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EDITORIAL: Maritime Resolve

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signed Executive Order No. 57, signalling a resolute commitment to bolster the Philippines’ maritime security.

The strategic response comes in the wake of China’s recent aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The executive order underscores the urgent imperatives being faced by the nation. The challenges not only threaten the country’s territorial integrity but also jeopardize the peaceful existence of the Filipinos.

Despite ongoing efforts to promote stability and security, the Philippines grapples with multifaceted issues, including the fundamental right of its citizens to live free from fear of violence or threat.

Marcos emphasizes that strengthening maritime security and domain awareness is paramount. These measures are essential to address critical issues impacting the nation’s national security, sovereignty, sovereign rights, and maritime jurisdiction over its extensive maritime zones.

In that executive order the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) has been renamed and reorganized into the National Maritime Council (NMC). Chaired by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, the NMC assumes a pivotal role in formulating policies and strategies for the country’s maritime security and domain awareness framework.

The NMC collaborates with relevant government departments and agencies, it will address challenges in this critical area.

The NMC will consist of representatives from key government departments, including the Department of National Defense, National Security Adviser, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Department of Transportation.

Additionally, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), established through EO 94 (s. 2016), is attached to the NMC. The NTF-WPS aims to orchestrate, synchronize, and operationalize the capabilities of different agencies for unified actions in the West Philippine Sea.

Recent incidents, such as the China Coast Guard firing a water cannon at a Philippine vessel en route to Ayungin Shoal, highlight the importance of vigilance and coordinated efforts in the region.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) continues to maintain its presence in the West Philippine Sea while promoting peace in the area despite China’s aggressive moves against Philippine vessels. Rear Admiral Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesperson, affirms the alignment of their actions with the directive of the president.

Despite aggressive actions by the China Coast Guard (CCG), PCG personnel remain steadfast in their duty to heed the government’s directive. Their unwavering commitment is to maintain a presence in the West Philippine Sea without being swayed by external pressures.

Balilo emphasizes that the key lies not only in operational readiness but also in the right attitude. The focus should be on preserving peace rather than retaliating against China’s actions in the region.

With the NMC in place, the PCG is poised to intensify operations beyond Ayungin Shoal, where the grounded BRP Sierra Madre typically undergoes rotation and resupply missions. This proactive approach underscores the Philippines’ commitment to safeguarding its maritime interests and maintaining regional stability.

As we try to find the way to resolve the issues regarding maritime security, let us remain vigilant, resolute, and unwavering as our commitment to the Philippines’ security and sovereignty knows no bounds.


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