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Gov’t ship, plane now patrolling PH Rise

The Philippine Coast Guard has deployed a ship and a plane to patrol the Philippine Rise, a resource-rich part of Philippine territory that some experts feared was also being encroached by China. The Coast Guard, according to spokesperson Capt. Armand Balilo, on Saturday sent an Islander aircraft, a propeller-driven plane, and the BRP Suluan, a multi-role response vessel, to Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) to conduct patrols in the area in tandem. ‘Eyes’ Balilo said the ship and plane left Legazpi City in Albay province for the vast underwater plateau that is part of Philippine territory off the coast of Aurora province. The Coast Guard vessels, said Balilo, “would serve as our ‘eyes’ in the area as part of our maritime patrols.” The deployment came after Coast Guard chief, Rear Admiral Elson Hermogino, received instructions from President Duterte for the Coast Guard to activate patrols in Philippine Rise, which is believed to be teeming with natural gas, oil and other marine resour…
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‘Too much, too soon,’ expert warns on PH-China sea study

 ) PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — A maritime expert has questioned  Malacañang’s pronouncement that it is considering a “joint exploration” with China for potential energy deposits in an undisputed Philippine territory some 50 kilometers off Busuanga town in Palawan province, identified as Service Contract (SC) 57. Lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said in a social media post that the government’s plan to include the area in a deal offer made by China to jointly explore the Reed Bank area in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) was “giving too much, too soon” to the country’s favored neighbor.
Batongbacal was referring to an announcement made by President Rodrigo Duterte last week in Marawi City, and later clarified by Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque, that the administration was considering China’s offer to explore both SC 57 and Reed Bank (SC 72). (Inquirer)

Philippine’s seventh Parola-class patrol vessel arrives home

Seventh MRRV of the PCG (photo : MaxDefense)
The Philippine Coast Guard has received its seventh Parola-class patrol vessel. Platform has significantly bolstered service’s constabulary capabilities
The Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG’s) seventh multirole response vessel (MRRV) has arrived in the country.
Vessel movement analysis by Jane’s via the IHS Markit’s AISLive portal on 2 March indicates that the platform, which will be in service as BRP Cape San Agustin with pennant number 4408, departed Tokyo Bay on 23 February, and has now arrived in Manila Bay.
Cape San Agustin joins six existing MRRVs that were commissioned by the PCG between October 2016 and November 2017. The vessels were ordered under a government programme known as the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the PCG (Phase II). (JANES)

Palace, expert spar over planned ‘joint exploration’ with China in undisputed area

MANILA, Philippines — Is a joint exploration between Filipino and Chinese companies in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, including in areas where China never laid claim to, legal? Malacañang earlier said areas under service contracts (SC) 57 and 72 are being considered for possible joint exploration with a company and not the Chinese government. However, a maritime law expert warned that such a venture would elevate the Chinese firm’s status from mere sub-contractor to a “co-owner.”
Formerly called Geophysical Survey and Exploration Contract 101, the 880,000-hectare SC 72 is at the Recto Bank, which is located west of Palawan and southwest of the Malampaya gas field. In late 2014, the Department of Energy suspended exploration in the bank, which is in waters also claimed by China, as the government pursued an arbitration case against the Asian power. Meanwhile, SC 57 is a petroleum exploration project awarded to Philippine National Oil Company in 2005 that covers the undisputed ar…

Australia boosts South China Sea presence

MANILA, Philippines — Australia shares the United States' concern on Beijing's militarization activities in the disputed South China Sea.
According to a report from Wall Street Journal, Australia has increased its naval presence in the contested waters in response to concerns about regional stability.
Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne, in a parliamentary hearing, had expressed Canberra's unease on Beijing's rising military capabilities in the region.
Payne told the Australian Senate that the country has stepped up its naval presence in the South China Sea in the last 18 months despite not joining freedom of navigations operations of the United States, according to WSJ reporter Rob Taylor.
Australia's heightened presence in the disputed waters is part of a "strong focus on security and stability in the Indo-Pacific."
Lyle Morris, senior policy analyst at Rand Corporation, noted that Australia has been conducting presence operations and joint training for…

AFP welcomes US tag of ISIS in PH, Maute Group as SDGTs

MANILA -- The United States decision to designate ISIS Philippines and the Maute Group as "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" (SDGTs) will greatly assist the Philippines in its ongoing anti-terrorism campaign. This was emphasized by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin in a message Wednesday. "Such declaration from foreign countries will of course invariably help us in many ways in our fight against local terrorists and their foreign cohorts. Specific advantage on such declaration/list is the checking of money trail, financial sources, logistics lines and conduits of terror groups in foreign countries that may have connections with local violent extremists," he added. Earlier, the US State Department has designated the ISIS Philippines, ISIS West Africa and ISIS Bangladesh as "SDGTs" under Section 1 (b) of Executive Order 13224 as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigr…

Submarines needed to make PH Navy more respectable: Empedrad

(Germany type 214 submarine) MANILA — While pushing for the completion of the country’s first two missile-capable frigates, Philippine Navy flag officer-in-command, Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad said the country also needs to acquire submarines as they are the “future of naval warfare”.

When asked by Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on what other equipment the Navy needs to be fully modernized, during the Senate hearing on the Frigate Acquisition Project earlier this week, Empedrad said, “Sir, we have a lot of concerns in the Navy, your honor. But for me, the future of naval warfare is submarine warfare. And I believe that if we want to get the respect of other foreign countries or navies, we should acquire submarines.”                                                   (Russian kilo class submarines) This, he said, is due to their stealthy nature, which makes them very difficult to detect. Submarines are naval vessels that can operate in deep or shallow waters and are capable of carrying a…