Port of Manila. (Photo courtesy of Manila International Container Terminal)

MANILA – In response to a report by the Singaporean Navy on robberies in the international crew-change ports of Manila and Batangas, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has ordered intensified intelligence gathering and maritime patrols.

In a statement on Thursday, the PCG said its commandant, Admiral George Ursabia Jr. has directed all stations and sub-stations under the PCG District National Capital Region-Central Luzon and PCG District Southern Tagalog to secure the waters of Manila Bay and Southern Luzon.

As part of the intensified operations, it said PCG personnel will increase boarding inspections on suspicious vessels and watercrafts roaming in the said vicinity waters especially during night time.

It noted that two motor bancas have been apprehended on Thursday morning.

“This morning, 10 September 2020, BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) apprehended two motor bancas for violation of the DOTr (Department of Transportation) Memorandum Circular No. 2017-001 concerning the implementation of the Safety, Security, and Environmental Numbering System for all Philippine-registered vessels or watercraft,” the PCG said.

The PCG is also coordinating with various law enforcement agencies and local government units to help secure Philippine waters, especially in the two crew change ports.

In a message, PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo said the PCG has received reports of theft aboard ships, but not of robberies.

“Yung mga report dito sa amin parang ordinary theft. Kinuha yung pintura, at minsan mga personal na gamit. Nagtataka nga kami bakit robbery yung report (The reports we received indicate ordinary theft. They took some paint, sometimes personal belongings. We don’t know why there were robberies in the [Singapore Navy’s] report),” Balilo said.

In case of either robbery or theft in ships or port, he said seafarers and the public should report to the PCG or police.

Earlier, a report from the Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre highlighted a growth this year of opportunistic robberies in the ports of Manila and Batangas.

It said robbers armed with knives have climbed aboard ships and stole equipment and other items, noting that similarity in the incidents suggested that the same person or group was committing the robberies. (PNA)

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