Apparently buoyed by its successful enforcement of maritime laws against militia-manned Chinese ships, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has vowed to intensify its maritime exercises and sovereignty patrols to encourage more Filipino fishermen to continue fishing in the West Philippine Sea.
PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said they are now stepping up the preparations for the second leg of the maritime exercise in the country’s maritime zone including the Batanes Group of Islands and the Benham Rise.
“Tinitignan natin kung ano ang mga best practices na pwede natin gamitin pagnagpapatrol tayo tapos additional and ibang personnel naman yung sasama may mga lawyers, doctors, and mga students from the officers candidates school (We look for the best practices we can use when we patrol and then deploy additional personnel including lawyers, doctors, and students from the officers candidates school),” Balilo told the Manila Bulletin on Tuesday, May 5.
“Ini-evaluate rin natin yung nakaraang training so out of the evaluation ano yung mga dapat i-correct, mga scenarios na dapat idagdag, mga reactions kung may nakikitang situation doon sa area yun po yung pinaghahandaan natin(We also evaluated the previous training and out of the evaluation we determined what should be corrected and reactions in certain scenarios in the area that is what we are preparing),” he added.
The second leg of maritime exercises is scheduled to commence on the second week of May, the PCG said.
The PCG spokesperson said that during the maritime exercises near Bajo de Masinloc off the waters of Zambales on Saturday, April 24, they were able to distribute relief packs and conducted medical assistance for the Filipino fishermen sailing in the area.
“Nung nandoon yung mga barko we were able to engage and naginteract doon sa mga fishermen and masaya naman dahil natutuwa sila kasi nakikita nila yung coast guard doon sa area. Tinignan kung mayroong may mga sakit at dahil may kasama naman tayong mga doctors (When the ships were there we were able to engage and interact with the fishermen and they were happy when they saw the Coast Guard patrolling in the area. We also conducted medical assistance for those who were sick because we have doctors with us),” Balilo said.
Balilo said they will maintain the Coast Guard’s presence in the disputed areas and protect the Filipino fishermen against the threats and possible harassments of the Chinese vessels.
The PCG ships drove away seven foreign ships believed to be manned by Chinese militias from the Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on April 27.
“Habang nageexercise tayo nandoon po yung PCG pinapakita natin ang presensya as instructed by the president at encourage po natin na mangisda at pumunta roon, at gagawin po natin ang ating makakaya para maprotektahan lahat ng mga fishermen na nandoon (While we are conducting maritime exercises, the PCG is there, to show our presence as instructed by the president and we encourage them to fish and sail there, and we will do our best to protect all the fishermen in the disputed areas),” Balilo added.
After conducting maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)’s BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) arrived at the Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila on Monday, May 3.