PH hosts 1st South East Asia co-op and training exercise vs. illegal drugs and terrorism

UNTV News   •   August 21, 2017   •   4286

MANILA, Philippines — The South East Asia Cooperation and Training or SEACAT Exercise 2017 began on Monday in the Philippines.

This is a yearly multilateral maritime security information sharing exercise in Asia.

For the first time, this year’s SEACAT exercise focuses on anti-terrorism efforts and on preventing the spread of illegal drugs through the maritime sector.

“We have a porous border. The campaign of the president against illegal drugs should be intensified, as well as his campaign against terrorism. In terms of the illegal drugs menace, the US Coastguard, in particular, is expert on that matter,” said Philippine Coast Guard Spokesperson Cmdr. Armand Balilo.

“Addressing terrorism is also important because we are now guarding the Southern Philippines. This is so that those attempting to wreak havoc in the country will not be able to enter,” he added.

45 members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine Navy represented the country in the maritime drill.

This was also the first time the Philippine Navy and PCG participated in the SEACAT since its inception in 2002.

The SEACAT is led by the US Coast Guard with representatives from other Southeast Asian Coast Guards and navies like the Indonesian Coast Guard or BAKAMLA, Indonesia Navy, Sri Lanka Navy, Royal Thai Navy and the Thai Maritime Law Enforcement Coordinating Center.

The SEACAT has three phases. First is the academic seminar which is held in Singapore. Second is the boarding workshop held here in the Philippines and the command post exercise which will be held in Singapore and Brunei.

The US and South East Asian navies and coast guards will deploy their vessels and aircraft here in the Philippines, with the special operations group to do the deployment in Subic, Zambales and the Philippine Navy in several parts of Sulu.

Meanwhile, the PCG clarified that the Philippines’ relationship with China will not be tarnished by the two countries’ territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea.

“We have a clear cut guidance from the president. We have agreements, in fact we have law enforcement teams to be sent to China. So whatever the conflict in terms of territory would be, we are leaving it up to the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Balilo said. – Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

Authorities recover two more bodies in Iloilo-Guimaras strait tragedy

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities on Tuesday recovered at least two more bodies amid ongoing search for the missing victims of the Iloilo-Guimaras strait tragedy, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Around 9 a.m., personnel from the PCG and the Philippine Air Force found a body of a man wearing black shorts and t-shirt.

A few hours later, authorities found another body of a male, this time wearing navy-blue shorts and yellow shirt, sporting a black wristwatch and a ring on one of his fingers.

The bodies were found in waters surrounding Dumanggas and Guimaras areas, the PCG said.    

According to PCG Lieutenant Junior Grade Charibel Pugong, the bodies are already bloated and in an advanced state of decomposition.

“Isang naging problema namin doon medyo nahirapan po tayo sa pagrecover kasi bigla pong lumakas ang ulan and then ang hangin tapos malaki po ang alon so nahirapan po tayo sa pagkuha ng cadaver,” Pugong said.

Authorities are still working to identify the bodies and verify whether these were among the victims of the maritime incident.

Last Saturday (August 3), three pump boats capsized in the waters off Iloilo and Guimaras due to a sudden squall or violent winds.

READ: MARINA begins probe on Iloilo-Guimaras strait incident

Authorities said an investigation into the incidents is underway. (with details from Lalaine Moreno)

PH Coast Guard ships sail to quake-hit Batanes for relief ops

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Two vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are on their way to Batanes province to bring relief goods and supplies for the victims of two successive earthquakes that jolted Itbayat town last July 27.

The PCG said the ships called BRP Malabrigo and BRP Capones are carrying relief goods and supplies including tents (steel frame and tent cover), sleeping kits, laminated sack roles (lona), boxes of canned goods, noodles, bottled water, toiletries, powdered milk and packs of rice.

The supplies, which were loaded on the ships on Wednesday (July 31), were from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the PCG Auxilliary.

The vessels left on Thursday morning but it remains unclear on when the ships will arrive in Batanes due to strong waves, according to the PCG.

The mobilization is part of the agency’s response plan following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to assist Batanes residents heavily affected by the tremors.

According to PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino, three vessels including the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ BRP Francisco Dagohoy have been tasked to conduct a transport mission to Batanes.

The PCG also deployed its Islander plane with medical teams on board to assist the Department of Health (DOH) personnel attending to the medical needs of residents affected by the earthquakes.

Duterte orders PH Coast Guard to patrol Batanes Islands

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct patrol operations in Batanes islands to ensure that these areas would “remain ours.”

During a situation briefing with local officials, Duterte asked the PCG to guard and patrol the islands from time to time in light of China’s reclamation activities near the Philippine waters.

“You might want to ask the Coast Guard to — pumunta dito, mag-istambay lang, palit-palit lang, (go here, stay a bit, switch every now and then) to patrol the island from time to time,” he said.

“Not every day, but just to assure that those islands will remain ours,” he added.

China has been claiming ownership in the South China Sea, refusing to follow the 2016 international arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claims. Other claimants to the disputed waters are Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The chief executive also expressed interest in upgrading the runways at the Batanes airport to make the delivery of relief supplies easier and “for national security reasons.”

“It could be a very crucial factor in the days to come. Not in our generation, but malay mo… it would be good to be prepared so that if we have to defend those islands there, you have to have a launching deck somewhere here,” Duterte said.

Batanes has two runways – one in the island of Batan in the provincial capital of Basco and another in the island of Itbayat which is used by small aircraft. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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