Bacolod: PCG pledges support to Japan, Indonesia on maritime issues

(Photo courtesy of PCG via TDG)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has reiterated its commitment to helping its partners, Japan and Indonesia, address maritime incidents.

“We are committed and ready to help them in the event if something bad happens to them,” Coast Guard Vice Admiral Roy Echeverria, exercise co-director for the Philippines, said.

Echeverria acknowledged the valuable assistance these two nations have provided in maritime incidents experienced by the country, particularly in combating oil spills.

“Oil spill incidents have been really devastating. It will take several years before the environment can recover,” he recalled, referencing the oil spill involving M/T Princess Empress in Oriental Mindoro in February last year.

Echeverria emphasized the significance of cooperation between the country’s Coast Guard and those of Japan and Indonesia in addressing such concerns.

“It is important to protect the marine environment, as we all know that the preservation of our marine resources is synonymous with economic vibrance,” Echeverria said during a press briefing following the official declaration of the start of this year’s Regional Marine Pollution Exercise (MARPOLEX).

Echeverria described MARPOLEX as a refresher training for personnel to boost their confidence and skills. “Everything comes down to better preparation,” he added.

He stressed the value of preserving the marine environment, calling it a real jewel.

“It is not just an investment in the environment, but also an investment in our future,” he said.

Rear Admiral Kanosue Hiroaki, head of the Japan delegation, said that for the Japan Coast Guard, workshops, exercises, and training attended jointly by some Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries further strengthen their capacity in oil spill control and support.

“We only have respect for both nations for their three decades of commitment to MARPOLEX, carrying on this tradition up to today,” Hiroaki said.

Echeverria, Rear Admiral Jon Kenedi, head of the Indonesia delegation, and Captain Sase Koichi, Japan Coast Guard exercise co-director, signed a joint declaration to mark the official opening of MARPOLEX 2024 during a ceremony held at Acacia Hotel in Bacolod City on Tuesday.

Coast Guard observers from South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, Vietnam, the National Southern Oil Spill Response Center (NASOS) of Vietnam, the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) of the United Kingdom, and Oil Spill Response Limited from Singapore also joined MARPOLEX.

Julius Yano, assistant secretary for Maritime of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), expressed his gratitude to other countries, especially Japan and Indonesia, for their support in helping the country address oil spills, particularly in Mindoro.

“I hope that this good friendship, teamwork, and respect for one another remain unchanged,” he said.

“As we continue to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and build strong partnerships through MARPOLEX, let us embrace this great opportunity to learn first-hand,” Yano added, emphasizing the importance of training Coast Guard and environmental warriors. “This is fitting and imperative not only for the PCG but also for all the participating countries.”

The exercise will be held on Wednesday, June 26, showcasing skills in search and rescue, firefighting, and operations on oil spill recovery, equipment recovery, and damage assessment. (Glazyl Masculino via The Daily Guardian)

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