PCG to upgrade station on PH island in Spratlys
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday said it was eyeing to use El Nido in Palawan as a hub for operations in the West Philippine Sea and upgrade its station on Pag-asa Island in the Spratly archipelago itself.
“We are looking to establish a coast guard base there in the near future,” said PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo.
He also bared that the PCG intends to upgrade its station in Pag-asa Island in a bid to boost the coast guard’s monitoring capabilities in the area amid incursions by Chinese vessels into Philippine waters.
The 37.2-hectare Pag-asa Island is the second largest island in the Spratlys and is the administrative center of the town of Kalayaan in Palawan province.
“There’s a plan to further improve the PCG station in Pag-asa for monitoring purposes, especially for maritime safety and search and rescue. It’s also for our fishermen,” said Balilo.
He said PCG commandant Adm. George Ursabia Jr. visited Pag-asa on Tuesday.
BRP Gabriela Silang, BRP Malapascua and BRP Cabra have also been deployed in the vicinity of Pag-asa.
Ursabia exhorted the men and women of the PCG to step up their presence in the West Philippine Sea and fly the national flag with a sense of pride.
“These are the two main objectives that we need to accomplish—stepping up our presence and flying the Philippine flag with a sense of pride—because the West Philippine Sea is ours,” Ursabia told coast guardsmen.
“But then, we should not forget that it is also a contested area. There are others claiming that it is also theirs. But, of course, we will not surrender the territory. It is ours. Hence, we have to do our part in a peaceful and rules-based manner,” Ursabia added.
He also urged coast guardsmen to continue serving with humility and compassion and recognized the dedication of the guardsmen deployed to the island to assert Philippine sovereignty.
He gave the Distinguished Coast Guard Cross and Ribbon to 17 PCG men, led by Lt. Junior Grade Elwin Madridano.
“We recognize your heroism in the face of great danger above and beyond the call of duty, most especially in conducting maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea,” Ursabia told the PCG men.
“On behalf of your Coast Guard family and the entire Filipino nation, we thank you for your humble and compassionate public service,” he said.
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