.”
He added that the local government is glad that its constituents have witnessed the capabilities of the Navy. “We have been hearing about the Navy on the news but we have not seen what they are doing. We are glad that they showed it to us here.”
Cacayan explained that this coastal town was chosen because of its proximity to the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao in Panacan, Davao City.
He added that the Navy wanted to show to local residents that Navy is ready to help them not just in times of emergency but as well as in their quest for peace and development in the area.
After the drill, the Navy allowed several local government and military officials and journalists to go on board the MPAC for a brief ride to demonstrate the maneuver capabilities of the vessel.
The Navy invited several students aboard the vessel, but it was called off because the children became uncontrollable as some of them mounted through the side of the vessel, not through the main hatch in the front. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)