President Duterte yesterday ordered the transportation department to buy three more planes for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to allow it to conduct security and humanitarian operations in all areas of the country.
Duterte witnessed the commissioning of the Coast Guard’s newest aerial asset, the multi-role fixed-wing aircraft, Cessna Caravan 208, at the Port of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.
During the event, the President read the proclamation of the commissioning of the plane as PCG 2081 Aircraft and unveiled the station marker of the PCG Kalayaan Station.
While Duterte lauded the acquisition of the aircraft, he admitted that air asset is not enough to cover the entire Philippine archipelago.
“You cannot just focus on this part of the Philippine archipelago. You have to worry also, the coast guard also has to worry about the other areas. For example, in Mindanao, in Sulu. Zamboanga, is you know it is used as a flashpoint by design… we might add more (air assets) if we have the money,” Duterte said.
“What is very urgent for you, your Cessna plane is not enough. You are the Coast Guard and yet you just have one plane. Every time you take off, the Air Force will laugh at you. Make sure it won’t crash because you only have one,” he added.
Duterte said the PCG needs about three more planes to perform evacuation and rescue operations and security patrols.
“I’m ordering (Transportation) Secretary (Arthur) Tugade to buy three planes so you can have four. That will be OK,” the President said.
“As President, I assure you, we will uphold our territory’s integrity no matter what the circumstances,” he added.
Duterte said the newly commissioned aircraft is equipped to perform key operations like delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and test kits. The air asset would also enable the PCG to engage in a vast array of missions such as search and rescue, maritime patrol and surveillance, and utility roles.
The President also led the inauguration of the Philippine Ports Authority’s seaport expansion project.
The transportation department said the expansion of the Puerto Princesa Port forms part of the 472 commercial and social-tourism projects completed since the Duterte administration took over in 2016.
“The completed seaport projects, under the massive ‘Build, Build, Build’ programme of the Duterte administration, are expected to generate employment for locals and usher economic and tourism growth as the country recovers from the pandemic,” the agency said in a statement.