National Security Adviser (NSA), Dr. Clarita Carlos, and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) conducted maritime domain awareness activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on 17 August 2022.
From Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Dr. Carlos boarded the PCG’s Cessna Caravan plane to Pag-asa Island.
Deputy Chief of Coast Guard Staff for Human Resource Management, CG Captain Jay Tarriela; Deputy Chief of Coast Guard Staff for Intelligence, CG Captain Nelson Timbang; and CG Commander John Esplana joined the activity.
While underway, the Coast Guard Aviation Force (CGAF) performed a maritime domain awareness flight in the vicinity waters off Lawak, Patag, Likas, and Parola Islands.
PCG District Palawan Commander, CG Commodore Rommel Supangan, showed the NSA the Coast Guard navigational buoys installed by PCG that serve as sovereign markers and ensure maritime safety by guiding vessels transiting in the vicinity waters.
He further shared with Dr. Carlos that the PCG Station Kalayaan established and now manages several Command Observation Posts to expand the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness efforts and assure strategic deployment of PCG vessels in the area.
Upon landing on the Island, the PCG escorted NSA to the municipality’s multi-purpose hall, where the residents and their children welcomed her. Dr. Carlos participated in the community engagement activity organized by the PCG District Palawan by distributing meals and gift packs to the children.
Afterward, Auxiliary Commodore Sara Soliven-de Guzman of the PCG Auxiliary (PCGA) Executive Squadron joined the NSA during the launching of the PCG-OB Community Center.
The PCG-OB Community Center aims to increase literacy among the children of Pag-asa Island and raise the environmental consciousness of the coastal community by developing children’s awareness of marine environmental protection. It also intends to provide livelihood training opportunities for parents and strengthen the involvement of fisherfolks in upholding marine environmental protection, maritime security, and maritime search and rescue.
Dr. Carlos then proceeded to the PCG facilities to see the Coast Guard Station Kalayaan and Coast Guard Weapons, Communications, Electronics, and Information Systems (CGWCEIS) facilities. She also visited the Naval Base and the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) laboratory on the Island.
During the meeting with government stakeholders, Dr. Carlos expressed the need for additional doctors and medical personnel to look after the health and safety of the residents on the Island.
She also called for activating a shipping route to provide a convenient transport service for the coastal community and stakeholders, as well as local and international tourists, which will provide eco-tourism livelihood opportunities for the residents.
Moreover, Dr. Carlos urged the UPMSI to create a master’s degree program offering a two-semester stay on Pag-asa Island, where post-graduate students may commune with the locals and study the rich marine environment in the area.
The Department of Education (DepEd), the NSA said, may also explore conducting field trips to Pag-asa Island, specifically for K-12 students, to raise their awareness and participation in humanitarian activities.
Furthermore, Dr. Carlos directed the PCG to advocate “One Ocean” through rules-based and peaceful approaches during engagements with the international community on issues of marine environmental protection and fisheries, as well as in upholding the country’s sovereignty over its exclusive economic zones.
For its part, the PCG shared about the deployment of licensed teachers within the Coast Guard workforce to support the locals in providing quality education to the children of Pag-Asa Island as only one teacher on the Island caters to Grades 1 to 6 students.
Before flying back to Manila, the NSA served as the “Guest of Honor” during the 54th Founding Anniversary celebration of the PCG District Palawan. During the event, she extended her sincere gratitude to the PCG for supporting the successful and productive pursuit of her visit to Pag-asa Island.
PCG Commandant, CG Admiral Artemio M Abu, thanked Dr. Carlos and reiterated the Coast Guard’s commitment to performing its mandates in the WPS and the rest of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones.