MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday said it has yet to monitor any incident of individuals or vessels slipping through the country’s backdoor amid the threat of the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant.
PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said they have enforced intensified maritime surveillance on the Philippine borders to prevent the entry of the Delta variant that has been causing the surge of COVID-19 cases in neighboring countries.
“Sa kasalukuyan, wala pa po tayong report na natatanggap na merong nakalusot [sa backdoor] pero mabigat po ang bilin ni Sec. [Arthur] Tugade sa Coast Guard na talagang ipatupad itong pagbabantay sa ating borders,” Balilo said during the Laging Handa public briefing.
He said the PCG is monitoring borders in General Santos City, which is near Indonesia, as well as in Tawi-Tawi, which is near Malaysia.
So far, authorities have not faced any challenges during their maritime border patrol, he added.
“Doon naman sa Tawi-Tawi, meron naman tayong authorized na repatriation doon pero yun po ay mino-monitor at istriktong tinitingnan yung pagpapatupad ng quarantine measures sa pagbaba nila sa Zamboanga,” Balilo said.
He said the PCG is conducting intensified maritime border patrol in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
“Inuudyukan rin natin ang ating mga kababayan, ang publiko na makipagtulungan sa mga law enforcement agency, na maging proactive sa information na kung meron kayong nakita na maaaring papunta sa ating mga sasakyang pandagat na sa tingin niyo ay suspicious at hindi dadaan sa health authorities ay i-report po sa local government authorities, sa Philippine Coast Guard, sa PNP o maging sa PNP,” he said.
The PNP earlier said that the Philippines shares border with Indonesia and Malaysia in Mindanao, and the porous border in the south is reportedly being taken advantage for smuggling activities, including those who want to easily enter and exit the Philippines.