Admiral Bordado spoke with Naval News on a variety of issues, including cooperation with the French Navy, the challenges and threats the Philippine Navy is currently facing, recent military procurements and plans for the creation of a submarine force.
The interview was conducted on January 27, 2022, at the Philippines Embassy in Paris. The transcript of the interview is as follows:
Naval News: Can you please first tell us the reasons for your visit to France this week?
Admiral Bordado: Our primary reason for visiting Paris of course is to meet the head of the French Navy, Amiral Pierre Vandier. Secondly, to observe how DCI (Ed.Note: Defense Conseil International, which transfers French Armed Forces’ know-how to international partners) conducts its training to the foreign navies personnel, and of course to observe also, how the French Navy train their Submariners for our future acquisition of submarine those are my main objectives of this visit to France.
Naval News: Can we expect increased cooperation between the Philippine Navy and the French Navy in the months to come?
Admiral Bordado: Yes, definitely. We will be sending officers and Navy personnel here for training this year. I think we have thirty Philippine Navy personnel who will be conducting training here, and it will be administered by DCI, the Défense Conseil International. And of course, I have one student here for the war college, who will be taking the one-year course in Ecole de Guerre.
Naval News: Admiral, can you please tell us what kind of threats and challenges your navy is facing nowadays?
Admiral Bordado: Nowadays the situation is still volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. But our main concern is the illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. So as a Navy, we have a responsibility to monitor the fishing activities within our territorial domain. Secondly, of course, terrorism at sea. Thirdly, of course, the environmental impact of some of the activities we’ve also monitored. And lastly, the threat to our sovereignty, to our maritime territory.
Naval News: The Philippine Navy recently made headlines with the procurement of two key defense systems, namely new Corvettes by Hyundai Heavy Industries, as well as BrahMos coastal defense batteries from India. Are those examples of systems you’re procuring to address the challenges you just mentioned?
Admiral Bordado: Yes, partly, but it is part of our active archipelagic defense strategy and our naval operating concept. These modern acquisitions are part of our AFP modernization program. And of course, we are a maritime nation, and we should have a strong navy. That’s why, slowly, we are building our capability and our capacity.
Naval News: What about submarines? Are you still looking to create a Philippine Submarine Force?
Admiral Bordado: Yes, definitely. In 2015, we started forming the so-called submarine group of the Philippine Navy. We are actually starting to train our personnel, even though we don’t have the submarine. Because we have learned that in order to have a good submarine force we should start with our personnel. So, slowly we’re training our personnel to have the competency to handle or to operate submarines in the near future.
Naval News: Regarding submarines, are you discussing with Naval Group? Did you meet with them this week during your visit?
Admiral Bordado: Naval Group made proposals for the construction of two submarines. So, we are also meeting with the other proponents. But Naval Group is one of the proponents that really wants to help the Philippine Navy build its submarine force.
Naval News: One last question regarding maritime security in Southeast Asia. What is the status of the trilateral maritime patrol in the Sulu Sea between the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Indonesian Navy, and the Philippine Navy?
Admiral Bordado: The trilateral agreement between the three navies is a great help. You know, it really prevents piracy and other maritime violations within that area. Last 2020, we were able to apprehend some pirates. And last year, in 2021, we were able also to capture some of the kidnappers, thanks to the trilateral agreement. We have constant coordination with the other two navies in that area.
Naval News: Very well Admiral, thank you so much for your time and for welcoming us here. And I hope you enjoyed your visit to France.
Admiral Bordado: This is my first time in Europe. And of course, this is my first time here in France. And of course, we want to deepen the relationship between our two navies, the French Navy, headed by Admiral Pierre, and of course, our Navy. So we have been doing this since we signed our agreement way back in the 90s. So we just wanted to deepen our relationship because our two navies believe in a rule based management of the ocean and of course we believe that the management of the ocean should be according to the United Convention on the Law of the Seas. Thank you very much. Merci!