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President Marcos signs order on maritime security

MANILA, Philippines, April 1 ------ Citing “serious challenges” that threaten not only the country’s territorial integrity but also the “peaceful existence of Filipinos” in the West Philippine Sea, President Marcos has issued an order to strengthen the country’s maritime security and maritime domain awareness among Filipinos. 


Executive Order (EO) 57, signed on March 25 by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, renamed and reorganized the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) as the National Maritime Council (NMC). The NMC, to be chaired by Bersamin, is tasked to formulate policies and strategies to ensure a unified, coordinated and effective governance framework for the country’s maritime security and domain awareness, among other powers and functions. 


Marcos has ordered the NMC to formulate and issue guidelines for the effective implementation of EO 57. “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,” Marcos said. “Strengthening the country’s maritime security and domain awareness is imperative to comprehensively tackle the crosscutting issues that impact the nation’s national security, sovereignty, sovereign rights, and maritime jurisdiction over its extensive maritime zones,” he added. 


NMC members include the secretaries of National Defense, Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Interior and Transportation, as well as the National Security Adviser, the Solicitor General and the director general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. EO 57 also directed the following agencies to render full support and assistance to the council: Philippine Coast Guard, Armed Forces, 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 and the University of the Philippines-Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea. 


The NCWC Secretariat has also been renamed as the Presidential Office for Maritime Concerns (POMC), tasked to provide consultative, research, administrative and technical services to the NMC and ensure the effective implementation of the council’s policies, among other functions. The Presidential Assistant for Maritime Concerns (PAMC) may report directly to the President on critical and urgent matters and issues affecting the country’s maritime security and domain awareness, while the National Maritime Center (formerly National Coast Watch Center) is tasked to implement and coordinate maritime security operations, among others.  


The PAMC will replace the executive director as head of the NCWC Secretariat, utilizing the existing office and organizational structure and staffing pattern of the NCWC Secretariat as the new POMC. EO 57 also places the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea under the NMC. The task force will receive policy guidance from the President through the NMC, EO 57 stated. 


The NMC is authorized to accept donations, contributions, grants, bequests or gifts from domestic or foreign sources, for purposes relevant to their mandates and functions and subject to existing laws, rules and regulations. Funding for EO 57’s implementation will be charged against the current and available appropriations of concerned agencies. Funding requirements for succeeding years will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act, the EO read. In a March 28 statement, Marcos said Filipinos “will not be cowed into silence, submission or subservience” in the face of relentless bullying and harassment by the China Coast Guard (CCG) and maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea. 


FFW tells China: Stop bullying 

A labor group backed the call of the Department of National Defense and National Security Council for China to stop its bullying. “The Federation of Free Workers stands in solidarity to denounce this unwarranted act of aggression and calls for immediate accountability,” FFW vice president Jun Ramirez said in a statement. “Such actions contravene the principles of justice and respect among nations,” he added. 


The group issued the statement following an unprovoked assault by the CCG against a Filipino resupply mission that resulted in substantial damage to a Philippine sea vessel and injuries to its crew. Ramirez proposed a shift from the previous appeasement approach to unilateral measures, strengthening defensive posture and enhancing military reserves. 




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