West Philippine Sea

What is EO 57, which bolsters PH maritime security amid China’s bullying?

Bonz Magsambol

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What is EO 57, which bolsters PH maritime security amid China’s bullying?

WATER CANNONS IN AYUNGIN. Two China Coast Guard ships train their water cannons onto the Unaizah May 4 (between the two Chinese ships), a wooden boat used to bring supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre. Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos was on board the Unaizah May during this mission.

Screenshot from PCG video

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. creates the National Maritime Council because the country 'continues to confront a range of serious challenges that threaten not only the country's territorial integrity, but also the peaceful existence of Filipinos'

MANILA, Philippines – As China continues to bully the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed an executive order strengthening the country’s maritime security

According to Executive Order No. 57, released by the Presidential Communications Office on Sunday, March 31, the President ordered the bolstering of the country’s maritime security because the country “continues to confront a range of serious challenges that threaten not only the country’s territorial integrity, but also the peaceful existence of Filipinos, including their fundamental right to live in peace and freedom, free from fear of violence and threat.”

Under EO 57, the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) was renamed and reorganized into the National Maritime Council (NMC) chaired by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin.

The Philippines has sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. It has the exclusive right to exploit and take care of resources in those areas. But China claims practically all of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, ignoring a 2016 Arbitral Ruling that deemed that claim invalid.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, which is responsible for synchronizing and operationalizing the employment of the capabilities of different government agencies to achieve unified action in the West Philippine Sea, is attached to the council.

The council will be the “central body in-charge of formulating policies and strategies to ensure a unified, coordinated and effective governance framework for the country’s maritime security and domain awareness.”

The council has the following functions:

Screenshot of a portion of EO57

The NMC will formulate and issue guidelines for the effective implementation of EO 57 within 60 days from its effectivity. The following agencies will have their secretaries as members of the new body:

  • Department of National Defense (DND);
  • National Security Adviser (National Security Council);
  • Department of Agriculture (DA);
  • Department of Energy (DOE);
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR);
  • Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA);
  • Department of Finance (DOF);
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); and
  • Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The Solicitor General and the director-general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency are also members of the NMC.

The NCWC Secretariat was also renamed as the Presidential Office for Maritime Concerns (POMC), which is tasked to provide consultative, research, and administrative technical services to the council. The Presidential Assistant for Maritime Concerns (PAMC) “may report directly to the President on critical and urgent matters and issues affecting the country’s maritime security and domain awareness,” the PCO said.

The National Coast Watch Center was also renamed to the National Maritime Center, which is tasked to gather, consolidate, synthesize, and disseminate information relevant to the country’s maritime security.

Below is the full copy of EO 57:

The President signed EO 57 after a the Chinese Coast Guard on March 23 used water cannons to attack Unaizah May 4, a wooden Philippine resupply boat on the way to a military outpost in Ayungin Shoal. (READ: Manila asks Beijing: Are you sincere in promoting South China Sea peace?)

The attack injured at least three Navy personnel. Prior to this, a March 5 attack had already shattered Unaizah May 4’s wind shield. – Rappler.com

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1 comment

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  1. ET

    I appreciate President Marcos Jr.’s signing of EO 57, strengthening the country’s maritime security. Can it stop China’s bullying of our naval forces in the West Philippine Sea? Let us wait and see.

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.