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US presence in resupply mission morale booster for PH troops, civilians – Coast Guard

THE Philippine Coast Guard on Tuesday defended the presence of United States (US) Navy aircraft during the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), saying this boosted the morale of Filipinos – both civilians and troops – in the area.

Task force spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela. Photo from PNA

Commodore Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman, made the remark as some sectors questioned the US aircraft's presence during the September 8 resupply mission.

During a chance interview at the Senate where he and other PCG officials attended a hearing on the WPS, Tarriela was asked whether the US Navy aircraft's presence during that time would further escalate tension between the Philippines and China.

“I have to be very honest about it. It made them more confident and their morale is also high knowing the fact that the US government is watching over the sky and documenting whatever is happening while we are doing the resupply operation,” Tarriela said.

Pressed whether the Filipino fishermen also feel the same, he said, “I think for the Filipino fishermen we should not discount the effort of the national government.”

“For the Philippine Navy, [and] the Philippine Coast Guard we have been active in maintaining our presence in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“We are more transparent to create consciousness that the national government is doing its commitment that we are going to maintain our presence in the West Philipppine Sea,” Tarriela added.

PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said they look forward to collaborating with the Senate in refining proposed bills that will “ultimately bolster our national defense and safeguard our sovereign interests in these critical waters.”

“Rest assured that the Philippine Coast Guard will continue to work hard to protect the interests and rights of the Philippines over waters under Philippine jurisdiction and continue to adhere to our mandate of saving lives and property at sea,” he said in a statement.

“Locally, the use of the sea in inter-island illegal activities is common, with syndicates and criminals taking advantage of this archipelagic feature, unguarded coastlines, and porous borders,” Abu said.

The construction of radar stations in strategic areas “is thus necessary to boost maritime surveillance capabilities to address and counter various maritime threats, most especially piracy, armed robbery, and maritime terrorism,” he said.

“More importantly, the prospective infrastructure subject to the laws to be enacted will likewise increase naval warfare capability, considering the current issues surrounding our maritime rights in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

“These developments could further technological infrastructure and equipment in line with the acknowledgement of several senators as to the growing aggressions and violations conducted by China,” Abu said.

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Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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