By Paola Palma
A new sight at Manila South Harbor is a 50-foot electronic tower standing on Pier 15 keeping a virtual eye on Manila Bay.
The Maritime Surveillance Tower has a thermal camera and a daylight camera that covers an eight-kilometer radius plus a radar system that can detect activity within 25 nautical miles.
That’s about the distance from the harbor to Corregidor Island.
The tower is on a test-run, installed by the United States Marines as part of a system that may help the Philippines guard its waters.
Commander Armand Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesman, says that, if the system proves effective, then the US may install more towers along strategic Philippine coastlines.
The Maritime Surveillance System can detect any activity at sea, including poaching, smuggling, piracy, and illegal entry.
It also features an automated identification system, which will help assess maritime traffic and provide information on passing vessels such as names, types and destinations.
The trial period will run until¬†February 21st, after which, both the PCG and the US Marines will evaluate if the system works.
If it works, the Americans say, the US government may donate the entire system.
The move comes after a directive by President Aquino to establish a national coast watch system, which the United States offered to shoulder under a Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.