Press Release
August 24, 2023

Hontiveros: Expand funding support for PCG amid increasing Chinese hostility in WPS

Senator Risa Hontiveros has said that the Senate must strengthen the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and provide it with greater funding for intelligence operations and maritime patrols, to help the agency better perform its mandate amid rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

During her privilege speech about Proposed Senate Resolution No. 744 calling on senators to empower the PCG and uphold national sovereignty, Hontiveros congratulated PCG personnel for successfully carrying out on August 22 a rotation and resupply mission for the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal despite harassment by Chinese vessels.

"I hope that the entire Senate can also stand firmly behind our Philippine Coast Guard. In the budget process, I encourage all of us to support the increase of the PCG's funds.. If we could further strengthen the men and women of our Coast Guard, arm them with advanced equipment - such as radar stations, automatic identification systems (AIS) hardware and others - we can more effectively hold China accountable for her hostile, aggressive, and illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea," Hontiveros said.

The senator pointed out that despite the PCG facing "a clear and present danger" brought about by China's increasing hostilities in the region, funding for PCG operations remains limited. Since 2009, the agency has only been receiving "a measly" P10 million in intelligence funds annually, forcing the agency to rely solely on human intelligence (HUMINT) to get up-to-date information.

In contrast, Hontiveros said, PCG personnel and vessels performing missions in Philippine territory have been increasingly targeted by "China's cruelty at sea" over the last two years. These incidents, Hontiveros said, include the firing of water cannons on Philippine ships during a resupply mission for personnel in the BRP Sierra Madre last August 5, and during a similar incident last November 2021.

According to Hontiveros, the Chinese Coast Guard, in another incident in August 2022, removed the cover of a 70-mm naval gun aboard their ship and pointed it towards a PCG vessel traveling to Ayungin Shoal. Later, in February 2023, China deployed a military-grade laser towards a PCG ship, temporarily blinding the Filipino crew on board.

Given the immense importance of the PCG's missions and the challenges the agency faces, Hontiveros said, it is unacceptable that the PCG is receiving intelligence funds far less than those being received by civilian agencies with no direct relation to national security and protection of Philippine territory.

"I also must stress that the 10 million pesos for intelligence funds is not only for the PCG's duties over the West Philippine Sea, but for the entire coastal areas and waters of the Philippines. Sa napakaraming banta na nararanasan ng Coast Guard, hindi ba dapat na mas malaki naman sa sampung milyon ang maibigay sa kanila?" she said.

Hontiveros added that the Senate should assist the public information efforts of the PCG over Filipinos' lawful claims in the WPS, which are being hampered by a deluge of "orchestrated, pro- Beijing misinformation and propaganda."

"Tuloy ang pagkakalat ng kasinungalingan at pambabastos online ng China at ng kanilang mga "fake news peddlers". Ang nakakadismaya, kasama sa puspusang nambabaliktad sa ating Coast Guard, sa ating Armed Forces of the Philippines, maging sa ating mga mga mangingisda, ay ilan sa ating mga kapwa Pilipino pa," Hontiveros said.

"I believe we can shore up even more support for our Philippine Coast Guard, whether on the ground or on social media, so we can seriously defend the Sierra Madre, Ayungin, and the rest of our territories. Handa man ang Tsina na gawin ang lahat para manggulo sa West Philippine Sea, at subukan man nila ang lahat ng pangungutya at pang-aapi sa social media, lalo lang nila tayong pinagkakaisa bilang mga tunay na Pilipino," Hontiveros concluded.


Please see attached PSR No. 744 for reference

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