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PH, Japan coast guards conduct joint drills vs piracy

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) on Sunday, November 25, conducted drills against piracy and hijacking incidents at sea.

The two coast guard teams staged the drills using 4 patrol ships at the Manila Bay. Of the 4 were the PCG's BRP Suluan and fast patrol boat BRP Boracay, which were acquired from Japan as well as its French-built BRP Panglao. (READ: New Coast Guard vessels from Japan to fight piracy, patrol West PH Sea)

Meanwhile, the JCG's Echigo patrol vessel and a helicopter were used for the joint maritime exercise one nautical mile north of Sangley Point in Cavite City.

PCG Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said the joint exercises were important to prepare against possible pirate attacks. This is especially the case in southeastern Mindanao, where 13,000 foreign vessels pass while going through the 29-kilometer Sibutu Passage from China, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

The Sibutu Passage lies near the Tawi-Tawi islands and is usually used for shipping between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

Balilo said the "zero incidents" of piracy in southeastern Mindanao were a result of intensified maritime patrols from the PCG and the Philippine Navy, as well as cooperation of local government units.

The exercises between the PCG and JCG are part of the country's regular exercises in joint maritime cooperation. – Rappler.com