The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the China Coast Guard (CCG) will implement an agreement establishing the Joint Coast Guard Committee for maritime cooperation between them.
The agreement was signed on October 20, 2016 and witnessed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Felipe Judan, Department of Transportation undersecretary for the maritime sector, in his keynote address during the inaugural meeting between the PCG and the CCG last month, said mutual understanding, cooperation and friendship between the two coast guards would contribute to further strengthening of bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing.
At the inaugural meeting, both sides recognized the significance of coast guard diplomacy.
The JCGC adopted implementing guidelines of the agreement and the terms of reference (TOR) of working groups put up to assist in the work of the committee.
Both sides agreed to cooperate on preventing and combating drug trafficking and other transnational crimes and on search and rescue (SAR), environment protection and emergency response through, among other modalities, information exchange and pragmatic empowerment activities unique for the PCG and the CCG and enforcement agencies.
They also established a hotline to facilitate communications in agreed areas of cooperation.
Both sides agreed too to conduct bilateral exchange activities in 2017, including high-level visits, maritime operations and related exercises, vessel visits and capacity-building.
The CCG invited PCG officials to visit China at an appropriate time this year. JAIME R. PILAPIL