U.S. sponsors maritime law enforcement training in Cebu

The Philippine Coast Guard’s Lieutenant Junior Grade Cyril Pearl Magbanua (sixth from left), the first female lead instructor of a Southeast Asia Training Team (SEATT) event, poses alongside her Vessel Boarding Officer Course co-instructors from the United States, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Japan.  The training event is supported by the United States Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Southeast Asia Training Team (SEATT), in collaboration with instructors from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Japan, conducted a Vessel Boarding Officer Course in Cebu City from May 13 to 24.

This training aimed to enhance the maritime law enforcement capabilities of 30 participants from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group.

The SEATT’s Vessel Boarding Officer Course provided participants with essential skills and techniques for boarding vessels for at-sea law enforcement. Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), this event marked the first USCG-INL training held in the Visayas.

Hosted by Coast Guard District Central Visayas, the training featured four U.S.-trained PCG instructors, two instructors from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, two from the Royal Thailand Marine Police, and three experts from the Japan Coast Guard.

Participants were trained in maritime law, evidence collection and preservation, safety and risk mitigation, arresting techniques, defensive tactics, and the authorized use of force.

“This was the first time that PCG took the lead on planning and facilitating a multinational training event in Central Visayas, and it proved to be a resounding success. We’d like to highlight the outstanding collaboration among our group of multinational instructors in training Philippine maritime law enforcement professionals to uphold maritime governance more effectively,” USCG team lead Lieutenant Dana Schmitt said.

“Through the Boarding Officer Course of the USCG SEATT, coast guardians of Central Visayas harnessed a high standard of maritime interdiction capabilities,” Coast Guard District Central Visayas Commander Commodore Christopher M. Meniado said.

The boarding officer course in Cebu was also notable as the first SEATT event led by a female PCG instructor, Lieutenant Junior Grade Cyril Pearl Magbanua.

“Being the only female of the group in this male-dominated field, I am forever grateful to the SEATT for the trust in designating me as the team lead for this latest successful multilateral law enforcement undertaking where many of the PCG personnel benefited. This is a great avenue of validating female personnel in the service and showcasing our skills. No responsibility is big if you have the passion in pursuing it,” Magbanua said.

The SEATT program is one of several U.S.-funded initiatives promoting cooperative training to advance shared maritime security goals in Southeast Asia.

Last year, SEATT Boarding Officer Courses were held in Palawan and La Union, featuring multinational coast guard trainers and participants from Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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