Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, Coast Guard officer-in-charge and commandant for operations, did not specify the manufacturer and class of vessels they plan to acquire, but stressed that the vessels will be brand new and French made.
“The President has ordered the procurement of additional ships for the Coast Guard,” said Tuason. “We have a forthcoming one unit 82-meter and four 24-meter long brand new patrol vessels from France.”
Tuason said the funding for the vessels will come from the Office of the President.
“We have allocation from the Office of the President that was approved already,” Tuason said. “I’m not sure about the budget but I think they will come from projects that did not push through and unused funds that were allotted for Coast Guard vessels.”
He said the four 24-meter vessels are expected to arrive by December next year while the 82-meter vessel will in 2014. “We’re still finalizing the papers,” Tuason added.
He said the vessels will be used to patrol the West Philippine Sea.
“When we patrol the West Philippine Sea, we encounter huge waves, turbulent waters so it will be better if we will use bigger ships,” said Tuason.
The Coast Guard is also set to build a support base at the West Philippine Sea to immediately respond to sea emergencies in the area. The base will be built in Ulugay, Palawan.
At the moment, the Coast Guard has district in Palawan, but it is at the eastern coast of the province. It is also supported by five stations and 17 detachments.
Apart from being the largest province in the country, Palawan also hosts the Malampaya natural gas project.
“It will be quicker for quick response and law enforcement activities in the West coast of Palawan, especially if there is a problem in the Malampaya or other government projects. We will have a faster response time. We will also be able to provide shelter in the area for ships during bad weather,” said Tuason.
“We can easily do that if we are near the western side (of Palawan),” he said, adding that the government is expected to give P1.5 billion from Malampaya fund for the upgrade within the year or next year.
Part of the money will also be used to repair two of their 56-meter vessels and one 35-meter vessel.