Philippines-India relations

India, Philippine coast guards sign maritime cooperation deal

Bea Cupin

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India, Philippine coast guards sign maritime cooperation deal

LOOK: The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance maritime cooperation at the ICG Headquarters in New Delhi, India on 22 August 2023. PCG Commandant, CG Admiral Artemio M Abu, and ICG Director General, DG Rakesh Pal vowed to strengthen their professional bond by sharing best practices, conducting joint exercises, and enhancing training collaborations.

The Philippine Coast Guard also signs an accord with the Indian Navy on information exchange on merchant shipping traffic, intended to enhance maritime safety and security

MANILA, Philippines – The Indian Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) inked on Tuesday, August 22, a memorandum of understanding for “enhancing maritime cooperation,” during PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu’s official visit to India.

“The collaboration between PCG and ICG reflects a shared commitment to a safer and more thriving maritime environment. As the relationship between these coastguards continues to strengthen, the future holds promising opportunities for mutual growth and success,” said the PCG in a statement.

According to the PCG, Abu toured maritime facilities, including Coast Guard District Headquarters No. 11, Goa Shipyard Limited, and the ICG Ship Sujeet. He also joined Indian Coast Guard ALH MK-III for a flight demonstration.

In New Delhi, Abu met with ICG Director General DG Rakesh Pal to sign the contract and hold a bilateral meeting.

“The dialogue underscored the ongoing maritime cooperation between organization, reinforcing their commitment and strengthening partnership towards ensuring a safe, clean, secure, and prosperous maritime environment,” said the PCG.

“The first ever bilateral meeting between both maritime agencies signifies dedication to strengthening professional bonds in accordance with the provisions of the MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] by sharing best practices, conducting joint exercises and enhancing training collaborations,” the Indian Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.

Abu also met with the Indian Navy to determine how to operationalize a 2019 deal on White Shipping Information, or the exchange of information on commercial, non-military vessels. According to the PCG, the two institutions “have committed to facilitate the operationalization of information exchange on merchant shipping traffic, contributing to enhanced maritime safety and security in the region.”

The PCG’s engagement with the ICG comes as their role in securing Philippine waters becomes tougher and even more prominent, with China’s continuing aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.

Back in 2017, the PCG and the ICG held joint drills off the waters of Manila Bay.

India, in recent years, has been more vocal in expressing its concern over China’s actions in the resource-rich waters of the South China Sea. “

“All countries have an obligation to respect international law, but perhaps bigger countries have a larger obligation to respect international law,” New Delhi’s representative in Manila, Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran, said in July 2023, during the anniversary of an arbitral tribunal ruling that quashed China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea.

Maritime security expert Ray Powell, who is also team lead of the Gordian Knot Center’s Project Myoushu, said India’s move to no longer be neutral is noteworthy, given its policy and long history of “greatly prizing” being non-aligned.

Expressing their take on China’s aggressive behavior towards the Philippines, said Powell, gives India a chance to make a position without necessarily siding with competing superpowers. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.