PCG boosts Batanes presence by opening monitoring post

Batanes residents urged to enlist as Army reservists

The Philippine flag flies over Mavulis Island in Itbayat, Batanes. (File photo from the office of Sen. Francis Tolentino)

The Philippine Coast Guard on Thursday stepped up its presence in Batanes, the country’s northernmost province near Taiwan, with the inauguration of a monitoring station in Itbayat town.

PCG spokesperson Rear Adm. Armand Balilo said the facility would increase maritime domain awareness in the province. It would likewise help the Coast Guard regularly check the situation of local fishermen in the area, he added.

PCG Commandant Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, also the head of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, led the inauguration together with provincial officials.

Balilo said that new communications equipment was installed in the monitoring station with technical personnel to manage it. On Tuesday, Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Lt. Gen. Stephen Parreño also visited the military’s naval detachment in Mavulis Island in the province, which is 140 kilometers away from Taiwan’s southern tip.

Fruitful visit

The PAF said Parreño toured the facilities and received a briefing from personnel stationed at the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, “gaining valuable insights into the operational readiness and strategic importance of the detachment.”

Parreño, the PAF added, also met with Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco, “fostering strong civil-military relations and discussing matters of mutual interest concerning the security and development of the province.”

Earlier this month, the PCG spotted three Chinese vessels, including a Chinese warship, in the vicinity of Itbayat, Batanes, on May 1 as Filipino and American troops held their annual military exercises in the province.

In February, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said he wanted the military to increase its presence in Batanes to fortify the country’s defense posture in the north, adding that “the operational tempo for the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] will be higher” in 2024.