The Philippine Coast Guard is expected to defend not just the country’s coastlines but also its citizens, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Thursday.
In a speech at the oath-taking of PCG officers in Malacañang, Marcos said many of the duties that once belonged to the Navy had been transferred to the coast guard.
“The reason for this is very simple. We do that so that we will not raise the tensions by putting in units and assets of the Philippine military into the area,” Marcos was quoted as saying by the Presidential Communications Office.
“Because… these are not military vessels. They are coast guard,” he added.
Citing incidents over the past few years, Marcos said the coast guard’s mission has become “more intense.”
“But as many of the incidents have started to show over the past few years, that mission has become more, shall we say, intense,” Marcos said
“Now you are expected to defend not only the coastline but to defend our nationals," he added.
The PCO press release on the Palace event didn’t mention the South China Sea but the PCG has played a significant role in incidents in the resource-rich area.
The oath-taking was not open for media coverage.
Earlier in January, the PCG’s Task Force Pag-asa immediately deployed additional vessels to strengthen its presence in the West Philippine Sea after receiving the report that the Chinese coast guard drove away Filipino fishers in waters off the Ayungin Shoal.
Marcos said his administration had continued to upgrade the PCG’s capabilities, facilities, and equipment.
“This is something that is critical to the safety of the citizens of the Philippines. It is critical in the defense of the Republic. It is critical to the defense of our territory,” Marcos said.
“I’m confident that all of our officers know this mission, that all our officers know how to fulfill that mission. And that is why we continue to support you in every way that we can so our citizens feel safe," he added. —NB, GMA Integrated News