PCG gets P250 million training facility from US gov’t
The United States has turned over to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) a P250-million facility in Bulacan province that will help enhance its capability to address maritime challenges by training its personnel on navigation, law enforcement, and ship maintenance.
PCG deputy commandant for administration Vice Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan and US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson led the ceremonial turnover and blessing of the facility at the PCG’s Fleet Training Center of Excellence in Balagtas, Bulacan, on Monday.
“The building serves as an important instrument for the enhancement of the capabilities of our sailors, which will fortify the PCG’s mandate,” Gavan said.
The two-story building covers 3,900 square meters and includes classrooms, laboratories, equipment rooms, dining facilities, a galley, offices, a technical library, and workstations.
“This building and the training it will facilitate mark an important advance in the (PCG’s) ability to safely operate and maintain [its] assets that preserve maritime safety, protect the marine environment, enforce maritime laws, and defend Philippine sovereign rights in the waters around the Philippines, including in the West Philippine Sea,” Carlson said, adding that the facility was also designed to train vessel operations and maintenance for the 12 multirole response vessels from Japan.
The facility “took many years” to complete due to a change in location and delays brought by the pandemic, Carlson noted.
Lawmakers have also promised to help the PCG boost its capabilities, with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri saying on Tuesday that senators were unanimous in calling for an increase in the proposed 2024 budget for the agency, especially amid the ongoing tension with China in the West Philippine Sea.
Speaking at the briefing on the Department of Transportation’s proposed budget, Zubiri gave the PCG the Senate’s commitment to increase its budget, including funding for development projects in the Kalayaan Group of Islands.
PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu admitted to senators that the proposed budget of P24 billion was “too little” as they needed to hire an additional 4,000 personnel and buy law enforcement and security remote-controlled weapon systems and handguns.
Earlier on Monday, Carlson also led the christening and commissioning ceremony for two Cyclone class patrol vessels—the BRP Valentin Diaz and BRP Ladislao Diwa—given by the United States to the Philippine Navy.
Meanwhile, top military officials of the Philippines and the United States will visit three sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) on Wednesday ahead of an annual meeting.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. and US Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. John Aquilino will be joined by Carlson during the visit to Lal-lo Airport and Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, two of the newly added Edca sites facing Taiwan, and Basa Air Base in Pampanga, one of the five original Edca sites where a 2,800-meter runway worth $24 million is being constructed.