Chief Temdik Ngirblekuu of the Division of Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection (DMSFWP) paid a visit to the Philippines from July 18th to July 22nd, 2022, focused on strengthening relationships between both countries that share a maritime border and common maritime threats such as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, impacts from climate change, and other unlawful maritime activities.
The US Department of State’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs through Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP) representatives from Washington, D.C., collaborated with the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in Manila as well as Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to program meetings.
Meetings included key Philippine agencies and stakeholders such as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) who is responsible for the development, improvement, management and conservation of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources, and the Philippine Coast Guard responsible for maritime security, search and rescue, and enforcement of maritime and fisheries laws. The visit to the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters in Manila included a visit to their National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) which shares and manages many of the same monitoring, control, and surveillance techniques used by Palau’s DMSFWP at the Joint Operations Center (JOC) under Chief Temdik Ngirblekuu’s leadership.
The highlight of the visit was meeting the Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard, Admiral Artemio M. Abu, who rolled out the red carpet welcoming with open arms to Chief Ngirblekuu at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters. In a follow up meeting with various Directors from the Philippine Coast Guard, CG Vice Admiral Rolando Lizor N. Punzalan, Jr. remarked that Palau’s visit to the Philippines was a “breakthrough meeting” and they would “subscribe to the ideas laid out in the meetings to pursue”, such as developing a strong information sharing partnership and joint efforts to combat IUU fishing and other unlawful maritime activities along our nations’ shared maritime borders. Per Admiral Abu, this visit was the first visit he remembers occurring since 2015 and he remains hopeful that this is just the beginning of a strong and fruitful partnership with neighboring Palau. Together, we can help protect and defend our cultures, economies, and livelihoods while promoting the enforcement of international maritime laws and conservation of the biodiversity that is threatened by climate, IUU fishing, and unlawful actors in the Pacific region