Coast Guard intensiàes ports surveillance vs. illegal drugs
CEBU CITY – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Central Visayas has intensified its intelligence monitoring in all the ports here in collaboration with shipping companies, the ports authority, and law enforcement units, in view of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael Encina, regional spokesman of the PCG, said that while the Coast Guard has the capabilities in anti-drug interdiction, they also rely on intensive intelligence gathering. “It would be better to have modern equipment for monitoring the ports against drugs. But in the meantime, we have strong intelligence networks and collaborative relations among other agencies,” Encina said.
Encina said that the PCG has been religiously conducting maritime mandatory pre-departure inspections in all the major ports of the region. “We check certificates as well as the vessel’s safety precautions,” he said.
The Coast Guard in Central Visayas has six K9 units deployed in major ports in Cebu and Bohol and two of the animals are narcotics sniffing dogs, two are explosives sniffing, and two are for search and rescue.
Ensina said while it is difficult to inspect every vehicle, passenger, and luggage at the ports without delaying the departure of passenger vessels, they rely on intensified intelligence gathering to ensure the safety and security of every port. “The economic side of the maritime industry must not be affected in the implementation of the anti-drug campaign of the government,” he said.
He said the value of collaborative effort between the coast guard and other agencies, such as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Units (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime, Philippine Navy, Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the region are vital in implementing anti-drug interdiction in all ports.
The PCG, he said, has also recognized the active participation of the PCG Auxiliary in ensuring safety and security in the ports. “We have this so-called Passenger Assistance Center or PAC in major ports in Region 7. These PACS are manned by the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary officers and men. Passengers who have concerns can talk to our PCGA guys at the PCAS,” Encina said. ( John Rey Saavedra)