National Coast Watch System established
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has created a National Coast Watch System to counter the threats to the country’s maritime security.“The Philippines faces maritime security challenges threatening not only its territorial integrity but the peaceful existence of the Filipinos,” Mr. Aquino said in Executive Order 57.
“Enhancing maritime security in the seas that link our country with other neighboring states promotes our national interest.”
Mr. Aquino said the coast watch system will have an initial funding of P20 million.
The new order expands the scope of Coast Watch South, which was tasked mainly to provide maritime security in Mindanao, to cover the entire archipelago. It also abolished the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs.
The Coast Watch System will have a council led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. as chairman. Its members will include the secretaries of Transportation, National Defense, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Local Government, Justice, Energy, Finance, Environment and Agriculture.
Mr. Aquino said the council will meet at least twice a year, and also each time that the chairman decides a meeting is necessary.
A National Coast Watch Center will coordinate the conduct of maritime surveillance or response operations. The center may also coordinate cross-border and multinational maritime security cooperation and help in prosecuting offenders.
The center may tap the Navy, the Coast Guard, the National Police-Maritime Group, and the National Prosecution Service of the Justice Department, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime for manpower, equipment and material support.
The council and center may accept donations, contributions or grants from domestic or foreign sources subject to government accounting and auditing rules. Joyce Pangco Pañares