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The Present Situation and Events in Mindanao

From the siege in Marawi to the declaration of Martial Law, as well as docking of Naval ships in Sasa Wharf Davao City for the incoming Navy anniversary, the island of Mindanao becomes the center of the topic that regardless if a person is in Cagayan de Oro or Davao, or in Zamboanga City and Iligan City as well as the rest of the country, such series of activities are deemed to be watched closely without compromise.

Pitz Defense Analysis Note: This defense community are with the armed forces in regards to its efforts of combating terrorists elements that are presently plaguing and wreaking havoc in this country especially in the island of Mindanao. In line with this matter, observation to the Operational Security Protocols are observed at its highest manner wherein details are not to be divulged for public consumption so as not to compromise any mission and operations therein. Moreover, what the readers about to read are news already in existence across the internet with verifications given as well as some viewpoint from the perspective of a Mindanaoan. Henceforth, please be guided by this note as proceeding in this article. Thank you.

Citizens in Davao are taking selfies in the light of Martial Law as photos
are taken before a Simba Armored Personnel Carrier of Task Force Davao.
via Newsline.ph
The whole island of Mindanao is now under Martial Law as per Proclamation 216 in the light of the events surrounding the City of Marawi where the clash between the Philippine Government through the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Islamic State-affiliated Maute Group is still on-going. As for the rest of Mindanao, red alerts in different bases are in place, stringent checkpoints are in effect and No ID, No Entry policies are implemented. Meanwhile, several key Navy vessels are in Davao for anticipation of the Philippine Navy anniversary that will take place on May 31 in which it will feature new vessels like the BRP Davao del Sur, the MPAC Mk. 3s, among others. These situations that happen in Mindanao right now are deemed to give proper information as well as the understanding that it coincides as per general situation on the ground.

Obtained from ABS-CBN.
As per news article in which the photo was gathered upon, 31 terrorists were killed in action where as per sources, it includes foreign ones with Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean as their nationality while there are 13 casualties on the Government troops where the overall death toll throughout this siege rises to 44 as per posting based from various outlets.

In the advent of the siege, the Government forces started its security forces last Tuesday where the main purpose of this operation is to neutralize Hapilon where there are reports that several Abu Sayyaf fighters were integrated to the Maute Group. It was there then that the terrorist group occupy Marawi City where burning of several vital infrastructures, hostaging several Christian inhabitants, obtaining vehicles and having the banner of ISIS flying over the City. That prompts the military to have immediate action with regards to the matter wherein Operational Security Protocols are highly encouraged to observed in a sense that any photos or videos showing the location of troops on the ground shall not be posted especially by several users on social media websites. Read related article on OPSEC.

To take note, the Maute Group was the same group who occupy a Lanao del Sur Town of Butig where it was then captured later by Government Forces as well as having FA-50s doing its first surgical strike in the area, making the Philippines one of the users who have used the aircraft in real action where in it shows result that even Hapilon was being severely injured in the strike. As per situation, the occupation of Marawi started in the occupation of Amai Pakpak Medical Center where it was later freed upon where no reports with regards to its staff and patients hurted by these terrorists. The City Jail also was burned out as well as other vital institutions in the area. Residents are prompted to evacuate out of the City, and checkpoints in and out of the City are controlled by both sides.

The situation at that time comes from bad to worse where most of the City was occupied until later on it was regained by Government forces. Such action made by these terrorists prompted the President to put the whole of Mindanao under Martial Law in which it will be discussed in depth below with experiences as per Mindanaoan perspective. In that sense, it may only show that the overall situation of Mindanao, specifically in Marawi is something that needs to be resolved considering that in the world today, terrorist extremism takes a toll to the people's lives that wreaking havoc is somewhat a problem that needs to end once and for all. Take this Manchester Concert Bombing as an example of full-blown acts of terrorism in action.

It is deemed best for the military to do its job throughout this period of time without any compromise. As per the civilians that are actually on the ground, it is at best to observe OPSEC or Operational Security Protocols in a sense that it shall not compromise the overall mission of the Armed Forces in the area. In these sense of cooperation comes the hope that the overall security operation will have good results that in the end, Marawi City will be freed from terrorist elements for its residents to settle down and recover once again.


Above: A news clip from Moscow-based Outlet Russia Today regarding the Philippine Martial Law.

As per posting, long lines of vehicles are now commonplace in Mindanao especially now in Zamboanga City as stringent inspection of vehicles as well as unloading passengers are a necessity as No ID, No Entry is in effect in line with Martial Law guidelines. Hence, anybody in both West and East Coast of Zamboanga shall submit to this kind of inspection so as it is for the guaranteed safety of each and everyone. Meanwhile, Davao City was put into lockdown as security tightens further so as not to repeat last year's bombing that had rocked the City. The same thing goes in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, Isabela, Basilan and other cities in Mindanao.

