US to provide more funds for maritime law enforcement agencies in Philippines
By Robina Asido
The United States will provide additional funding for maritime law enforcement agencies in the Philippines, US Vice President Kamala Harris announced during her visit in Palawan on Tuesday.
Harris made her announcement in her speech onboard BRP Teresa Magbanua, one of the largest ships of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) docked at the Puerto Princesa port in Palawan.
"This will all build upon a new initiative I launched in May at the US-ASEAN special summit in Washington DC, to provide more training, assets and personnel to build maritime law enforcement compatibility across Southeast Asia," she said.
Harris arrived past 2 pm and boarded 97-meter BRP Teresa Magbanua, which was built in Japan. She was given a briefing by the Philippine Coast and toured the ship's interior.
BRP Teresa Magbanua, one of the PCG's two largest ships, is patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
Harris stressed that the additional funding will help increase the capacity of the Philippine maritime law enforcers to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as she expressed concern over the impact of the illegal activities of the foreign vessels that enter the Philippine waters.
"The vitality of communities' life is at risk, communities life is, has seen the consequences and people here know the impact when foreign vessels enter Philippine waters and illegally deplete the fishing stock, when they harass and intimidate local fishers, when they pollute the ocean and destroy the marine ecosystem," she said.
"Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing also called IUU is far to common across the world's ocean, it presents a direct threat to coastal ecosystem and economy to help address this maritime issues, the United States is proud to have a strong partnership with the Philippine which includes the training recently conducted on this very ship with the Philippine Coast and US service members," she added.
As the United States launched the Indo Pacific partnership for maritime domain awareness in Tokyo last May to increase efforts in providing the countries in the region with a wider and more accurate picture of their territorial waters, Harris said the United States is also planning to launch satellites into orbit next month to expand the program.
"We have increased efforts to provide countries in the region with a wider and more accurate picture of their territorial waters. In May in Tokyo alongside the leaders of Australia, Japan and India, President (Joe) Biden launched the Indo Pacific partnership for maritime domain awareness.
Harris noted that "this initiative uses space based platforms to deliver a common operating picture of Indo Pacific waterway and to promote transparency so that our allies and partners can better protect vulnerable fisheries, respond to humanitarian disasters and detect and counter illicit activity."
"I am pleased to report that the Philippines is already receiving this stream of data alongside other partners here in Southeast Asia and we plan to increase this work in the coming months, to include launching satellites into orbit in December to expand this program," she added.
Harris mentioned that through the USAID the United States is "also launching a new partnership with local communities in Palawan to promote sustainable fishing, strengthen food security and conserve marine ecosystems."
"To protect the economic vitality of these communities, to protect the ecosystem they rely one and to protect lives and livelihood, we must uphold international rules and norms, and that is why our work here is so very important," she said.
"We must stand up for principles such as respect to sovereign and territorial integrity, unimpeded lawful commerce, the peaceful resolution of disputes and the freedom of navigation and overfly in South China and throughout the Indo Pacific," she added.
After her visit to Palawan, Harris and her husband left for Yokota Air Base. DMS