MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Japan resulted in additional loans that will give the Philippine Coast Guard more boats to boost the country's security and border patrol capabilities, particularly in the porous borders of the southern Philippines.
The coast guard is getting a total of 27 boats from Japan through loans and grants acquired since the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the boats will be used to run after criminals and threat groups in the country's southern borders such as narco-traffickers, smugglers, and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
“Our government’s acquisition of these patrol vessels and high-speed boats would give a big boost to our Coast Guard’s capabilities in securing our waters,” said Dominguez.
Dominguez was the signatory to a 16.5-billion yen loan (P6.8 billion) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), covering the purchase of two 94-meter largescale patrol ships for the coast guard. The loan is among 5 agreements signed during Duterte's Japan trip.
The loan was acquired at a concessional interest rate of between 0.01% and 0.10% and payable in 40 years, inclusive of a 10-year grace period).
The two largescale patrol ships are on top of 10 40-meter patrol vessels, the first of which was commissioned in October and has been readied for deployment to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Both projects are under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) with Japan.
An additional grant of 600-million yen (P280 million) will also give the coast guard one 20-meter high-speed vessel ang 14 units of 11-meter high speed boats, according to the finance department.
Rampant criminality in the country's southern borders have discouraged businessmen and investors, including Indonesian suppliers that the finance department said have stopped deliveries of coal to power-generation plants in Mindanao following the abduction of their Indonesian crewmembers. – Rappler.com