As per hands on experience, the first days of martial law until yesterday isn't that felt yet considering that the procedures at that time are deemed normal. It was not until at present where things are started to get tightened where movements are being checked up for safety. In such a manner, this is somewhat a good thing to observe as as to understand that the said declaration like martial law and its purpose is to preserve the safety of the citizens in the light of rebellion or invasion so as in the case of Marawi. But one may come up in this kind of question: Is the declaration justified enough to satisfy the needs? The next paragraph will provide an answer here.

The grounds of the declaration can be found in Proclamation no. 216 posted in Official Gazette where in this the same paper the President Duterte presented before the congress prior to the 48-hour period deadline as prescribed by the constitution that a report about Martial Law shall be presented. It was clearly stated as per Sec. 18 Art VII of the Constitution that for sixty days, the President of the Republic, when the public safety requires it, in a case of rebellion or invasion, can declare Martial Law in effect as well as suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus in which a terrorist or a person suspected can be arrested without any warrant.

Given the circumstances, it has been said that the martial law in the whole of Mindanao is deemed seen as a necessary thing to do considering that it will contain terrorist groups in selective areas such as Marawi City at present and to ensure that there will be no spillover of violence all across the Mindanao, just as what Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles says it. Being a hotspot of numerous rebellion in connection with Moro insurgents and numerous radicals, Mindanao being under martial law may help to contain, if not to end the violence that Mindanaoans wanted to achieve that in the end, peace can be achieved that will pave the way to the progress that may improve the lives of its inhabitants.

To take note, there are checks and balances as per the declaration of Martial Law under the 1987 constitution. That alone gives a different perspective from those perceived under the 1972 declaration of Martial Law under Marcos where the congress get abolished unlike today that the President requires to report in 48 hours about that matter. Moreover, the said constitution safeguards the lives of the citizens where courts are still functional, civilian offices are still functioning, and any citizen can question the scope of the declaration before the Supreme Court. Not also to mention the congress' decision to extend or to cut short of the declaration aside from limiting it within sixty (60) days.

In this case, a law-abiding citizen have nothing to worry about as the Armed Forces of the Philippines together with the Philippine National Police are doing their jobs to protect and safeguard the lives of each and every Mindanaoans in a sense that these citizens will be put out of harm's way from lawless elements that are presently wreaking havoc like the Maute Group and other groups who are going along with it. It is to ensure that the threat in due time will be eliminated as well as other possible ones immediately resolved where flow of people and things are to be carefully assessed upon as well as the verification on any information until things got any better. 

As a citizen of this country, a best thing for a person to do is to hope and pray that this situation will over. Not only that, action is also needed where cooperating with authorities as well as observing operational security protocols are a thing where there will be no divulging of sensitive people in the public. Also to mention that in any sighting of various suspected activities in any areas given shall be reported to the authorities for verification and supplemental action just like in Bohol when Abu Sayyaf group attacked months ago. In this manner, might as well guaranteed that these things will only last shorter than it deemed used to be.

BRP Davao del Sur in Sasa Wharf, Davao City. From Joe Bravo.
In Davao City which is in Mindanao, albeit the Martial Law implemented that put the whole city on high alert as well as being under lockdown, it does not stop the navy men to celebrate its 119th anniversary as a military organization in Sasa Wharf. In this event, there are new assets that are to enter active service where it will further enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Navy in a sense that it can further conduct its mandate.

In the line of the celebrations, the Philippine Navy is set to commission its second Landing Platform Dock ship that are the largest in its fleet. This is the BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) which is a Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock that was based from Makassar-class LPDs of Indonesia. Not also to mention that the BRP Gregorio del Pilar is also in Davao City, docking after its Singapore visit in an exhibition that was recently finished.

Also in Davao City, are the MPAC Mk. 3s where like the BRP Davao del Sur, is also the newest assets the Philippine Navy have where it will be installed with missiles where it will be the SPIKE-ER missiles from Israel. Considerably, it will be the first for the navy to have a missile-bearing ship once again in its arsenal as for the meantime until the new guided missile frigates will get delivered by year 2020.
Above: MPAC Mk. 3s on route to Davao City. Posted by John Junnel Sanoy.

With regards to the upcoming event, a Pitz Defense Analysis contributor managed to gather the photos and share it voluntary to us where these photos are a sight where size comparison between the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Davao del Sur in Sasa Wharf can be highly seen from the water overlooking the docks. These photos are shared by Iej Etapalag, a Pitz Defense Analysis community member.

