PCG warns boat owners that it will impound boats that fail to register under DOTR regulations on boat numbering and marking system (Safety, Security and Environmental Numbering System) within three months from its implementation last June 02, 2017.

According to data shown by PCG from March 2016 until March this year, there have been 22 reported incidents of abductions in Sulu, Celebes Sea, and Sibutu Sea area.

The only alternative solution that PCG has resorted is the numbering system to augment the incapability of all vessel owners operating a three GTN boat to buy transponder, a device that could receive and transmit radio signals, which cost P15, 000.

Further, out of the estimated 400,000 vessels that only have three GTN, about 30,000 boats are in Mindanao. Once PCG completes the marking system in Mindanao, the terrorist groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf (ASG) and kidnap-for-ransom bandits at sea may soon run out of escape boats for their illegal operations.

PCG Officer-In-Charge, COMMO JOEL S GARCIA PCG Ph.D. H.D. Al Haj, said that since martial law is still in effect, they are expecting full cooperation from all government agencies and even the Local Government Units (LGUs).

“The Abu Sayyaf in Southwest Mindanao, we know that they use ships and fast ships in their piracy activities. If you remove the tool of the trade, the fast boats, then we would be able to isolate the boats that the Abu Sayyaf are using and they would not be able to conduct kidnap for ransom,” said Garcia.

“Even from the distance, if the PCG, Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would notice that a boat is not properly marked, the authorities can apprehend the boat because it could be used for illegal activities, and we could include the boat owner as a respondent in the case,” he added.

Moreover, boat owners have to comply since the directive is covered by a department circular, which becomes a law. Otherwise, it might raise speculations that the owner is a supporter or part of a terrorist group.

As of press time, PCG has ordered their 12 districts, 75 stations and close to 300 sub-stations to initiate the marking of the boats using long-lasting marine paint on the side of the boats.