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Sunday, March 15th 2020, 12:12am

The Philippine Herald, Monday, 12 September 1949

Yesterday ground was broken for construction of the factory of the United Defense Manufacturing Company, a joint venture of Delta Motors and the French Hotchkiss firm of Paris. The works, located in Santa Rosa, Laguna, will assemble and eventually produce the Hotchkiss VLD light armored vehicle for the Philippine Amy and Constabulary. Minister of Defense Don Joaquin de la Vega led the delegation of dignitaries that oversaw the inaugural ceremonies.


Friday, March 20th 2020, 12:41am

Philippine Motor Torpedo Boat 110, Off Mariveles, Bataan, Friday, 16 September 1949

Capitaine de Corvette Couturier had accepted with alacrity the invitation to visit the boatyard of Senator Don Enrique Barretto at Mariveles to inspect the facilities as well as the testing of the most recent group of motor torpedo boats under construction for the Philippine Navy. That he found himself in the company of Kapitein-luitenant ter Zee Buis, his Dutch counterpart, was very much a surprise; Buis had, so it seemed, received a similar invitation.

The Barretto boatyard was completing work on the latest three of the Type 1949 boats that it had contracted for; others were built elsewhere in the archipelago. Today trials were going to be run before the boats were delivered to the Government, and Couturier was permitted to go aboard the MTB 110, while Buis boarded MTB 112.

He admired the fine lines of the small warship; her master advised him that in a pinch she could exceed her contract speed of forty-four knots, powered by a quartet of marine diesel engines of German design he discovered. Besides four torpedo tubes, two on either quarter, she carried a twin 25mm cannon on her foredeck and a similar weapon aft. In company with MTB 111 and MTB 112 the MTB 110 slowly made her way away from the piers of the boatyard and out into the open waters of the China Sea; there her master signaled the trials crew to open the engines for a speed run.

The diesel engines spun the boat’s propellers to their maximum revolutions, churning the boat’s wake to a mass of white froth as the MTB 110 surged ahead. Couturier stood in the boat’s cockpit, where the RPM indicator pegged at maximum and the boats speed over water inched up towards her contract mark. After twenty minutes they had achieved it, and speed was cut back to a more modest twenty-five knots for the trip back to Mariveles.


Saturday, March 28th 2020, 1:46am

The Daily Guardian (Iloilo), Tuesday, 20 September 1949

The noted local entrepreneur Enrique Razon has announced the foundation of a new shipping venture, the United Shipping and Trading Company, which will be based here. The firm has acquired two refrigerated cargo vessels with which it intends to enter the fruit export trade. In discussing his plans for the firm Senor Razon indicated that he anticipated the acquisition of additional ships to extend services to markets in Indochina, Indonesia, and Australia.


Monday, April 6th 2020, 5:37pm

The Mindanao Post, Sunday, 25 September 1949

The Senate has taken up the question of naval estimates for the year 1950; and in acrimonious debate the partisans of continued vigilance in the face of Chinese aggression, led by Don Pedro Teves faced off against those arguing that the nation cannot continue the pace of spending for national defense – a position championed by Don Ramon Fernandez and Don Marcelo Palmero. The Council of Ministers has yet to introduce a draft naval program, and Minister of Defense Don Joaquin de la Vega has urged the Senate to permit the Council to complete its work without distraction. It is doubtful that any work previously authorized will be suspended, but the question of what new construction may be authorized is at the heart of the dispute.


Friday, April 17th 2020, 4:05am

Manila, The Senate Chambers, Tuesday, 27 September 1949

The Senate had returned to the vexatious matter of the naval appropriations for the forthcoming fiscal year. The proponents of increased naval strength had not yet swayed a majority of senators to their position; neither had those who argued that the burden of defense spending threatened the health of the national economy. Don Pedro Teves rose and asked leave to speak, a request the speaker granted.

Teves continued, “I have heard it said that the Chinese Fleet’s aircraft carriers are third-rate at best. But look at their number. If they were they to mass for air strikes they could overwhelm portions of our land-based air defenses and inflict considerable damage. With our own strong carrier force we would be able to redeploy it to bolster an endangered local defense or pursue such an attacking force following its repulse, destroying the enemy in detail.”

There were nods among a number of senators. Don Marcelo Palmero stood and offered a response.

“According to the latest information available the Chinese have assembled from the four corners of the world no fewer than eight aircraft carriers of dubious utility that between them can operate little more than two hundred obsolete aircraft of all types. Our air defenses have little to fear from this sort of ‘threat’ – so outclassed are the Chinese piston-engine fighters and bombers by our MiGs and Vampires. And as for a potential riposte, the expansion of our land-based air attack force is by far the more effective and less costly alternative.”

“In approving the Naval Armament Replenishment Act in the last session our navy is committed to the construction of two heavy cruisers that will not be commissioned until the end of 1951. The suggestion that the program for next fiscal year include funding for the first of two new aircraft carriers – vessels of fifty-thousand tons – which would take more than five years to construct – is ludicrous.”

