MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer): The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday (Jan 21) said it had explored ways to step up cooperation with its counterpart, the China Coast Guard (CCG) during high-level talks last week.
The meeting led to the convening of the Joint Coast Guard Committee between the Philippines and China, which coincided with the first goodwill visit of a China Coast Guard vessel in Manila last week. The Chinese delegation was led by CCG director general Maj Gen Wang Zhongcai.
PCG commandant Adm Joel Garcia earlier vowed to use the meeting to raise issues that will benefit the Filipino fishermen and government vessels in the West Philippine Sea, where there are frequent reported cases of harassment by the CCG.
The official notes of the high-level meeting held at the Diamond Hotel on Jan 16, shared to Inquirer.net by a government source, did not directly mention the West Philippine Sea or other sensitive maritime issues.
However, it was mentioned that the coast guard chiefs of both countries “recognised the importance of protecting fisheries and other marine living resources and agreed to convey this concern to other relevant domestic agencies.”
The two coast guards also agreed on an information exchange protocol, which will initially focus on combating maritime crime, as well as search and rescue.
A “hotline communication mechanism” and “communication protocol for engagement at sea between coast guards” will serve as provisional operational arrangement between PCG and CCG.
The exchange also led to new opportunities for capacity building, according to the meeting notes.
The coast guard leaders also approved a proposed two-week basic diving course by the PCG for the CCG tentatively set for the last week of May or first week of June this year. The venue has yet to be set.
The PCG also welcomed the invitation of CCG to send 20 junior PCG officers to undergo maritime law enforcement course in China.
It was also agreed upon that joint communication exercises would be conducted and the exercise plan must be drafted by April 2020.
Both coast guard leaders also recognised the importance of designating a coast guard attache on each other’s countries.
The next meeting of the two coast guards is tentatively set in May 2020 in Fuzhou City, Fujian, China. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network