Press Releases

“Iron glove of customs enforcement:” Salceda calls for stronger Coast Guard to prevent smuggling, enforce PH rights over WPS

November 17th, 2021

In a written manifestation to a meeting of the House Committee on Transportation today, House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) called for a stronger Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) as “iron glove of customs enforcement” in the face of rising oil prices that the tax chair warns could “incentivize smuggling.”

“Unchecked, smugglers who manage to enter the country’s waters can easily dock in private ports, at which point the game is half-over for customs enforcement. The country’s waters are large, and preventing smuggling begins at our maritime boundaries,” Salceda said.

“For this reason, I support the continued modernization of the PCG. From 2010 to 2020, I estimate losses due to smuggling of cigarettes and oil alone to be at P657 billion. That is around two-thirds of our aggregate budget deficit for this year,” Salceda added.

Salceda also praised the partnership between the PCG and customs enforcement.

“The PCG has been very active especially in our Southern Backdoor in the Sulu Sea. There is also an agreement between the chiefs of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the PCG for strengthened linkages and enhanced coordination to protect the vital interests of the country. It has thus far delivered, with shared intelligence leading to apprehension of smuggled goods – from cigarettes, to onions, to cars.”

Salceda is a co-author of the PCG Modernization Act and speedily approved the tax provisions of the measure in his committee.

PCG as enforcer of PH rights in West Philippine Sea

Salceda also cited the need for a stronger PCG as the protector of the country’s maritime rights.

“The PCG is also the enforcer of maritime diplomacy and the first line of defense against intrusion and invasion. Anybody who has invested in real estate knows that possession is key to ownership, and the PCG’s ability to enforce Philippine possession over our maritime territories is critical,” Salceda said.

“I insist that it is crucial that the PCG enforces our rights over our sovereign seas. It is both a political and a symbolic act that a domestic uniformed service, rather than a military force, enforces our rights to these waters. These waters should be as Filipino as any other inch of Philippine land. For this reason, I support the procurement of new patrol vessels that are fully equipped to detect, intercept, confront, and repel intrusions.”

“I also support the inclusion of the PCG in joint exercises in our sovereign territories in the West Philippine Sea. I am a strong supporter of exploring joint coast guard exercises with the coast guards of other ASEAN countries. It is a powerful statement that open maritime aggression in the South China Sea will force the ASEAN countries to congeal and repel the invading force,” Salceda added.

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