Security sector ‘always ready’ to protect PHL maritime industry

The country’s security sector would “always be ready” to protect the maritime industry from any threats, the Department of National Defense (DND) vowed on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the vow in a keynote speech during the first day of the National Marine Summit 2019 held at the Manila Hotel, as he stressed that the administration’s resolve is to promote economic development and protect the natural resources in the Philippine waters.

“The Department of National Defense earnestly supports our maritime industry by ensuring maritime security and by contributing to an environment that is conducive [to] trade and commerce [growth],” Lorenzana, based on the statement read by DND Undersecretary Arnel Duco, said.

“We will always be ready to provide assistance to our domestic [maritime] industry,” he added.

Lorenzana guaranteed that his department is working closely with other law enforcement agencies to address maritime issues plaguing the country.

He added the DND is “fully supportive” of the Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) 2019 to 2028, which he deemed as the “first-ever comprehensive plan that aims to chart the future of our maritime industry.”

“With MIDP, various government agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), with the Philippine Navy, address maritime terrorism, piracy, armed robbery at sea, transnational crimes, illegal fishing, and marine environmental degradation,” the Defense chief said.

“It behooves upon us to ensure that the ownership of maritime business entities will remain in the hands of Filipinos. Rest assured that the DND, together with the entire security and law enforcement sector, would remain supportive of our country’s maritime industry,” he added.

MIDP 2019 to 2028 is the product of extensive consultation with key maritime sector stakeholders from the government, private sector, academic and training institutions, civil society organizations, and representatives from the International Maritime Organization from 2017 to 2018.

The comprehensive maritime plan intends to understand and address the core problem of the maritime sector, as well as the underlying causes of the problem, to plan and implement more responsive programs that meet the demand of the maritime industry.

While he admitted that it remains a “challenge” to protect the security and control of the country’s maritime domain, Lorenzana said the MIDP “embodies the government’s dreams and aspirations for our maritime sector.”

Multilateral maritime security cooperation a big help

Lorenzana acknowledged that presently, piracy, armed robbery, maritime terrorism, and trafficking are among the “major tests of our maritime industry.”

He added that overfishing and poaching also undermine the maritime economy.

But the multilateral maritime security cooperation entered into by the Philippine government with other countries help Manila protects its national interests in its “vast” maritime domain, Lorenzana noted.

“So far, the most effective component of our multilateral approach is our bilateral cooperation agreement with Malaysia and Indonesia. This was forged in 2016,” Lorenzana added.

Private sector’s help ‘very much welcome’

Apart from the multilateral approach to address maritime concerns in the country, Lorenzana said the AFP and the PCG regularly conduct maritime patrols to protect the integrity of the Philippines’ sovereignty and sovereign rights in its maritime domain.

He added the “Bantay Dagat” program is being implemented to monitor illegal incursions and overexploitation of resources in coastal municipalities and cities.

To further boost the government’s efforts to secure the maritime industry, Lorenzana said assistance from the private sector is “very much welcome.”

“The maritime industry must go beyond its commercial and business pursuit, this time, to be of service to country’s interests in protecting our national interests in our vast border,” he said. PNA.GOV.PH