By Martin Sadongdong
“We stayed at work for you, please stay at home for us.”
This was the collective appeal of Philippine Navy (PN) personnel who were tasked to secure Manila Bay — Metro Manila’s entry and exit points via sea travel — amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
The sailors and marines’ appeal came after the Navy announced on Monday the operationalization of Task Group Laban COVID-19 (Water Cluster) to intensify their security measures in support to the implementation of the strict home quarantine measures.
The task group is composed of personnel and sea assets of the Navy and their counterpart from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), according to Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting director of the naval public affairs office.
The command post under the supervision of the Naval Task Group-National Capital Region (NTG-NCR) is ordered to conduct maritime patrol (MARPAT) “to intercept or deny the entry and exit of commercial passenger watercraft to and from the vicinity of Manila Bay.”
“This is to ensure that people from outside NCR do not enter NCR by sea and vice versa, preventing people coming in or going out thereby risking the spread of the virus,” Roxas said.
The Navy’s 2nd Patrol Boat Division, which is comprised of four patrol boats and its personnel, were deployed to complement vessels from the Coast Guard in executing seaborne security measures, she explained.
Further, two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) — a lightweight but high-performance and high-capacity unsinkable boat — with personnel from the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) were placed on standby and ready for deployment in Sangley Point, Cavite City.
Navy Captain Lemuel Espatinex, commander of NTG-NCR, urged the public to heed the call of the national government and stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.
“What we are doing right now is not for any reason but for the safety of all Filipinos,” he said.
“This is everybody’s concern. Let’s urge our loved ones, relatives, and friends to help us by staying at home and follow government’s advice,” he added.