From October 6 to 10, 2021, a Fleet-Marine Team led by Col. Romeo T. Racadio PN(M)(GSC), Commander of 2nd Marine Brigade (2MBde) and Naval Task Group Tawi-Tawi (NTGTT), visited five island communities in Tawi-Tawi province with partner agencies and institutions of government and non-government organizations.
The group used two Navy vessels, BRP General Mariano Alvarez (PS-38) and BRP Juan Magluyan (PC-392), and accompanying civilian boats in moving around the different islands. These island communities are located in the municipalities of Mapun and Turtle Islands, all in the province of Tawi-Tawi. Two of these visited island communities are considered as geographically isolated areas, referring to the Great Bakungan and Lihiman Islands.
According to NFWM PAO, the purpose of the island visitation is to assess relevant activities where the security sector can contribute to the socio-economic development of the communities. The visit to the islands also coincided with the launching of the Sovereignty Marker Project at the Great Bakungan Island.
The visit to Mapun municipality was highlighted by a Tree Planting activity at the Philippine Air Force’s Tactical Operations Squadron grounds located at the Mapun Airport. This activity was participated in by personnel from Headquarters, 2nd Marine Brigade, Marine Battalion Landing Team 12, Philippine Air Force’s Tactical Operations Squadron Mapun, Coast Guard Station Mapun, Mapun police, LGU Mapun, and other stakeholders in the area. This was followed by a Courtesy Call to the Mayor, Hon. Suraida F Muksin, and members of the Sangguniang Bayan.
Navy Seals and personnel from the Marine Force Reconnaisance Group also conducted hydrographic survey and land area inspection of Jurata Bay and its vicinities. The bay is a potential commercial harbor or a Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the future. Meanwhile, Ms. Josephine F Patilla, OIC of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), likewise conducted assessment of the Cagayan de Sulu Airport for relevant facility improvement. Further, the PSA Tawi-Tawi team accommodated hundreds of applicants for the issuance of the National ID.
In the Municipality of Taganak, Turtle Islands, the contingent paid Courtesy Call to the Mayor, Hon. Mohammad Faizal H Jamalul. This was followed by several civic action activities which focused on the welfare of children such as feeding, taekwondo demonstration, ball games, and gift-giving. Also, a tree planting activity was conducted at Poblacion, Turtle Island, the only area with considerable elevation that serves as the island’s protection against any storm surge. Afterwards, the contingent conducted a quick visit to Baguan Island, the country’s major sea turtle conservation site, wherein COL Racadio led the visiting team in observing the protection and enforcement aspects of the sea turtle conservation program.
Finally, Col Racadio led the ceremonial ground breaking of the brigade’s initiative to install sovereignty markers at the Great Bakungan island and its environs, coupled with the deployment of a pioneering marine detachment thereat. The final stop of the whole journey was a visit at the nearby volcanic mud in Lihiman Island.
“All of these activities are geared to set initial milestones and foot prints which are aligned with the Archipelagic Coastal Defense Concept (ACDC) of the Philippine Marines and its foundational objectives, representing the long-term strategy of the Marine Corps in the operating environment. The strategy seeks to promote the security of the littoral areas in the archipelago while pursuing the agenda to support socio-economic development,” said Col Racadio.
The contingent returned back to Bongao safely with an invigorated desire to return to said isolated places together with more development and security sector partners for higher level community engagement and intervention.