BRP San Juan (56 meter) a Tenix class patrol vessel (photo : Timawa)
West Phl Sea Base to be Fortified
MANILA, Philippines - Apart from repairing their air and sea assets, a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) official yesterday said a portion of the P1.5-billion fund allocated by the government for the maritime agency would be used to construct a support base at the Western Philippine Sea to immediately respond to sea emergencies in the area.
Coast Guard vice commandant for operations Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr. yesterday said they were grateful for the full support being given by President Aquino and Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II to the Coast Guard.
“We are thankful to Secretary Roxas for his full-blast support to the PCG. Improving the capability of the PCG would help us fully implement the projects and programs of the Aquino administration,” Tuason said.
He said a portion of the P1.5 billion to be released to the Coast Guard would be used to set up a support base in Ulugan Bay in Palawan. At the moment, the Coast Guard has a district in Palawan, but it is facing the eastern side of the province. It is also supported by five stations and 17 detachments.
Apart from being the largest province in the country, Palawan also hosts the Malampaya natural gas project.
“It would be quicker for quick response and law enforcement activities in the West coast of Palawan... especially if there is a problem in the Malampaya project or other projects of national government, we would have a faster response time,” Tuason said
He said the support base would also provide immediate shelter for ships during bad weather in the area.
The Coast Guard might also build a hangar for their helicopter and a pier for their ships.
Tuason said the support base would also be useful during inspections and there might also be instances when the growing oil and gas exploration in Palawan would create problems and the maritime agency should be quick to deploy its assets to address situations such as maritime pollution.
“We can easily do that if we are near the western side (of Palawan),” he said.
The government is expected to give the P1.5 billion from its share of the Malampaya fund to upgrade the Coast Guard assets within the year or next year.
Part of the money would be used to repair two of their 56-meter vessel and one 35-meter vessel. They could also have one helicopter and one islander fixed.
It is also part of their plan to purchase M35 trucks that are necessarily during heavy flooding in Metro Manila.
“This would be useful for land rescue, when we need to go to flooded areas. We could use this to transport our divers,” Tuason said.
Should there be more available funds, Tuason said the Coast Guard would hire additional personnel.
Apart from the funds from Malampaya, the Coast Guard under the leadership of its commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan is also coordinating with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for the purchase of brand new vessels.
“There is already an ongoing deliberation for 10 units of 40-meter vessels for the PCG. In due time, this would be referred to Japan wherein five vessels might be constructed in Japan while the other five units in Cebu. These vessels would be brand new,” he said.
This is part of the agreement between the government of the Philippines and Japan.
“We are also hoping that we would be able to get a grant. We are requesting them to construct two bigger vessels, measuring 80 to 100 meters, to be constructed in Japan...We would be grateful because they know that we are also in need of those ships,” he said.
Tuason added the 10-meter ship would better ensure the safety of the Coast Guard’s search and rescue personnel during operation.