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Coast Guard beefs up southern Visayas security

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has strengthened its security operations in southern Visayas by opening a district headquarters in Negros Occidental.

Captain Artemio Abu, commander of PCG-Southern Visayas District, discussed their unit’s efforts with Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. during their meeting at the Provincial Capitol Monday.

Abu, who was assigned as unit commander on November 13, said the Southern Visayas District will be based in Hinoba-an, the southermost town of Negros Occidental.

Abu said the proposed headquarters in Hinoba-an will include a training facility, and a docking area.

“We can’t do it overnight. By 2018, we will have a budget for that. We’re also asking the support of the local government units especially from the three governors,” he said.

The PCG-Southern Visayas District was formed out of the units from Western Visayas and Central Visayas, including Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Antique.

Abu said there is “no threat” in Visayas as of now, but the Coast Guard remains “proactive all the time.”

He said the Southern Visayas District headquarters was formed to protect the Tubbataha Reef, a protected area located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, considered a “sensitive sea area,” and to contain the spillover of terrorism from southern Philippines.

“It is critical to put up a major Coast Guard unit in Hinobaan to address the vessels plying between Tubbataha and Negros,” Abu said.

He said given that southern Negros is the island’s nearest landing point from Mindanao, there is a need to be proactive in the vicinity.

Marchel Espina / PNA