The Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao conducted yesterday an aerial surveillance patrol from Davao City to Mati City as part of security enhancement strategy using its new PCG Islander aircraft.
In an interview yesterday, Lt. Commander George Ursabia, the spokesperson of Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao, said the goal is to conduct air surveillance here in Eastern Mindanao, particularly in Davao region.
“This just to let the public realize that our coast guard is not only concentrating in the seas or water assets but we have also air assets,” Ursabia said.
“The primary goal also of our air asset is to see the situation on our shoreline, particularly our fishermen’s situation,” he said, adding that their focus also is to guard the shores from smugglers and other criminals.
Commodore Roy Echeverria, the Coast Guard district commander, requested from higher headquarters to have aerial surveillance once or twice a month. However, the request is still pending approval. For now, the surveillance is set every three months.
“So if they could grant our request that they will be here by every month then it would be better,” he said.
The air Asset Coast Guard Islander is manned by Capt. Philipps Soria and his staff. They arrived last Thursday at the Tactical Operations Wing Southeastern Mindanao and will be leaving on May 3.
Currently, the Philippine Coast guard has four existing air assets for aerial surveillance and support of maritime patrol.
In an interview also with Soria, he said the Coast Guard Islander is the main platform for the conduct over some areas in the Philippines.
“This is the airplane that we are using in our commitment to the National Task Force Philippine Sea so every month we are flying over Batanes, Pag-asa, and Scarborough Shoal,” Soria told reporters in an interview. “It so happened that our focus is in the north and west. We are very lucky that we are given an opportunity to conduct a patrol here in Davao.”
“Hopefully it will be a continuous deployment but also with the succeeding months we can see the support of the national command for the coast guard to be deployed here in Davao,” he added.
In yesterday’s aerial surveillance patrol, the PCG Islander flew over Island Garden City of Samal, Pantukan, and Mati. Soria said they saw a sailboat, a fishing boat, and a Taiwanese vessel on the eastern seaboard of Mati.
“Also, a Vietnamese vessel passed by along its border,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ursabia said the coast guard will receive two air assets early next year to decongest Manila.
“Meaning, we have to find land area to place the air assets. That is why we assigned it in major areas, including Davao,” he said. “We are doing this for the past few years but it’s the first that they stayed longer for the conduct of an aerial surveillance.” (Photo by Grace Saron)