MANILA—Malacanang has formed a task force to advance the country’s national interests in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
“Given the country’s national interest, national policies and evolving strategic landscape, a more deliberate and coherent approach in addressing the West Philippine Sea issue is needed for the purpose of orchestrating the national effort and achieving unified action in the West Philippine Sea,” said Memorandum Circular No. 94 released by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday.
The circular formally establishes the task force chaired by National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia Jr.
Its members include representatives from the Departments of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Justice, Interior and Local Government, Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Transportation and Communications and Finance, National Economic and Development Authority, National Coast Watch System, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
The task force will be responsible in planning and synchronizing the employment of the different national government agencies’ capabilities to achieve the national objectives in the WPS.
It will receive guidance from the President, through the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace. The task force will submit reports and recommendations also to the President through the Security Cluster.
Likewise, the national task force will create an Area-level Task Force which will plan and harmonize the efforts of the different government agencies at the area level.
The ATF may also organize Tactical-level Task Forces (TTFs) composed of units, assets, capabilities and elements of different agencies.
The circular directed all branches of the government, departments, bureaus, agencies, offices and local government units, including government-owned or controlled corporations, to provide full support, assistance and cooperation to the national task force in carrying out its mandates and function.