Photo shows the design of the lighthouse with surrounding retaining walls to prevent erosion on the South Atoll of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Cagayancillo. (Courtesy of TRNP)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has opened the bidding for the construction of a new lighthouse in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) with an approved budget of over P150 million.

The announcement of the bid opening online was made on January 22 by Lt. Noel A. Sarza, commander of the Coast Guard Procurement Service (CGPS) at its headquarters in Manila.

It was concurred by Captain Daryl G. Vargas, the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman for infrastructure.

The delivery schedule for the lighthouse was 360 calendar days.

The PCG will hold a pre-bid conference on January 31 at the Manila port area CGPS office and bid opening will be on February 14, 2019.

TRNP protected area superintendent (PASu) Angelique Songco said the lighthouse will already be constructed within the year on the South Atoll of the marine natural park.

“Itatayo na ang lighthouse. Kapag gumanda na ‘yong panahon ay itatayo na ang lighthouse ng PCG. Kapag gumanda na, they’re all set (The lighthouse will already be constructed. If the weather gets better, they PCG will start constructing the lighthouse. As soon as the weather clears, they’re all set),” Songco said.

She said the lighthouse will have retaining walls which are necessary to hold back the sands because portions of the South Atoll are already eroding as of 2016.

Songco said it is more difficult to build the retaining walls than the ranger station.

“Because now that we have been designated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), we must have adequate aids to navigation equipment so, we welcome this recent development,” she said.

Songco added the old lighthouse in the TRNP is no longer functional so it has to be torn down and replaced by a modern one.

She said it will be a lighthouse that will be fitted with the latest technology to serve as a traffic sign at sea to maritime pilots.

“That is going to use the latest in lighthouse technology. Nagpaalam na sila sa Tubbataha na gagawa na sila. Nahihirapan na ‘yong Coast Guard na i-repair ng i-repair ‘yong lighthouse (They already asked for permission that they will already construct. The Coast Guard is already having a hard time repairing the old one again and again),” she said.

She pointed out that Tubbataha cannot lose light in the area as it is also protection against possible ship groundings.

Meanwhile, Songco said they have yet to hear from the provincial government regarding the construction of the new PHP220-million state-of-the-art ranger station.

She said that in August, the provincial government announced it will continue with the construction but is just waiting to complete the fund which still needs around P50 million to begin this year.