The Philippines has been able to perform its mandate to protect its maritime interests in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Thursday.
“As chairman of the National Task Force West Philippine Sea, I say that we have been able to perform our numerous taskings there by the creation of the Area Task Force North and Area Task Force West,” Esperon said during an online media briefing.
He noted that Area Task Force North “takes care of part of the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise, the new area that was awarded to us by the United Nations, (formerly the) Benham (Rise).”
“Area Task Force (West) takes care of Palawan and the rest of the area up to near the Sulu Sea, including the Sulu Sea,” Esperon said.
With this set-up, he said, they are able to orchestrate the conduct of coordinated patrols by the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force.
“We were also able to conduct maritime research and marine research. You may not know it (but we) have research ships from the Navy, from the Department of Environment, plus the University of the Philippines,” Esperon said.
He said they were able to set aside and secure funds for the procurement of four research vessels by the UP Marine Science Institute.
“We have strengthened our detachments there, the islands that we have covered. We have put up lighthouses, and on the northern side, we have even put more sovereignty markers (in) Batanes, more lighthouses. We have improved our communications, we have Wi-Fi in Pag-asa island, we have Internet, courtesy of two private entities, Smart and Globe plus our own. Maybe the third telco will also put in their Internet there,” Esperon said. PNA.GOV.PH