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More coast guards eyed for oil spill drills.

More coast guards eyed for oil spill drills !-- -- Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - July 4, 2019 - 12:00am DAVAO CITY, Philippines Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino yesterday proposed expanding the Regional Maritime Pollution Exercise (Marpolex) to include all countries bordering the South China Sea. Instead of only three countries participating in the Marpolex, Hermogino was keen on forming a "regional cooperation for oil spill response" that would include China and Vietnam.

Hermogino made the pitch during the third day of the Marpolex held here. Since 1986, the exercise was only done by the Philippines and Indonesia, and this year the Japanese Coast Guard sent vessels.

"We have an agreement with China already and we have agreement with Vietnam, but what we envision is to have more participation on a regional oil spill exercise becausetheASEAN region is one of the busiest waterways and we have common maritime borders," Hermogino said. "It would be better to have more countries to address massive oil spill We need the assistance of our neighboring countries," he added.

In case of a massive oil spill in the South China Sea, Hermogino said countries in the region should no longer raise the question of jurisdiction and help in cleaning up the debris. "We respond, we consider the damage.

When there is an oil spill we don't talk about (other things except) how to contain, that is the primary objective," he said. Hermogino expressed confidence that countries in the region would join forces to contain pollution damage.

"Jurisdiction is no longer an issue. What would be discussed is how to prevent further damage to the environment.

The capability of each country is needed here," he added. The PCG hosted the Marpolex 2019 with participants from the Japanese Coast Guard and the Republic of Indonesia-Directorate General of Sea Transportation.

During the exercise, personnel and sea and air assets of the three Coast Guard forces responded to scenarios of search and rescue operation, tested their fire-fighting skills and clean up of an oil spill. There were observers from China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and the US in yesterday's exercise.

Hermogino said the exercise aims to test their capability in responding to oil spills since the Philippine maritime territory in the South China Sea is one of the busiest routes for oil tankers. "Almost 30 percent of the world imported oil passes through our waters so (the) possibility of a massive oil spill is there.

One of the preventive measures is sea response,"he said. Hermogino said there are still aspects where they could improve on their coordination such as resolving the language barrier.

"We cannot discount the fact there would be communication barrier that would affect the operation. Part of this exercise is to address on how we could better understand each other.

We are considering having representatives on each ship to help interpret or explain what the other side is saying," he said. Hermogino said the participants have agreed on using English as their language of communication.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:0PACI
Date:Jul 3, 2019
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