Strengthening the Philippine Coast Guard

Good morning and welcome to the public hearing of the Sub-Committee of the Senate Committee on Public Services on Senate Bill No. 2322 or “An Act Providing for the Administrative Reform and Reorganization of the Philippine Coast Guard, Revising for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9993, otherwise known as the “Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009,” authored by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

We also take into consideration Senate Bill No. 2265 for the institutionalization of the PCG Auxiliary, authored by Sen. Richard Gordon; and Senate Bill No. 1112, which aims to establish the PCG Academy, authored by Sen. Imee Marcos.

The PCG traces its roots from the Bureau of Coast Guard and Transportation created in 1901 during the American Occupation. Mas matanda pa ito sa DND and the AFP, kasi created ito by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 1, last Dec. 21, 1935.

In 1967 by virtue of RA 5173, the PCG was created as a major unit under the PH Navy of the AFP until March 30, 1998, when then President Fidel V Ramos in the exercise of his continuing authority under the Administrative Code to reorganize the OP, issued EO 475, transferring the PCG from the DND to the OP, and then 15 days thereafter, to the then DOTC (now known as DoTr), by virtue of EO 477.

Finally, Congress enacted RA 9993 or the PCG Law, which was signed into law on Feb. 12, 2010.

This public hearing is being conducted jointly with the Committee on Civil Service Govt Reorganization and Professional Regulation as well as the Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Finance.

This Representation has personally asked the Chairman of Committee in Public Services, Senator Grace Poe, to hear the aforementioned pending Senate bills because of the pressing gaps in the operational, administrative, and even organizational exigencies of the PCG.

These gaps come in the foreground of the growing tension in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea amid the continuing Chinese intrusions and harassments on our fishermen, and very recently the water-cannoning incident against 2 PN commissioned supply vessels in the Ayungin Shoal, occupied by our gallant personnel on board the BRP Sierra Madre, perpetrated by the Chinese Coast Guard.

While we all point to PCG as the primary maritime agency of the government to strengthen our country’s sensitive frontiers in the West Philippine Sea, we can no longer keep the predicaments of the agency at bay.

There is also a need to discuss in this public hearing the apparent distortion in salaries, allowances, benefits and retirement of the PCG personnel brought about by its separation from the AFP and the subsequent enactment of RA 9993 as well as the system of ranks and pay rate relevant to the PCG.

So to this end, let us begin.