PH Coast Guard eyeing bigger HQ in Subic
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is setting its sights on moving its main headquarters from Manila to the Subic Bay Freeport for bigger space for its growing number of personnel, facilities, vessels and equipment.
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade recently sought the help of Japan, INQUIRER.net learned from a government source familiar with the request. The Japanese government has been helping craft a development master plan for Subic Bay.
The PCG has been studying Subic Bay as its future headquarters because of its deep water port. The new PCG headquarters there would also house a drydock, maintenance and repair facilities and a warehouse for disaster response and rescue equipment storage.
As of late 2019, the PCG has at least 13,000 personnel. It aims to have 25,000 additional personnel by 2025.
The PCG’s headquarters is currently at the congested Port Area in Manila. A relocation to Subic Bay would mean it would get closer to the West Philippine Sea.
Subic Bay, a former US military base until it closed in 1992, is about 260 kilometers from the Chinese-occupied Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). China Coast Guard vessels have never left the disputed shoal.
PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo confirmed that the transfer to Subic has long been considered. He could not immediately confirm, however, Tugade’s request to the Japanese government.
It’s not yet clear up to what extent Japan would help the PCG in the relocation. But Tugade was quoted as saying that he was seeking Tokyo’s support “as part of the priority investment projects in the Subic Bay Regional Development Plan.”
Japan has provided significant assistance to the PCG in the past years through donations of vessels and equipment and training on maritime safety and security, among others.
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