Gov’t tells Alejano: Trip to Panatag shoal OK but should be cleared

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2019   •   2115

Senatorial candidate Gary Alejano (📷 Twitter)

Everyone may visit the disputed Panatag Shoal off Zambales, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said on Monday.

Balilo made the statement after Otso Diretso Senatorial candidate and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano wrote a formal letter to the PCG to request for permission to visit the contested shoal.

The letter, dated April 13, was addressed to PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino.

“Sir, the PCA ruling in 2016 clearly stated that the Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino and Chinese fishermen, hence, both of our fishermen can fish there. However, our local media has reported otherwise, which, if left unchecked would greatly undermine our people’s rights to the resources found there,” Alejano’s letter read.

Balilo said there is no policy that prohibits people from visiting Panatag Shoal as long the trip is properly coordinated with the PCG station for rescue operation in case of emergency.

However, the Philippine Navy said Alejano and other opposition senatorial candidates cannot just sail to the disputed area, saying this should be cleared with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM).

The Philippine Navy said Alejano’s request should be forwarded to the AFP-NOLCOM as it has operational control of the navy ships deployed in Panatag shoal.

Nevertheless, authorities expressed doubt that the trip would be permitted if it’s going to be used for something other than fishing.

The PH Navy also stressed it can always deny request to travel to Panatag Shoal as it is not a tourist destination that anyone can visit.

The military said the AFP-NOLCOM’s priority concern is safety, and the current maritime dispute between the Philippines and China comes second. – Robie de Guzman

Former gas platforms near Recto Bank eyed as observation posts – PH Navy

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy is looking to convert Nido and Matinloc, two former gas platforms located near Recto Bank, into floating monitoring stations due to their strategic locations.

PH Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo bared the plan when he visited the gas platforms in Malampaya, northwest of Palawan on Sept. 26.

“This inspection intends to look at the viability of these retired gas platforms to be converted to observation posts for Recto Bank and Malampaya gas platform,” Bacordo said in a statement.

“This will further enhance our capability to protect our maritime interests in these strategic locations,” he added.

The platforms location is deemed to be “strategic” and “vital” due to its proximity to Recto Bank, Malampaya and Galoc Gas Fields.

The Malampaya Gas Field is located 820 meters deep, 80 kilometers off the coast of Palawan which falls under the area of responsibility of Naval Forces West.

The Department of Energy (DOE) last year ceased the operations of these two gas fields after over 40 years of production.

The PH Navy said the transfer of ownership of these platforms was offered by the DOE in several meetings of the military’s National Task Force in the West Philippine Sea.

“It is the DND’s position to acquire said platforms and expeditiously transfer it to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” it said.

The navy said the future littoral monitoring station is a welcome addition to its “improving capabilities” to better serve our maritime nation especially in its critical location near the nation’s source of natural gas.

Fishermen rescued in sea waters off Zamboanga City

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020

Five fishermen were rescued on Monday (September 14) by navy troops in the sea waters off San Mateo Point, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City.

The navy troops, onboard BA492, noticed four fishermen standing on a boat that capsized due to bad weather.

After rescuing the four, the troops were informed that the boat master was still inside the capsized boat.

The boat master was recovered and rushed to the Zamboanga City Medical Center. He was declared dead on arrival due to Asphyxiation secondary to accidental drowning.

“We provided the necessary assistance to the victims of the sea mishap and communicated with their respective families,” said Rear Admiral Erick Kagaoan, Commander, Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

The Philippine Navy extends their sympathy to the family of the boat master identified as 55-year-old Enricky Brocka. The Navy also assured they will provide assistance to victims of the accident. -AAC

PH Navy redeploys troops at MECQ checkpoints

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 6, 2020

The Philippine Navy on Tuesday (August 4) redeployed its troops to man quarantine checkpoints in areas under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).

The troops are set to aid other law enforcement agencies in ensuring an orderly and strict implementation of quarantine guidelines to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The Philippine Navy with the help of its stakeholders will also double its efforts to help the national government combat this unprecedented global pandemic,” the Philippine Navy said in a statement. AAC

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