Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard, a must - Madrona

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard, a must - Madrona

China’s current aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea only highlights the country’s need to modernize its capabilities to guard its 36,000-kilometer coastline and territorial waters.

It was for this reason that Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona filed HB 5112 or “An Act modernizing the Philippine Coast Guard, creating for the purpose the Philippine Coast Guard Modernization Trust Fund and appropriating funds therefor.”

“Aside from maintaining presence within out territorial waters, it is equally vital for the country to be able to protect its fishing industry and people traversing the internal waters of the Philippines,” Madrona pointed out.

Unfortunately, the author lamented, the capability of the PCG, compared to coast guards of the country’s neighbors in the ASEAN region, is just below par.

“Admiringly, despite its inadequate capabilities, the PCG has continued to perform its mandates with intensity and enthusiasm,” Madrona stressed.

He added that the dedication and commitment of PCG personnel as rescuers and law-enforcers could be further enhanced if technologically improved material capabilities are introduced and integrated into the coast guard organization and systems.

Under Republic Act No. 9993, also known as the “Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009,” the PCG is tasked primarily to enforce applicable laws within Philippine waters, conduct maritime security operations, safeguard life and property at sea, and protect the marine environment and resources, the author stressed.

Madrona further noted that the PCG is attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, and currently maintains a presence throughout the archipelago with 12 coast guard (CG) districts, 63 CG stations and 238 CG detachments from Basco, Batanes in the north to Bongo, Tawi-Tawi.in the south.

“The PCG, despite its very limited resources, has continued to discharge its functions,” Madrona noted.

Madrona emphasized that in order to address the concerns of the PCG, there is need for a modernization plan and program that would enhance its capabilities to guard effectively the entire Philippine archipelago, its territorial waters and coastlines.

The modernization program components include: 1) organization development; 2) Professionalization of its human resources; 3) doctrinal development; 4) infrastructure development; and 5) equipment and facilities acquisition and modernization.

The PCG Modernization Trust Fund to be administered by the DOTC Secretary shall be used exclusively for the PCG modernization program, excluding salaries and allowances.

The funds to be appropriated by Congress shall be treated as a distinct and separate budget item from the regular appropriations for the PCG and shall be administered by the DOTC Secretary.

The proposed program shall be based on a ceiling of PHP50-billion for the first five 5 years, and thereafter, may be increased commensurate to the increase in the gross national product (GNP).

A Joint congressional Oversight Committee is also created to monitor and oversee the implementation of the provisions of the proposed Act which is under consideration by the House Committee on Transportation chaired by Cesar V. Sarmiento of Catanduanes.


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