In such a manner, celebrations such as these are still on-going despite the violence and the Martial Law in Mindanao which in that proves that things can still be gone as good as it is as well as having normal lives on-going where in implementation, lives are guaranteed to be safer and be protected as per Mindanaoan points of view. Hence, a number of naval assets in Davao may also have leverage so as for protecting its coastline from threats.

Selfies still in Davao. A far cry on the things it should be.
From Edsel Salomon's FB account.
As per the present situation, the island of Mindanao and its inhabitants are still doing out the best to go on and live with normal lives where in activities, events and military operations on-going, the military is still doing its best to flush out terrorism from the island as well as to keep on holding and containing them where Martial Law in its effect. Citizens affected are to comply with hopes that all of these things will end. And on to that, the Philippine Navy will have it as usual to celebrate its 119th anniversary in Davao in which it may be considered the first one for them to do so. Hence, in these activities goes with the dreams of everlasting peace and the eventual progress in this very island where for many years, it was plagued with various conflicts that have tarnished its name. Overall, it's still fine in the rest of Mindanao with the exception of Marawi City. The hopes that terrorism will end shall be in sight where as decisive actions are in place, so does the dreams of a peace in Mindanao as well as the progress it corresponds.

The Importance of Observing Operations Security

Military operations are deemed highly essential that it entails details that by nature, are not for public consumption. And for that matter, this discussion is a necessity wherein the age of information, is by nature the best thing to observe for a start especially to any people interested in military and defense issues.

A World War 2 propaganda depicting a survivor
of a sinking merchant ship. 
At present day, upon the advent of social media outlets, the essence of information becomes much accessible wherein any person can post something they saw, here or experience as per the way they want to document each and every life event or for any matter so to speak. 

And that includes several tidbits on military movements especially on a person like say, a civilian new in defense tier whose by chance of seeing any military hardware on the move makes thy hand itchy to gather up photos and immediately post it on a social media page like say, a Defense-related defense group with details as per time and location.

That alone arouse the fact among the people like civilians who have enough knowledge on military and defense protocols as well as the personnel in service where the said information shall not be posted in far known defense outlets other than personal timelines (if possible, not to post about it at all.) 

The reason about the said action where divulging such information being prohibited if possible being removed by moderators are due to this very fundamental thing called Operations Security whereby nature, it guarantees the life of that military personnel in a line wherein the operations are given is deemed essential or critical by nature if not important.

In this discussion, knowledge in this kind of observance is deemed necessary especially to each and every people interested in defense, enthusiasts and fanboys alike, wherein being aware of having it may save lives as well as having a greater chance a mission or an operation to succeed, rather than it is seen as a failure all thanks to several people who love to leak any deep or essential information to the public for the sake of popularity or for what matters, making situations much worse than anticipated.

The main point of Operations Security
via Wikimedia Commons
More known as OPSEC, Operations Security as per U.S. Department of Defense Directive (DoDDthrough this U.S. Army Regulations Document pertains to a process where identifying critical information and analysis of friendly actions relevant to any military operations wherein the actions that made by part of any military personnel can be observed by or used by an adversary intelligence system to gather necessary information they need as well as executing necessary measures to minimize if not eliminate the risk of leaking essential information against such intelligence system employed by a nation's enemy.

To reflect it more among social media users and also for understanding it further, OPSEC protects sensitive and/or critical information from adversary observation and collection in ways that traditional security programs cannot. In this sense, the main point of Operations Security and having it observed is not to fully disclose, if not disclose at all, any essential military information particularly the sensitive ones that may be seen as vital like any military operations, various military procurements/projects or its specifications, maneuvers, locations, strategy and so on and so forth. Hence, it might as well a good thing to stay mum at all times and keep that information among themselves unless such information was given a go signal to make it public. That is, regardless of its nature of the mission as long as it is a vital military operation wherein it being accomplished is essential to the overall course of it in connection as to what the Armed Forces and its tactics and/or strategies that they have wanted to achieve.

All of these things are needed for the enemy not to know any whereabouts, plans, strategy and some other classified and/or any essential information with regards to national security where in that sense, this information if leaked out, may harm those who are in the line as well as jeopardizing the mission and the overall national security in general. 

British WW2 propaganda with the saying:
"Loose lips sink ships" where it pertains to
merchant ships being sunk by German U-boats.
Via Wikimedia
In the Second World War, propaganda posters as the one given above with the quote "loose lips sink ships" wherein was considered as a reminder from the U.S. Office of War Information to its personnel to not disclose any information given that may be seen as useful for enemy spies of that time.

