Troops want LOS to secure Phl territory
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2013 - 5:07pm

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac - The military unit overseeing the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal sees the need to build four new radar stations in Northern Luzon to prevent intrusions and boost its territorial defense efforts.

Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) chief Maj. Gen. Gregorio Catapang said they are proposing the construction of littoral observation stations (LOS) in Batanes, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan and Aurora.

The littoral observation stations will allow naval forces to monitor vessels and maritime activities in Philippine waters. Such structures will enable security forces to act on threats like smuggling, terrorism and human and drug trafficking.

“We are also proposing to put up LOS in four provinces. We are not only interested in the West Philippine Sea. We are also interested in the Pacific Ocean, where we have several resources,” Catapang told reporters here.

The government has existing observation stations in Pangasinan and Zambales, where the Panatag Shoal is located. Catapang, however, admitted that the capabilities of these stations are “very limited.”

“The stations do not cover the entire area,” Catapang said.

"What we want is to have a system where the Navy can detect illegal entries from as far as Batanes and the West Philippine Sea," he added.

Catapang believes the new radar stations would prevent incidents similar to the intrusion of Chinese ships in Panatag Shoal last year and the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese poacher in Batanes last May.

“If you have maritime awareness, you can monitor the ships that enter and leave your area,” the NOLCOM chief said.

The NOLCOM is now crafting its proposal for the government to construct the four radar stations.

Catapang said former Navy chief Alexander Pama, who now works for the National Coast Watch Council, has vowed to help him fine-tune his proposal.

He could not say how much is required to build the stations, saying such details would be determined if the proposal is approved.

China started shoring up its presence in Panatag Shoal on April 10, 2012, when surveillance ships from Beijing prevented the Philippine Navy from arresting Chinese poachers.

Chinese ships have since cordoned the area illegally despite the diplomatic protests of the Philippine government.

The need to enhance the country’s maritime domain awareness was highlighted further by the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese poacher in Batanes last May.

The Coast Guard personnel involved in the incident are now facing criminal charges despite observations that they were just performing their duty of securing the Philippines’ territory.

 

ALEXANDER PAMA ARMED FORCES NORTHERN LUZON COMMAND BATANES BATANES AND THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA CAGAYAN AND AURORA CATAPANG COAST GUARD GREGORIO CATAPANG PANATAG SHOAL STATIONS
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