By Wilnard Bacelonia

(File photo)

MANILA – Senator Francis Tolentino on Monday reiterated his call for the creation of a “forward operating bases (FOB)” in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and Benham or Philippine Rise amid the continued tension between the Philippines and China over the disputed waters.

Tolentino made the call nine months after he filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 654 or An Act Institutionalizing the Philippine Navy Forward Operating Bases in line with the Philippine Navy Strategic Basing Plan 2040.

The FOB, he said, is smaller than a main naval and operating base and would not require the same budgetary allocation as a regular naval base.

Tolentino said FOB would only serve as an outpost strategically located near the WPS and the Philippine Rise.

“SB No. 654 identified strategic sites around the country that are either under development or proposed to be developed. However, acquiring these properties or developing these areas is difficult due to a lack of resources,” Tolentino said.

He said these FOBs are to be established as naval and military facilities that could immediately carry out the Philippine Navy’s mandate in the country’s far-flung areas and as potential sites for future upgrades and expansion.

There are 15 strategic locations identified by the Philippine Navy Directorate for Real Estate Management as priority sites in its Strategic Basing Plan 2040 based on their strategic location to serve as FOBs.

Tolentino gave an estimate of PHP1 billion initial budgetary requirement once the measure is approved into law. (PNA)