And so the debate would go on.


Friday, April 24th 2020, 1:34am

Manila, The Malacañan Palace, Thursday, 29 September 1949

Minister of Defense De la Vega returned to his private office weary. He had spent far too much of the day in the Senate Chambers listening to the seemingly interminable debate on the next year’s naval program. “Why can they not make up their minds?” he asked aloud.

“Because they have too much to lose and too little to gain by doing so.” It was his personal assistant, Ramon Magsaysay, who took a seat on the sofa opposite his chief.

“Yes Ramon, you are quite correct. Teves is out to beat the drum for us to stand up to China on China’s terms, but we don’t have China’s resources to do so.”

“And Palmero is out to score points with the voters in avoiding the taxes Teves’s proposal would bring in its train. So where is Soriano?”

“Don Andres supports neither extreme. He know that while the some officers might love to have two huge aircraft carriers to play with Suarez and the other chiefs recognize that we haven’t the manpower to operate them and all the escorts they would require. He also knows that the situation in Mindanao and the Moro provinces is still simmering and that the Navy needs to step up its support of civic action programs.”

“Where do the Kayalaans figure in his thinking?” The expansion of the observation network there was a significant drain on naval resources.

“That is where he’d like to see money spent, and whatever form the final law takes there will be money for its continuation and expansion. So once Teves and his crowd get tired of making noise Don Andres will make common cause with Palmero to bring a decent bill through.”

“You make it sound easy…”


Thursday, May 21st 2020, 6:59pm

Philippine News and Events, October 1949

The Manila Herald, Monday, 3 October 1949

The first of four refurbished Junkers Ju252 airliners was delivered today to Philippine Air Lines, who will operate the type on express services between Manila, Cebu, and Davao. It is expected that the remaining aircraft will be put into service before the end of November, in time to handle the expected Christmas holiday traffic.


Thursday, May 28th 2020, 9:22pm

The Philippine Herald, Thursday, 6 October 1949

An example of the Chilean ENAER N1E-4 Coati advanced trainer arrived today at Fernando Air Force Base near Lipa City, where it will undergo test and evaluation by the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Center. The N1E-4 "Turbo-Coati" is being considered as a replacement for its current inventory of N1E-3 piston engine advanced trainers to better approximate the speed and handling of high-performance jet aircraft. If selected, it is anticipated that license manufacture would be undertaken by the Philippine Aircraft Development Company at its Davao works.


Tuesday, June 2nd 2020, 6:03pm

The Davao Herald, Monday, 10 October 1949

The Senate has concluded debate and approved the Naval Augmentation and Replenishment Act of 1950, which will govern the Philippine Navy’s construction program for the coming year. In addition to funding vessels already under construction it provides funding for four additional ocean escorts of the Kagitingan class and authorizes construction of two seaplane tenders, two survey ships, eight harbor tugs, and two small hospital tenders. This represents a shift by the Senate and the Malacañan to recognize the needs of civil development in the southern provinces and the continued expansion of the observation network in the Kayalaan Islands.


Monday, June 22nd 2020, 1:32am

Naval Operating Base Puerto Princesa, Thursday, 13 October 1949

Vice Admiral Suarez read the internal report on the recently approved naval law and smiled. Instead of useless aircraft carriers that would not see the water for years the bill funded the plans he had submitted for expanding the observation network in the Kayalaan Islands. It would take some weeks before the official paperwork for the anticipated work would catch up, but he made note of what he could put in train before official approval – like stockpiling material at some of the more forward outposts and reaching out to local shipping firms asking that they hold space available. He noted too that the bill provided for construction of two seaplane tenders – when they entered service their presence would certainly help extend the range of his air reconnaissance assets – but they would not arrive until the year after next.

The Philippine Gazette, Monday, 17 October 1949

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has declared the Commercial Councilor of the Chinese Embassy, Wo Fat, persona non grata for activities incompatible with diplomatic status.


Wednesday, July 1st 2020, 8:56pm

Manila, The American Embassy, Friday, 21 October 1949

Commander Trevor Stevens noted the headline blaring in that morning’s edition of the Philippine Herald. “DIPLOMATS EXPELLED FROM BEIJNG. RETALIATION FOR BOOTING OF WO FAT!”

“That didn’t take much time.” He did not normally read the Herald, preferring the less partisan Times or Chronicle, but the Herald had a reputation for juicy if not always accurate details. The Chinese had in fact declared three members of the very small staff of the Philippine embassy in the Chinese capital unwelcome, and from what Stevens could tell, their names had been chosen at random. Now this Wo Fat, erstwhile commercial councilor, was not unknown to Stevens. The man was known to have links both to Chinese tongs and to Chinese intelligence organs, and rumor had it that he was trying to revive the Abu Sabaya insurgency in the Moro provinces. He had been expelled in order to scotch that potential problem. Stevens would have to explore the matter further when next he met with his hosts at Cavite.


