The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has focused on humanitarian activities in Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan as part of its second phase of capability enhancement training in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Ito nga yung pinaka-highlight ng maritime exercise itong pangalawa bukod sa training yung humanitarian aspect and gusto rin namin na malaman ng mga tao na kelangan natin tulungan yung mga taga-Pag-asa na hindi naman sila parang isolated doon (This is the highlight of the second phase of maritime exercise, which is the humanitarian aspect and we also want people to know that we need to help the people of Pag-asa so that they will not feel that they are not isolated there),” PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo told the Manila Bulletin on Wednesday, May 26.
The Philippine government established the municipality of Kalayaan as part of the Palawan province in 1978.
The PCG medical members have checked the health conditions of the soldiers that were deployed in Kalayaan Island, while personnel of the BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) and BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) have conducted a coastal clean-up drive along the coast of Pag-asa Island last week.
They also visited and delivered school supplies for Pag-asa Island youth on Tuesday, May 25.
According to Balilo, the PCG is set to return to bring more supplies for the residents in the Pag-asa Island.
“Plano namin na bumalik pa sa Pag-asa and to bring more supplies, kung siguro may magdodonate ng mga solar power equipment, generators, and refrigerators kasi napapanis yung kanilang mga pagkain at hindi sila makapagpreserve ng mga pagkain, and also chinecheck namin yung communication facility nila para matulungan yung school (We plan to go back in Pag-asa and bring more supplies, we will ask for donations such as solar power equipment, generators, and refrigerators because their food supplies are getting spoiled and they can’t preserve it, and we also checked their communication facility to help their school),” Balilo said.
Third phase set in Batanes and PH Rise
The PCG spokesperson said the armed service will continue to intensify maritime patrols and plans for the third phase of maritime drills to further assert the country’s maritime territory.
“Baka this time pa-akyat na sa Batanes and Philippine Rise, we’ll check kung meron pang activities na kelangan gawin sa headquarters at magreplenished itong mga barko (Maybe this time we go up to Batanes and Philippine Rise, we’ll check if there are more activities to be done at the headquarters and replenished the ships),” Balilo said.
The PCG has already installed on Thursday, May 20, the first three of the 10 modern lighted ocean buoys in the Philippine Rise, formerly known as the Benham Rise, to mitigate risks of maritime incidents in the country
Balilo said Coast Guard’s ships BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) will go there for the next phase of the maritime exercises.
In March, the country protested the presence of around 220 Chinese vessels believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia at the Julian Felipe Reef in the WPS.
The PCG ships drove away seven foreign ships believed to be manned by Chinese militias from the Sabina Shoal in the WPS on April 27.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests against the repeated incursion of Chinese vessels in the Philippine’s EEZ.