By Raymund Antonio
Sea marshals from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have been deployed aboard shipping vessels going to Mindanao as part of security measures to ensure safe sea travel, the maritime agency said.
Commodore Lyndon Latorre, district commander of PCG-Central Visayas, said sea marshals were deployed to escort ships passing through Moro Gulf to prevent piracy and terror attacks.
“Our priority is those going to high-risk areas,” Latorre said, referring to mostly cargo vessels en route to Zamboanga and Moro Gulf.
“Other passenger ships from Manila also have sea marshals aboard,” he added.
The deployment of sea marshals by the Coast Guard came about in response to the requests of various shipping lines to guard their seagoing vessels.
The PCG district in Central Visayas has 16 sea marshals to provide escorts to the ships that traverse Zamboanga and Moro Gulf. Of this number, a team of two marshals is assigned per ship.
They are tasked to secure six cargo ships that depart for Mindanao from Cebu every month.
However, Latorre said the number of sea marshals is not enough, especially during peak season, leaving the PCG no choice but to rely on other government agencies.
“Right now, we need the help of other agencies because if it is passenger season, we lack personnel. But we are planning to have more monitoring stations,” the PCG official said.