Monday, September 03, 2012

Japan to Philippines: Do you want Coast Guard ships or not?

Saying that “the ball is in the Philippines’ court,” Japan has revealed that its plan to provide the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) with 12 brand new patrol boats had yet to officially take off.

In a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Japanese Embassy-attached Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) said over the weekend that “the status (of the aid program) has not changed.”

“It remains a plan since we have not yet received any official request from the Philippine side,” said the JICC, which added, “Please contact the Department of Transportation and Communications, the PCG or the National Economic and Development Authority for updates.”

Contacted shortly before he was named interior secretary by President Benigno Aquino, then Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas said: “We, the DOTC, and the Coast Guard are working with the Japanese government and with the Department of Foreign Affairs on this.”

“I understand the DFA is already requesting formally (for the boats),” Roxas had told the Inquirer.

For its part, the DFA said “the plan of Japan to provide patrol boats to our Coast Guard has already been approved by the Neda.”

“We will formally inform the Japanese authorities as soon as possible,” said Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson.

Minister Shinsuke Shimizu, head of the Japanese Embassy’s chancery, said in an earlier interview that unlike the decades-old and stripped-down ships the Philippines has been getting from the United States, the patrol boats the PCG will get from Japan will be brand new.

Japan, he said, “has yet to decide which of the vessels will be built and transferred to the Philippine government on official development assistance or grants.”

He pointed out that “since 1990, Japan has been helping the Coast Guard in its capacity-building program.”

Fourteen years ago, Tokyo gave Manila a marine accident response and buoy tender ship that the agency named the BRP Corregidor.-Philippine Daily Inquirer (September 03, 2012)

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