With a P3 billion budget for this year, the Coast Guard plans to acquire two brand new aircraft to boost its capability to respond to emergency situations on the high seas, Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said in a report released Thursday.
The choppers, preferably twin engine Eurocopters, will be fitted with emergency floats, rescue hoist, search light, load hook and specialist equipment for other operational requirements, said Tamayo, Coast Guard commandant.
Tamayo said the Coast Guard is also hiring as many as 2,500 men and women in a 10-year program to beef up its 6,000 force in securing the country’s 5,000 coastal barangays in 60 provinces.
While fulffing its regular mandate, Tamayo said the Coast Guard also helped combat the illegal drug trade. The recovery of high-grade cocaine valued at P362 million in Eastern Samar was among the Coast Guard’s significant accomplishments in its war on illegal drugs in 2010, Tamayo said.
Coast Guard operatives with the help of K9 unit and the local police recovered 72 brick packages of cocaine (1kg. each) from the coastline of Samar.
The crew of a Chinese vessel dumped the cocaine shipment after being tipped off that authorities were waiting for their ship in Hong Kong and ready to pounce on them, Tamayo said.
In its anti-smuggling drive, the Coast Guard highlighted the capture of two smuggled yachts-Pleasure Yacht VZR and Pleasure Yacht RDB. The boats were from Florida, USA valued at P20 million and owned by one Restie Bicomong of Metro Star Ferry Wharf based in Pasay City.
In two separate occasions, the Coast Guard sea marshals confiscated a shipment of firearms and explosives such as .45-cal pistol and ammunitions, and a hand grenade in South Harbor this month.
Smuggled China-made firecrackers worth P1.6 million was also seized in Zamboanga del Sur.