By Betheena Unite
The country’s presence in the West Philippine Sea will be further felt when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deploys three vessels in the disputed sea.
Three 44-meter Multi Role-Response Vessels (MRRV) namely MRRV-4404 (Capones), MRRV-4406 (Suluan) and MRRV-4407 (Sindangan) were commissioned today in the service of the PCG.
Commodore Joel Garcia, PCG officer-in-charge, said the deployment of the vessels would help prevent the kidnapping and illegal activities in the area.
“Kaya lalakas yung ating trilateral maritime patrol doon para mawala yung kidnappers, illegal activities na ginagawa diyan kapag walang patrolya tayo (Our trilateral maritime patrol on the area will be strengthened. Kidnapping and illegal activities that usually happen in that area when there are no patrollers will be prevented),” Garcia said.
“We can also take note na ‘pag mas marami tayong Coast Guard ship mas marami rin ang ating Coast Guard na papunta sa West Philippine Sea (We can also take note that the more Coast Guard ship we have, the more Coast Guard deployment in the West Philippine Sea),” Garcia added.
Garcia also noted that once more Coast Guatd will be deployed in the disputed area, communication between two nation’s coast guard will be improved.
Captain Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, on the other hand, said the vessels’ deployment to West Philippine Sea would allow the county to test the waters between China and Philippines relationship over the disputed area.
He also said part of the vessels’ possible deployment would be in the Southern Philippines to combat piracy.
“Maganda rin yun para masubukan namin because bumubuti na ang relasyon ng China sa Coast Guard at yung huling lakad nila sa China, merong mga pag-uusap, very cordial yung kanilang mga meeting, part nga nun yung magkaroon ng hotline of communications sa (It’s good, so we can check the improving relationship of China and our Coast Guard and during the visit of PCG delegation to China, there were talks, very cordial meetings, part of that is the establishing of hotline communication in the) West Philippine Sea to combat maritime crimes particularly illegal drugs and we also would like to find out the situation of the fishermen there,” Balilo said.
Moreover, three seven-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) were also turned over by the Japan government as part of its capacity-building assistance to the Philippines.
In addition to the PCG’s fleet, four more 44-meter MRRVs will be delivered to complete the 10 vessels loaned from Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the PCG.
All vessels were named after the primary lighthouses of the Philippines giving importance to their role as an aid to navigation to the mariners.
According to the PCG, the RHIBs would be completed after delivering the remaining seven fast boats with the speed of 45 knots and capacity of 10 persons sometime by 2018.
This is part of the JPY 600-million or US$5.35 million Non-Project Grant Aid (NPGA) for the PCG from the Japanese government’s Economic and Social Development Program.
PCG is also expecting to receive two 92-meter vessels from Japan and one 82-meter and four 25-meter vessels from France which would also be delivered next year.