Coast Guard gets 8th multi-role vessel

MANILA, Philippines — Expect the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to take advantage of good weather to conduct frequent sea and air monitoring patrol in three areas where the country’s security is being tested.

The PCG last March 16 received its eighth multi-role response vessel, to be called BRP Cabra, which PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said would most likely be used to augment vessels patrolling the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise.

Balilo added that the PCG would be sending more frequent aerial patrols in the West Philippine Sea and at Bajo de Masinloc in Zambales.

“With the good weather prevailing upon us, we could conduct longer patrols in these three areas and would get better information of the situation there,” said Balilo.

As of now, the PCG only has BRP Suluan that is conducting sea patrol at the Philippine Rise, but by next month the maritime agency might deploy a second ship to cover more ground and increase their presence in the area.

Balilo said the PCG has increased the frequency of aerial monitoring over the West Philippine Sea and Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough or Panatag Shoal).

“So far there are no threats. We are also checking in on our fishermen and checking if there are any developments or new structures,” said Balilo.

China is one of the countries that has staked a claim over parts of the West Philippine Sea. It has built military structures on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, which is part of the Spratly Islands of West Philippine Sea.

China has also claimed that Bajo de Masinloc is within its nine-dash line territory.

Earlier, a Chinese vessel entered the Philippine Rise, supposedly to conduct research in the area that is rich in marine resources.

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