PN file photo

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is planning the use of high-end drones to boost its capabilities and strengthen border security.

Spokesperson Rear Admiral Armando Balilo said using drones could save the PCG more time and fuel in the conduct of maritime patrols.

“Kung kami ang masusunod, lahat ng districts ng Philippine Coast Guard, dapat magkaroon ng at least one drone (If we would have our way, all districts of the Philippine Coast Guards should have one drone each),” Balilo said during the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.

He also gave a recap of the PCG’s trilateral maritime exercise with the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in Mariveles, Bataan on June 1-7.

He said during the “Kaagapay” drills, the PCG learned that the USCG has a large drone that can conduct surveillance activities in surrounding waters.

The JCG is also using US-made surveillance drones.

“‘Yun ang wala tayo na noong nakita namin, talagang na-inggit kami. Talagang malaking bagay ito, malaking tulong ito. Imagine mo kapag nasa isang area kayo ng operations, mas mabilis na makaka-ikot ang drone (We also want to have that because we do not have one. That’s a big help. Imagine, if you are in the area of operations, the drone could man the area faster),” Balilo said.

He acknowledged that a modern drone is expensive but noted that its cost-effectiveness would outweigh the procurement of vessels because of its unmanned operability and high-security features.

Balilo said the use of drones would make it easier to monitor the presence of foreign vessels and other unlawful maritime operations.

“Kaya po in the future, halimbawa nasa base ka lang at ‘yung mga barko ay busy at merong ibang mga mission (when you are in the base and all the vessels are busy and have other missions), you can always conduct maritime awareness through drone. ‘Yun ang pinakamaganda (That’s the best thing that it could do),” he said.

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, however, said several countries have expressed their intent to offer grants for the procurement of drones.

He expressed optimism that drones are the “future of maritime patrol” in the country.

“‘Yung ating tungkuling ginagampanan ay napakalaki. At kailangan nating madagdagan pa ang ating mga gamit para ang ating maritime domain awarenesss ay ma-sustain natin (We have a big responsibility. We have to procure additional equipment to sustain our maritime domain awareness),” Balilo said. (PNA)

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