The point of having such posters is to have the people in the know at that time to stay wherein it guarantees the primary mission at that time as per war effort which is to gain and win against the Axis powers which in it consists of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Italy. As per the Philippine Military, it simply goes to the Eleven General Orders with the seventh one being much sensual to what Operations Security where it explicates as "talk to no one except in the line of duty"

In line with the Seventh General Order as well as Operations Security, do not immediately expect any personnel or those in the know to simply disclose any vital or essential information where it not only put careers in danger, but can also derail projects, mission failures, and most of all, making the whole nation much vulnerable where national security measures are jeopardized. 

That again gives an insight that each and every person who posts any whereabouts of military personnel with details on time and location shall be pondered upon and have reconsiderations so as per the understanding of observing Operations Security, a person shall understand what to post and not, or to filter what is for public consumption from those that are classified in nature.

For social media users as well as for any person who has any information about the matter, some measures need to be considered to determine the nature of having any "sightings" and its effect as per OPSEC.

Don't say any details on social media. Source
There are many things for a member of a defense forum, a defense page, or an avid reader of our website to do with regards to any sightings like having a plane buzzing in a sky or a ship spotted on the coastline. These rules will help military men by observing OPSEC. And these rules go as follows:

1. Do not post exact deployment dates or redeployment dates

2. Do not reveal camp locations, including nearby cities. After the deployment is officially announced by Military officials, you may discuss locations that have been released, normally on the Country level.

3. Do not discuss convoy routes (“we traveled through Tikrit on our way to X”)
Detailed information on the mission, capabilities, or morale of a unit
Specific names or actual nicknames

4. Personnel transactions that occur in large numbers (Example: pay information, powers of attorney, wills, etc)

5. Details concerning security procedures, response times, tactics

6. Don’t discuss equipment or lack thereof, including training equipment

7. Don’t speculate about future operations

8. If posting pictures, don’t post anything that could be misconstrued or used for propaganda purposes. A good rule of thumb is to look at your picture without your caption or explanation and consider if it could be re-captioned to reflect poorly on coalition forces. For example, your image might show your Soldier rescuing a child from a blast site but could be re-captioned to insinuate that the child being captured or harmed. (it’s happened!)

9. Avoid the use of count-up or count-down tickers for the same reason as rule #1

10. Be very careful if posting pictures of your loved one. Avoid images that show significant landmarks near their base of operations, and black out last names and unit affiliations

11. Do not, ever, post information about casualties (coalition or enemy) before the official release of the information.

12. Do not pass on rumors (“I heard they’re coming home early”, etc)

In these set of rules, it might as well helpful to have them followed wherein rather than spreading misinformation or having leaks that hamper OPSEC and risk having mission failures, observing the said guidelines above not only secures the lives of people on the line but as well refine the course of discussion the way it makes things clearer without any rumors, speculation and the like. 

This in which, gives a win-win situation where missions succeed without any information leaked to the enemy, projects proceed without a hitch, and discussions being discussed with having official statements and permitted ones served as a basis to make a well-informed opinion and/or analysis wherein it gives significance of having a healthy exchange of knowledge without any risks of divulging vital information in which in the end, the enemy benefits from it.

To summarize this topic up, Operation Security or OPSEC is very important especially in the age of information technology through the advent of social media where each and every user particularly the ones having the knowledge or information of sightings, whereabouts, or any classified matter are not to be in public consummation wherein it makes such information difficult to obtain by any potential adversary. 

In this thing, it will help the military to conduct its mandate without any compromise in any of its operations as well as securing more lives on the line or in the battlefronts wherein the very main point of it is to protect not only the nation and its citizens, but as well the very essential information as to the efforts of the military to defend it. 

So, for every person who is keen on defense issues as well as on our part and those of our fellow enthusiasts and others alike: Think a lot before posting any information, or for that matter try to confirm it before posting. Or rather, stay mum and keep the information among themselves; for loose lips may sink ships.

The Significance of Combat Management System in a Combat Ship With Corresponding Obstacles

In today's environment, technology really does influence lives, from gadgets to the use of social media to disseminate information. And with that comes military sophistication of technology in which normal people cannot understand its use or even its nature in which it determines the outcome of a battle or a war. And with that comes a discussion which it involves offshore combatants being managed by a system that dictates its performance.

A Combat Management System helps improve a combat ship's
reliability in the battlefield. Source
It all starts from the very definition of the term itself. Combat Management System as per simplified meaning of it refers to a system interconnected to each and every vital material of the ship ranging from engines to sensors as well as main cannons and missile batteries in which it was all managed by a software with the very purpose of having the ship operated at the cost of less personnel with much anticipated results. To make it much comprehensive, SP's Naval Forces describe it as a software-intensive system which has to be flexible enough to operate in a complex naval battle environment.

