(From left) Capt. Francisco Tagamolila, deputy commander for fleet operations of Naval Forces West; Vice Adm. Rene Medina, commander of Western Command; and Capt. Antoinette McCann, deputy commodore CDS7 for US Navy, during the closing ceremony on October 21 of the MTA Sama-Sama. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Information Agency)

The country’s capability to protect the West Philippine Sea will be enhanced if more joint maritime exercises like the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama-Sama will be done in the future with the United States Armed Forces (USAF) and the defense forces of other nations, said Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Admiral Rene Medina.

Medina, who was the guest of honor in the closing ceremony of the third iteration of the maritime exercise, said Monday that they are hoping for more series of exercise that will strengthen the military capability of the Philippines in safeguarding the disputed island region.

“I am hoping that we will continue to share our roles like what we have done in this MTA Sama-Sama exercise. I’m sure that in the days that will come, we will continue our shared goals and maintain security through our maritime capability particularly in the West Philippine Sea,” Medina said.

Medina said that the exercise has been “a great help to develop deeper cooperation and partnership in terms of interoperability operations between the Philippines, the U.S., and Japan.

“I hope to see you in the next coming years continuing the relations we built during the exercise. This exercise is a win-win activity for us, a shared success, I hope that the training has helped us to understand more the culture of participants. It also brought deeper mutual cooperation and validates our long-time partnership,” he added.

MTA Sama Sama 2019 was done among service members of the United States (US) Navy, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Philippine Navy (PN) through the Naval Forces West (NFW), with the special participation of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

“Sama-Sama”, the Filipino word for “joint or together”, trained the sailors of the three nations on maritime engagements humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness, as well as information sharing for long-term regional cooperation.

Captain Francisco Tagamolila, deputy commander for fleet operations of the NFW, said the participants to the joint maritime exercise achieved all their planned activities designed to ensure maritime security, stability, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific Region.

“May we all learn valuable lessons from this activity because the primary purpose of this exercise is to go the extra mile for us to be able to work together and accomplish a common goal in surmounting challenges in the maritime environment and the global role of the navy in maritime security,” he said.

Meanwhile, Capt. Antoinette McCann, deputy commodore CDS7 for US Navy, said the inputs of the three nations in the exercise helped to develop the maritime interoperability capabilities through inputs of every nation.

McCann said the maritime exercise also helped them to improve for more future joint exercises.

“We thank all the participants in making this exercise successful. For me, this is not just a piece of paper that we can throw and forget but will truly help us to strengthen and improve the next year’s MTA Sama Sama exercise. It helps us a lot, in cooperation, appreciation, and creativity. It also enables us to strengthen our maritime security by working side-by-side. I’m looking forward to different activities with you,” she said.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.