On the 25 and 26 of April, the Philippine National Maritime Centre (NM Center), with the support of the EU CRIMARIO II project, coordinated the second iteration of the large-scale interagency Tabletop and Field Training Exercise ALALAYAN 2024.

Organized and took place in Palawan, the exercise saw the participation of 22 agencies from the Philippines; it aimed to test and enhance the interoperability among national and local agencies and demonstrate their capability to coordinate and render support in identifying and fighting maritime threats.

During the two days, agencies’ personnel operated together in a simulated and real environment to address and solve a complex situation involving ships suspected of illegal drug trafficking, illegal transport of endangered species, IUU fishing, and Search and Rescue around Puerto Princesa.

To facilitate communication, coordination, and cooperation among operational centers and assets at sea, participating agencies used IORIS, the Indo-Pacific Information Sharing Platform, a neutral, secured, and reliable tool, designed to enable inter-agency communication and coordination between domestic and international stakeholders to address the evolving and complex challenges within the maritime domain.

The successful conclusion of the exercise highlighted lessons learned and techniques that will improve the already good level of joint response to real-world complex maritime emergencies. At the same time, IORIS proved to be a reliable communications platform for interagency planning and coordination at the national level, facilitating the gathering, analysis, and exchange of information to timely and efficiently support decision-making and actions at sea.

Participating in the event, Luc Veron, EU Ambassador to the Philippines stated: “The Philippines’ embrace of IORIS underscores the country’s deep understanding of the importance of the maritime domain. As the first Southeast Asian nation to adopt IORIS nationally, the Philippines, through the leadership of the NCWC, Coast Guard, Navy, and other authorities, demonstrates its commitment to collaboratively addressing the complex challenges of today’s maritime environment.

This exercise is a testament to the Philippines’ dedication to enhancing maritime safety and security at the national level. By leveraging IORIS, it fosters inter-agency cooperation between maritime and relevant agencies.”

The Guest of Honor, the first Presidential Assistant for Maritime Concerns, Secretary Andres C. Centino on his message emphasized: “With expanded functions, the National Maritime Center will now work with more support agencies, continue to coordinate and collaborate with partners, including our foreign allies, ensuring that we are fully capable of being aware of the maritime situation within our archipelago.”

In his closing message, CG VADM Roy A. Echeverria, Director of NM Center underlined: ““I commend each and every participant of this Interagency Exercise ALALAYAN 2024. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to everyone for we had a resounding success of our Table-Top Exercise, Command Post Exercise, and Field Training Exercise. Your support and participation in this Interagency Exercise is a declaration of your commitment and unwavering efforts to promote a whole-of-government approach to enhancing maritime governance in the country. This activity has indeed demonstrated everyone’s expertise and collective contributions in achieving our objectives and furthering our shared goal of enhancing maritime security.”

Martin Cauchi-Inglott, CRIMARIO project director concluded: “The Philippines has been at the forefront of welcoming IORIS to the region and is now set to lead the way in taking ownership of IORIS, using it internally, and bridge to external partners whenever necessary. My hearty congratulations go to these most professional maritime agencies participating in the exercises in the past days and to the NMC for organizing and playing an essential role in conducting it”.