President Duterte's Desire to Bolster Philippine Coast Guard's Air Unit

The Philippine Coast Guard Modernization Program now has the full backing of the current President of the Republic of the Philippines, with the recent calls of acquiring more air assets for the maritime law enforcers to do their job effectively and efficiently, such as attaining search and rescue operations and enforcing Philippine laws at sea.

Philippine Coast Guard's H-145 Utility Helicopter. (c) Florian Werner

President Rodrigo Duterte, as reported by CNN Philippines, has gave a directive to his cabinet, particularly to the Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade during the inauguration of Coast Guard Station Kalayaan Island Group that is situated in the West Philippine Sea, and another project in Puerto Princesa, Palawan (which is still facing the West Philippine Sea.

The primary premise of the president to give support for the Coast Guard's eventual boost for its air fleet is not only for search and rescue operations, but also to its ever-increasing presence in the West Philippine Sea as indicated to the recent projects that the Philippine Coast Guard has found itself currently.

It comes further as the president states that the country is subjected to uphold its territorial integrity and national sovereignty, amidst all of the criticisms that the current administration is taking because of their "friendly" stance before the Chinese whose activity in the region is at all-time high, all thanks to its maritime militia that is working round the clock ensuring that their salami slicing strategy works in a lengthy amount of time.

With this now being in mind, it will be beneficial for fishermen who live in the area, as well as those commercial fishermen from across the country, to do their livelihood stuff in the West Philippine Sea as the Armed Forces of the Philippines also decided to join this fishing initiative in the area, enhancing the country's resolve of standing up to its holdings in the contested area that other countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei want their hands into, aside from the heated incidents between China and the Philippines that were reported before

The catch here is this - the Philippine Coast Guard has all the privilege it comes as a civilian-oriented agency under the Department of Transportation, wherein it is not entitled to the same export restrictions as the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a sense that arms export is needed to be agreed upon between both countries by signing a form of defense trade agreement or something equivalent to that.

Now the hopes are that the projects of the Philippine Coast Guard will be push through, like adding more of its existing offshore patrol vessels and multirole response vessels in the long run, as well as securing deals with countries like India who expresses desire to push soft loan given that the agency expresses interest in patrol aircraft and helicopters made by Hindustan Aerospace Limited.

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