The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has inaugurated its first-ever search and rescue (SAR) base in the country situated in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte yesterday, 12 May 2021.
The PCG Base Siargao is a 600-square-meter and four-story building constructed in a 5,000-square-meter lot in Siargao Island donated by the provincial government. It is equipped with an automatic identification system (AIS) monitoring equipment, watch tower, helipad, and an elevated base defense zone, among others.
During the ceremony, Admiral Ursabia shared the challenges that the PCG encountered in pursuit of the first-ever PCG SAR base located in a world-class tourist destination in the country.
"It is not easy to look for an area, more so have such infrastructure for it entails significant amount of investment. Hence, Siargao Island is truly blessed dahil kayo ang kauna-unahang nagkaroon nito. If this will be a success story, our lawmakers will be easily convinced that we should have more of this kind of facility nationwide," Admiral Ursabia expressed.
With such accomplishment, Admiral Ursabia assured that competent and skilled locals of Siargao Island will be given opportunities to become part of the PCG and serve their fellow Surigaonon people at the PCG Base Siargao.
"We will certainly be recruiting locals to be members of the PCG not only in Siargao, but in the entire Caraga region. In order for us to be effective, it is better for us to get locals and train them to become patriotic, compassionate, and God-fearing public servants," the Coast Guard Commandant shared.
The Coast Guard Commandant furthered that two to three units of 40 fast patrol boats that will be acquired by the PCG will be assigned at the PCG Base Siargao to strengthen maritime law enforcement, improve disaster management, and support local and international tourism industries in their areas of responsibility.
More importantly, Admiral Ursabia said that the newly-constructed Coast Guard infrastructure will also serve as a radar station to safeguard the island and nearby vicinity waters against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
"We need to have a radar station here in Siargao Island so we can monitor and control fishing operations in our maritime domain in this part of the country remotely. These are high-value government assets and effective tools for us to protect our waters," Admiral Ursabia noted.
To conclude the Coast Guard Commandant reaffirmed the PCG's commitment to support the local government of Siargao Island in ensuring safety in the conduct of water sports and other water-related activities in accordance with international standards.
"We will certainly cooperate and collaborate, as we expect local and international tourist to come here after the pandemic. This island is a paradise rich in natural resources and a home of good people. Rest assured that we will be stewards of Siargao Island's vast marine environment, and advocates of safety of lives and properties at sea," Admiral Ursabia concluded.
Also present during the inauguration were Auxiliary Commodore, Cong Bingo Matugas, Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco "Lalo" Matugas, Commodore Luisito Sibayan of the PCG District North Eastern Mindanao, and Commander Ellaine Pangilinan of the PCG Station Surigao del Norte.
The PCG is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation - Philippines under the leadership of Secretary Arthur P. Tugade.