April 20th, 2011

Philippine Coast Guard to Enhance SAR operations

An enhanced search and rescue (SAR) and disaster response capabilities was ensured by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) through a recent signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA).

The MoA seeks to enhance cooperation among both uniformed and armed agencies in disaster response information sharing and cross-training exercises for their respective rescue personnel.

Leading in signing the MOA for their respective agencies last February were Admiral Wilfredo D. Tamayo and Director General Raul Bacalzo. The signing was attended and witnessed by other Coast Guard and National Police officers.

This signing of the MOA is in response over the pronouncement of Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) that more than 20 tropical storms were expected to visit the country this year. The number of storms can possibly carry heavy and continuous rains as well as landslides around the country. Through the MoA the enhanced SAR can provide a big help for the public.

Tamayo expressed gratitude to Bacalzo for the initiative, stressing the public will undoubtedly benefit from the cooperation as this will improve the ‘capacity-building measures’ of both agencies to effectively respond to emergencies brought about by different natural calamities.

The ensuing effects of “climate change” which is expected to result in rising sea level and storm surges have made it imperative for government agencies to “work together, develop their interoperability and strengthen their partnership”, said the Coast Guard Chief.

The PCG has been involved in various “water search and rescue cross-training” programs with other agencies. Last year, the Philippine Army units, PNP Maritime Group and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel underwent rubber boat operations training along Manila Bay near the PCG headquarters as part of water rescue and emergency evacuation procedures.

Furthermore, more than 500 civilian volunteers were taught disaster-response from various barangays and subdivisions Cainta, Rizal, Quezon City, Marikina City, Parañaque City and other metropolitan areas and nearby provinces, which were severely flooded by typhoon “Ondoy”.

A little more than a week back, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) led by its chairman former Sen.Richard “Dick” J. Gordon also brought newly-acquired amphibian vehicles to the PCG headquarters for joint training of PRC, PCG and the Philippine Marine Corps.