Commodore Joel Garcia, PCG officer-in-charge, made the proposal in a meeting with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Friday.
PCG seeks new boats vs pirates
OH YES, IT'S JOHNNY! - Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2017 - 12:05am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has proposed the purchase of high-speed boats armed with two .30 caliber machine guns each to beef up security patrols and fight off pirates plaguing the waters off Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces in Mindanao.

Commodore Joel Garcia, PCG officer-in-charge, made the proposal in a meeting with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Friday.

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said Tugade was “appreciative” of the anti-piracy measures and promised to help the agency in the acquisition.

Although the PCG operates as a civilian maritime unit, Balilo said arming the boats would not violate any rules since one of the agency’s functions is law enforcement.

He added that both DOTr and PCG are aware of the urgency to secure the southern seas and agreed to have the units by March this year.

Just last week, armed men killed eight fishermen off Zamboanga, while seven others managed to escape and swam to Siroman Island.

To make monitoring easier, Garcia also proposed the registration of all fishing boats and the issuance of a number plate or, at least, to have them painted for free on either side of the boat.

He said this proposal can be coordinated with the Maritime Industry Authority, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the local government units since all fishing boats that are three gross tons or below are registered with them.

Garcia also proposed the assignment of some police or military men as marshals for passenger and cargo ships that ply the western Mindanao area. 

Presently, the PCG provides sea marshals for passenger ships that use the Manila-Visayas-Mindanao routes.

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