Given its definition, it is, ideally speaking, one excellent way to have warships further enhanced with more firepower being managed, more sophisticated tech integrated and less naval personnel to operate the ship where in terms of manpower, other enlistees will be assigned to another ship as well as having better assessment in terms of accuracy and deadliness as these systems expect to have guns and missiles hit their respective targets so as to achieve its primary mission objective or objectives given while keeping the whole ship intact. 

And with that goes with mere sophistication where in a navy that is transitioning to the modernistic norms with new ships that have come with Combat Management System, it seems to be difficult to operate just like any other platforms that has come with new features wherein lots of time training and reviewing the system signifies its very importance. In this manner, it is at best to connect this with the Philippine Frigate Acquisition Project in which it will be the first in the Navy to have such a system.

Modern warships such as this Incheon-class frigate, albeit the
sophisticated weapons installed will have its reliability depended
on a functionable Combat Management System. 
To supplement the stance of this part of discussion, it is at best to get at least an idea coming from a member in DefensePH about the said matter where many people many realize the very knowledge that any sophisticated weaponry installed on a warship like a frigate or a corvette for that matter are somewhat useless without a proper combat management system where its description gives significance as to the nature of operating modern warships.

The Philippine Frigate Project as per previous reports including the ones posted in this very website emphasizes the use of THALES TACTICOS CMS. To take note, this said CMS is one of the widely-used system suite in the world where various nations as well as several ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand using them where in it comes to prove its reliability to the navies and their respective warship's performance. For that matter, it's subdued good reputation isn't always going that good at all with the following words that will be written here.

Albeit the fact that these said navies use Thales TACTICOS, the said CMS are uniquely catered to its respective customers where their respective ships are variously armed with several weapons in a sense that a navy's warship maybe armed with a Harpoon SSM, will be different with the other using an SSM-700K Sea Star even though that the CMS are of similar in nature. The same may go with sensors fit, weapons configuration, engine configuration, and other factors that have an effect to the CMS configuration. Hence, a single navy's TACTICOS configuration is different to the others as well.

To make matters worse, the Philippine Navy being a new entrant in this field of naval technology coincides numerous challenges where having personnels with poor or no experience with handling such technology shall have sufficient time for lectures and trainings regarding to the handling of the system so as to give idea how this is working. Somewhat similar to the mistakes that have happened years ago regarding the use of 76mm Oto Melara cannon as well as troubleshooting it.

To give a glimpse of the story, the Philippine Navy back then received three Peacock-class corvettes from Britain as they are turning over Hong Kong back to the Chinese. These ships, serving in the Navy as Emilio Jacinto-class patrol vessels are armed with 76mm cannon which at that time a new thing in its fleet that consists mostly of World War 2 vessels. At that time, little they know that the said gun is more electronic in nature rather than mechanical which was common to the WW2 ships the Navy have. These in which makes it difficult where there is little or no idea how to troubleshoot the gun in case of malfunction at that time it isn't that fixed. It takes time until a foreign troubleshooter like the Australians as per Navy request fixed it. At present, there are six ships in the Navy that are armed with the said 76mm Oto Melara cannons.

The same can be apply with combat management systems. Acquiring a black-boxed system without any known Philippine tech expert or engineer participated for that matter is detrimental to many serious risk like the following:

First, like the Oto Melara gun dilemma, it will be difficult to the local engineers to troubleshoot the problem considering that the system in itself is definitely built to military specifications where it is different to the usual software programs running a computer system. Algorithms, encryptions and other deeper functions and the lack of knowledge about its nature or in the way the software runs are primarily attributes to this risk which also an attribute to the next risk.

Second, it may be difficult for these local engineers again to incorporate any upgrades to the system or modifications if new hardware is installed. These ships, having an attribute of fitted for, but not with number of weapons such as the vertical launch system may have a problem to the CMS where inclusion of these said systems may encounter problems. This in which for sure requires tech support from the systems manufacturer which may lead to third and the last risk.

Third, any national defense-related matter or some information that is only consumable within the organization may have the risk to get leaked out and may have exposed to those have interest to gather such information. And that includes potential enemies where it may possibly be used to re-evaluate strategies that can be countered against the country for that matter. For sure, almost no one within the ranks nor even to the people concerned will let this thing happen. Reference for the points are given by context here by the Office of Naval Research, United States.

The thing here is that there is more to be done to make this right in the sense that understanding the importance of a combat management system in the ship is very essential wherein any encryption, algorithm, security protocols and system integration/synchronization are being considered very closely so as to determine the overall capabilities the ship may have the way it is expected or somewhat way better than that where it is a useful deterrence at sea. Read this article pertaining to the software in a combat management system.

