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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Marcos signs new EO enhancing maritime security over West Philippine Sea

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In a new six-page executive order (EO) released on Easter Sunday, President Marcos reorganized the central inter-agency body tasked to provide a strategic approach in addressing territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea into the National Maritime Council.

Marcos signed EO No. 57 titled “Strengthening the Philippines’ Maritime Security and Maritime Domain Awareness” last March 25, 2024. This comes after the latest string of dangerous maneuvers by China against Philippine vessels this month.  

“Despite efforts to promote stability and security in our maritime domain, the Philippines continues to confront a range of serious challenges that threaten not only the country’s territorial integrity, but also the peaceful existence of Filipinos, including their fundamental right to live in peace and freedom, free from fear of violence and threat,” the EO read.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin chairs the National Maritime Council, formerly the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC), with the secretaries and heads of the following agencies as members:

·         Department of National Defense

·         National Security Council

·         Department of Agriculture

·         Department of Energy

·         Department of Environment and Natural Resources

·         Department of Foreign Affairs

·         Department of Finance

·         Department of Interior and Local Government

·         Department of Justice (DOJ)

·         Department of Transportation

·         Office of the Solicitor General

·         National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

Under the new EO, the Council has been authorized, among others, to “exercise overall jurisdiction and direction on policy-formulation, implementation and coordination with other government agencies, experts and organizations, both foreign and local, on all issues affecting the country’s maritime security and domain awareness.”

Marcos also renamed the NCWC Secretariat as Presidential Office for Maritime Concerns (POMC) that would “provide consultative, research, administrative and technical services to the Council,” and ensure the efficient and effective implementation of its policies.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) maintains its leadership over the National Maritime Center, which was tasked to “gather, consolidate, synthesize and disseminate information relevant to the country’s maritime security and domain awareness,” among its other functions.

The following serves as support agencies to the retooled government bodies in line with the objectives of the new EO:

·         PCG

·         Armed Forces of the Philippines

·         Philippine National Police

·         DOJ-National Prosecution Service

·         Bureau of Customs

·         Bureau of Immigration

·         National Bureau of Investigation

·         Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

·         Philippine Center on Transnational Crime

·         Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

·         National Mapping and Resource Information Authority

·         Philippine Space Agency

·         University of the Philippines – Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea

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