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ATF North strengthens regional security under new leadership

ATF North

Camp Aquino, Tarlac City – The Area Task Force North (ATF North) convened its inaugural meeting under the leadership of LTGEN FERNYL G BUCA PAF, Commander, Northern Luzon Command (COMNOLCOM) signalling an intensified approach towards fortifying maritime security within the Northern Luzon region held at the Headquarters NOLCOM on August 24, 2023.

The convergence brought key stakeholders from essential entities including the Philippine Coast Guard, PNP Regional Maritime Units, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Offices, 5th Infantry Division Philippine Army PA, 7th Infantry Division PA, Naval Forces Northern Luzon, and the Tactical Operations Wing Northern Luzon through a Video Teleconference format. This collaborative assembly aimed to amplify coordination efforts and heighten vigilance in safeguarding the extensive maritime domains across Northern Luzon.

During the meeting, COMNOLCOM emphasized the critical role ATF North plays in protecting the vast maritime expanse spanning 769,606 sq.km, encompassing strategic features such as Bajo de Masinloc, Luzon Strait, and the Philippine Rise.

LTGEN BUCA outlined a multifaceted approach. “Robust information and intelligence sharing among agencies are needed to build maritime situational awareness,” he stated. Timely and accurate data collection was highlighted as a foundational step to generate comprehensive operational insights that facilitate informed decision-making for governance, development, and security initiatives.

The ATF North Chief also underscored the necessity for sustained government presence and maritime patrols in Northern Luzon. He urged member agencies to capitalize on the Maritime Domain Awareness synchronization matrix and strive for continuous improvement of their capabilities while collaborating to bridge operational gaps.

Addressing intrusions and illegal activities, COMNOLCOM stressed adherence to rules of engagement and operational procedures. He also emphasized the need for meticulous documentation to support diplomatic efforts and strategic communication.

“Our goal is to gather, analyze, and process available information, presenting options aligned with the strategic direction set by the National Security Adviser and Secretary of National Defense. This collective effort will ensure a stronger, more secure Northern Luzon maritime domain,” said LTGEN BUCA as he ended his statement.

The NOLCOM AFP is ATF North’s lead agency responsible for safeguarding the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of the country’s northern maritime domain, which encompasses the vast, resource-rich maritime areas of the West Philippine Sea’s Bajo De Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), and the Luzon Strait in Batanes.

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