Thursday, 25 March 2010

Coast Guard eyes 60 more rescue ships

Jeremiah de Guzman
Manila Standard

The Coast Guard is proposing the acquisition of 60 search and rescue ships valued at $92 million, using loan proceeds from China, Australia and New Zealand.

Commandant Wilfredo Tamayo said the proposal is being evaluated by the National Economic and Development Authority Investment Coordination Committe. Loans from China, Australia and New Zealand including some government funding will finance the acquisition, Tamayo said.

Tamayo said the new vessels can shorten the time for Coast Guard to respond to maritime incidents. This is crucial in addressing maritime challenges on security and law enforcement in the country’s 36,000-kilometer coastline, he said.

Five of the 25 search and rescue vessels of Coast Guard are “already old and beyond economic repair.” Thus, only 20 vessels are being used by the agency in securing the country’s more than 60 coastal provinces.

He said 10 of these 20 vessels are being manned by the Coast Guard and the other 10 are for the use of the Bureau of Fisheries and Acquatic Resources.

Coast Guard earlier proposed to Neda the acquisition of seven helicopters and equipment valued at P5 billion using a combination of soft loans and grants.

Apart from paying for the choppers, the money will buy equipment and spare parts and finance pilot training. “We will build our hangars, and have our new aircrafts stationed in Northern Luzon, Manila, Romblon, Mactan, Laguindingan, Davao and Palawan,” Tamayo said.

The acquisition would be done in phases within two years, Tamayo said. “We are looking for the best package and the better loan interest to maximize our investments.”

The Coast Guard also plans to hire 25,000 men and women in a 10-year program from 2010 to beef up its manpower in securing the country’s 5,000 coastal barangays and 60 coastal provinces, Tamayo said.


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