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PH, Japanese coast guards to hold joint drills in June

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and its Japanese counterparts will be conducting joint exercises in Sulu and the Celebes Sea to boost both forces’ capabilities in fighting off piracy attacks.

The PCG with the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) held the first of the bilateral drills on Saturday, with the second to be held on June 2 to 3.

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PCG officer in charge Commodore Joel Garcia pointed out that the international shipping community is concerned with sea piracy attacks in past months in the southern Philippines.

“I think the joint exercise shows our strong partnership and cooperation in combating armed robbery,” said Garcia of the maritime exercise.

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The JCG’s vice commandant for operations, Vice Admiral Shuichi Iwanami, noted that a memorandum was inked to boost the cooperation and relationship between the two forces.

“We expect the next joint exercise would be conducted in Davao in June. We will further enhance our coordination between the two Coast Guards,” Iwanami said.

The joint drills, as well as the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia-Information Sharing Center, aims to improve the response against sea piracy and armed robbery against ships.

The JCG will deploy its jet aircraft, the Falcon 900 (JA 8571), together with the PCG’s search and rescue vessels, the BRP Davao del Norte (SARV-3503) and the BRP Malapascua (MRRV 4403), as well as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ MCS 3007 sea vessel.

The drills will include a communications and surveillance exercise during a simulated piracy attack of a cargo vessel between Mindoro and Jolo, Sulu while enroute from Australia to China.

Garcia said the joint maneuvers will also test the PCG and the JCG’s capability to conduct aerial surveillance and aerial reconnaissance.

Although drills on maritime safety and environmental pollution have been conducted in the southern Philippines, it will be the first time in years that an anti-sea piracy drill will be held here.

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“We are not worried about the Abu Sayyaf, because the exercise would be conducted by air to test the maritime surveillance capability of both Coast Guards,” he explained.

The exercises, he added, will be more on maritime security aerial surveillance and reconnaissance although some sea vessels will be also taking part in the exercises.

“It would provide us the political and the security resolve on our cooperation between the two Coast Guards,” Garcia said, citing the participation of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia-Information Sharing Center.

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TAGS: Celebes Sea, Japanese Coast Guard, joint exercise, Philippine Coast Guard, piracy, Sulu
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