(Photo courtesy of PNP)

MANILA – Partido Reporma senatorial bet Guillermo Eleazar on Wednesday vowed to work for the sustained modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in order to ensure the protection of the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

Eleazar made the remark as he expressed concern over reports that the Philippine Navy and the PCG have temporarily stopped their regular patrol operations in Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, and the Panatag Shoal off Zambales.

Kung totoo nga na tumigil ang ating militar at Coast Guard sa pagpapatrolya, malaking problema ito dahil magiging vulnerable ang ating mga mangingisda sa posibleng pangha-harass ng ibang bansa (If reports claiming that the military and the Coast Guard have stopped patrolling are true, it will be a big problem as our fishermen will be vulnerable from harassments from other countries)," he said in a statement.

Eleazar, a former PNP chief, said the patrols must be continued as soon as possible as every second without any Philippine presence off Scarborough Shoal could endanger Filipino fisherfolk.

According to local fishermen, the patrol operations of the Navy and Coast Guard have disappeared recently, which is why they were again subjected to recent harassment by foreign vessels.

Eleazar emphasized that the AFP, PNP, and PCG should acquire more naval and aerial assets to maintain the country’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.

Once elected into the upper chamber, Eleazar promised that he will ensure these agencies will have a sufficient budget to fulfill the requirements of their modernization programs. (PNA)