Friday, September 23, 2016


GOING through the headlines of our widely circulated broadsheets, one could perhaps surmise that at no time in our country’s maritime history, has maritime security been given so much importance and attention than in the recent past. The West Philippine Sea issue, the kidnapping of fishermen in the Philippine Seas, piracy, smuggling and the illegal extraction of marine resources, all have made it to the headlines highlighting the need for enhanced maritime cooperation to secure our maritime border and protect our vital marine resources.

As the AFP Operational Command in this part of the country, the Eastern Mindanao Command is responsible for addressing such issues as it secures the 16,667 kms stretch of our maritime AOR which runs along a portion of the Celebes Sea in the south, the Pacific Ocean along the east all the way to Northern Mindanao.

At the forefront of EMC’s maritime security effort is the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao with its Naval Task Force and Special Operations Unit. Also supporting the NFEM are the Naval Reservists together with other affiliated organizations and agencies.

As EMC’s naval component, NFEM conducts various naval and maritime operations that support internal security objectives and territorial defense concerns. As part of the EMC, IDSE the NFEM also engages our Indonesian allies for the conduct of coordinated patrols along our common border and in the enforcement of border control from established border crossing stations that service Filipino and Indonesian nationals transiting to and from Philippines and Indonesia for visits and religious and cultural activities.

It is therefore significant, that today NFEM has embarked on yet another activity which seeks to improve the AFP’s capability to secure our maritime interests. As we close today’s Maritime Inter-Agency Safety and Security Forum, allow me therefore to commend our NFEM for coming up with this timely and relevant activity which seeks to enhance maritime security and safety awareness and involvement, and at the same time congratulate the attendees for their active participation and commitment to the implementation and enforcement of maritime security and safety programs and laws.

I also enjoin everyone, to sustain the collaboration and cooperation that we have been able to forge during this forum as we remain vigilant and mindful of the threats that we confront and our individual and collective responsibilities in addressing the same.

Together, let us harness the trust and confidence, and the relationships that we have built between and among our agencies to create points of convergence in our efforts.

Although the maritime threats that we face in our area may not be as serious or pronounced as that in the Western Philippine Sea, let us not be complacent in our attitude and be constantly reminded that terrorists strike when and where we least expect them to. I need not refer to specific incidents to remind all of us of the importance of vigilance and preparedness because we continue to experience and feel the residual effects of these incidents of the recent past.

Following the strategies, the approaches, the tactics that were discussed in this forum, and adopting the best practices that were shared by other agencies, I am confident that we will be able to build a united and formidable force that would be able to enhance our security posture.

Let us therefore continue working together as we endeavor to improve safety and security in our maritime environment.

Thank you at Mabuhay Tayong Lahat!

Venue: Green Leaf Hotel, General Santos City
Date:    22 SEPTEMBER 2016

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

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