Año to lobby for PCG modernization

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – National security adviser Eduardo Año on Monday said he would lobby for legislative measures that would help modernize the Philippine Coast Guard, citing the need to safeguard the country’s sovereign rights.

“Nakita natin ang role ng Coast Guard sa ngayon. Sabi ko nga they are the busiest, the most fast, multi-mission — from crises to even pandemic, mga sea incidents, oil spills, nasusunog na barko, lumubog, nagbanggaan,” he said during an ambush interview on-board the PCG's BRB Melchora Aquino.

[Translation: We have seen the role of the Coast Guard so far. I have always said they are the busiest, the fastest, multi-mission — from crises to even pandemics, sea incidents, oil spills, burning ships, sinkings, collisions.]

Año said the modernization of the PCG will accelerate the country’s response to various sea-related concerns, especially within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Last week, the PCG placed five navigational buoys with Philippine flags in different parts of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), particularly near different sea features and fishing grounds near Patag, Kota, and Panata Islands, and Balagtas and Julian Felipe Reefs.

Five buoys were also put up last year near Pag-asa, Likas, Lawak and Parola Islands.

Aside from being navigational guides to ships and boats passing through the area, the buoys will also serve as markers of Philippine territory, the PCG added.

"Ituluy-tuloy lang nila ang kanilang ginagampanang misyon. Making sure na protektado ang ating fishermen, protektado ang environment natin at siguruhin na ang ating sovereignty ay nababantayan. Ang ating EEZ ay napaka-importante sa atin," he added.

[Translation: They will simply continue their mission. Making sure that our fishermen are protected, our environment is protected, and make sure that our sovereignty is guarded. Our EEZ is very important to us.]

Currently, the PCG has 26 capital ships in its fleet.

Three offshore vessels and 10 multi-role response vessels are alternately being used to patrol the West Philippine Sea and confront the armada of the China Coast Guard and Chinese militia vessels on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said the agency will keep on seeking the support of the national government to help modernize the PCG and ensure its continued presence in the WPS.

Oriental Mindoro Representative Leody Tarriela has filed the PCG Modernization Bill at the House of Representatives, aiming to buy more floating and air assets for the Coast Guard.

A modernization bill is also pending at the Senate with Senator Bong Go as principal author.