Maritime patrols in Batanes benefit fishermen
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Fishermen in the Batanes group of islands are getting a bigger catch following the military’s intensive patrol operations in the area.

The frequent maritime patrols in the waters surrounding the islands have also put an end to poaching problems in the region.

Local officials have expressed their gratitude to the military as they are now being flooded with positive feedback from fishermen benefiting from the maritime operations.

“Governor Marilou Cayco of the province of Batanes extended the gratitude of the fisherfolk of Batanes for the continuous maritime patrol being facilitated by the Philippine Air Force, Navy and Marines in the northernmost islands and sea territory of the province,” AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said yesterday.

Cayco wrote a letter to Lt. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo, commander of Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), expressing her constituents’ gratefulness to the military for its prompt response to the needs of the province.

Cayco told the AFP that she was being flooded with positive feedback, particularly from fishermen benefiting from the bountiful catch.

“The incessant problem of poaching in our waters took a respite after the patrol and according to our fisherfolks, they can now fish without being in persistent fear of encountering boats with foreign markings,” Cayco wrote.

“Our scarce resources and means to protect our own territory was obliterated by the AFP’s genuine concern to our people by keeping our people safe and free from threats of foreign poachers,” she said.

On March 19, the Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz sailed to Mavulis Island, Itbayat, Batanes to conduct a site survey of the northernmost islands of the country.

Alcaraz also conducted naval cruise patrols to Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, Dalupiri, Calayan and Casambalangan, Sta. Ana Cagayan before its regular patrolling of the northern seaboard.

The AFP through the NOLCOM started its maritime awareness activities in Mavulis Island in April 2016, which was done to support transforming the islets of Batanes into a resting place and shelter area for Filipino fishermen.

“The positive developments in the islets of Batanes are borne not only of our frequent maritime patrols in the area but also of the active cooperation and coordination of the people of Batanes and other stakeholders. Together we shall continue to reap further successes as we in the AFP perform its mandate of protecting our people and our territory,” AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said.

On the other hand, acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the Philippines, together with the ASEAN countries and China are exerting efforts to complete the framework for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Manalo stressed the Philippines maintains the position that the COC should be legally binding.       – With Pia Lee-Brago

EDGARD AREVALO
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