Coast Guard beefing itself up within next 3 years
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard is to hire an additional 1,000 uniformed personnel this year and 2,000 more in the next two years to meet its goal of having a “10,000-strong command” by the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term in 2016.
The PCG, an agency attached to the Department of Transportation and Communication, has only 606 officers and 6,143 enlisted personnel tasked to guard the country’s more than 36,000 kilometers of coastline and thousands of coastal communities depending on the nation’s marine resources.
“This year, recruiting at least 1,000 uniformed personnel is our target,” Cmdr. Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesperson, told the INQUIRER in a telephone interview Wednesday. “But our bigger goal is to have 10,000 uniformed personnel within the next three years. Ideally, we should have that number of personnel.”
An undisclosed number of new recruits will be assigned to the PCG’s new search-and-rescue base in Roxas City in Capiz, Balilo said.
He said that “with the ongoing personnel recruitment program, the command has also started preparing for the manning of the 10 brand-new patrol boats that we’re getting from Japan in the next two years.”
The command expects delivery of two to three of the 10 patrol vessels by the third quarter of 2015. The seven other 40-meter (131-foot) boats would be delivered the following year.
In December, Malacañang announced that the Japan International Cooperation Agency would provide a $184-million soft loan for the PCG’s acquisition of the vessels to boost the country’s maritime security.
The Coast Guard’s current fleet consists of nine boats, which are mainly utilized in search-and-rescue operations.
Some PCG personnel also man several vessels belonging to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the campaign against illegal fishing and poaching in the country’s territorial waters.
Aside from its uniformed personnel, the agency has 299 civilian employees plus some 6,000 auxiliaries or volunteers nationwide who help it promote safety at sea and protect the marine environment, among other things.
From only P2 billion in 2010, the PCG’s annual budget now stands at more than P4.3 billion.
Balilo pointed out that the PCG’s “increased budget” would boost the command’s operational and administrative capabilities.
He expressed confidence they would get another budget increase next year, saying, “it’s a good thing we’re getting full support from the government.”
The command, he added, is “in a better position to enforce Republic Act No. 9983,” or the Coast Guard Act of 2009, which aims to further enhance maritime safety and prevent sea tragedies.
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.