Navy troops tasked to guard the West Philippine Sea arrived in Palawan on Tuesday after holding exercises with Brunei, a fellow claimant to the disputed Spratly Islands.

Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, chief of the Armed Forces’ Western Command (Wescom), welcomed the troops at the Lagare Pier in Parola Compound, Puerto Princesa City.

“Now that you are back with the new found knowledge, I am confident that you are all more enthused by your commitment to service for aggressive efforts towards peace and security in the area of responsibility,” Sabban told the troops.

The troops, all members of Naval Task Group 80.1 (NTG 80.1), underwent an exercise called “MTA Seagull” with the Royal Brunei Navy from Nov. 19 to 25, according to a statement from the Wescom public affairs office.

This year’s training, the fifth in the series held every two years, was aimed to foster better relationship between the two navies and “enhance inter-operability,” the statement said.

Activities in the joint training included communications exercises, diving techniques, combined practical boarding, at-sea maneuvers, and gunnery exercises.

The NTG 80.1 is composed of the gunships BRP Artemio Ricarte, BRP Gen. Mariano Alvarez, a team from the Naval Special Operations Group, and a team from the Fleet-Marine Ready Force. (John Roson)

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