The economic benefits of carrying out the Php29.3-billion third phase of the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard outweigh the cost, the government’s socioeconomic planning secretary said on Thursday.

The National Economic and Development Authority Board, or NEDA Board, chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., approved three high-impact projects during its eleventh meeting:  the TPLEX extension, purchase of five Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels, and PBBM bridges project.

In announcing NEDA Board’s project approvals during a Palace press briefing, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that much of the country’s rural folks depend on the seas and fishing is still the major economic activity for many of them.

“And if they can access the seas for our fishing and we can protect those seas, then the economic value for those seas for us will remain high. But if those corals are degraded, you know, for example, destroyed, then you lose economic value,” said Balisacan.

“Of course the biodiversity issues sometimes hard to quantify and they are so important in our economic life. So ‘yan, fishing is a very important source of livelihood but transport is also equally important because if you cannot pass through the most direct route, you are forced to go a very long route that is very costly for the movement of goods and people.”

So when the economic planners examine the benefit and cost of the maritime project, he said that the economic benefits outweigh the cost “and therefore, even from a strictly economic point of view, these investments are worth the cost.”

The NEDA Board approved the Php29.3-billion Phase 3 of the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the PCG, which will involve the design, construction, and delivery of five units of multi-role response vessels, or MRRVs, each with a length of 97 meters. 

Incorporated with a five-year integrated logistics support, the project is seen to further improve the PCG’s capability to respond to threats and incidents within the country’s maritime jurisdiction, particularly by enabling it to secure important sea lines of communication in the West Philippine Sea, Sulu-Celebes Seas, and the Philippine Sea. 

To be financed through Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan, it will also help the PCG combat illegal activities and enforce maritime laws in the Philippine waters. | PND

Photo Courtesy PCO