ATF-West plans more WPS sovereignty patrols

The Area Task Force (ATF)-West of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said Tuesday state sea assets will continuously be deployed is various areas of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) for maritime sovereignty patrols and other law enforcement activities.

The body ATF-West said this is part of its efforts to address recent developments in the WPS through a more extensive and collaborative effort among its member agencies.

“Sea assets are and shall be continuously deployed to different areas in the WPS to conduct maritime and sovereignty patrols, and other law enforcement activities, including the Julian Felipe Reef, Pag-asa Cay, Recto Bank, and other parts of the Kalayaan Island Group,” it said in a statement.

Per plan, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has deployed BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409), while the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has sent two more ships. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), through the Western Command, has deployed four Philippine Navy vessels, namely BRP Dagupan City (LS-551), BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36), BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20), and BRP Miguel Malvar (PS-19).

These ships will provide support and assistance to PCG and BFAR vessels in the area.

ATF-West chair Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez said “these inter-agency efforts are very essential in the way we address the national concerns in the WPS, and will continue to do so to ensure our government forces and agencies will be able to collaborate, complement, and support each other in performing respective mandates in support to national policy and strategy.”