To take note, the Philippines also have such problem in the past
where introduction of new weapons system comes with problems.
Like in the past where gaining skills on troubleshooting and operating electronic-based 76mm Oto Melara guns in each Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels takes a harsh experience on a worst case of troubleshooting and operating these guns in a then manual-based fleet, the Navy may take this kind of lesson where any measures shall be done where the same shall not be apply to combat management system in each warship in which by nature, the most precious portion of a combat vessel in a sense that the reliability of these ships to achieve its mission as well as the crew's survival upon undertaking the mission lies at stake. Bottomline is that, in today's environment filled enhanced with technology and increased sophistication, it might as well be helpful to give the significance not only pertaining to a Combat Management System fitted on a ship but as well on the command infrastructure of the military in general where it-time updates are given as well as tapping the technology to its highest potential to the favor who use it wisely. In that sense, it shall be worthy to gain the knowhow as well as the training of personnel about the nature of such said system where once being fully integrated, the ships will be as much as capable wherein expectations are met.

Understanding the Nature of Maritime Domain Awareness

The Philippine Navy currently needs more vessels to uphold its mandate as a maritime branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Also, its Coast Guard counterparts badly need the same thing on their own fleet. And with these concerns underly the basic point of this discussion matter that primarily aims to understand the nature of it with regards to securing the waters.

Flight III Pohang-class Corvettes. Take note that the Philippines
will be about to have ROKN Chungju soon. From Wikimedia Commons

The topic about Maritime Domain Awareness varies from internal defense issues up to territorial-based ones. All of it pertains to the necessity of protecting the waters surrounding an archipelagic nation like the Philippines.

For instance, the recent clash between the government and the Abu Sayyaf group in an unlikely place like Bohol gave necessary importance to the discussion of having internal Maritime Domain Awareness, wherein in intelligence discussion that this article cited, military improvements are needed in a sense that additional naval assets gave a boost in improving maritime security, in which it was currently covered by the Philippine Navy's own Modernization Program called the Sail Plan, in which it addresses the areas of the maritime branch that needs improvement.

Another example is the so-called harassment by the Chinese against the Filipino fishermen over the disputed area in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) called "Union Banks". Verification was made by the Philippine Navy where in that matter one is indeed unsure about the identities of these said Chinese harassers whether it may be their Navy or Coast Guard. That also suffices the necessary understanding of the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and its necessity where enhancing maritime security is a high priority for that matter. 

Also to take note, multiple incursions took place along the waters surrounding the Philippines that are covered under this topic. From the border with Taiwan in the Bashi Channel down to the Sulu Sea as well as from the West Philippine Sea to the Benham Rise in the East, it was shown that enhancement of maritime security upon these matter as well as emphasizing MDA in the sense that incursions really are being informed as far as present needs are concerned.

These being said, both the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard are keen on modernizing fleets as well as increasing the number of gray and white hulls respectively to further fulfill their mandates to protect the nation's coastline as well as improving maritime security as well as Maritime Domain Awareness. And in line with these things, here are some of the recent progress of both organization's vessels procurement in which it hopes that mandates are to be fulfilled. But before we proceed there, let us discuss the very definition of Maritime Domain Awareness or MDA.

Realizing Global Maritime Surveillance. From the Global Economic Symposium

The Maritime Domain Awareness, as interpreted by International Maritime Organizationis written as follows:

"The effective understanding of any activity associated with the maritime environment that could impact the security, safety, economy or environment."

Moreover, it is also good to know that Navies like those of the United States also have their own concept over the Maritime Domain Awareness in the form of a document that can be downloaded here

Apparently, the concept made by the United States Navy gives a background about it, wherein the respect to maritime security, securing commercial routes as well as coming up with the constant change of needs in maritime waters ranging from disaster relief to unconventional enemies are a necessity that each and the maritime nation has a role to play upon. 

That being said, concerning the examples given above, the Philippines in its sad state needs to improve through the basis of implementing the modernization program that is currently taking place. Moreover, the definition as per basis also from the US Navy document also gives emphasis on timely, accurate decision making based on a continuous flow of information either it may be an intelligence report or a distress call where a necessary decision has been made whether it may be neutralizing the enemy or rescuing those who trapped in a conflict.

Also to take note, the Philippines in fact also have this development, coming in the form of the National Coast Watch System or NCWS, wherein apparently, it aims to have an effective MDA ranging from the piracy-infested Sulu Sea to the rest of the country. 

However, emphasis is badly needed that systems like this shall be improved where the activities aforementioned like more vessels as hoped, will be enhanced further. Now, let us discuss the recent developments regarding this matter.

