By Betheena Kae Unite
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and its Japanese counterparts recently conducted a simulation exercise between Jolo Island and Tawi-Tawi to enhance the country’s response against piracy attacks and armed robbery on ships.
PCG, Japan Coast Guard (JCG) and Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia-Information Sharing Center (ReCAAP-ISC) conducted the communications and surveillance exercise simulating a vessel under piracy attack last Saturday.
“The exercise helped us build good working relationship and interoperability between the PCG, JCG and ReCAAP which is based in Singapore. We have had lots of piracy exercises with the Japan Coast Guard. However, it is mostly in the conduct of anti-piracy exercise,” said Commodore Leopoldo Laroya, PCG commander of Maritime Security and Law Enforcement.
“We utilized a plane from the JCG for the conduct of communications exercise in order to present the capability to respond and share information quickly about piracy,” Laroya added.
During the simulation, the Falcon 900 together with PCG’s deployed patrol vessels – BRP Romblon (SARV-3503) and BRP Malapascua (MRRV 4403) – and PCG manned-Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) 3007 of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were deployed to respond to a cargo vessel under piracy attack between Jolo Island and Tawi-Tawi upon receipt of piracy incident from ReCAAP-ISC.
Vice Admiral Shuichi Iwanami, JGC vice commandant for operations; Koji Tsuchiya; Commander Shigeru Yoshida, JICA expert in PCG; Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP; Laroya; Captain Tito Alvin Andal, deputy chief of Coast Guard Staff for Logistics, served as observers during the simulation. They were onboard JCG’s airborne plane, Falcon 900 (JA 8571).
The delegates from Japan arrived in the country Friday, Commodore Joel Garcia, PCG officer-in-charge, said.
Garcia said prior to the simulation exercise, both sides discussed the situation in Jolo and Celebes Sea.
He said another simulation exercise will be conducted on June 3.
Meanwhile, the PCG joined the 11th bilateral meeting with the Korean Coast Guard (KCG) at Incheon, Sejong, Yeosu and Seoul in Korea in April and discussed how to keep the Asia maritime region safe and peaceful.
KCG and PCG signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2003.
According to the PCG, the meeting aimed to establish formal and personal relationship between the officials of the two agencies.
During the bilateral meeting, the two agencies agreed to exchange information in relation to transnational crimes, to establish direct lines of communications and cooperation in the conduct of maritime search and rescue and extending mutual legal assistance in the investigation of maritime crimes.
They are also planning to conduct an annual meeting to be hosted alternately by the countries.
A joint exercise is expected next year as PCG extended its invitation for the 12th Bilateral meeting to be held in the Philippines.