The Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDPal) said it is maximizing its limited resources to address smuggling activities in the province, notably in the municipalities of Balabac, Bataraza, and Brooke’s Point, where illegal cigarette shipping has been reported in recent months.
CGDPal commander Commo. Rommel A. Supangan told Palawan News that they have been in constant communication with the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in crafting strategies to address smuggling.
Furthermore, Supangan added that because their area of responsibility is broad, making it difficult to monitor, it forces them to make extra efforts to develop their capacities to combat smuggling.
“Ang ating karagatan ay malawak, at ang coast guard naman ay hindi sya omnipresent. Hindi totally na mamamanmanan namin ang lawak na ‘yan. But we maximize our limited resources to (check) critical areas. But we cannot do much with limited resources kaya nga ang thrust ng coast guard is patuloy na palakasin yong mga resources namin,” Supangan said.
He also said that the Coast Guard is continually assisting authorities that conduct operations against persons who break maritime rules, but he also highlighted that they have their own operations to monitor smuggling.
“We still follow lead agencies. If the customs is the lead agency, then the coast guard will become the supporting agency para dun. We can always deploy our personnel to support. Napaka-diverse ng aming function and we still maximize to extend our efforts and resources para rin sa mga law enforcement initiatives against illegal activities,” he explained.
“Meron din kaming operation, like ng sinabi ko as reported during our conference, noong December nahuli ito ng coast guard at nai-turn over din natin. Meron din kaming operating unit sa Balabac at Mangsee, so any illegal activities na darating sa kanila ay mayron kaming responsibilidad na gampanan iyon,” he added.
Meanwhile, Supangan claimed that the BOC, under Task Force Aguana, has purchased 20 new fast craft boats to be deployed in vital locations such as Palawan to ramp up operations against smuggling.
They have also undertaken trainings with BOC staff, he said, to improve their knowledge and abilities in operating the vessels, some of which will be stationed in the province, for better coordination in reacting to incidents and enforcing maritime laws.