THE PHILIPPINES, Japan and the United States held joint training exercises in towing and firefighting techniques this month using patrol vessels provided by Tokyo, the Japan Embassy said in a statement on Monday.

This should have improved the operational and rescue capabilities of the Southeast Asian nation’s coast guard, it added.

“The Japan Coast Guard’s Mobile Cooperation Team jointly provided technical guidance in towing and firefighting techniques by deploying the two 97-meter patrol vessels recently provided by Japan — BRP Teresa Magbanua and BRP Melchora Aquino — in order to enhance the operational and rescue capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard,” it said.

The joint training was held on June 12 to 25, the second maritime law enforcement training among the three countries this year. The first was held in April.

Philippine Coast Guard personnel are expected to lead future courses, which is why the first half of the training focused on instructor development for 14 candidates and prepared them to plan, organize and present scenarios and tactics to a student audience, the Japanese Embassy said.

During the second phase, tactical instruction was provided for self-defense and detaining techniques.

The US and Japanese coast guards seek to provide capacity-building support to their Philippine counterpart, promising further collaboration in the future.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on June 12 led the commissioning of a Coast Guard ship would patrol Philippine-claimed territories in the South China Sea, years after foreign policy experts started criticizing him for his government’s lack of presence in the waterway.

Mr. Duterte, 77, gave a salute to acknowledge the vessel as he formally allowed its commanding officer to start its official duty, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

The agency said the ship would roam around the country’s maritime jurisdictions, including the South China Sea in the west and Philippine Rise eastward.

The vessel, named after Filipina revolutionary Melchora Aquino, is one of the two largest white ships acquired by the Transportation department for the coast guard.

It is modeled after the Japan Coast Guard’s Kunigami-class vessel that has a maximum speed of 24 nautical miles per hour and endurance of not less than 4,000 nautical miles, according to the coast guard. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan