RECAAP REVISITS PIRACY IN ASIA
As a proactive move, authorities are assessing incidents of piracy and sea robbery in Asia. ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre and the Phil Coast Guard (PCG) jointly convene a meeting of regional maritime authorities, shipping, industry and diplomatic communities.
Maritime law enforcement and regulatory agencies from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam also participated in the two-day meeting in Manila.
Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), representing the Guest-of-Honour, Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go of the Phil, welcomed the delegations and noted the greater cooperation among Asian countries.
This keeps sea lanes safe and secure the free and open passage of commercial vessels so that economies in the region can continue to develop without the threat of piracy and armed robbery against ships.
In addition to updates, the meeting will also take stock of the evolving situation in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters of Eastern Sabah, which has seen 30 incidents of abduction of crew (19 actual and 11 attempted) between March 2016 to November 2019, with the two most recent incidents occurring in June and September 2019.
The meeting will also examine the evolving nature of piracy and sea robbery, using the Sulu Sea as a case study, where most of the incidents of the abduction of crew for ransom were claimed by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), an Islamic extremist group based in southern Philippines.
The meeting will close with an assessment of the efforts and progress made by the Philippine Government in addressing the piracy and sea robbery situation in the southern Philippines and chart the way forward.
Dynamic and evolving.
“The maritime safety and security situation in the Sulu-Celebes Seas is dynamic and evolving. While the stakeholders have made much efforts to address the threats, more can be done, especially in examining the underlying causes driving the incidents of abduction of crew for ransom claimed by the Abu Sayyaf Group,” said Admiral Joel S. Garcia, PCG Commandant.
“This meeting is hence timely as it presents an opportunity to raise the awareness and share perspectives on the emergent nexus between maritime terrorism and piracy and armed robbery against ships.
This is an area I encourage ReCAAP ISC to further study, as it may potentially add a new complexion to piracy and sea robbery in the future,” continued Admiral Garcia, also Chairperson of the ReCAAP ISC Governing Council.
“While the overall number of incidents of piracy and sea robbery in Asia has been decreasing, with 70 incidents from January to November 2019, we cannot afford to operate in a ‘business as usual’ mode,” adds Mr. Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC.
“The situation always has the potential to change, as new modus operandi emerge. ReCAAP ISC and Focal Points, the shipping industry and other stakeholders must stay vigilant and be keen to the evolving threats.
This meeting co-organised with ReCAAP Philippine Focal Point is thus designed to assess the progress of efforts, consider further measures, and raise awareness on emerging threats to the safety and security of our seas,” continues Kuroki.
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.
The Agreement entered into force on September 4, 2006 with 14 Asian countries as Contracting Parties, and the Information Sharing Centre was established on November 29, 2006.
To date, 20 States (14 Asian countries, 4 European countries, Australia, the USA) have become Contracting Parties to ReCAAP. To fulfil its vision as the Information Hub for combating piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia, ReCAAP ISC enhances regional cooperation through information sharing, capacity building and cooperative arrangements.
At the 12th Governing Council Meeting in 2018, the Council announced that ReCAAP ISC has met the criteria to be a Centre of Excellence for information sharing in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships at sea.
Phil Coast Guard.
The PCG is mandated and responsible for maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, maritime safety, marine environmental protection and maritime security. It is the third uniformed services of the Republic (with the Armed Forces and the Police as first and second, respectively).