By Roy Mabasa
Five of the 10 multi-role response vessels (MRRV) provided to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are proving very useful in delivering basic needs amid the country’s battle against COVID-19.
Five of the 44-meter MRRVs are being used to transport medicines and medical supplies in the Visayas, and to ferry stranded international tourists to their sweeper flights and secure the cruise ships quarantined in Manila Bay recently while assisting the virus testing of its passengers.
The MRRVs were part of the JICA-PCG Maritime Safety Capability Improvement I (2013-2022) project that aims to help the Philippines build up its maritime safety and security operations.
JICA Philippines Senior Representative Kiyo Kawabuchi said the actions the PCG took, including the effective use of MRRVs, are “valuable in these times when we are feeling the impact of the pandemic in the workforce and economy.”
Aside from MRRVs, JICA has also trained more than 300 PCG personnel in Japan and shared with them its own experience in maritime safety and security.
Since the outbreak, the Coast Guard was assigned to hold patrol missions to secure cruise ships in various parts of the country using the MRRVs.
Earlier, the PCG also assisted medical personnel in collecting swabs for testing of Filipino crews on the quarantined ships following the protocols of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and Bureau of Quarantine.
“JICA remains committed to our development cooperation with the Philippines, even more so during these difficult times when sincere cooperation among partners is very much needed,” Kawabuchi said.
JICA, the world’s largest bilateral aid agency, has been supporting sustainable development in the Philippines through cooperation for sectors like railways, roads and bridges, investment promotion, energy, environment, disaster risk reduction and management, agriculture, social development, and Mindanao peace and development.