PH troops simulate assault on hostile forces in West Philippine Sea oil, gas platforms
MANILA, Philippines—The military’s Western Command (Wescom) conducted exercises simulating response to attacks on Philippine oil platforms near the West Philippine Sea, weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the ban on oil exploration in the area which China is claiming to be part of its mythical nine-dash line territory.
The Joint Task Force West and Joint Task Force Malampaya, both under Wescom, held what the Wescom called “Gas-Oil Platform Takedown” exercise at the Matinloc gas platform in El Nido, Palawan province during the weekend, according to the Wescom.
The Matinloc gas platform had been retired in 2019 and was being considered as a military observation post because it was near the resource-rich Recto Bank and Malampaya gas field in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Palawan.
In a statement, Wescom said the exercise was designed “to test the operational readiness and interagency coordination mechanism among Wescom joint task forces and partner agencies.”
The simulated scenario involved response by Wescom and other law enforcement agencies to a “security situation” in the Malampaya gas platform, a key source of energy for some of the country’s power plants.
Troops taking part in the exercise simulated helicopter landing on the Masinloc platform, which Wescom called air insertion, and troops taking out enemies who had taken the platform over.
Part of the exercise also involved simulated search and seizure of enemy vessels. Participating teams came from the Philippine Navy’s brand new frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF1-50) which had an AW109 helicopter on board. It also involved patrol crafts 380 and 389 and rigid-hulled inflatable boats of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Navy men on NAVSOU-10 patrol boat light, NAVSOU-4 RHIB and Wescom’s medical team also took part.
The exercise was overseen by newly installed Vice Chief Of Staff Lt. Gen. Erickson Gloria, Western Command chief Rear Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez and PCG district director Commodore Arnaldo Lim.
Gloria said the exercise showed how Philippine troops would protect “one of the country’s critical projects.”
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