Navforcen holds Visayan sea security symposium
A maritime security symposium was conducted by the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) with the executives of the different law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and local government units (LGUs).
This is to promote interagency coordination, to have a seamless/direct integration of their respective capabilities and response protocols and to discuss the region’s efforts in addressing issues on maritime security.
The whole-day activity held last August 31 at Bai Hotel in Mandaue City consisted of a series of lectures and an open forum.
Commodore Loumer Bernabe, commander of Navforcen who initiated the symposium, said the activity is an avenue to solicit the commitment of all the agencies involved in providing maritime security, discuss maritime security issues in the Visayas region, present possible threats, its nuisances and challenges confronting the maritime security, and strengthen collaborations with the LGUs, LEAs and other stakeholders in organizing and establishing community security that will respond to any crisis that may arise and to greatly contribute to the overall maritime safety and security in the whole Visayas.
Bernabe said that safety and security is everybody’s concern and that there is really a need to collaborate with other LEAs and LGUs to strengthen security measures in the Visayan sea and to have linkages of communication lines with the different agencies.
“Through the inter-agency collaboration we can have a coordinated response in the event of maritime disaster,” said Bernabe.
Regarding the safety of tourists in Cebu, Bernabe said the threat level remains low in the province but they always need to be prepared to be pro-active, thus having this symposium and series of trainings, exercises and capability demonstrations.
He added that considering the vast coastlines, porous borders and its proximity to Mindanao, the Visayas region is vulnerable to security threats such as the intrusion of Abu Sayyaf members in Inabanga, Bohol, last April 2017.
However, he said that due to the collaborative efforts of the Central Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines, LEAs and LGUs, they were able to neutralize the terrorists.
He further said that aside from the maritime security patrol that the Navy is conducting, one of the many initiatives of Navforcen is the establishment of two Maritime Joint Task Groups based on Boracay Island in Aklan and Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, the Naval Task Group 50.1 “Sea Dog” to carry out Oplan Turismo, a mobile task group that assists other task groups in the conduct of capability demonstrations in tourist sites like Boracay, Sipalay in Negros Occidental and Panglao in Bohol, which are known for their beautiful beaches, and Oslob for whale-shark watching.
The task groups will also be established soon in Siquijor, Sagay, Negros Occidental and Leyte.
He said that after the symposium, Navforcen hoped to consolidate all the capabilities and efforts of the different agencies involved in addressing maritime threats, and to create a working organizational structure to enhance maritime security.
The Navforcen is engaging the LGUs, reservists, and private resort owners in various trainings such as bomb identification, responding to bomb threat scenario, water search and rescue, disaster response and maritime security being the first responders in their respective community in the event of maritime accident.
But he said, their security forces can only respond promptly to any threat with the help of various stakeholders. Communications (voice, SMS, and data) link between the stakeholders and security forces will aid in the conduct of interagency operations.
“We encourage the ordinary citizens to be vigilant in their respective community. If they see any suspicious-looking person or have observed illicit activities or any unusual incidents particularly in the coastal areas, report this to the authorities immediately,” said Bernabe.
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