By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

FLAG-RAISING. The ceremonial flag-raising of the Philippine flag aboard BRP Teresa Magbanua at Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea during the 126th Independence Day on Wednesday (June 12, 2024). Philippine Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan, thanked the Department of Finance and the Japanese government on Friday (June 14) for their assistance in accelerating the modernization of the PCG fleet through the signing of a loan agreement to fund the acquisition of five more capital ships. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

MANILA – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) thanked the Japanese government and the Department of Finance (DOF) for the recent signing of a PHP24.5 billion loan to finance the acquisition of five capital ships for the PCG fleet.

PCG Commandant, Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan, said the loan agreement signifies the “extraordinary support and cooperation” from the DOF and the Japan Embassy in the Philippines.

“This is to enable our agency to better fulfill our unique roles in the security and development of our maritime and archipelagic country,” Gavan said in a statement on Friday.

On Tuesday, the DOF and the Japan International Cooperation Agency signed a PHP24.5 billion loan agreement for the procurement of five 97-meter multi-role response vessels (MRRV) manufactured in Japan.

To date, the PCG has two of the Kunigami-class vessels serving as capital ships, BRP Teresa Magbanua and BRP Melchora Aquino.

In addition, the PCG also has 10 units of 44-meter Japan-made MRRVs that serve as “workhorses” when conducting maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and environmental protection operations.

In May, Japanese Ambassador to Manila Endo Kazuya formally signed the Exchange of Notes for the PCG’s Maritime Safety Capacity Improvement Project (Phase III) which includes the acquisition of the five 97-meter MRRVs that are slated to arrive in the Philippines in 2027 to 2028.

Securing PH waters

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it would continue its maritime patrols in areas within the Philippines’ jurisdiction, a day before China is supposed to implement its anti-trespassing policy on the South China Sea and waters it is claiming as its own.

The Chinese policy would allow their coast guard to detain erring foreigners for up to 60 days.

“China’s so-called anti-trespassing policy undermines the rule of law and international norms that govern maritime conduct. The presence and actions of its vessels in our waters are illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive. We will not be deterred or intimidated,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement.

Earlier, Philippine Navy spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said the PN has boosted its patrols to prevent untoward incidents. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)