Año: Batanes PCG station to heighten PH maritime security

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 24, 2024, 2:22 pm

MANILA – National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año on Friday said the establishment of a new Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station in Itbayat, Batanes will greatly enhance the country's "maritime domain awareness" capability and security.

"The establishment of this new monitoring station is a strategic move to enhance maritime domain awareness and strengthen security measures along the Luzon Strait, a vital international waterway," he said in a statement.

Año and PCG commandant Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan inaugurated the facility on Thursday.

The NSA highlighted the significance of the new facility in Itbayat, the country's northernmost inhabited municipality, as a beacon of improved monitoring capacity and capabilities along the Luzon Strait.

"This new facility not only extends the services offered by the national government through the PCG here in Itbayat, Batanes, but also improves the country's maritime domain awareness efforts in Northern Luzon," Año stressed.

He underscored the importance of this region for international maritime trade, digital communications, and as a potential flashpoint for regional and international conflicts.

The NSA recalled recent events that underscore the strategic importance of this facility.

"In 2022, the area around Itbayat witnessed a military build-up as China responded to political developments between Taiwan and the United States. China's corresponding naval response was observed in the Luzon Strait," Año noted, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance and security in the region.

He also cited the frequent presence of China-flagged research or survey vessels in the Luzon Strait, which often display erratic navigational patterns as they transit to and from the Philippine Rise.

"Considering this, securing peace, stability, and freedom of navigation along the Luzon Strait is crucial for ensuring Philippine national security and economic prosperity," Año added.

The new PCG station shall gather essential maritime data and intelligence, enabling the PCG to respond effectively to threats such as illicit trade, trafficking, piracy, and foreign intrusions.

The facility will serve as an information hub, enhancing the PCG's patrolling capabilities and disaster response efforts in an area frequently affected by natural disasters. (PNA)