The recently created Philippine Coast Guard District Southern Visayashas been tasked with intensifying marine environment protection and warding off the entry of terrorists in Negros and Siquijor.
It will also intensify the campaign against smuggling in the area, Capt. Artemio Abu, PCGDistrict SouthernVisayas commander, said yesterday.
“We are here to intensify our presence and improve the deliveryof coastguard services in this part of the country,” he said.
Abu, who paid a courtesy call on Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. at the Capitol yesterday, said the district headquarters is based in Bacolod.
He was appointed head of the district that covers Negros and Siquijor on Nov. 23, Abu said.
Among the tasks of the district is to prevent any possible spillover of terrorism from southern Philippines, he said.
“We are all aware that Negros has a very rich tourism potential,” he said, so it is important that terrorists from the southern Philippines do not reach it.
The district is also tasked with protecting the Tubbataha Reefs, declared by the International Maritime Organization as “a particularly sensitive sea area”, Abu said.
Vessels 15 gross tons and above will be prohibited from passing through the designated buffer zone covering the Tubbataha Reefs, he said.
Hinobaan in Negros Occidental is very strategic and critical in putting up a major PCG unit to address the vessels passing through Tubbataha and Negros, he added.
In 2018 the PCG is expected to have abudget for the Hinoba-an facility, he added.
A third reason for the creation of the new district is the protection of marine environment, he added.
Abu said the creation of the Southern Visayas district will entail its getting ashare of assets from the PCG national headquarters, which will include ships and radar facilities.
He said there is no real threat to Negros and Siquijor that necessitated the creation of the new district but they have to be proactive all the time.
The PCG is also currently enforcing a Safety, Security and Environment Numbering System where serial numbers are painted on motor bancas for free,he said.
The Department of Transportation has issued a memorandum directing thePCG to account for unregistered motor bancas, which is a security measure, Abu said.
Small motor bancas that are not registered are often used for nefarious activities, he said.*CPG
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