Philippine Space Agency Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr. signed a Memorandum of Understanding with National Coast Watch (NCW) Center Director CG RADM ROY A ECHEVERRIA in a virtual ceremony held Wednesday, 19 January 2022, to establish a formal partnership on information exchange and capacity-building on the use of space science and technology applications (SSTA) in maritime response, maritime security, and maritime domain awareness. The NCW is an inter-agency maritime surveillance and coordinated response center led by the Philippine Coast Guard. PhilSA Deputy Director General for Space Science and Technology Dr. Gay Jane P. Perez and NCW Deputy Director CG CDR MARK LARSEN MARIANO witnessed the signing ceremony.
In his message, Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., expressed PhilSA’s commitment to better serve and empower Filipinos through the expansion of space-related initiatives. “This MOU reflects our mutual intention and willingness to work together to enhance the country’s maritime domain awareness, security and response through the increasing use of relevant space and ground-based technologies. Indeed, if one goal is to be able to watch over our coastlines, coastal areas and coastal resources, then the vantage point of outer space is becoming invaluable and indispensable,” Director General Marciano said.
RADM ECHEVERRIA said, to address the “daunting” and “ever-growing” challenges in maritime monitoring and security, the NCW has been partnering with other government agencies and institutions to enhance the maritime domain awareness (MDA) capabilities of the country. “This partnership with PhilSA will give the NCW added capability in terms of space science and technology, while we provide the PhilSA with MDA tools and other valuable information that the Agency may need from the Center. We hope that this will not be limited to information exchange, but also to the enhancement of our respective capabilities in terms of training and workshops,” RADM ECHEVERRIA added.
Among the powers and functions of PhilSA under the Philippine Space Act is to improve the accessibility and availability of space science and technology applications to assist other government agencies in the performance of their duties and mandates. PhilSA also provides relevant SSTA training, capacity-building, and consultation services to other government agencies, the private sector, and educational institutions, in line with its powers and functions under the law.
The PhilSA-NCW Center MOU establishes the following areas of cooperation: (1) Sharing of scientific and technological know-how on SSTA, including relevant information and data on Automatic Identification System (AIS) and satellite images; (2) Sharing and submission of pertinent information or reports relevant to SSTA, maritime security, maritime response and maritime domain awareness; (3) Capacity-building through the conduct of specialized training courses on the application of space-based technologies and platforms and tools on maritime security, maritime response, and maritime domain awareness; (4) Research and development on topics relevant to SSTA, maritime security, maritime response, and maritime domain awareness, and; (5) Organizing public conferences, symposia, workshops, and events as may be agreed upon by both parties.
In her remarks, Dr. Perez underscored the importance of appropriate space enabled technologies in the country’s maritime security system: “We are encouraged by the opportunity to assist the maritime security sector in taking on space science and technology capability onboard its options in protecting the country’s extensive coastal areas, and make these resources safer for our people to access and navigate,” Dr. Perez said.
NCW Deputy Director CDR MARIANO described the MOU between PhilSA and NCW as “another milestone,” and pointed out that “no single agency can secure the maritime domain alone. SSTA is a vital element in monitoring the activities within our maritime jurisdiction which is vulnerable to unlawful activities, threatening our maritime security.”
PhilSA’s MOU with NCW Center adds to the Agency’s active involvement in the country’s maritime security initiatives. PhilSA has been working with the national defense sector through the regular provision of satellite data and images, in line with the Agency’s mandate to promote national security and development.