Philippine Coast Guard's newest vessel, the Parola-class MRRVs
like the BRP Malabrigo. Via Pacific Sentinel

In line with their respective modernization efforts, both the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard are making a move on procuring more vessels to keep up with the mandate of protecting the archipelagic coastlines from various threats in the sense that its nature becomes complex considering that aside from territorial-based threats involving large ships, it also shall deal with internal threats especially on the cases of piracy and insurgency. 

National Coast Watch System

The first fundamental to have for an effective MDA is a coast watch system. In this case, the Philippines is obtaining it, coming in a form of the National Coast Watch System (NCWS), wherein its purpose aims to have much, secure territorial water within an archipelagic nation in which the Philippines consists of.

Referencing the Indo-Asia-Pacific Defense Forum article, the writer whose identity is within the ranks in the Philippine Navy, emphasized that a system or mechanism such as NCWS is a necessity to protect marine wildlife, environment, natural resources, and the domain it coincides wherein apparently, the main goal is to resolve various maritime issues as per this discussion matter. 

The NCWS was started as an executive order effective that went effective way back in the year 2011, in which it adheres to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS, itself being the very basis that made the Philippines made victorious on an arbitral tribunal where the Chinese Nine-Dash line was declared illegal in nature. 

Apparently, it was started as the Cabinet Committee on Maritime and Ocean Affairs or CABCOM-MOA before it was renamed as Committee on Maritime and Ocean Affairs or CMOA. Eventually, as the NCWS was formed, it adopted the roles of CMOA in the hopes that the new system will cope up with the necessity of an effective MDA.

Moreover, the NCWS comes up with a vision whereupon summation, it simply aims to be a global maritime nation wherein maritime resources can be freely enjoyed by stakeholders like the national, regional, local, private sectors and international partners where in that sense, there will be no worries for anybody concern like the fishermen to gather up resources in the sea which it matters with their livelihood as well as those who are in shipping practices and the like. 

Also, like the US Navy interpretation on MDA, the NCWS aims to have an inter-agency information-sharing mechanism that is by nature institutionalized where decision-makers enable to monitor situations to make necessary actions upon the matter.

At present, its organization consists of secretaries from various Executive Departments of the Philippines with the NCWS chairman being the executive secretary. 

More so in that matter, the NCWS have coordination with regards to the information with different agencies in which it includes the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard as well as the others concerned both local, national and international. In that sense, maritime contacts among other foreign maritime enforcement alongside local stakeholders are as well essential to keep the waterways safe.

To summarise this up, the Philippines through the NCWS aims to be a leading maritime nation wherein governing the maritime domain is a necessity in the sense that Maritime Domain Awareness will be enhanced. With that goes hopes that this system will get improve as time goes by.

Philippine Navy

The Philippine Navy is currently looking for more vessels, both old and new, to be in its fleet. At present, the ships that it obtained for the last five to seven years include the Del Pilar-class Patrol Frigates, Tarlac-class LPDs, the Australian-imported Balikpapan-class vessels, and several others.

Recent developments about more assets go by with the latest focusing on the Philippine Navy's interest in procuring a Pohang-class corvette from South Korea in which the said vessel is said to be named as "ROKN Chungju" or PCC-762

Apparently, the said vessel comes as a welcoming addition to the Navy, in which the antisubmarine capabilities it obtained, may help the Navy servicemen to enhance their capabilities as preparation for the arrival of the Brand New Frigates, which is also from South Korea. 

These capabilities are also a good thing for Maritime Domain Awareness to have where information about surface vessels is not only the matter for territorial water security, but also it pertains to what lies underwater where maritime security is further ensured out.

More unto this, the Philippine Navy is keen on having more vessels where it seems to be straight out of mere desperation where with increasing incursions, so does the need for enhancing MDA. 

In that case, various reports suggest about the Navy's calling or planning to procure the Australian Adelaide-class Frigates in which it was also getting interested from both Taiwan and Poland as well whereas per discussion in the past, these ships, being in a class similar to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class Frigates, are to be considered as gas guzzlers in the sense that the Royal Australian Navy reportedly operating the ships at the cost of $279,235 a day. That is if it includes the highly-paid salaries as well as the so-called superannuation or benefits for that matter. Might as well consider the role of the ship as combat ships rather than as patrol ships as per this article. 

That being said, it may be different to the ships that are deemed patrol in nature wherein that sense, presence is also a necessity in such a way that being part of Maritime Domain Awareness, a presence of any vessel like Offshore Patrol Vessels is enough to show that such part of territorial waters are enforced and within national jurisdiction. And speaking of offshore patrol vessels, there is also one project or plan that has about this matter.

