PCG bares wish list to senators

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Lawmakers asked the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for a wish list to protect the country's maritime rights in light of rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

"Among all the DOTr (Department of Transportation) attached agencies, I think the one most active is and nagbubuwis-buhay para sa 'tin po (risking lives for our sake) is no other than our Philippine Coast Guard. That's why now is the time, Admiral (Artemio) Abu, to ask us for your wish list," said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri during the agency's budget hearing on Tuesday.

Abu then asked for P600 million more for fuel to conduct patrols in on top of the proposed P1.7 billion; P563 million for retrofitting, dry-docking, repair, and maintenance of vessels; and P144 million more for intelligence fund.

The coast guard's proposed budget for 2024 is P24 billion, or less than a tenth of DOTr’s P214.296-billion request. The DOTr said the addition P2 billion in the PCG budget will fund the target 4,000 new hires and purchase of remote-controlled weapon systems and caliber 9mm pistols.

"Our intention is to have at least three coast guardians in every kilometer length of coastline,” Abu said

"Right now, the strength of the population of the coast guard is 30,000 personnel, and every year, we have an increment of 4,000, and for the ensuing budget year 2024, we have an additional request for [an] additional 4,000 personnel," he added.

The PCG also pointed out the acquisition of assets to beef up its inventory.

"We need more for us to sustain our operations, for us to ensure that the porous maritime domain of our country will be attended to by the coast guard," Abu said.