The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has inaugurated its first-ever search and rescue (SAR) base located in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.
PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabi Jr. led the launching of the pioneer Coast Guard SAR base last Wednesday, May 12, as he shared the challenges that they encountered in pursuit of a state-of-the-art facility that is located in Siargao Island, a world-class tourist destination.
“It is not easy to look for an area, more so have such infrastructure for it entails significant amount of investment. Hence, Siargao Island is truly blessed dahil kayo ang kauna-unahang nagkaroon nito (because you were the first to have it). If this will be a success story, our lawmakers will be easily convinced that we should have more of this kind of facility nationwide,” Ursabia said in a statement on Thursday, May 13.
The PCG Base Siargao is a four-story building constructed in a 5,000 square meter lot in Siargao Island, which was donated by the provincial government.
It is equipped with an automatic identification system (AIS) monitoring equipment, watch tower, helipad, and an elevated base defense zone among others.
The PCG commandant said two to three units out of the total 40 fast patrol boats that will be acquired by the Coast Guard will be assigned at the PCG Base Siargao “to strengthen maritime law enforcement and improve disaster management.”
Ursabia said the Surigaonon people will also be given opportunities to become part of the organization to serve their fellow locals at the PCG Base Siargao.
“We will certainly be recruiting locals to be members of the PCG not only in Siargao, but in the entire Caraga region. In order for us to be effective, it is better for us to get locals and train them to become patriotic, compassionate, and God-fearing public servants,” he said.
The newly SAR base will also serve as a radar station to safeguard the island and nearby vicinity waters against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF), Ursabia underscored.
The PCG commandant also reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to support the tourism industry by working with the local government.
“We will certainly cooperate and collaborate, as we expect local and international tourists to come here after the pandemic. This island is a paradise rich in natural resources and a home of good people. Rest assured that we will be stewards of Siargao Island’s vast marine environment, and advocates of safety of lives and properties at sea,” he said.