The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is providing personnel to help operate patrol boats of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) under an agreement signed on September 10.
The PCG-BOC memorandum of agreement intensifies the agencies’ joint effort to enhance border security and foil smuggling activities.
Under the MOA, the PCG commits to provide manpower to operate 20 BOC fast boats.
BOC will have the authority to deploy the fast patrol boats for law enforcement missions, while PCG will its technical expertise in operating and navigating the floating assets and ensure that knowledge and skills are efficiently transferred to customs personnel.
In an event of natural calamity or national emergency, PCG, upon proper coordination with the BOC, may utilize the fast patrol boats in conducting search and rescue operations and responding to maritime incidents.
Each fast boat will be manned by nine crew members, composed of five BOC personnel and four PCG non-officers, who have satisfactorily completed the course on small boat operation and management.
The MOA was signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and PCG Commandant George Ursabia, Jr. It took effect on September 10 and will be effective for five years.
Prior to the MOA signing, Guerrero last June signed Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 18-2020, which provides guidelines for use of three fast patrol vessels in maritime border protection activities as well as the creation of a Maritime Special Task Group.
The order implements a MOA signed in 2018 with PCG on the conduct of joint border control operations. CMO 18-2020 covers the Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, Limay, Subic, Davao, and Zamboanga.
BOC and PCG are authorized by law to board, inspect, search, and examine all types of merchant ships and watercraft and any container, trunk, package, box, or envelope found on board. They are also empowered to physically search and examine any person aboard the ships within the Philippine customs territory and maritime jurisdiction.