Navy militias to patrol PH waters, protect Filipino fishers amid dispute with China
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Navy is building up its own maritime militia force to keep an eye on the country’s territorial waters.
“These are our counterparts for Chinese maritime militia,” said Navy Chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo at a Senate budget hearing on Monday (Oct. 12). He told senators the Philippine Navy militia would patrol areas in the West Philippine Sea and Bajo de Masinloc.
The Chinese maritime militia is a covert fleet of fishing trawlers serving as a support force to the People’s Liberation Army. Hundreds of its vessels loiter near Philippine-occupied areas in the West Philippine Sea and the rest of South China Sea.
The Chinese vessels have also been harassing or attacking vessels from other countries in the region, including Philippine fishing boats.
Vietnam has its own maritime militia, too, tasked with defending Vietnamese waters.
Bacordo said the Philippine Navy’s militia forces will be deployed to Naval Forces Northern Luzon and Naval Forces West.
“Aside from data gathering, they will also be protecting our fishermen as they go fishing in our exclusive economic zone,” he said.
The first batches of maritime militia forces had been originally recruited by the Philippine Army to form part of its Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit, or Cafgu militia force. Bacordo said control of the militia force would soon be transferred from the Army to the Navy.
“We are looking forward to expanding the scope of the CAAS,” Bacordo said using the initials for Cafgu Active Auxiliary Service.
“We will request for additional budget in 2022,” he said.
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