The area of responsibility of Coast Guard Southeastern Mindanao (CGDSEM) covers the coastal waters of the province of Surigao Del Sur in the north stretching towards west to the province of Saranggani and down to the Island of Balut in the south. It also includes important bodies of water engulfing Davao region, namely; Davao Gulf, Malalag Bay of Davao Del Sur and Mayo Bay of Davao Oriental. It has a coastline extending to about 1,746 kilometers and sprawling across a water jurisdiction of about 13,747 square kilometers. Its coastal areas provide settings to six (6) cities, 48 municipalities and 1,160 coastal barangays.


Davao Gulf cuts into Davao Region from the Celebes Sea. It is surrounded by four provinces of said region comprising of Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. A cluster of islands can be found in the gulf collectively known as the Islands Garden City of Samal. The gulf is a major fishing ground and its ranked 10th among the 24 fisheries statistical areas of the country. It also serves as the center of marine biodiversity in the region that is rich in variety of marine life. On the gulf’s west coast sprawl a number of ports serving the local and international vessels. Record shows that an average of 21, 500 vessels and about 1760 of which are foreign call the different ports of Davao. These different ports link trade and commerce to other ports of the world such as those in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Australia, Middle East, Europe and USA. The gulf is also provides the environment for local water transport as there about 54 established routes crisscrossing within its waters and serving the transportation needs of the surrounding communities . There are about 343 clusters of residential communities situated along the coasts of Davao Gulf taking advantage of the convenience and economy of water transport. It is by these features that the gulf can be described as a very ecologically, economically and socially important area to Davao region.



CGDSEM sees the critical importance of the gulf to Davao region and further appreciate its colossal importance to the rest of the country as well as to the world. The District sees in particular the evolving and aggressive role of the gulf in promoting maritime trade and helping the country transform into an industrialized state. The role takes the country into fast global integration offering more opportunities but particularly on security. At present, the gulf enjoys a relatively peaceful atmosphere as it shares its amenities to various beneficiaries. But the truth remains that there exists several “love probability high impact scenarios’ that could threaten   the security of the gulf. 9/11 incident is a fine example of low probability high impact event and a horrifying experience that should not be repeated but should always remembered. CGDSEM having a major role in a maritime in security cannot be complacent and act as if these scenarios include terrorism, destabilizing violence and major maritime accident. Any of these scenarios should it happen could subsequently reduce all gains of Davao Region and its significant contributions to the country’s development to nothing.


Addressing security challenges in Davao Gulf, CGDSEM has conceived and developed Davao Gulf Watch. The gulf watch is an operational system that would enhance Coast Guard’s presence and control over critical choke points in the gulf along its coastline. This is aimed at increasing the operational effectiveness of CGDSEM with its limited available assets and resources. Initially, the system would help CGDSEM monitor vessels movement and significant maritime activities in the critical areas of the gulf for security purposes but would later expand to cover the whole gulf addressing not only maritime security but maritime safety as well. The system is supported by strategically situated to gather and provide timely information for decision making and excellent jump off points for response operations.


The primary backbone of Davao Gulf Watch is its radio communications system which is mainly dependent on VHF radios. The communications system required a repeater station installed in Tagum City to cover the whole area of the gulf extending to parts of Davao Oriental. Serving as radio and response stations for the gulf watch are Detachment Panabo, Detachment Malalag, Detachment Malita of CGS Davao and soon are Detachment Lupon and Detachment Tabanban of CBS Mati. The communications system allows real time transmission of information where events are actually taking place or allows decision makers to be virtually present where events are actually taking place.


CGDSEM realizes the effectiveness of the Gulf Watch in serving its purpose relies not only on its internal organization but as well as on the support of the different stakeholders supposed to be benefiting from the system. Along this course, the District has organized selected PCGA. Volunteers to be part of the Gulf watch to perform specific tasks as gulf watchers. As the Gulf Watch gains momentum in its implementation, several volunteers’ organizations have given their support to this initiative and more volunteers have given their support to this initiative and more volunteers have signified to join, mostly civic oriented organizations such as Night Hawks of Davao City and Tagum City. The Gulf Watch appropriately answers the Commandant’s call for Visibility, Vigilance, Preparedness and Partnership among its operating units and other concerned agencies to boosts PCG’s efforts in ensuring our country’s maritime environment safe, clean and secure.


“The maritime fleet is an essential element of the world’s economy that merits respect and support of the international community and its citizens.”- Author


The world financial crisis has greatly affected the world’s economy and has hit hard the shipping industry in particular. This has resulted to significant reduction in sea trade forcing many ship owners and operators to lay up a number of vessels. The Philippines recognizes the crucial importance of the maritime fleet in sustaining international trade and commerce. While it supports the world’s fleet by its able Filipino seafarers, the country takes another role in offering lay up centers for vessels that will be temporarily laid up from the service. The country has offered several lay up facilities for these idle vessels such as Malalag Bay in Davao Region and Subic Bay in Luzon. But as anchorage areas in Southeast Asia are being filled up with idle vessels, lay up is becoming competitive business with growing number of companies offering services.


Davao Gulf offers ideal lay up anchorage areas such as Malalag and Bunawan Bays. Malalag Bays. Malalag Bay has an advantage over Bunawan Bay in terms of several features. Malalag Bay lies on the southwest side of Davao Gulf and is fronted by mudflats leaving navigable deep water channel. The bay is being boasted as the country’s best lay up anchorage area as it offers cold lay up for vessels requiring minimum number of crew. It has a natural harbor features and enjoys a pleasant climate and favorable hydrographic conditions all year round. They bay propitiously lies in a region of the country having the advantage of being away from typhoon path. Malalag Bay sprawls to about 21 square kilometer area that can accommodate as much as 80 idle vessels in clusters. While the bay serves as an ideal sanctuary idle vessels, the attention of the Philippine government, however, has been invited to the higher insurance cost entailed in going its lay up sites in Davao Region.


In January 2009, the Joint War Committee (JWC) of Lloyds of London has included Mindanao among it the list of Areas of Perceived Enhanced Risk. The peninsula has been assessed by independent consultants of Lloyds to have exceeded the enhanced risk benchmark that has been established. As a result of the inclusion of Mindanao being in the list, higher insurance is being required for vessels being laid up in some parts of Mindanao particularly in Davao Gulf area – thereby serving as disincentive to attract more vessels. While there are armed violence and conflicts in central and western Mindanao and spill over may happen in parts in Davao Region, this will not provide a sufficient basis for Davao Gulf area to be included in the list of JWC. It is along this reason that MARINA in behalf of the Philippine Government has made an official request to JWC to delist Davao gulf area from its list of Areas of Perceived Enhanced Risk. JWC in response scheduled an independent Team to visit the country in order to assess the current security situation in Davao Gulf Area.