By Betheena Unite

The country’s presence in the West Philippine Sea will be further felt as the three new-commissioned vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are being considered to be deployed in the disputed sea.

The three new-commissioned vessels in the service of the Coast Guard are the 44-meter Multi Role-Response Vessels (MRRV) namely MRRV-4404 (Capones), MRRV-4406 (Suluan), and MRRV-4407 (Sindangan).

Commodore Joel Garcia, PCG officer-in-charge, said that among the deployment assignments being considered by the PCG for the new vessels is the West Philippines Sea which will also help prevent kidnapping and illegal activities in the area.

“Kaya lalakas yung ating tri-lateral maritime patrol doon para mawala yung mga kidnappers, illegal activities na ginagawa diyan kapag walang patrolya tayo (Our tri-lateral 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 ships mas marami rin ang ating Coast Guard na papunta sa West Philippine Sea (We can also take note that the more Coast Guard ships we have, the more Coast Guard deployment in the West Philippine Sea),” Garcia added.

Garcia also noted that once more Coast Guard 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 will allow the county to test the waters between China and Philippines relationship over the disputed area.

He also said that part of the vessels’ possible deployment will 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 yun 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 in 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.

Balilo disclosed that 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 will be completed after delivery sometime by 2018 of the remaining seven fast boats with the speed of 45 knots and capacity of ten persons.

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 will also be delivered next year.

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