PCG: Willing but lacking patrol vessels
Despite recent vessel acquisitions from Japan, France and the United States, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Friday that it simply still did not have enough assets to properly secure the country’s maritime territory.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesperson for the PCG West Philippine Sea (WPS), said during a Malacañang briefing on Friday that they have complied with President Marcos’ order to maximize vessel deployment in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Philippine coast guard is using our vessels to strengthen our presence in the West Philippine Sea,” he said, adding that the PCG has deployed three offshore patrol vessels in Ayungin and in Bajo de Masinloc.
But he admitted that given their limited vessels, the PCG has a hard time patrolling the entire West Philippine Sea.
‘We have to be realistic’
“If the question is, are our efforts enough? We have to be realistic, we at the coast guard, we have very little number of coast guard assets but we use these assets to protect the interest of the fishermen,” he said.
“We cannot of course ascertain that in different parts of the West Philippine Sea, there is a coast guard vessel,” he added, saying that the PCG would maximize its presence in areas where there are many Filipino fisherfolk.
The commodore made the remarks after Chinese vessels drove away Filipino fishing boats in Ayungin Shoal on Jan. 9.
The incident occurred just days after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China where Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed not to harass Filipino fisherfolk in their traditional fishing areas.
Tarriela urged Filipino fisherfolk to report incidents of harassment or bullying to the PCG, but he said there were no new episodes of harassment reported to the PCG after the Jan. 9 incident.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian tried to downplay the incident by highlighting the friendship between Manila and Beijing as shown by both countries helping each other’s distressed nationals at sea.
The crew of the Chinese vessel MV Swift Yangzhou, which was enroute from Australia to China, rescued Filipino fisherman, Matrix Pichon, who was found floating in the East Philippine Sea off Surigao del Sur.
Marcos backs West PH Sea code: Countries should manage disputes
Bongbong Marcos hopes to discuss West Philippine Sea issues with Xi
Bongbong Marcos wants PH-China ties to go beyond West PH Sea disputes
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.