May 15, 2019
A Japanese expert dispatched by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to support human resource development in the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) cited the role of law enforcement trainings in boosting the Philippines' maritime safety and security.
Shigeru Yoshida, commander of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), who was dispatched as expert to the PCG said, "Coast guards serve as maritime police that maintains peace and safety at sea based on the principle of the rule of law. The JCG personnel sent to implement and execute trainings to PCG somehow helped increase PCG's search and rescue capabilities."
Data from the PCG showed that from 430 rescue operations at sea in 2002, it has now improved to 883 successful rescue operations as of 2017.
The PCG has partnered with JICA since the 1960s to enhance safety in Philippines' strategic ports and waters. In 2018, JICA completed the turnover of ten 44-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs) to build the Philippines' fleet operations. The vessels have since helped in the Philippines' maritime security during the ASEAN Summit in the country in 2017 and in the vicinity of Benham Rise. The MRRVs also helped intercept rice smuggling in Zamboanga and were used for several medical rescue operations and maritime patrol activities during the Marawi siege.
The support of the JCG to PCG was part of JICA's Comprehensive Practical Capability Improvement for Maritime Law Enforcement Training, a 3-year technical cooperation project to enhance PCG skills and readiness in managing its law enforcement program through sea-borne exercises and in operating the MRRVs. The project was completed this April 2019 and will be followed by another project entitled Enhancement of Capability of Philippine Coast Guard on Vessel Operation, Maintenance Planning, and Maritime Law Enforcement to support the PCG in the preparation of operation and maintenance plans for newly acquired and upcoming vessels.
Yoshida said the PCG-JCG partnership is in line with the foreign policy of the Government of Japan to promote the vision of Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy and is part of Japan's efforts to build good relations in Asian countries and support a maritime police network.
JICA is the world's largest bilateral aid agency, and is a trusted development partner of the Philippines. Its development assistance to the Philippines includes nearly a hundred cooperation projects nationwide to support the Philippines' development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by countries in a global effort to reduce poverty.
JCG and PCG officers conduct joint exercises under Maritime Law Enforcement Training (Photos courtesy of Shigeru Yoshida)