THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is looking at sophisticated drones to boost its capabilities and strengthen the country’s border security.
PCG spokesman Rear Admiral Armando Balilo said using drones could save the unit time and fuel in the conduct of maritime patrols.
“If we can have our way, all districts of the Philippine Coast Guards should have at least one drone each,” Balilo said during the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.
Balilo also narrated the PCG’s participation in a trilateral maritime exercise with its counterparts in Japan and the United States, held in Mariveles, Bataan last June 1-7.
He said during the “Kaagapay” drills, the PCG learned that the US Coast Guard has a large drone that can conduct surveillance over a large area of the ocean.
Japan’s Coast Guard was also using US-made surveillance drones, Balilo said.
“That’s what we don’t have, and when we saw it, we cannot help but by envious. It’s really a big thing,” Balilo said.
While he admitted that modern drones were expensive, he asserted that it would still be cost-effective considering the aircraft’s potential to conduct unmanned surveillance over the high seas.
Balilo pointed out that the use of drones would make it easier to monitor the presence of foreign vessels and other unlawful maritime operations.
The Coast Guard officer conjured up a future scenario where all vessels were preoccupied with ongoing missions, but maritime surveillance could not be waived.
“That is when the drones come in very handy, Balilo stressed. Given its “limited budget,” the PCG has yet to include the planned purchase of drones in the list of equipment that would be procured amid the ongoing efforts to modernize the Coast Guard, he said.
Balilo disclosed that a number of countries have expressed interest to supply the PCG with modern drones, which he described as “the future of maritime patrol.
“We have a huge responsibility. We have to procure additional equipment to sustain our maritime domain awareness),” he added.