Coast Guard mulls station in Tawi-Tawi
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Aside from deploying patrol vessels to Mindanao, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is eyeing the installation of a station near the Sibutu Passage in Tawi-Tawi amid recent kidnappings and piracy by Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“It is included in our advocacy that we put up a search and rescue station, a radar station and a pier in Sibutu Passage… We talked to the leader of the House of Representatives since they are the ones approving the budget on what the Coast Guard needs to conduct maritime security operations,” Commodore Joel Garcia, PCG officer-in-charge, said yesterday.

Garcia said there is need to beef up security in the area, where at least 13 pirate attacks were reported.

Despite the dangers in passing through the Sibutu Passage, PCG spokesperson Cmdr. Armand Balilo said commercial vessels use the route to save on cost.

“It would incur additional travel days and delivery cost if they use another route,” Balilo said.

Garcia said they would also start the registration or tagging of vessels that are three gross tons and below to identify those which are used by terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf.

He said they are only waiting for the circular on the issuance of number plates for boats. 

“A vessel or boat that does not have a number on the side, would automatically become a suspect and law enforcers could board and search the boat,” Garcia  said.

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