Patrol boats from Japan to start arriving in 2015

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MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) expects delivery of two to three of 10 brand-new multi-role patrol boats from Japan by the third quarter of 2015, according to the PCG spokesman.

Cmdr. Armand Balilo, PCG public affairs office chief, told the Inquirer on Sunday the seven other 40-meter (131-foot) vessels would be delivered the following year.

“The two sides have agreed that all 10 patrol boats will be brand-new and multi-role,” Balilo said.

The Coast Guard’s current fleet consists of nine boats, which are utilized as search-and-rescue vessels. At this writing, however, only seven are operational.

According to Balilo, PCG personnel also man 10 vessels belonging to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The BFAR boats are used mainly in the campaign against illegal fishing and poaching in the country’s territorial waters.

In December, President Aquino announced in a news conference that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) would provide a $184-million soft loan for the PCG’s acquisition of 10 patrol boats from Tokyo.

The President, who had just come from the Japanese capital for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Japan Commemorative Summit, said the patrol boats would boost the country’s maritime security.

For its part, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) at Malacañang said that with the purchase of the new vessels, “the PCG could upgrade its current fleet that will strengthen its task of defending the country’s exclusive economic zone.”

“The new patrol boats will do patrols in several contested territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea),” the PCOO said.

Meanwhile, the PCG cited the Jica for providing a 1.15-billion yen (about P506.5 million) grant that will go to the installation of VSAT and Inmarsat communication systems at the PCG headquarters in Port Area, Manila, as well as in its district offices nationwide and on its vessels.—Jerry E. Esplanada

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