Westmincom wants more fishing companies in Navy reserve
The Mega PNARU Flag is awarded by Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad to Mega Global Corp. CEO William Tiu Lim during the PNARU Mega Activation Rites on October 2 in Zamboanga City, as witnessed by Rear Admiral Eric Kagaoan and Major General Dante Hidalgo.
Photo release, file
Westmincom wants more fishing companies in Navy reserve
Roel Pareño (Philstar.com) - October 27, 2019 - 11:50am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The military's Western Mindanao Command wants the fleets of large fishing companies enlisted in the naval reserve to help secure waters in the southern Philippines.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, said recruiting fishing fleets will address a scarcity of Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard vessels to patrol the region.
"The intention is to make this region a very peaceful and progressive one. We have not been able to maximize the potential of the region because of the security situation," Sobejana said at the side lines of the Maritime Security and Economic Forum this week.

It is unclear what role the fishing vessels would have but a large fishing company that joined the reserves earlier this month will be tapped "as a reserve force to augment the naval force particularly for disaster response and outreach programs," according to an earlier press release.

The forum between the local governments of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu and the fishing companies based in Zamboanga City was organized to thresh out and address conflicts on the delineation of municipal waters, which has led to 32 fishing vessels being apprehended for being in the wrong fishing area.

RELATED: Mega Global Corporation joins Philippine Navy as reserve unit

Sobejana said some of the fishing companies are already affiliated with the Philippine Navy as reserve units and are authorized to create their Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary.

"If all fishing companies will be affiliated with the PN reserve unit then it would  be a very big expansion on our security coverage. They will be our force multiplier," Sobejana said.

The Southern Philippines (Sophil) Deep Sea Fishing Association has around 30 fishing companies as members and accounts for around 800 fishing and support vessels, said engineer Jaydrick Yap, association president.

He said the fishers are ready assist the military as a force multiplier.

"I think the goal of the administration is to speed up the peace and progress through the reservists. On our side, we welcome any development from the Armed Forces of the Philippines if they are going to tap our assets in terms of vessels," Yap said.

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