The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is looking to acquire huge drones to boost its patrol capability of maritime borders of the country, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said on Saturday.
In a news forum in Quezon City, Balilo said that if they could ask Congress to provide them with additional funds, they would use them for the acquisition of drones to bolster the PCG’s maritime patrol capabilities.
“Nakikita naman po ng mga mambabatas natin iyong ating tungkulin na ginagampanan ay napakalaki at kailangan talaga natin na madadagan pa ng mga gamit para nang sa ganoon, iyong maritime domain awareness natin ay ma-sustain natin,” the PCG official said, adding that they have yet to include in their budget the drones.
Balilo, however, noted that they have included in their request for a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) to help them in PCG’s oil spill response.
“Pati ROV, nga sinasama na namin sa budget, para sa mga oil spill response. Hindi na tayo tatakbo sa mga ibang bansa para alamin lang iyong nangyayari doon sa ilalim ng dagat pagka- may oil spill,” he said.
Balilo said the idea of acquiring drones came during the recently-concluded trilateral exercise with Japanese and US coast guards in Mariveles, Bataan.
He said they observed the huge drones being used by the US Coast Guard in patrolling a specific area or during anti-smuggling operations.
“Ang pinakabago pong technology na meron sila ay iyong mga drones. Malalaki iyong mga drones na kayang mag-patrol. Instead of the vessel and chopper na mauuna, ang pinauuna po nila ay drone pagka-nag-ooperate sila against smuggling and drugs,” Balilo said.
“Kasi malaking bagay ito, malaking tulong ito, imagine-in mo pag nasa isang area kayo ng operations, mas mabilis makakaikot iyong drone,” he added.
To date, Balilo said that the PCG has drones and personnel from the Coast Guard Aviation Force are currently undergoing training to operate them.
“Parang project proposal lang ito at pina-o-operate na doon sa aming mga tauhan sa Coast Guard Aviation Force,” he added.
Balilo said the PCG envisions equipping each of its districts with at least one drone that can cover a range of up to 50 nautical miles.
“Kung kami ang masusunod, lahat nung districts ng Philippine Coast Guard dapat magkaroon ng at least one drone. Kung labing-lima iyong Coast Guard district, at least may one drone sila…at their disposal na pwedeng gamitin. 50 nautical miles, parang malayo na iyon from your base,” he said.
Meanwhile, Balilo said the Australian government has recently pledged its commitment to enhance maritime cooperation by providing drone equipment, training, and technology to the PCG.
This partnership is part of Australia’s efforts to bolster regional security and promote closer ties with its Southeast Asian counterparts.