Manila – The Philippine Navy has activated a new naval detachment in the port town of Glan in Sarangani province, just four hours by boat from the northern provinces of Indonesia. Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral George Uy, said security was being stepped up in the Sarangani Strait, the country's southernmost gateway to Indonesia, to check "possible infiltration from Indonesia".
He added that the vibrant maritime trade in the area also made it necessary to establish the new unit. It will concentrate on monitoring the Sarangani Strait, keeping watch on illegal fishing and immigration, terrorist activities and piracy.
The waters off Saragani are vulnerable because "that is usually the route taken by Indonesians going to the Philippines", said National Security Adviser Norbeto Gonzales.
"It is possible this route was used by Indonesian extremists to slip in and out of the country," he told The Straits Times.
Rear Adm Uy said: "The Glan naval detachment serves as a base for a potent team of naval experts. This naval detachment will now house a team of highly competent sailors to set off a series of naval operations."
The naval detachment will provide support to the naval coast watch station in Tinaka Point, also in Glan. The five-million peso facility, which has a modern radar system and is guarded by marines, is vital in monitoring the high seas in the area.
* RP terror watch gets nearer Indonesia (The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Nov 9)
* Manila watching southern sea route (The Straits Times, Nov 10)