PCG, BFAR preparing for second leg of maritime exercises in Benham Rise, Batanes

Several people on board BRP Davao del Sur off the waters of Casiguran, Aurora pose for a picture on Wednesday, May 17, 2018. The government celebrates one year since Benham Rise, the undersea plateau, was named Philippine Rise./Mar Gabriel/Eagle News Service/

(Eagle News) — The Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources are preparing for the second leg of their comprehensive maritime exercises.

The second leg will be held in the Batanes Group of Islands and the Benham Rise (Philippine Rise), the undersea landmass in the Pacific Ocean which China has also claimed.

Based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, though, Benham Rise, also known as Benham Plateau, lies within the continental shelf of the Philippines.

A statement from the PCG said the second leg is expected to start in the second week of May.

The PCG’s announcement came after the arrival of BRP Gabriela Silang at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila on May 3.

The vessel had left Manila on April 23 to participate in the first leg of the joint training exercises of the PCG and BFAR in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG Commandant, Admiral George Ursabia Jr. in a statement hailed as  successful the conduct of the first leg, which saw BRP Gabriela Silang and BRP Sindangan  conducting trainings on navigation and patrol operations near Bajo de Masinloc.

BRP Gabriela Silang then proceeded to the Kalayaan Island Group to join BRP Cabra, BRP Malapascua  and other PCG-manned BFAR vessels to further hold training exercises, which included man overboard exercises, small boat operations, seamanship, fire drills, among others.

PCG personnel of BRP Gabriela Silang also prepared and distributed cooked meals, water pack noodles, poultry, and condiments to local fishermen transiting at the vicinity waters off the Kalayaan Island Group.

“Rest assured we will provide all training and support needed to ensure they are equipped and prepared to protect our citizens, especially our local fishermen in our country’s waters,” Ursabia said.