Hontiveros calls for increased funding for PH Coast Guard
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called for increased funding for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) amid continuous Chinese harassment in the West Philippine Sea, as well as the proliferation of pro-China “fake news peddlers.”
Hontiveros’ pronouncement came after she filed a resolution on Tuesday seeking an inquiry into the adoption of measures to strengthen the PCG to enable it to maintain a maritime transport network, enforce Philippine law, and improve maritime governance within the country’s maritime zones.
According to the senator, the PCG is the country’s first line of defense in its maritime territory. Despite this, Hontiveros pointed out that the PCG only has P10 million for its intelligence fund, which forces it to rely solely on human intelligence.
“I also must stress that these 10 million pesos are not only for the PCG’s duties over the West Philippine Sea, but for the entire coastal areas and waters of the Philippines. Sa napakaraming banta na nararanasan ng coast guard, hindi ba dapat na mas malaki naman sa sampung milyon ang maibigay sa kanila (With so many threats facing the Coast Guard, shouldn’t they be given more than ten million)?” said Hontiveros during a privilege speech in the 14th Senate session.
Hontiveros then said that she hopes the entire Senate will “stand firmly behind” the PCG, the same way it unanimously supported Senate Resolution 718, which condemned the continued harassment of Filipino fishermen and the persistent incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) by the Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels.
“At the budget process, I encourage all of us to support the increase of the PCG’s intel funds. This is where confidential and intelligence funds should be allocated. This is where our money should go,” said Hontiveros.
“The PCG actually is facing a clear and present danger. Ang organisasyon tulad ng PCG ang dapat binibigyan ng mga confidential at intelligence funds, hindi yung mga ahensiyang sibilyan na wala namang kinakaharap na pagbabanta at panganib,” she said.
(Organizations like the PCG should be given confidential and intelligence funds, not civilian agencies that face no threats and dangers.)
Hontiveros added the Chinese government has continuously militarized portions of the West Philippine Sea by building and fortifying artificial islands in the region.
She also enumerated several incidents of brazen harassment from China, including a water cannon attack in 2021, the Chinese Coast Guard’s aiming of a 70-mm naval gun at a PCG vessel heading to Ayungin Shoal in 2022, the pointing of a military-grade laser at a PCG ship on February 2023, and the recent water cannon attack on August 5.
“Now, it has become clear that China has her eye on Ayungin Shoal. The water cannons, the military laser, the removal of a naval gun cover – all these severe provocations were against Philippine vessels making their way to Ayungin,” she said.
Hontiveros then expressed hope that after these events, the country can shore up even more support for our Philippine Coast Guard both on the ground and on social media.
“Handa man ang Tsina na gawin ang lahat para manggulo sa West Philippine Sea… at subukan man nila ang lahat ng pangungutya at pang-aapi sa social media… lalo lang nila tayong pinagkakaisa bilang mga tunay na Pilipino,” said Hontiveros.
(Even if China is ready to do everything to make trouble in the West Philippine Sea… and even if they try all the taunting and bullying on social media… they only make us unite as true Filipinos.)
“Haharapin natin sila nang makatao at diplomatiko, at ipapakita natin sa mundo, muli at muli pa, na malulutas natin ang sigalot na ito sa paraang mapayapa at makatarungan,” she added.
(We will deal with them humanely and diplomatically, and we will show the world, again and again, that we can resolve this conflict peacefully and justly.)
The Philippines and China have been in a long-running maritime dispute after the latter country claimed that it owns the entirety of the South China Sea, including portions of the West Philippine Sea with its so-called nine-dash line claim.
The Philippines then challenged China’s claim through the International Permanent Court of Arbitration (IPCA) in The Hague in 2013 and won in 2016.