The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) launched Task Force Kaligtasan sa Karagatan on Monday to help boost maritime law enforcement.
Vice Admiral Artemio Abu, Rear Admiral Joseph Coyme, and Commodore Charlie Rance will lead the task force, which will include 19 task groups from across all PCG districts.
The task force was established under Republic Act 9993, also known as the PCG Law of 2009.
“Through the activation of the PCG Task Force Kaligatasan sa Karagatan, PCG assets shall be utilized to intensify the enforcement of all domestic and international maritime laws, treaties, conventions, and applicable memorandum circulars issued by the PCG pertinent to maritime safety,” the PCG said.
During a task force meeting, Abu stated that the group will assist achieving “the highest level of operational efficiency” for all navigational aids in the country, such as light stations and ocean buoys.
“We will be focusing only on activities that are doable, tangible, and with high impact on the safety aspect of our job, not to mention the desire to advance our sovereignty interest,” Abu said.
He stressed the importance of better collaboration with the Philippine Ports Authority, particularly when it comes to the upkeep of PPA buoys.
“Coordination with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF – WPS) shall also be prioritized towards the swift installation of sovereign markers within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” Abu said.
One of its most significant responsibilities, he said, is to teach and develop PCG employees through maritime safety exercises and seminars.
“They will be trained in manning Vessel Traffic Management System, deploying maritime search and rescue teams, and conducting marine casualty investigations, among others,” Abu said.
He added that the task force would ensure that PCG staff are “highly skilled” in enforcing maritime safety regulations, port state control, and recreational safety inspections.