Two sites of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) were used as staging areas to help in the search and rescue (SAR) operations for missing divers in Tubbataha Reef.
According to a statement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, three U.S. air assets stationed in Antonio Bautista Air Base, Puerto Princesa and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu are being utilized to help in the ongoing mission to find four missing Filipino divers after their boat sunk in Tubbataha on April 30.
The AFP said that the responsive United States-Philippines combined inter-agency operation utilizing EDCA locations was carried out at the request of the Philippine government.
In the early morning on April 30, the AFP Western Command (WESCOM) deployed the Philippine Navy vessel BRP Carlos Albert (PC-375) in an urgent response to information received about the sinking of a dive boat, M/Y Dream Keeper, in the said area.
Two aluminum boats of the Tubbataha Reef National Park (TRNP) were immediately dispatched and joined the SAR operations conducted by two other dive boats, M/Y Monsy and M/V Sport Palau.
WESCOM has also utilized two of its air assets, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) Sokol Helicopter and a PN AW109E Helicopter, to augment the ongoing SAR operations.
Catherine R. Cueto