ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) Command, through Naval Task Force 61, has deployed a vessel to regularly patrol the country’s southern maritime border.
NFWM commander, Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS17), one of the Philippine Navy vessels under Naval Task Force 61 deployed in the area, has been tasked to regularly patrol Sibutu passage and the transit corridors in the tri-border of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Adaci said the Sibutu passage and the transit corridors in the tri-border are among the critical sea lanes flowing with an immense volume of trade. “The global economy highlights the importance of uninterrupted flow of commerce in strategic maritime crossroads,” he said.
“With 90% of the world’s commerce traversing by sea, any issue on safety, security, and stability in these sea lanes of communication would adversely affect the global economy,” he added.
Adaci said included too in the maritime security patrol duty of BRP Andres Bonifacio is Panguan Island, which is part of the Tawi-Tawi town of Sitangkai. Also known as “Pangguan” or resting safe area used by seafarers, the island is also a resupply hub in Sitangkai.
Panguan island was also formerly used by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits, smugglers, and pirates as their logistical hub until the NFWM established a marine detachment in 2016 to secure the territory and stop the exploitation by lawless groups of the vulnerable Sama-Badjao tribe in the area.
Navy Capt. Alan Javier, Naval Task Force 61 commander, said they will continue to deploy assets to deter threats, secure the maritime domain, respond to emergencies, and promote our maritime nation’s way of life.
Javier said their naval patrols “safeguard critical sea lanes in our archipelagic waters to promote global security and prosperity,” and the regular presence of naval forces in the area ensures the continuity of the global supply chain.