United States Vice President Kamala Harris will board the BRP Teresa Magbanua, the newest fleet vessel that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) uses to patrol the West Philippine Sea, when she visits Palawan on November 22.
The multi-role response vessel was where the United States Civil Military Support Element (USCMSE) recently trained with PCG personnel on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) to upskill their response capabilities when there are disasters.
Capt. Christopher Meniado, the new PCG Palawan district commander, said Harris will have a “meet and greet” with them and board BRP Teresa Magbanua. He will be welcomed on the vessel by its skipper, Commander Erwin Tolentino.
Nothing has been decided with regard to the specifics of what will take place during her visit or what she will be doing while she is aboard the vessel, he added.
“Dito sa amin meet and greet lang. Hanggang doon pa lang yon na-discuss sa amin, wala pang final. Pero more or less 90% na matutuloy dahil may sunod sunod ng meetings,” Meniado told Palawan News in a phone call.
“Magbibigay lang siya ng speech, yon pa lang ang napag-usapan. Meet and greet lang, walang masyadong mabigat na isyu,” he added.
PCG’s vice commandant for operations, Adm. Rolando Punzalan, along with three other senior officers, will be in Palawan to welcome Harris. He will represent PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu who is in Bali, Indonesia, attending a conference.
On the other hand, PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo mentioned in a statement that Harris would get a briefing from them on their ongoing maritime operations in Palawan.
This will take place following the tour onboard BRP Teresa Magbanua, one of the two largest PCG vessels to date.
“Aside from Coast Guard officers, officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and local government units (LGUs) will board BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701) to listen to the Vice President’s address,” he said.
During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, a senior official in the United States administration said that Harris’ visit will build on President Joe Biden’s ongoing trip in Southeast Asia to further engagement in the region.
It is also intended to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to supporting the country in the West Philippine Sea.
Before going to Palawan, Harris will meet with both President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.