United States Embassy in Manila’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael Klecheski, has led the transfer of four patrol boats to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Puerto Princesa to improve maritime law enforcement capabilities. Chief Supt. Jose Ma Victor Ramos was in attendance to receive the donation on behalf of the PNP along with Sr. Supt. Edmund Gonzales.
In his dedication, Klecheski noted the importance of improving maritime police equipment in the region, highlighting that the maritime domain factors prominently into virtually all law enforcement and terrorism issues that the Philippines faces today.
He cited the impact that the Special Operations Units (SOU) have had on preventing illegal activity and assisting in regional cooperation with neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam.
The donation marks the latest significant milestone in a more than 10-year partnership between the PNP Maritime Group and the U.S Departments of State, Defense and Justice (through the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program).
The goal of this high degree of cooperation is to modernize maritime law enforcement’s equipment to combat smuggling, drugs, human trafficking and other forms of seafaring crime.
The boats are all 30-foot vessels or larger and are collectively worth over USD 2.3 million. They were provided by the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) along with spare parts and supplies.
INL said it would continue to support this transition by funding the training of the personnel who will handle these vessels.
Since 2010 the State Department has donated 10 patrol boats that are the primary tools used by the SOU to rescue individuals or stop criminal behavior.
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