US President Obama vows to help Philippines set up coast watch center - Palace

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U.S. President Barack Obama addresses U.S. and Philippine troops at Fort Bonifacio in Manila, the Philippines, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Obama is wrapping up his four-country eight-day tour of Asia. AP/Charles Dharapak

The United States will also help the Philippines improve its maritime border security by assisting in the creation of a coast watch center and by enhancing maritime information-sharing.

Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said when President Barack Obama met with President Benigno Aquino III last Monday, the American leader vowed to assist the country in setting up the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC).

Coloma was present during the expanded bilateral meeting between the two leaders.

The NCWC is an inter-agency mechanism which aims to enhance maritime border security, as well as in governing the country’s maritime domain, pursuant to Executive Order 57 issued in September 2011.

According to the White House, the NCWC will assist the Philippine Coast Guard in assuming increased responsibility for enhancing information-sharing and inter-agency coordination in maritime security operations.

The White House said the US government will help in establishing the NCWC through its Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Coloma said Obama also expressed his desire to enhance the maritime information-sharing between the United States and its allies, including the Philippines, to easily manage maritime conflicts and disputes.

Obama left the Philippines yesterday, concluding his two-day state visit here and his week-long, four-nation Asian trip.

He said the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US will not simply deal with issues of maritime security, but it will also enhance military capabilities in disaster-response.

While the US is reaffirming its alliances in the region, Obama said they are not trying to counter China's growing influence and perceived increasing aggression. But the American leader also renewed calls for a peaceful resolution of the territorial conflicts.

"But as a matter of international law and international norms, we don’t think that coercion and intimidation is the way to manage these disputes," Obama said during the joint press conference with Aquino.

The Philippines, China, and other Southeast Asian nations have overlapping claims over the South China Sea.

Manila has filed an arbitration case before an international tribunal, which Obama supported during his visit. - Louis Bacani - philSTAR

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