MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has acquired roughly P450 million worth of new assets to help boost its capability to patrol the country's waters and respond to natural disasters.
The PCG unveiled to the public 12 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB), 73 rubber boats, 90 4x4 pick-up trucks with trailer hitch ball and mount, 5 fully-equipped ambulances, and 7 buses, in a ceremony at its headquarters at the Port of Manila on Thursday, July 25.
The 4x4 Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks are able to transport rubber boats and other equipment that can help the PCG in rescue missions during typhoons and floods.
The RHIBs are high-speed boats with radar, radio, and Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment. The PCG said the boats will be deployed to the country's coastal waters, as well as to the West Philippine Sea and Sulu Sea, to guard against poachers, pirates, and other intruders including foreign extremists.
Poaching is a serious concern especially in the West Philippine Sea, where the PCG is far outnumbered by foreign fishing boats that venture into the country's exclusive economic zone.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who led the inaugural ceremony, said the country loses $2 billion (P102.14 billion) every year in fish caught by foreign poachers.
"I am happy to witness these developments that are significant, especially those with the mandate that intersects the DND. As stewards of these assets, let us utilize these properly to safeguard the lives of our people," Lorenzana said.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, meanwhile, said: "Mayroon na po tayong mga tao sa PCG na may puso, damdamin, at patriotismo. Pero ano ho 'yung mga tao, kung walang kagamitan na panlaban sa kaaway? Ngayon, 'yung mga nangangasiwa sa PCG ay magkakaroon na ng kagamitan para sa pagtatanggol ng ating kapaligiran at karagatan."
(We already have people in the PCG with heart, passion, and patriotism. But what are these people if they have no equipment to fend off the enemy? Now, those who run the PCG will have equipment to defend our environment and our seas.)
The PCG is supervised by the Department of Transportation.
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.