The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is gaining respect in the West Philippine Sea as it continues to challenge and drive away foreign vessels intruding in the country’s waters.
PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said the Coast Guard assets deployed in the WPS are actually becoming the “main player” in enforcing peaceful means after they successfully drove away several Chinese vessels in the past.
“Right now po lumalabas na kami ang nagiging main player ngayon dyan kasi nakita natin na medyo effective ang Coast Guard dahil puting barko ang ginagamit natin (Right now we are becoming the main player there because we saw that the Coast Guard is quite effective because we use white ships) and having such equipped we are really forcing standard in a peaceful means based on rules,” Ursabia said in an interview over DZRH News on Friday.
“Nakikita naman natin na may ibang players dyan from other countries na isa na yung China ang tsina-challenge namin, nirerespeto naman nila yung Coast Guard. (We saw that there were other players there from other countries, including China which they respect the Coast Guard). Nirerespeto nila (They respect), there is a recognition of the authority of PCG,” he added.
During the maritime patrols, the PCG ships drove away Chinese Navy warship and foreign fishing vessels believed to be manned by the Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Lawyers on board
Ursabia also bared that Coast Guard ships have on board lawyers to enhance the confidence of the crew and officers in the reinforcement of laws, particularly in the disputed areas.
“Mas narealize namin na mas magandang merong abogado talaga on board the ship kasi (We realized that it’s better to have a lawyer on board the ship because) it enhances the confidence level of our officers and crew on board, especially in the reinforcement of our laws lalo na dyan sa WPS,” he added.
During PCG’s BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) maritime patrol last April 27, lawyer and Probationary Ensign Gretch Mary Acuario radio challenged seven Chinese vessels moored at Sabina Shoal in WPS.
The Sabina Shoal is located approximately 73 miles from Mapankal Point, Rizal, Palawan.
Acuario was the only female on duty during that time. She was then asked by BRP Cabra’s Commanding Officer Erwin Tolentino to conduct the radio challenge.
A few days later, Acuario’s voice became the symbol of the Philippines’ strong stand in the WPS as the challenge was repeatedly played in radio and television stations and even posted and shared several times on social media.