The Philippine Coast Guard would use some of the 10 new vessels that it would acquire from Japan over the next three years to augment the security in the West Philippine Sea along with the Philippine Navy, PCG commander Rear Admiral William Meld said yesterday.
“If it is necessary that we would augment security in the West Philippine Sea, then we will deploy them there,” said Melad in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Ten 44-meter vessels are expected to be procured by the Coast Guard from Japan to improve the monitoring and patrolling capability of the agency.
Two of them are expected to be delivered in September this year, six others will be next year, and the remaining two will be in 2018.
The 10 vessels total $187 million and will be acquired through a loan.
Melad explained that they could not just deploy the vessels in the West Philippine Sea since it may only contribute to the escalating tension in the area.
The United States and other groups have confirmed the deployment of surface-to-air missile, fighter jets, and radar system in the areas occupied by China.
But Melad said they will always adhere to the national policy on the aspect of the West Philippine Sea issue that their vessels could be deployed in the area if there is an order.
“They can be deployed anywhere but this this project (acquisition of the new vessels) is more of maritime safety improvement,” said Melad.
Aside from the 10 new vessels, Melad also revealed that there are current negotiations for the acquisition of bigger vessels that would further improve the Coast Guard capability also with Japan.
“We have in our strategic plan, developmental efforts to acquire from the range of 80 to 125-meter vessel and then there is also a proposal with Japan for assistance for construction of 92-meter vessel which is actually modeled after what is existing in the Japan Coast Guard inventory,” said Melad.