Introducing, the Portuguese Corvettes. The said ships pertain to both Joao Coutinho and Baptista de Andrade-class corvettes that are all variants of Spanish Descubierta-class Corvettes. Apparently, there are no confirmed channels as per it aside from one defense outlet which primarily discussed the possible transfer. That being said, inspections as per reports are said to be ongoing, where there are no updates about that matter at the time of this article's posting. In this, all of it remains to be seen until an update, if it seems necessary, shall be made.

There is more for the Navy to procure as per Sail Plan in which goes in line with an effective Maritime Domain Awareness. That which, may go in line with the larger AFP Modernization Program which also deals in improving other fields like the Philippine Air Defense System or PADS

This goes with the hope that the Philippine Navy shall enhance its capabilities considering that the nation is archipelagic in geography where the vast territorial waters being the front lines.

Philippine Coast Guard

Like the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard is also keen on having new vessels, in the hopes that it can further do its mandate of defending the Philippine coastlines as well as enforcing local maritime laws to its jurisdiction in which in itself supplements for an idea for Maritime Domain Awareness.

The coast guard recently takes deliveries from Japan as part of a loan supplementing 10 multi-role response vessels or MRRVs. This is the Parola-class patrol vessel where BRP Tubbataha (MRRV-4401) in itself is a lead vessel. 

Also to take note, other ships of the same class as per the posting of this article are in the coast guard inventory. These ships are the BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) and BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403)

In this manner, the coast guard is still expecting the remaining seven vessels of the same class in which at present is still in Japan where it is still under production. It will take time until all of the 10 multi-role response vessels are delivered which will complement the other ships that are already in service within the organization.

Aside from the Parola-class patrol vessels, the Philippine Coast Guard has also opted for larger ships that are also from Japan. To be specific, it pertains to the 92m vessels wherein it may be far more capable than the MRRVs especially on deployment beyond the coastline. 

If all goes well, it will be complementing other vessels in which in particular, the 10 multi-role response vessels coming from the same nation these ships will be built. Apparently, there is little news as for it at present aside from last year's articulation, but one hopes that it will be materialized as well alongside the already-in-process MRRVs.

Japan is not only the source for the Philippine Coast Guard vessels. France may also be the source of coast guard vessels as Coast Guard officials inspected these 24m vessels which are considered brand new just like its Japanese counterparts and it comes up with four units. Moreover, the coast guard also opted for a single 82-meter vessel from the said country which makes the overall ships planning to procured to five units. The said 82-meter vessel pertains to OPV 270 MKII which is one of the products showcased by the French company OCEA in Euronaval 2014. Given the missions of the OPV, it may seem to be one of the ideal ships the coast guard is keen to have where it will further enhance not only its capabilities but as well its mandate to conduct wherein it improves Maritime Domain Awareness.
From a warship forum.
To summarise this up, the coast guard, just like the navy is keen to have more vessels in which it also aims to protect and enforce maritime laws in the coastline in the sense that setting up jurisdictions is a necessity to ensure that anybody who passes by the waters adheres to the laws which make them safe as well as having privilege on gathering resources legally for livelihoods. Furthermore, more white hulls coincide with non-provocative presence where it coincides with sovereign rights just like the navy ships. All of which, may improve, enhance and make the nation's Maritime Domain Awareness a great standard.


Given the recent situations such as the Chinese provocative actions against Filipino fishermen as well the unnoticeable passage of insurgents within territorial waters, it may be as good to say that these are the demoralizing moments there is that the nation's Maritime Domain Awareness is still not fully capable in these said areas where there may be more situations like this to come. 

However, there are still hopes that it will all be far improved where agencies involved will be immediately deployed in due time. Take this bid bulletin for North Luzon's Coast Watch Station for instance alongside the incoming vessels for the coast guard and the navy. The said incursions, mishaps, and harassments, as once hoped, might be diminished if all goes well for the Maritime Domain Awareness. That is, upon the necessary things and factors per se are already in their respective place.

The Archipelagic Baseline, serving as a guide for Maritime Domain Awareness.

The whole point of Maritime Domain Awareness is that it is deemed an essential thing for the Philippines to improve where through the so-called National Coast Watch System being enjoined together with the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard and their additional assets that presence, as well as maritime security, will be improved wherein people concerned like the fishermen in the sea will be safe from any various threats like foreign elements in the disputed sea, the sailors being safe from piracy in the Southwestern Philippines, and some others, wherein the instances that there will be no more worries about the said threats. 

In that effectiveness. as well as the enhancement that the maritime security and the rules it coincides may prevail that the Philippines, through these secured waterways and better information as per maritime situations and the institutional way of disseminating it, will further improve its economy that in the end, all of those who rely on these maritime waters will be benefited a lot.

(c) 2017 PDA, revised 2021 edition. 




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