ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard has deployed one of its newest patrol vessels to fight terrorism, piracy and armed robbery at sea in the southern Philippines.
BRP Bagacay (Multi Role Response Vessel-4410), which has been assigned to PCG District Southwestern Mindanao, arrived Tuesday morning at the pier of the Philippine Ports Authority.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, who was a guest at the arrival ceremony, said the additional deployment of a PCG patrol ship will help boost security along the border in the southern Philippines, where Abu Sayyaf-linked pirate groups operate.
“BRP Bagacay will truly contribute in enhancing public safety and security in conflict areas. It is very much welcome to be part of our strong forces here in the waters of of the southern backdoor,” Dela Vega said.
The Coast Guard is a uniformed service under the Department of Transportation.
Capt. Joseph Coyme, PCG District South Western Mindanao commander, said the latest deployment brings the number of Coast Guard ships securing the southern border to three.
BRP Bagacay (MRRV 4410) is the ninth patrol from Japan and was commissioned on August 23 along with sister ship BRP Cape Engaño (MRRV 4411), the last of ten vessels from Japan as part of the Maritime Safety Improvement Project of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Coyme said the BRP Bagacay was designed with a bulletproof navigation bridge, and is equipped with fire monitors, night vision capability, a work boat, and radio direction finder capability.
Coyme said Commodore Elson Hermogino, PCG chief, wanted BRP Bagacay sent to the southern Philippines “because the most troubled area in the Philippines is here in Western Mindanao.”
The Coast Guard said it is keeping an eye on three critical sea lanes: the Sibutu Passage, Basilan Strait, and the Moro Gulf.
The Sibutu Passage is the second busiest strait in the region, next to Malacca Strait, sees 16,000 international vessels with $14 billion in goods pass through each year, Coyme said.