PCG, PPA deploy assets, teams to aid quake-hit areas in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   October 31, 2019   •   518

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday said it has mobilized its assets and rescue teams to several areas in Mindanao that were heavily hit by recent earthquakes.

The PCG said its K9 search and rescue teams have been deployed to Davao City, Bansalan, Magsaysay and Matanao in Davao del Sur; Tulunan and Makilala towns in Cotabato and other areas in Mindanao to help in search for missing persons following a magnitude 6.5 quake that occurred Thursday morning.

Two powerful temblors, with epicenter traced in Tulunan town, were also experienced in these areas last Oct. 16 and Oct. 29.

The PCG said two of its rescue teams with six K9 dogs were already sent to Ecoland 4000 to help in the search and rescue operations.

Ecoland 4000 is a five-story condominium building in Davao City that collapsed due to the quake.

Additional vehicles and other assets will also be provided to be utilized for all operations within the areas, it added.

PCG’s Islander 251 will also fly to Davao onboard with K9 dogs and 500 handheld radio equipment.

PCG chief Vice Admiral Joel Garcia said PCG vessels stationed nationwide will also transport relief goods to quake-stricken areas.

Local government officials in affected areas earlier appealed for tents, sleeping mats and mosquito nets as most of the residents do not want to return to their homes amid aftershocks. They also asked for additional relief goods such as food packs, drinking water, pipes for water, laminated sacks or trapal, medicines and water purifiers for the victims.

“I am seeking assistance to all non-government organizations and private sectors for relief goods as soon as possible in order to augment to the needs of the victims. You can directly coordinate to all PCG districts nationwide for the shipment,” Garcia said in a statement.

The PCG will also send its medical teams tapped to deliver assistance to injured victims.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), for its part, assured to prioritize cargoes and personnel that are intended for rescue and disaster management efforts.

PPA general manager Jay Santiago said they will also send bottled water and non-perishable food to evacuation areas, provide additional port personnel, and reallocate available Malasakit supplies for the aid of earthquake victims.

The PCG and PPA said the mobilization follows the directive of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to provide assistance and relief to those affected by the quake.

PH security forces foil bomb plot in Jolo, Sulu

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

A bomb plot in the capital town of Jolo in Sulu province believed to have been orchestrated by local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was foiled by the Philippine security forces, the military said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said, this is after the elements of the Philippine Coast Guard-Explosive and Ordnance Division (PCG) discovered a baggage that contained an improvised explosive device allegedly planted at the local port on Saturday.

The military added that a PCG patrol team found the abandoned baggage between the office of the Harbor Master and the Maritime Police Office at Jolo port.

A K9 unit deployed to the area confirmed that the baggage contained a bomb.

Operating troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion immediately cordoned off the area while the bomb squad carefully disarmed the explosive which was assembled using two electric blasting caps, a rifle grenade, a spark plug and concrete nails.

“I commend our troops and our partners for the accomplishment. You saved the lives of the innocent people and foiled this terroristic activity of our heartless enemies,” said Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu.

AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. also commended the troops.

“This success is a result of the intensified conduct of intelligence operations and the strengthened collaboration with the police and other security agencies, thus preempting the terrorists from executing their terror plan. I commend the troops of the JTF Sulu for a job well done,” he said.

The military said tight security measures remain in place as government troops continue to pursue ASG leader Mundi Sawadjaan who was said to the brains of the twin bomb attacks in Barangay Walled City in Jolo barely a month ago that killed 14 people and injured others. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

PCG, BOC strengthen cooperation on border patrol, anti-smuggling ops

Robie de Guzman   •   September 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have agreed to enhance their cooperation on border control, anti-smuggling and other customs fraud.

This is through the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Thursday for the joint manning and operation of 20 newly-procured fast patrol boats of the BOC.

In a statement, the PCG said that under the MOA, Coast Guard commandant Admiral George Ursabia and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero have agreed to work together for the efficient utilization and navigation of these 12-meter floating assets for the performance of law enforcement functions to uphold security, peace, and order within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines.

Under the MOA, the BOC shall have the authority to deploy the fast patrol boats for law enforcement missions, while the PCG shall share its technical expertise in operating and navigating said floating assets and ensure that knowledge and skills are efficiently transferred to BOC personnel.

In an event of natural calamity or national emergency, the PCG, upon proper coordination with the BOC, may utilize the fast patrol boats in conducting search and rescue (SAR) operations and responding to maritime incidents.

Each fast boat shall be manned by a total of nine crew members, composed of five BOC personnel and four PCG non-officers, who satisfactorily completed the Small Boat Operation and Management Course.

While the PCG assists the BOC in maintaining the fast patrol boats, the BOC shall be responsible in allocating funds for the daily preventive maintenance of equipment or machines onboard, procurement of spare parts and other consumables, as well as dry docking and other repair activities.

“We are honored to further collaborate with the Bureau of Customs in deterring and preventing illegal activities in our country’s waters. Rest assured that we will pursue our commitment in keeping the Philippine maritime jurisdiction safe and secured,” Ursabia said.

“I look forward to the successful implementation of this agreement. I am grateful to the Philippine Coast Guard for assisting us in the enforcement of laws pertaining the border control, prevention of entry of smuggling, and other customs fraud that hinder the growth of our national economy,” Guerrero added.

The MOA took effect on September 10 and shall be referred in full force and effect for a period of five years.

Duterte vows to support military in fight against extremism in Mindanao

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2020

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the candle-lighting and the offering of flowers at the blast site at Barangay Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 30, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time since his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte made his public appearance to visit Jolo, Sulu.

Specifically, the President visited the sites of the twin explosions that occurred on August 24 which killed a number of soldiers.

He delivered a short speech before the troops at Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Headquarters where he vowed to give his full support to the military in fighting and eradicating terrorists activities in Mindanao. 

“Bilang isang Pilipino ibibigay ko sa inyo ang lahat ng suporta na kailangan ninyo para matupad ang inyong misyon dito sa Jolo (As a Filipino, I will give you all the support you need to accomplish your mission here in Jolo),” he said. 

“I commit myself to working with you my dear troops to ensure that these terrorists will have no future in this country,” he added.

During the ceremony, the President commended the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the sake of peace and order in the province. 

President Duterte said that he regrets the situation in Mindanao and added that if not for the atrocities in the region, it could have attained the progress that the province has been aspiring for decades.

“For decades, Mindanao’s progress has been hindered by the threat of insurgency and extremism,” the President said. 

“Kung wala lang sana itong seed of hatred na nakalagay sa isip from generation to generation, sana ngayon maganda na ang buhay para sa lahat, (If only the seeds of hatred had not been planted in the minds of people from generation to generation, quality of life [in the region]would have improved for everyone by now),” he added.

The President appeals to all government forces to continue the fight against terrorism and work hard to achieve long lasting peace in the country. 

“If we cannot really agree,  then we fight and we fight hard hanggang magkaubusan na (until no one is left). Maybe by that time, kung ubos na ang lahat, wala ng giyera (when everyone is gone, the war would finally end)” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie COZ)

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