Under the direction of Naval Task Force 61 of Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM), BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS17) conducted sovereignty patrols in the Tawi-Tawi group of islands, including Panguan Island, the “last southwestern island frontier of the Philippines,” in keeping with the Philippine Navy’s mandate of preserving the integrity of our territories and protecting every Filipino even in the most isolated islands of the Philippine Archipelago.
Panguan Island is located in the Sitangkai Municipality of the province of Tawi-Tawi and is part of the NFWM Area of Operation. Because it was used by seafarers as a resting and resupply area, the island is also known as Pangguan, or “resting safe area.” It was also used as a logistical hub by the Abu-Sayyaf, smugglers, and pirates until the NFWM established a marine detachment in 2016 to secure the territory and stop the exploitation of the vulnerable Sama-Badjao tribe on the island by these lawless groups. Panguan Island lacks regular access to potable water, health care services, and other basic commodities due to its remote location.
Recognizing the residents’ difficulties, BRP Andres Bonifacio wasted no time in delivering much-needed fresh water, medicines, food, and other supplies to the Badjao residents and marines stationed there during the unit’s maritime patrol mission. These small gestures of support could mean a lot to the people of Panguan Island, who live thousands of miles from the Philippine capital and whose daily lives revolve around a small but strategically important piece of Philippine territory.
“The constant deployment of our naval forces and assets in the vast territorial waters of NFWM AOR is aimed not only to secure our maritime domain, deter illegal maritime activities, respond to emergencies at sea, and advance our national interests, but also to extend basic services and humanitarian assistance to the farthest areas of the country in support to the socio-economic development efforts of the government,” said RADM Toribio D. Adaci Jr. PN, Commander of NFWM.