Coast Guard intensifies watch over rising robbery incidents in Manila, Batangas ports

All Coast Guard stations and sub-stations in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog districts were directed Thursday to intensify their watch over robbery incidents as an increase in robberies in the areas were recently reported.

Admiral George Ursabia, Jr., Philippine Coast Guard commandant, has ordered the district stations “to intensify intelligence gathering and maritime patrol operations in the vicinity waters of Manila Bay and Southern Luzon to prevent or deter the occurrence of said incidents.”

This came after a report of the Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre, citing a rise in the number of robbery incidents in the ports of Manila and Batangas.

This happens at a time when the Department of Transportation is working on making the country an international crew change hub.

The stations were told to increase boarding inspections on suspicious vessels and watercraft roaming in the vicinity waters during night time as part of the intensified maritime security measures.

The Coast Guard, however, said that they have been receiving reports on “ordinary theft” incidents such as stolen paint and personal belongings from ships but not robbery incidents.

In case a theft or robbery incident happened, ship owners or crewmen can report to the Coast Guard or local police.

Meanwhile, two unmarked motor bancas were apprehended Thursday morning for violation of the Safety, Security, and Environmental Numbering (SSEN) System for all Philippine-registered vessels or watercraft.

Under the system, a unique identification number is assigned for each vessel or watercraft to enhance maritime security within the Philippine maritime jurisdiction by preventing the usage of SSEN-registered vessels and watercraft in the conduct of maritime infractions such as robbery, piracy, and terrorism.

“The PCG is also actively coordinating with various law enforcement agencies and local government units to ensure that the Philippine waters, especially its crew change hubs, are safe and secured for the conduct of all activities related to the movement and growth of the international maritime industry,” Ursabia said.