The Philippine Navy has some ambitious plans to get control of its nation's southern border as reported as Navy to seal off southern sea borders:
The Philippine Navy will set up 17 Coast Watch stations, worth up to P17 billion, to guard the country’s porous southern sea borders against terror groups and other transnational criminals, one of the officials on top of the project said.
At the same time, the Navy is awaiting an Executive Order from Malacañang that will define the roles of the Navy and other government agencies like the Coast Guard, the police, and the customs and immigrations bureaus under the Coast Watch South concept, said Lieutenant Commander Jorge Ibarra, chief of the International Affairs branch, under the office of the Deputy Navy Chief for Plans.
The Coast Watch stations will encircle the southern portion of the country from Palawan to Davao province, to curb the movement of terror groups and other criminal groups, Ibarra said.
"Once we monitor unusual movement, we will intercept it immediately," he said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
In a recent news forum, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. stressed the need to tighten security in southern waters.
"Our southern backdoor is especially prone to the incursion of terrorists, smugglers, pirates, and traffickers of firearms and explosives. It is also used as a transshipment point of illegal drugs," he said.
"The Coast Watch South stations would enhance the Philippine Navy's capability to conduct surveillance and interdiction against various threats that are taking advantage of our porous borders," he added.
Depending on when the funding would be released, Ibarra said the Navy plans to procure N-Shore Patrol vessels, patrol gunboats, and rigid-hull inflatable boats to set up the 17 stations in three phases.
The N-Shore Patrol vessel and gunboats would patrol a 12-nautical mile radius in open sea, while the rigid-hull inflatable boats would patrol waters closer to the coastlines, Ibarra said.
The 17 stations, worth between P16 billion to P17 billion, will augment the existing five stations in southern waters, the official said.
In a separate interview, Navy spokesman Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the 17 stations would stretch from Mangsi Island off Palawan province to the Davao coast, forming a U-shaped "barrier."
Ibarra said the testing for the Coast Watch concept would start this year, once the Palace releases the EO. He said a workshop of all agencies involved is set at the Navy headquarters in Manila next week.
He said helicopters would provide air support to the sea patrols, in coordination with land stations.
"There will be a triad, with a sea, land, and air component," Ibarra said.