PCG to hold joint drills with US, Japan coast guards off Bataan

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
PCG to hold joint drills with US, Japan coast guards off Bataan
This handout photo from the Philippine Coast Guard shows BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702).
Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines (2nd update, May 30, 9:11 a.m.) — The Philippine Coast Guard will conduct its first trilateral maritime exercise with its counterparts from the United States and Japan in June, at a time when tension in the region is brewing amid China’s movements in the South China Sea.

In a statement on Monday, the PCG said exercises will be conducted in waters off Mariveles in Bataan from June 1 to 7.

The coast guards will be holding communication and photo exercises, maneuvering drills, maritime law enforcement training, search and rescue operations, and passing exercises.

"The US Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard have been assisting us in our human resource development program, particularly in law enforcement training,” Coast Guard Vice Admiral Rolando Lizor Punzalan Jr. said.

“This is a good opportunity to thank and show them what our personnel learned from their programs.”

PCG Spokesman Armando Balilo told media on Monday that the exercises do not target any adversary, but are really more for the countries’ interoperability.

He added this will allow PCG personnel to also showcase what they have learned from the mobile training units sent by the US and Japan.

One of their exercises will simulate a situation with a vessel suspected to be involved in piracy or have weapons of mass destructions onboard, where participants will conduct a boarding inspection and a SAR operation.

For the maritime exercises, the PCG will deploy BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401), as well as one of its 44-meter multi-role response vessels. Balilo said 200 PCG personnel will participate in the exercise.

The US Coast Guard will send the 127-meter cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) — among the largest patrol craft in the US Coast Guard — while Japan’s Coast Guard will send the 150-meter patrol vessel JCG Akitsushima (PLH-32).

The exercises will also facilitate a special interest exchange for women in maritime law enforcement as well as another exchange program for other PCG experts’ professional development.

During President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s visit to the United States earlier this month, the chief executive and US President Joe Biden said they plan to work with countries that have a similar “commitment to international law and mutual respect.”

These “trilateral modes of cooperation” will be explored with countries such as Japan and Australia.

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