FOR the first time in several years, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group in Negros Oriental has acquired its own patrol boat to conduct seaborne operations in Negros Oriental and nearby areas.
Senior Inspector Arnel Anino, station chief of the 703rd Maritime Police Station, said during the simple program launch Monday afternoon, November 7, that the patrol craft is evidence of strong collaboration between government agencies and the private sector who share a common goal of coastal and marine environment protection and conservation.
According to Anino, the patrol boat was built through donations coming from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR) in the province, members of the Maritime Police Advisory Council represented by government and the private sector, and other partner organizations and stakeholders.
Prior to the acquisition of the patrol boat, Anino said because the Maritime Police did not have floating assets, they had to rent motor boats when called to conduct seaborne operations.
The 35-foot, 16-horsepower twin-engine motor banca was built from hardwood donated by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), and from materials contributed by the advisory council and other partner individuals and agencies, Anino said.
The patrol boat’s keel is made of lauan while its body and other parts made of narra and molave, an assurance of its durability, he added.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), through Central Visayas Bfar Regional Director Andres Bojos, donated the 16-horsepower engine, according to Anino.
The 206th Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA), headed by Captain Jonathan Alerre, took care of the labor and construction of the patrol boat.
Alerre acknowledged the efforts of everyone who contributed to make this project a reality, saying that the patrol craft is not only meant for seaborne operations on anti-criminality, but can also be utilized for search-and-rescue operations.
The Maritime Police, PCGA, BFAR and DENR, among others, signed a memorandum of agreement during the project launch on the custody, use and maintenance of the patrol craft.
Dubbed the Police Coastal Craft project, Anino is hopeful that there will be more of its kind in the near future, as Bfar has already donated a second 16-horsepower engine for this purpose.
Danny Ocampo, oceans director of Oceana-Philippines, lauded the project, saying that the patrol craft will be a big help to the massive campaign to eradicate illegal commercial fishing along Tañon Strait.
As a partner organization, Oceana-Philippines has facilitated the recent training of individuals on law enforcement and also sponsored Monday’s lunch during the project launching.
Ocampo reiterated the need for stricter law enforcement along the Tañon Strait, which lies between the islands of Negros and Cebu.
The Tañon Strait Protected Seascape is the largest marine protected area in the Philippines, with illegal commercial fishing the number one and the biggest problem that government law enforcement agencies and non-government organizations like Oceana is facing.
The Maritime Police patrol craft will be under the custody of the 206th PCGA until the 1802nd Maritime Police Station will have its own boathouse.
The patrol craft shall be used within the marine waters of Central Visayas, to include Negros Oriental and Siquijor, for surveillance, patrol, rescue and other functions of the PNP Maritime Group.
Anino expressed optimism that with the patrol craft readily available, there will be sustained maritime law enforcement in Negros Oriental. (PNA)