PCG maritime exercises establish Philippine presence in WPS — law expert

Marje Pelayo   •   April 26, 2021   •   587

MANILA, Philippines — The current maritime exercises in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) are a show of determination on the part of the Philippines, according to Professor Jay Batongbacal of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

He said the maritime exercises that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are staging on Bajo De Masinloc and Pagasa Islands imply the Philippines’ firm position to carry on the arbitral award decided by the United Nations International Tribunal.

“Nakita rin naman natin na nitong mga nakaraang taon parang puro naging on paper yung mga statement. At least ito may kasama ng aksyon na talagang ginagamit natin at ating mga government ships and aircraft at nag e-establish na tayo ng presence doon sa lugar,” Batongbacal said.

The PCG believes such activities will strengthen their assets and manpower in the protection of Philippine territory.

Such exercises have been carried out even in other parts of the country.

“Sa amin training lang po ito at nagkataon lang na maganda rin na may presence tayo roon at natutuwa yung mga kababayan nating mga fishermen kasi nakikita nila yung Coast Guard doon na nalalapitan nga namin sila at nakukumusta,” noted PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo.

According to former BFAR Director Asis Perez, the WPS plays an important role not only in the Philippines but in the global fish supply; thus, it should be preserved and any construction activities in the area should be stopped.

“It is a very important geographic feature kasi hindi siya malalim. Hindi siya mababaw. Katamtaman lang. At doon nag-i-spawn ang mga isda. So it is a major spawning ground,” Perrez said.

Eight vessels were mobilized in the exercises and the PCG plans to do it in different maritime areas in the country like Batanes and the Philippine Rise, as well as, in the Southern part of the country. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DND refutes reports on Chinese research vessel near Zambales

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday refuted earlier reports that a Chinese vessel has been spotted near the disputed Scarborough Shoal (also called Bajo de Masinloc) in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the alleged Chinese research ship did not pass through nor enter the country’s area of responsibility.

“Contrary to some published reports regarding the Chinese Research Vessel Hai Da Hao, the AFP Northern Luzon Command has reported that the said vessel has not been spotted near Bajo de Masinloc as alleged,” he said.

“Based on the verification of the one-year historical track of CRV Hai Da Hao, the vessel did not pass through nor did it enter the area of responsibility of Naval Forces Northern Luzon,” he added.

Lorenzana noted that the said ship is currently monitored at 30 nautical miles south of Huidong Xian, Huizhou Shi in China.

The DND chief issued the statement following claims on social media about the alleged presence of a Chinese research ship near the shoal in Zambales.

The report prompted the department to conduct verification on the matter.

Chinese and other foreign vessels have previously been spotted in contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests on the presence of Chinese ships in Philippine waters.

PH Coast Guard to conduct maritime exercises in Southern Mindanao

Marje Pelayo   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is conducting maritime exercises in the waters of Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi from June 21 to June 27.

The exercises will gauge the capability of PCG’s recently acquired ship-based and coastal monitoring and communications capabilities for search and rescue (SAR) and law enforcement.

“Rest assured we will sustain our previous efforts in securing our maritime jurisdiction, especially the frontiers where we are needed most,” said PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabia.

The exercises will be held along Sibutu Passage and Basilan Strait where series of kidnapping and piracy incidents were reported in previous years.

This effort, Ursabia said, is to ensure the safety and protection of the Philippine maritime jurisdiction.

“Moreso, vessel traffic monitoring and search and rescue facilities at the Sibutu passage and Basilan Straits are now in place. Vessels transiting this area are already better assured that a PCG unit can hear their distress calls from up to a hundred miles away,” he said.

All vessels to be used in the exercises have already been positioned at Sibutu Passage and Basilan Strait to provide rescue assistance in case of emergency. MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

PH coast guard, BFAR conduct maritime drills in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have conducted maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea following reports on Chinese vessels lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The PCG said eight capital ships were used for the exercises held on April 24 near the Bajo de Masinloc and the Pag-asa Islands, which are part of the country’s EEZ.

Crewmembers of PCG vessels, as well as PCG-manned BFAR vessels, participated in some training that includes navigation, small boat operations, maintenance, and logistical operations.

Other PCG personnel composed of lawyers, medical doctors, nurses, rescue swimmers, weapons, communications, and information systems technicians, and other maritime specialists, also underwent lectures and drills on manual plotting, piloting, firefighting, and basic life support.

PCG Spokesperson, Commodore Armando Balilo said the maritime exercises led by the Task Force Pagsasanay were intended to achieve operational and logistical efficiency to optimize the utilization of Coast Guard’s manpower and assets through a harmonized command and control, and supply chain.

“We are supporting the whole-of-nation approach in securing our maritime jurisdiction, especially the efforts of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) to undertake maritime security, maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection roles in our country’s waters,” Balilo said in a statement.

Aside from the West Philippine Sea, the said capital ships will also be deployed to perform maritime exercises in the Batanes Group of Islands, Benham Rise, as well as in the southern and eastern portions of the Philippines, the PCG said.

The agency is also planning to conduct medical and dental missions among local residents and coastal families in the Pag-asa Islands next week.

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