National Coast Watch System launches maritime patrol in C. Visayas

By John Rey Saavedra

April 11, 2019, 8:33 pm

CEBU CITY -- The National Coast Watch System (NCWS) regional coordinating center central (RCCC) on Thursday launched an inter-agency-coordinated maritime patrol to ensure safety and security in the Visayan waters.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District Central Visayas commander, Commodore Ronnie Gil Gavan, said the activity was the “first-ever coordinated maritime safety and security exercises in Central Visayas” in support of the tourism industry in the region.

Gavan led the 150-strong contingent from the PCG in conducting the maritime patrol, while Commander Roldydin Cris Sergio, chief of the Naval Task Group 50.1 Stingray, led more than 100-strong naval troopers from the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen).

Judilyn Quiachon, senior tourism officer of the Department of Tourism (DOT)-7 (Central Visayas) who represented DOT-7 Regional Director Shalemar Tamano in the event, thanked the Coast Guard and the Navy for ensuring the safety of tourists visiting the region.

Lt. Junior Grade Michael Encina, PCG-Central Visayas spokesperson, said the maritime patrol aimed to project Central Visayas as a safe area for both local and foreign travelers.

“Because of the upcoming Holy Week and the summer season, we can expect influx of high volume of maritime passengers as well as tourists who are visiting the most visited tourist spots in the Visayas,” Encina told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

“The maritime Visayas is the top tourist destination in the country. Central Visayas alone hosted eight million tourists in 2018. They, in turn, infused around PHP30 billion to the local economy,” Encina said.

The PCG-Central Visayas dispatched two Coast Guard vessels for the exercises, while the Philippine Navy Task Group 50.1 Stingray deployed three naval vessels. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) sent its PCG-manned Monitoring Control and Surveillance ship, Encina said.

The PCG also deployed its medical responders team and its K9 special operations unit (SOU), he added.

“Given these very wide region’s huge impact to the country’s GDP, ensuring safety and security of tourists and all users of the sea make it imperative for the participating agencies to operate and move -- although in limited resources -- in one motion,” he said, stressing that the movement of the vessels in the exercises is guided by “a strategic concept called One Nation Engagement (ONE) at Sea.”

Encina explained that the Coast Guard and the Navy can interoperate to become a single force in giving “more reliable and credible service to the Filipino people.”

Created under Executive Order 57 signed in 2011, the National Coast Watch System is “the central inter-agency mechanism for a coordinated and coherent approach on national maritime issues and maritime security operation towards enhancing governance in the country’s maritime domain.”

As a maritime coordinating center, it is placed under the Office of the President. (PNA)