COMMODORE Joel Garcia, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. is “very supportive” of their proposal to put up a training center and additional stations in the province.

Garcia, who met with the governor at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City Wednesday, July 19, said that Marañon “understands the dynamics to secure and to serve the marine environment and secure our seas form any threats.”

He added that once a training center will be established in the province, which he described as “strategic location,” it could cater to the whole Visayan region.

Luzon and Mindanao have their own training centers, he said.

Garcia said the Coast Guard is planning to put up more facilities in Negros Island Region (NIR), including a regional office, as part of its maritime security strategy.

Other facilities being planned include a training center, and additional stations and a sub-station, particularly in southern Negros.

“(We want) to strengthen Coast Guard presence in this part of the region. We believe Negros is a very important island because of its proximity to Mindanao,” he said.

Garcia added that Negros Island is a “good place to enhance the Coast Guard system” to provide support to neighboring regions, including Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.

The Coast Guard chief it is part of their strategy to ask for the support of the provincial government and the local government units.

Garcia said they are requesting for donations of land area where the Coast Guard can put up stations, sub-stations, and offices for its Special Operation Group.

Moreover, Garcia said that Coast Guard has 4,000 new recruits this year.

He said the Department of Budget Management had earlier approved their request for 4,000 new recruits and 5,900 recruits every year in the next five years until 2022.

“The distribution of these recruits will depend on the threat analysis that the Coast Guard management would formulate,” he said. “For now, we’re concentrating our training for these recruits.”

He said they are also looking for areas in the province where they can locate their training centers and K9 units.

“That’s why we met with the governor to ask for his intervention or intercession for our desired land area,” he said. (MPE/GYM)