By: Jun Abad
(The author is chairman of the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (ISDS) in the Philippines and former director of the ASEAN Regional Forum Unit at the ASEAN Headquarters in Jakarta. He is the author of “The Philippines in Asean: Reflections from the Listening Room.”)
THE Philippine Navy’s second Hamilton-class warship has arrived. Some local critics are quick to dismiss it as a waste of public funds. I view it from a regional perspective and believe that it forms part of our nation’s responsibility to defend ourselves against external challenges and threats.
The international system of states is based on the notion that each member has the capacity to act not only rationally and responsibly, but also with credibility, so that we could all contribute to maintaining the stability of that international system. National sovereignty is not just a right. It is a responsibility to uphold.
In his classic text on the history and tactics of naval warfare in the world, we are reminded by U.S. Navy historian A.T. Mahan that we must not underestimate the importance of maritime commerce, particularly control of the seas and trade routes, on the wealth and strength of countries. He was an advocate of a strong Navy and strategic bases to support it.
The Philippines has the fifth longest coastline in the world (more than 36,000 kms) after Canada, Indonesia, Greenland and Russia. The West Philippines Sea is located in the world’s second busiest international sea lanes.