By Betheena Unite
Two vessels manned by around 30 men from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) were sent to protect fishermen from bullying in the West Philippine Sea and curb illegal activities affecting the Tubbataha Natural Park in Sulu Sea.
Crew members, who will man the two PCG multi-role response vessel – BRP Cabra (4409) and BRP Sindangan (4407), were deployed Tuesday for their mission in the two seas in the country, where entry of illegal drugs, as well as terrorism and human trafficking usually take place, Captain Allan Corpuz, district commander of PCG Palawan, said.
Aside from carrying out regular maritime patrol and surveillance in the areas and enforce marine environmental laws, the crew members also aim to ensure the Philippines’ maritime security and the safety of Filipino fishermen.
“Kaya nandun sila ngayon, kasama sa trabaho nila yung protect yung security ng mga mangingisda, bigyan sila ng food at para i-check ang document nila at kunin and number. If may nakita na illegal, huhulihin nila yun (The reason why they are there now is it’s part of their job to protect the fishermen, give them food and check their documents and numbers. If they discover illegal activities, they will apprehend the individuals involved),” Corpuz said.
The deployment in the West Philippines Sea (WPS), Corpuz said, is part of the country’s mission to protect its fishermen from bullying.
“Sa WPS, natural naman ang patrolya dun. Siguraduhin na hindi bullyhin ang mga mangingisda, na mayroong Coast Guard na sinisigurado ang kaligtasan nila dun malapit sa WPS (The patrol mission in the WPS is natural. They must ensure that our fishermen are not bullied and that there are Coast Guard men in the area who will ensure their safety),” Corpuz said.
The commander also said that the crew, who were sent to Sulu Sea, was also directed to protect the Tubbataha Natural Park which is “very vulnerable to unlawful activities.”
“Ayaw nating maulit yung sa Dos Palmas at abduction. Maraming masasamang loob sa karagatan (We do not want a repeat of the Dos Palmas. There are many unlawful persons in the sea),” Corpuz noted.
The commander also stressed that the regular deployment in those areas is a way to let criminals know “that we mean business.”
The PCG men including medical teams will be backed after weeks of deployment and will be replaced by another team from the Coast Guard and a vessel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Corpuz concluded that it is important that the enemies see our regular visibility, especially in the Sulu Sea, at the same time, “it is also a deterrent against maritime crimes such as terrorism, entry of illegal drugs, and human trafficking.”