Pentagon commits firm support to AFP coast watch in South
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2008 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo’s visit to the Pentagon as part of her recent official trip to the US has gained strong support for the Philippine military’s Coast Watch South in deterring terrorists from entering and exiting through the southern backdoor, Armed Forces chief Gen. Alexander Yano said.

Yano said the Australian government is also supporting this anti-terror program.

“The President’s visit to the Pentagon gained a firm commitment of support for our Coast Watch South from the US,” Yano said at the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC)’s Night of the Generals forum held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Makati City Tuesday night.

During her US visit last month, the President also pressed for support for the government’s military modernization program by way of obtaining additional “hard assets” as well as military training.

Coast Watch South entails sustained maritime surveillance and maritime patrols involving ships and planes on known routes being used by terrorist groups in going in and out of the country.

Areas covered by the Coast Watch South are the long shorelines and vast sea-lanes of Davao, Sarangani, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

This effort is presently being undertaken under the Fleet-Marine concept with direct participation of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Marines as well as the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

“This program is also funded by the US government with assistance from Australia to guard the southern backdoor used by terrorist groups coming from our ASEAN neighbors,” Yano said.

He admitted that with limited naval and air assets, the military could only do so much to guard the country’s porous borders.

Aside from the US and Australia, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has standing cross-border patrol agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia which also result in the reduction of transnational crimes like smuggling and piracy.

Before Coast Watch South was put in place, Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists were crossing freely into the country’s southern backdoor to link up with the homegrown Abu Sayyaf militants and renegade rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.   – Jaime Laude

 

ABU SAYYAF ALEXANDER YANO ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BEFORE COAST WATCH SOUTH COAST WATCH SOUTH INTER-CONTINENTAL HOTEL YANO
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