The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has now more eyes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Command observation posts (COPs) were established by the PCG on three islands in WPS to expand the country’s maritime domain awareness, it said Friday, May 20.
Admiral Artemio Abu, PCG Commandant, said the COPs were manned by coast guardians on Likas (West York) Island, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, and Parola Island (Northeast Cay) since May 17.
All the three islands are located in the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratly Islands) in WPS where the Philippines fights for its sovereignty along with other claimant-countries.
“The activation of these COPs complies with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade’s guidance to support the country’s maritime transportation and shipping industry by promoting maritime safety and maritime security,” Abu said.
“Through these COPs, we improve our capabilities in promoting maritime safety, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection,” he added.
The establishment of the COPs was complemented by the deployment of the “largest contingent” of the PCG in the WPS, Abu said, although he refused to give details how many personnel were fielded due to security reasons.
To complete the deployment, the PCG’s Task Force “Kaligtasan sa Karagatan” also constructed smart houses and installed radio communications on the three islands.
Abu said the COPs will help optimize the strategic deployment of PCG assets by monitoring the movement of merchant ships in its surrounding waters and communicating maritime incidents to the PCG National Headquarters in Manila.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who also serves as the chairman of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), expressed support to the PCG’s initiative.
He said the establishment of command posts will guide domestic and international ships passing the country’s waters through safe and secure sea lines of communications.