The security coverage of the Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM) will be expanded by the Western Command (WESCOM) to cover more areas in northern Palawan to further ensure a conducive environment for the tourism industry in the territory.
WESCOM commander Vice Admiral Rene Medina said this as he guaranteed Monday that the armed forces in the province will continue to support the offshore Malampaya-Deep-Water-Gas-to-Power (MDWGP) project, considered to be the country’s “Crown Jewel.”
Medina assured expanding the responsibilities of the JTFM to work alongside the Joint Task Force Peacock (JTFP) will not, in any way, impede the operation of the MDWGP.
“We assure that the project’s operation will not be impeded. We will also make sure that the presence of the JTFM in the northern tip of Palawan will be more felt by the public to help create and sustain an environment that is conducive for economic growth and the tourism industry,” he said.
Medina said they are making use of the capabilities of the JTFM to also carry out its mission in other parts of northern Palawan since they are well-coordinated with resorts and other tourism establishments.
“Idinagdag na rin namin sa trabaho nila ‘yong security kasi meron din siyang mga component ng armed forces natin. ‘Yong trabaho sa JTFM, particularly for the security is talagang naging routine na siya… ibig sabihin hindi ganoon kahirap so para lang hindi masayang ‘yong presence nila doon. Dinagdag lang natin in coordination with JTFP and other agencies,” he said.
Malampaya task force commander Capt. Renato David, meanwhile, assured that the security of the Malampaya project will be constant in their agenda despite their additional responsibilities.
“Kasi sabi ko nga sa WESCOM, kung may mangyari sa Malampaya or kidnapping, I am the most senior AFP representative in that area… (inaudible) kaya ‘yon, kaya. It’s about planning and allocation of resources lalo na kung ang threat d’yan is ano… so it’s about the allocation of ‘yong ating patrol craft para ayusin ‘yong ating monthly patrol plan to ensure ‘yong presence… kahit ‘yong threat level mababa,” David said.
David pointed out that Palawan needs redundancy in the monitoring of vital installations like Malampaya and other tourist destinations to better provide a safe maritime environment for residents and visitors.
He said they have always been supportive of the activities of the JTFM in northern Palawan.
“Hindi ka lang umaasa sa isa… dapat may mga sensors na iba na nag-mo-monitor din sa ibang areas. Katulad nitong mga areas na may island hopping… ang support natin d’yan ay bantayan lalo at makapag-report sila sa atin kaagad kung may mga mangyayari,” he added.
3rd Marine Brigade (3MBDe) commander Brigadier General Charlton Sean Gaerlan said the JTFM has been helpful in the fulfillment of the missions of task force Peacock, which he heads.
“Actually, sa lahat ng activities ng JTFP, whenever we need something sa JTFM, kapag hindi naman nila ginagamit ‘yong assets nila, sumusuporta sila,” Gaerlan said.
The JTFM was created by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 72 which established safety and exclusion zones for offshore natural gas wells, flowlines, platform, pipelines, and other related facilities for the Malampaya over certain waters and submerged lands adjacent to Batangas, Mindoro, and Palawan.