The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recently conducted intensive maritime exercises in collaboration with counterparts from Japan and Indonesia, aimed at safeguarding crucial marine routes and addressing environmental hazards.

Taking place in the Celebes Sea and Sulu Sea, the training focused on enhancing regional capacities in firefighting, search and rescue operations, and the rapid response to oil spills. The event, known as the Regional Marine Pollution Exercise (MARPOLEX) 2024, was held in Bacolod City, underscoring the growing importance of regional collaboration amidst increasing maritime traffic and environmental threats.

The exercise showcased state-of-the-art vessels, including the PCG’s BRP Gabriela Silang and Japan’s PLH 02 Tsugaru, demonstrating their commitment to maritime security and environmental preservation.

PCG Admiral Gil Gavan emphasized the exercise’s role in protecting the marine ecosystem amid escalating threats, citing the collaborative efforts mandated by the 1981 Sulawesi Sea Oil Spill Response Network Plan Agreement.

“This exercise is crucial given the rising maritime traffic and the potential for oil spills in our region. Supporting biennial MARPOLEX events is our commitment to safeguarding our marine environment,” Admiral Gavan stated.

Other coast guard vessels participating in the exercise included BRP Cape San Agustin (MRRV-4408), BRP Habagat (TB-271), and BRP Kalanggaman (FPB-2404) from the PCG, alongside KN Trisula P111 from DGST and PLH 02 Tsugaru from JCG.

This year’s MARPOLEX marked its 23rd iteration since its establishment in 1986, reflecting a longstanding commitment to regional stability and environmental stewardship.

In addition to participating units, observers from the Korea Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, Vietnamese National Southern Oil Spill Response Center, Oil Spill Response Limited, International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited, International Maritime Organization – International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IMO-IPIECA) Global Initiative for Southeast Asia (GISEA), International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and PCG Auxiliary 618th Squadron were also present during the exercises.