Newly-appointed PCG chief outlines crucial functions of Coast Guard amid public health emergency

Vice Admiral George Ursabia Jr. has outlined the direction of the PCG under his command./PCG/

(Eagle News)–Newly-appointed Philippine Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral George Ursabia Jr. emphasized the role of the PCG in ensuring the health and safety of the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the PCG said Ursabia outlined five aspects where he said the Coast Guard played a crucial role.

According to the statement, he said PCG men and women should first continue to provide support for the relief operations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The PCG’s Task Group Laban COVID19 cluster should also continue its  24/7 safeguarding of Philippine seaports, waterways and coastlines, and should   enhance port state control, littoral, and ensure their coast watch system to ensure that all vessels and watercrafts plying the Philippine seas are compliant with international protocols on maritime security and maritime safety.

He said the PCG should also promote the health and safety of returning overseas Filipino workers, Filipino seafarers, and non-OFWs “before they finally reunite with their families during this challenging time.”

“Most importantly, VADM Ursabia emphasized the need to improve the performance of the service’s mandate on maritime law enforcement, maritime security, maritime safety, maritime search and rescue, and marine environment protection by recruiting specialized personnel and by training its men and women on the utilization of the latest equipment to counter maritime terrorism, piracy, kidnap-for-ransom, smuggling, and other threats to security, most especially in the ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi) region,” the statement said, noting that Ursabia also called  for the procurement of necessary assets to improve the PCG’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

In line with this, the statement said Ursabia recognizes the “significance of protecting the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the 17,000 PCG personnel to date” as he believes that in order for each personnel to be effective in the performance of duties, he or she “must be at his/her best state – able to exercise compassion, humility, bravery in times of crises.”

“I am committed to protect the living and working conditions of officers and non-officers through social protection, rest periods, and working time arrangements. The PCG plays a vital role in the country’s journey toward economic, health, and social recovery, thus, we must take care of our people who serve the nation. I am open and willing to listen to creative and innovative ideas to improve the way we work and fulfill our mandate,” Ursabia said in the statement.

Ursabia took the helm of the PCG on Monday, following the retirement of Vice Admiral Joel Garcia.

He is the  27th PCG commandant.