President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reminded the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to be vigilant and ready in securing the coastlines of the country. This reminder by the President came during an oath-taking ceremony of PCG personnel in the presidential palace and actually highlights the important role the PCG plays in reinforcing the territorial integrity of the Philippines along its

Looking at the nature of the PCG we find that it is actually recognized as the third armed uniformed service that we have in the country apart from the Philippine national Police (PNP) and the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It was established by virtue of Republic Act 9993 entitled “An act establishing the Philippines Coast Guard as an armed and uniformed service attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, thereby repealing Republic Act No. 5172, as amended and for other purposes”.

The old law that was repealed Republic Act 5173 created the PCG in 1967 while the law that repealed it was enacted and approved in February 12, 2010. In so far as its powers and functions is concerned the later law modified and improved the reasons behind the establishment of the PCG.
Notable among them are those that can be found in Section 3 of R.A. 9993 which provides: (a) To enforce regulations in accordance with all relevant maritime international conventions, treaties or
instruments and national laws for the promotion of safety of life property at sea within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines and conduct port state control implementation;

(b) To inspections on all merchant ships and vessels, including but shall not be limited to inspections prior to departure, to ensure and enforce compliance with safety standards, rules and
regulations; (c) To detain, stop or prevent a ship or vessel which does not comply with safety standards, rules and regulations from sailing or leaving port; (d) xxx; (e) xxx; (f) To coordinate, develop, establish, maintain and operate aids to navigation, vessel traffic system, maritime
communications and search and rescue facilities within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines;

(g) To remove, destroy or low to port, sunken or floating hazards to navigation, including illegal
fish and vessels, at or close to sea lanes which may cause hazards to the marine environment; (h) xxx; (i) To render aid to persons and vessels in distress and conduct search rescue in marine accidents within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines, including the high seas, in accordance with applicable international conventions.

In the performance of this function, the PCG may enlist the services of other government agencies and the merchant marine fleet; (j) To investigate the inquire into the causes of all maritime accidents involving death, casualties and damage to properties; (l) To assist in the enforcement of
laws on fisheries, immigration, tariff and customs, forestry, firearms and explosives, human trafficking, dangerous drugs and controlled chemicals, transnational crimes and other applicable laws within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines;

(m) To board and inspect all types of merchant ships and watercrafts in the performance of this functions; (n) xxx; (o) xxx; (p) To grant, within the capabilities and consistent with its mandate,
requests for assistance of other government agencies in the performance of their functions; (q) xxx; and (r) To perform such other functions that may be necessary in the attainment of the objectives of this Act. From the above we realize that the PCG has so many roles to play in protecting our

More so when we consider the increasing maritime tensions with China in the disputed South China Sea. In fact just recently the PCG established three coast guard outposts on three islands in the South China Sea in order to monitor the movement of ships as well as promote safety for those in transit. But here we have to ask ourselves if we are going to patrol and monitor our coastlines would it not be better to put up maritime outposts that are not land based such as those established but on the very top of the water the PCG is trying to surveil.

Just like offshore oil rigs these sea based maritime outposts can support long term maritime patrols by the PCG without going to port for fuel and food replenishment every now and again. Just like
what was done in Ayungin Shoal where the country put up an outpost manned by a contingent of Philippine soldiers living on an old derelict ship on top of the atoll. On the other hand the sea based maritime outpost to be established will be designed in such a way that while similar to that of an oil rig platform, it will be reinforced and hardened akin to that of bunker and shall contain facilities that can repair, retrofit, resupply, and rearm the PCG patrol boats that periodically dock on the outpost.

This way we extend the reach of the PCG towards the outermost edges of the territorial sea of the country and thereby project the sovereignty of the Philippines in its maritime and fluvial territories. This sea based maritime outposts can be established at the very limit of the territorial sea which is 12 nautical miles from the baseline. Now is the time to modernize the PCG and expand its influence in protecting the country’s maritime territories and archipelagic borders.

Amianan Balita Ngayon