MANILA — The Philippine Coast Guard on Saturday urged the government to prioritize their modernization so they could boost their capacity amid the continued incursions and harassments of China.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG's spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said they only have 3 offshore patrol vessels, one of which came from France and two were from Japan.
Aside from this, PCG currently has 10 multi-role response vessels (MRRVs).
Their capacity is also limited, as some vessels, like the BRP Malapascua which came from Japan, could only sustain its patrol for around 2 weeks.
“Because of limited fuel capacity, the supplies as well to sustain iyong buhay ng ating mga crew. And then at the same time, kung malalaki din iyong alon, sa maliit na barko na ganoon, hindi niya rin talaga masu-sustain iyong patrol niya na iyon, babalik at babalik lang siya,” Tarriela said during a media forum in Quezon City.
What the Coast Guard needs, he said, is the passage of the Philippine Coast Guard modernization law so they could program the acquisition of additional offshore patrol vessels, aircrafts, and maritime domain awareness capabilities such as radar areas and lighthouses in the country’s coastal areas.
Aside from these, the PCG is calling for additional port facilities, as they only depend on the Philippine Ports Authority for their mooring.
It was also important, he said, that they have their national headquarters, as the government has yet to provide them one.
“If we are going to talk about what are the priorities of the PCG to develop our capability. I think our main priority right now is the Coast Guard for base facilities kung saan puwede natin ipaglagakan ang ating barko, kasi right now we don't have enough berthing spaces,” he said during a chance interview.
“These are the basic needs of the Philippine Coast Guard… [Coast Guard Admiral Artemio Manalo Abu] wants a national headquarters that we can be proud of… and secondly berthing spaces where the PCG can put its multi-billion assets na mapoprotektahan natin,” he said.
“We are continuously patrolling despite the limited number of vessels we have.”
The Philippine Coast Guard currently has nearly P22 billion budget for this year, information from the budget department showed.
Tarriela said President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and several lawmakers have expressed their support for the Coast Guard’s modernization, he said. Marcos has said the Coast Guard plays a critical role in defending the country's territory and maintaining peace
Their personnel is also expected to increase by 4,000 to 30,000 this year.