By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is boosting its maritime capability by acquiring a couple of Rapid Response Vessels (RRV), which will be its largest floating assets yet, worth 14.45 billion yen (about ₱6.7 billion) with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Corporation Ltd. President Koji Okura recently led the contract signing for the construction of the RRVs under the second phase of the JICA-PCG Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project.
The vessels will employ Japanese technology to withstand operating in the high seas under rough conditions inasmuch as the PCG meant to use them to patrol the country’s maritme territories, including exclusive economic zones, aside from the usual function of search and rescue, marine environment protection and maritime safety.
The bulk of global trade, nearly 90 percent, pass through sea waters. Both Japan and the Philippines are maritime nations depending on seaborne trade for their economic prosperity. For this reason, JICA has been supporting the PCG in improving its capacity for maritime safety and security since the 1990s.
Aside from providing training and scholarship programs, JICA expanded its support to the PCG in 2013, by funding the latter’s acquisition of ten MRRVs which were then deployed in critical missions to save fishermen and passengers during disasters.
The PCG also used the vessels for maritime patrol in key coastal areas as well as for maintaining regional security during the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines as well as in the Marawi Siege.
Now, the newest JICA-funded vessels can travel at 24 knots, maximum speed, and each will be equipped with features allowing for better maneuverability. They will also have helicopter landing decks and hangars against extreme weather.
“With this project, we are confident that the PCG will have enhanced capacity to address the evolving maritime safety and security landscape,” JICA Philippines chief representative Wada Yoshio concluded.