By Francis Wakefield
The Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NavForWem) has activated the Naval Station Rio Hondo in Zamboanga City on Tuesday as part of the ongoing capability upgrade and modernization of the Philippine Navy (PN).
Naval Station Rio Hondo was built to guard the city after the infamous Zamboanga City siege on Sept. 9, 2013.
The newly-activated Naval Station will be manned by various Fleet-Marine operating units such as Naval Special Operations Unit 1 (NAVSOU 1), Combat Service Support Brigade (CSSBde), Inshore Boat Battalion (IBBN), Naval Air Unit-Western Mindanao (NAU-WM) and elements from Marine Battalion Landing Team 1, Naval Task Force 61, and Naval Forces Western Mindanao Headquarters Support Group.
Gracing the activation ceremony were Rear Admiral Rommel Jude G. Ong, PN vice commander who represented Navy Chief Robert A Empedrad, as the honored guest and speaker, and Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle “Bong” Climaco-Salazar.
The event was also attended by Barangay Captain Jinnul A. Malik of Rio Hondo; officers and men of the NavForWem; and partner-stakeholders.
The project activate the naval station was the result of the city’s efforts to maintain peace and security following the siege where hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels came into the city and infiltrated several coastal villages in the attempt to hoist their flag in the city’s seat of government, the Zamboanga City Hall.
“This is our home and we have an obligation to ensure that never again will it succumb to those who are trying to assert the greed and malice in our place,” said Rear Adm. Rene V. Medina, NavForWem commander.
“Let this activation sow the seeds of peace and prosperity in our beloved city as it brings back the confidence of the people and ensuring that your Navy and AFP as a whole would always be in the forefront to warrant their safety and well-being,” Medina added.