PHL boosts deployments, rehabilitates structures in West PHL Sea: Esperon

National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, during the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum “TATAK NG PAGBABAGO: Tatak ng Katatagan” held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, reported the Cabinet Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster (SJPC)’s accomplishment, policies, programs and projects implemented during the second year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

“To ensure maritime domain awareness, the Department of National Defense-Armed Force of the Philippines (DND-AFP) conducted naval surface patrols to cover more than 180,000 nautical miles of our maritime domain and more than 2,400 flying hours of maritime patrols,” NSA Esperon said.

“Augmenting maritime domain awareness are our littoral monitoring stations resulting in the monitoring of more than 66,000 foreign and domestic vessels sighted,” he added.

He noted that to maintain effective occupation over Philippine islands and features in – West Philippine Sea: Rizal (Commodore) Reef, Patag (Flat) Island, Panata (Lankiam) Cay, Kota (Loaita) Islad, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Likas (West York) Island, Parola (Northeast) Cay, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Pagasa (Thitu) Island; Batanes: Mavulis and Itbayat; Tawi-Tawi: Mardanas and Panguan – the Armed Forces deployed more personnel.

He also added that the DND has started the rehabilitation of structures in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG). “The construction of beaching ramp and repair of runway in Pagasa Island are now ongoing,” he said.

Secretary Esperon added that the Philippine government continues to engage with China with regards to West Philippine Sea concerns through high-level visits and meetings including the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) “to improve the ability of both sides to manage developments in the West Philippine Sea so as not to escalate tensions.”