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PCG and BFAR hold ‘comprehensive’ maritime exercise in WPS

Eight capital ships of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) this week for a “comprehensive” maritime exercise (MAREX) to ensure the safety and protection of Filipino fishermen.

In a social media post by the PCG Sunday, it said crewmembers of participating PCG and BFAR vessels stepped up the conduct of MAREX on April 24 on navigation, small boat operations, maintenance, and logistical operations.

BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) started their maritime exercises near the Bajo De Masinloc, while BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409), BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403), and the PCG-manned BFAR vessels commenced their ship interoperability training near the Pag-asa Island last week.

On board their respective vessels, other PCG personnel, composed of lawyers, medical doctors, nurses, rescue swimmers, weapons, communications, and information systems technicians, and other maritime specialists, also underwent lectures and drills on manual plotting, piloting, firefighting, and basic life support.

PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo was quoted in the post in saying that the maritime exercises led by Task Force Pagsasanay are intended to achieve operational and logistical efficiency to optimize the utilization of Coast Guard’s manpower and assets through a harmonized command and control, and supply chain.

“We are supporting the whole-of-nation approach in securing our maritime jurisdiction, especially the efforts of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) to undertake maritime security, maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection roles in our country’s waters,” Balilio said in the post.

Aside from the WPS, the capital ships will also perform maritime exercises in the Batanes Group of Islands and Benham Rise, as well as in the southern and eastern portions of the Philippines.

Staying true to its humanitarian mandate, the PCG is also planning to conduct medical and dental missions among local residents and coastal families in the Pag-asa Island next week.

On April 6, 2021, PCG commandant, Adm. George Ursabia Jr. directed the activation of Task Force Pagsasanay, with Vice Admiral Oscar Endona, commander of the PCG’s Maritime Security Command, as head, as well as Rear Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan and Rear Admiral Allan Dela Vega as decision makers on matters of policies and operations.

The Task Force Pagsasanay aims to intensify and harmonize the capacity building and sustainment efforts for PCG personnel and assets deployed in 15 PCG Districts, specifically in safeguarding the Philippine waters.

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