BANTAY DAGAT. Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (4th from right) joins the launching Saturday (Nov.19, 2022) of the Bantay Dagat Task Force-Sulu in Patikul town. In a statement Monday, Abalos says the task force members will conduct maritime security patrol in the territorial waters of Sulu. (Photo courtesy of Western Mindanao Command)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) lauded the provincial government of Sulu for organizing the Bantay Dagat Task Force-Sulu, which seeks to strengthen the security of the province.

The DILG chief flew to Sulu over the weekend to join local and national government officials to launch the Bantay Dagat Task Force-Sulu.

In a statement Monday, Abalos said the task force is composed of 380 Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary who will be tasked to secure the territorial waters of the province of Sulu.

The 11th Infantry Division will facilitate the training of the Bantay Dagat Task Force-Sulu members.

“They will conduct maritime security patrol in the territorial waters of the province of Sulu,” Abalos said.

Before the launching, Abalos was briefed by Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan of the province's peace and development initiatives in a short meeting at the provincial capitol in Patikul town.

Tan said the task force will work together with the security forces to protect the integrity of the territorial waters and marine environment, monitor illegal fishing, provide assistance in rescue operations, and enforce coastal law.

Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, acting commander of the Western Mindanao Command, expressed his support for the launching of the TF Bantay Dagat.

“The Western Mindanao Command witnessed the unity and cooperation shown by the local government officials and the citizens of Sulu to address the peace and development issues and concerns in the province. Good governance greatly contributed to the gradual change of the province’s image from terrorism to tourism,” Rojas said.

“The establishment of the Task Force Bantay Dagat is a very good initiative to sustain peace in Sulu. Together let us eliminate the lawless activities in Sulu waters,” Rojas added.

Aside from Abalos, Tan, National Defense Senior Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., and Rojas, the activity was graced by National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., Philippine Coast Guard chief Admiral Artemio Abu, Joint Task Force Sulu and 11th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region director and other military, police and government officials. (PNA)