THE plan of the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG’s) to acquire two additional French-made high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) got support from a House panel chairman.
Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel said he will endorse to the House Special Committee on Strategic Intelligence the acquisition of the new coast guard interceptors that will be used to protect the West Philippine Sea.
The OPVs have an estimated cost of P11.2 billion.
“The two 84-meter OPVs will reinforce the PCG’s capability to intercept Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels that may stray into our 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea,” Pimentel said.
According to Pimentel, it is PCG patrol boats, and not Philippine Navy warships, that are expected to actually stop, board and inspect foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing and other criminal activities within our EEZ.
“Our PCG patrol boats are supposed to enforce our marine environmental protection laws and apprehend foreign poachers, while our warships are there to deter potential external threats and maintain freedom of the seas,” Pimentel pointed out.
The PCG’s first 84-meter OPV from French shipbuilder OCEA S.A. was acquired at a cost of P5.6 billion. Commissioned only last year, the boat is now the PCG’s flagship, the BRP Gabriela Silang.
The PCG said the two additional OPVs would increase to five the number of large PCG boats capable of performing continuous intercept missions for long periods, to include the two 94-meter multi-role response vessels (MRRVs) that will be delivered next summer by Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.
The two MRRVs are being acquired at a combined cost of P6.7 billion.
“As far as we’re concerned, the money that we’re spending for these new PCG vessels is a sound investment in keeping our coastline safe and protecting our rich marine resources for the enjoyment of future generations of Filipinos,” Pimentel said.
The PCG has also ordered 10 smaller, 44-meter MRRVs from Japan Marine United Corp. at a cost of P8.8 billion. The first of the boats was delivered earlier this month.