During a visit to Tawi-Tawi on May 10, US Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klecheski handed over a Law Enforcement and Community Medical Facility to the Philippine National Police Maritime Group (PNP MG), the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Marines in support of the shared US-Philippine goal to strengthen maritime public safety.
The Law Enforcement Center in Taganak, Tawi-Tawi will provide a forward base of operations for the Philippine National Police 1st Maritime Special Operations Unit and the Philippine Marines to secure the Philippines’ southwestern sea border and also provide the first community medical facility in the Turtle Islands. Construction on the facility, valued at approximately P75 million, began in 2012 and was completed in March 2017. The facility is funded by US Department of Defense Pacific Command Joint Interagency Task Force West.
Over the past ten years, the US government (USG) has been engaged in the development of a Special Operations Unit-Maritime within the PNP MG. The USG has worked to support efforts that strengthen maritime public safety along coastal Palawan and the sea border with Malaysia. Since 2008, the USG has donated 10 patrol boats and constructed two PNP Maritime Group headquarters facilities, one at Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa and one in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
The USG has also constructed outstations at Balabac, Palawan and Taganak, Tawi-Tawi, and a third outstation is currently under construction at Lantawan, Basilan. In addition, the USG has provided extensive training and equipment to Maritime Group Special Operations Unit personnel. The project is jointly managed by the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; the US Department of Justice International Criminal Investigations Training Assistance Program; and the US Department of Defense Pacific Command Joint Interagency Task Force West.