Acquisition of new PCG interceptors for WPH draws congressional support

The chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee has endorsed the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG’s) plan to acquire two additional French-made high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) at 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,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday.

“We must stress that PCG patrol boats, and not Philippine Navy warships, are the ones expected to actually stop, board and inspect foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing and other criminal activities within our EEZ,” Pimentel said.

“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.

Pimentel 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.

“Besides, these PCG vessels will also be helpful in maritime search and rescue missions, considering that we rely heavily on inter-island passenger travel by sea,” 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.