MANILA -- To raise awareness on the country's vast maritime domains and its potentials among Filipinos, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sept. 14, 2017 signed Proclamation No. 316 declaring every ninth month of the year as "Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month" or MANA Mo.
"Now, therefore, I, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and existing laws, do hereby declare the month of September of every year as the 'Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month' (MANA Mo)," the proclamation states.
Proclamation No. 316 is in line with Article XII, Section 2 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the State is mandated to protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone and reserve its use exclusively for Filipino citizens.
In terms of coastline length, the Philippines is sixth in world rankings with 36,289 km., with Russia at fifth (37,653 km.); Greenland fourth (44,087 km.); Indonesia third (54,716 km.); Norway second (83,281 km.); and Canada first (202,080 km.).
The proclamation also synchronized the observance of "Fish Conservation Week" that was made effective through Proclamation No. 176 s. 1963; "International Coastal Clean-up Day" (Proclamation No. 470 s. 2003); and "National Maritime Day" (Proclamation No. 866 s. 1996).
These activities are aimed at protecting the country's vast marine territories and resources aside from recognizing the importance of the Philippine maritime industry in the global shipping industry.
In justifying the synchronization, Duterte said there is a pressing need to harmonize, integrate, and synchronize programs and activities that will raise national consciousness on maritime and archipelagic issues and policies.
Proclamation No. 316 also recognizes the "importance of fish and other aquatic products to the people's well-being and the country's economy."
Raising public awareness on these matters can be boosted by a continuous partnership between the public and private sectors.
"All relative agencies and instrumentalities of the government, as well as private sectors are expected to conduct various programs and activities in celebration of MANA Mo," the Chief Executive said.
To ensure an integrated approach, the yearly observance and celebration of MANA Mo shall be coordinated by the National Coast Watch System (NCWS).
The NCWS was established on Sept. 6, 2011, based on former president Benigno Aquino III's Executive Order (EO) No. 57 mandating it as the central inter-agency mechanism for a coordinated and coherent approach on national maritime issues and maritime security operations towards enhancing governance in the country's maritime domain.
The NCWS said in its website that in observance of MANA Mo in September last year, it was able to consolidate maritime-related activities with government agencies and helped carry out some of these events.
For the whole month of September 2017, the NCWS showed various government agencies the wide variety of marine fauna thriving at the Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the Philippine Rise, in photo exhibits, campaign posters, and videos. The photos and videos were taken during an expedition to Benham Bank.
The NCWS also conducted an inter-agency Field Training Exercise, dubbed as Bukluran Bantay Baybayin 01-2017, which was conducted in partnership with the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency and attended by 400 participants from various government agencies.
The exercise aimed to assess and strengthen operations and capabilities for maritime surveillance and response operations, including the detection and identification of weapons of mass destruction and improvement of interagency cooperation.
Aside from this exercise, the Ateneo de Manila University, in partnership with Lingkod Bayani, the Philippine Coast Guard, Metrobank, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, among others, held a university forum entitled, Defending our Future: A Forum on the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.
The forum aimed to engage students in maritime and archipelagic issues that confront the Philippines. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency