Bohol 3rd District Rep. Alexie Tutor is proposing that at least two Coast Guards bases be stationed at the country’s 19 islands and island groups equipped with microsatellites, smart buoys, and unmanned drones.
“Our country needs a Philippine Coast Guard fit for the 21st Century,” she said, as she batted for the passage of House Bill No. 7965 or the proposed “Philippine Coast Guard Upgrade and Advancement Act of 2020.”
“Enforcement of our maritime laws can be more effective with the gradual addition of PCG field offices, bases, and facilities at a pace that is prudent and realistically affordable through the national budget and official development assistance,” Tutor, a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, said.
HB 7965 seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9993, also known as the Philippines Coast Guard Act of 2009 to institutionalize resources and technology upgrades in the PCG.
“It is also time for the country to deploy and operate microsatellites, smart buoys, and unmanned drones. These steps would enable the PCG to expand and deepen its coverage at strategic locations nationwide,” Tutor said.
She said under 7965, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Information and Communication Technology, Department of National Defense, and the Philippine Space Agency, is mandated “to cause the creation, deployment, management, and operation of maritime microsatellites for specific multiple-purpose mission tasking consistent with the missions, roles, powers, and functions of the Philippine Coast Guard.”
The Department of Transportation may commission through open, transparent, and full-disclosure international bidding consistent with procurement laws, the creation, deployment, management, and operation of the maritime micro satellites, she added.
HB No. 7965 provides that each of the following islands and island groups shall have at least two Coast Guard bases, each with a basic complement of resources in terms of personnel, vessels, equipment, and support services to be determined by the Secretary of Transportation, upon recommendation of the PCG Admiral, and in consultation with the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).
The major islands and island groups are enumerated as follows: Batanes group of Islands; Kalayaan Island Group; the Tawi-Tawi Islands; Basilan Islands; Dinagat Islands; Polilio Islands; Catanduanes Island; Samar Island; Leyte Island; Bohol Island Province; Guimaras Island Province; Occidental Mindoro and adjacent islands; Oriental Mindoro and adjacent islands; Panay Island; Siquijor Island; Marinduque Island Province; Romblon Island Province; Masbate Island Province; and Camiguin Island Province.
Tutor said her bill authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to approve the Basic Complement of Coast Guard Resources Program of the major islands and island groups.
“The approved program shall explicitly state the pace and phasing-in of the resources upgrades, cognizant of appropriations constraints and available official development assistance,” she said.
According to her, the program shall include, but not be limited to: Coast Guard personnel to man each base and crew every patrol vessel assigned to each base; civilian professionals and specialists in the fields of marine engineering, meteorology, electronics and communications engineering, satellite communications technology; marine biology, oceanography, and disaster preparedness and response; patrol vessels for maritime security, search and rescue, and law enforcement operations; unmanned drones for aerial, sea surface, and underwater patrols and interdiction; and remotely-accessible electronically smart buoys for multiple purpose mission tasking.