The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has activated the Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan to step up the enforcement of laws and regulations related to the protection of safety of life and property at sea within the country’s maritime jurisdiction.

The activation is in accordance with Republic Act No. 9993, or the PCG Law of 2009, the PCG said in an issued statement Monday morning, August 9.

Admiral George V. Ursabia Jr, the PCG commandant, has named Vice Admiral Artemio Abu, Rear Admiral Joseph Coyme, and Commodore Charlie Rances to lead the task force. It is made up of 19 task groups operating in all PCG districts, particularly in Northwestern Luzon, Northeastern Luzon, Palawan, and the National Capital Region-Central Luzon.

The statement said PCG assets will be used to strengthen the enforcement of all domestic and international maritime laws, treaties, agreements, and appropriate memoranda circulars relevant to marine safety after the establishment of the Kaligtasan sa Karagatan.

As the commander of PCG’s Maritime Safety Services, Abu said that considering the PCG’s mandate to develop, establish, maintain, and operate aids to navigation, the task force shall support the achievement of the highest level of operational efficiency of all aids to navigation in the country, specifically light stations and ocean buoys.

“We will be focusing only on activities that are doable, tangible, and with high impact on the safety aspect of our job, not to mention the desire to advance our sovereignty interest,” Abu said during the coordinating meeting of PCG Task Force Kaligatasan sa Karagatan on August 4.

He also emphasized the need to enhance arrangement with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), specifically on the maintenance of PPA-procured buoys.

Coordination with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) shall also be prioritized towards the swift installation of sovereign markers within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

More importantly, the task force shall be aggressive in delivering maritime safety-related services nationwide, to be implemented by the 19 task groups.

“Rest assured we will provide assistance in the education and development of Coast Guard personnel by providing exercises and seminars related to maritime safety. They will be trained in manning Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), deploying maritime search and rescue teams, and conducting marine casualty investigations, among others,” Abu added in the statement.

Above all, the PCG Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan shall ensure that the men and women of the PCG are highly skilled in the implementation of vessel safety enforcement, port state control, and recreational safety inspections – all to strengthen the PCG’s response and presence in the Philippine maritime domain, most especially as protectors of local and international seafarers.