THE Philippine Coast Guard must be given a bigger budget in 2024 so the Philippines will not be forced to “depend” on foreigners to help defend its territory.
Senator Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla stressed this Tuesday at the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on the budget of the Department of Transportation for next year.
“Sa ngayon, masyado tayong umaasa sa tulong ng Amerikano. Para mabigyan ng pansin ito, ayaw natin ang dating e tayo lumalakas lang ang loob dahil nariyan ang Kano. Sana mabigyan natin ng pansin madagdagan ng budget ang Coast Guard, para sila talaga ang bida. Sa usapin pag pinagusapan ang PH dapat ang bida Pilipino, hindi Amerikano (As of now, we depend too much on the Americans. We cannot afford to put up a brave front only because the Americans are behind us. The Coast Guard must be given a bigger budget so they can do their job. When it comes to defending the Philippines, Filipinos should take the lead role, not Americans),” said Padilla.
Padilla voiced concerns about the deployment of a US Navy aircraft to monitor the recent resupply mission of the Philippines to its troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre near Ayungin Shoal.
He said the situation may escalate if China decides to deploy its own aircraft.
“Papaano kung nagpalipad ang dayuhan ng eroplano nila, ano ang reaction natin? Ano magiging reaction natin kung sila nagpalipad, nagpaliparan, tayo maiipit sa gitna (What if foreign countries deploy their own aircraft? We will be caught in the middle),” he said at a separate hearing of the Senate defense committee.
At the DoTr budget hearing, Padilla asked Coast Guard commandant Admiral Artemio Abu if they are satisfied with a P24-billion budget for 2024, which he said is “parang napakaliit (quite small)” considering that “lagi kayo sa sentro ng balita ngayon (you are in the news lately).”
“The budget of the PCG is really not enough for us to do what is expected of us,” Abu replied.
“Archipelago tayo. Kahit tingnan mo ang ating mapa, nasa paligid natin ay karagatan. Kung meron dapat malaki ang budget, ang PCG, sa salita pa lang, Coast Guard. Sa mundo isa tayo sa may pinakamalaking coast. So siguro dapat po natin tingnan ito. Malaking bagay po kung madadagdagan ang budget ang Coast Guard. Tutal naman ang sabi po dito tumaas ang budget ng DoTr ng halos 100% so siguro naman tataas budget ng Coast Guard (We are an archipelago, we are surrounded by water. So the PCG deserves a bigger budget. We have one of the longest coastlines in the world. Besides, the DoTr has sought a 100% increase in its budget compared to last year, so shouldn’t the Coast Guard also have a budget hike)?” Padilla told DoTr Secretary Jaime Bautista.
Bautista said they would “welcome” a budget hike for the Coast Guard to acquire more floating at air assets. He added the PCG needs more floating vessels. He said the PCG’s original budget request for 2024 is P70 billion.
For her part, Sen. Grace Poe said the PCG has a P24-billion allocation for 2024. “Of course they will always have room for an increase,” she said.
“Parang kulang na kulang ang P24 bilyon (P24 billion is quite measly),” said Padilla.