Wednesday, July 15th 2020, 8:24pm

The Daily Guardian (Iloilo), Tuesday, 25 October 1949

Ceremonies at the San Fernando Naval Shipyard marked the launching of no less than four coastal escort vessels today – the Marcea, the Anas, the Tortora, and the Cucal. While it is not expected that they will be completed before next spring, their launch does mark another step forward in the renovation of the Navy in the face of increasing tensions with neighboring powers. While these vessels are completed elsewhere in the shipyard work will now begin on preparing for the yard’s next construction tasks – for it is in receipt of orders for two survey vessels to be laid down early next year.


Sunday, September 6th 2020, 3:24pm

Philippine News and Events, November 1949

Naval Operating Base Cavite, Thursday, 3 November 1949

The band finished with ruffles and flourishes as the Minister of Defense mounted the podium to deliver the formal address to welcome the light cruiser Benguet to the fleet. Capitaine de Corvette Couturier had followed her with interest, as he did with all the new vessels being built for the Philippine Navy. His reports to Paris characterized the Benguet and her sisters as useful, if small, compared to the cruisers being built for the Marine Nationale, but more than adequate to hold their own against the Chinese in a surface action. Earlier in the afternoon he had witnessed the launch of the ocean escorts Kagitingan and Katapangan, specialized anti-aircraft ships he hoped to soon gain a closer look at.


Saturday, September 19th 2020, 1:24am

Naval Operating Base Butuan, Wednesday, 9 November 1949

Cayetano Arellano, President of the Council of Ministers, had flown down from Manila for the occasion, the formal commissioning of four new ocean escorts for the Navy. The Numancia, the Magallanes, the Canalejas, and the Casco would significantly increase the Fleet’s ability to defend the nation against the ever-present Chinese threat. His set speech he knew by heart, and could deliver it with enthusiasm, particularly here with the crowd of dockyard workers to cheer him on. He was scheduled to tour the shipyard, the largest and best equipped in the nation, the following day; there were another four ocean escorts building, due for completion in the coming spring.


Monday, November 9th 2020, 6:19pm

The Manila Times, Sunday, 13 November 1949

In testimony before the Senate earlier this week Minister of Defense Joaquin de la Vega outlined plans for future development of the Air Force for the coming year. He cited the need to obtain a successor aircraft to the elderly Lockheed P-38 presently serving in the Tenth Fighter Wing, and indicated that it will be the subject of an international competition. He testified that a replacement for the Loire-Nieuport LN.190 Épouvantail counter-insurgency aircraft is also required, but declined to suggest what steps are being considered at this time.

When pressed by the Senate the Minister indicated that replacements for the Air Force’s Douglas A-26 and Consolidated B-24 bombers should be sought but reminded the senators that such would be dependent upon funding, which heretofore the Senate has eschewed. Don Joaquin reminded the Senate that air defense has been the Air Force’s priority and openly inquired whether the Senate wishes to change that at this time.


Saturday, November 21st 2020, 12:47am

The Manila Chronicle, Friday, 18 November 1949

Following trials of the ENAER Turbo-Coati training aircraft the Philippine Air Force has announced its decision to adopt the type to replace its current inventory of basic and advanced trainers, as well as adapting the type as a successor to the Loire-Nieuport LN.190 Épouvantail in the counter-insurgency role. Negotiations are underway with the Empresa Nacional de Aeronáutica de Chile regarding costs, offsets, quantities, and delivery schedules. Approval by the Senate is expected before the end of the year.


Thursday, November 26th 2020, 7:50pm

The Bohol Chronicle, Wednesday, 23 November 1949

The escort tanker Albay completed her operational training period and has departed Cebu for Palawan, where she will support the operations of the Western Fleet.


Thursday, December 10th 2020, 2:03pm

The Manila Times, Wednesday, 30 November 1949

Having completed their operational training phase, the escort destroyers Sevilla, Sebaste, Calatrava, and Valladolid have joined the light cruiser Benguet on a good-will cruise to Indochina and Thailand.


Tuesday, January 12th 2021, 7:29pm

Philippine News and Events, December 1949

Frigate Jolo, off Loaita Island, Friday, 2 December 1949

The mission assigned to his ship was a familiar one, repeated a number of times before. Commander Miguel Raffiñan, captain of the Jolo, watched as personnel, supplies, and equipment were ferried ashore to establish another observation post in the ever growing network of stations across the Kalayaan Islands. Offshore the barge Ledesco Two was anchoring – she carried more supplies and equipment, and would remain on station for several days while unloading. In time perhaps the station here would resemble Itu Aba – once an outpost of Chinese ambitions, deliberately slighted at the end of the South China Sea conflict, and now the heart of the tripwire that stretched across the ocean. The Treaty of Saigon still restricted the Philippine presence in these waters, but the Government was doing all within the treaty’s limit to strengthen its defenses.