Philippine Coast Guard Recruiting Fishermen to Help Disrupt Narcotics Smuggling
March 30: With drug smugglers dropping off their illegal cargo at sea, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is now recruiting fishermen to become force multipliers.
The PCG is particularly recruiting fishermen along the country’s eastern seaboard to become part of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA).
The PCG said the fishermen would be trained to spot suspicious vessels dropping their illegal cargo overboard and assist in protecting the environment.
PCG spokesman Captain Armand Balilo said their field stations along the eastern seaboard have been tasked to look for fishermen who would voluntarily join the PCGA in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“Our focus is on the eastern seaboard. The directive of Coast Guard commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino to me, as head of the PCG Community Relations Service, is to have a comprehensive program for the fishermen, to make the fishermen part of the PCGA so they could assist in Coast Guard activities,” Balilo said.
Balilo said the focus would be along the coastlines of the eastern part of Mindanao and the Visayas region facing the Pacific Ocean.
“It would be good if they are part of the PCG Auxiliary because they would help extend the services of the PCG insofar as gathering information, reporting if there are any illegal activities, protecting the marine environment and for search and rescue operations… They would be our forces on the ground and augment us in our patrol,” Balilo said.
There had been instances when it was the fishermen who discovered the floating drugs at sea.
He said this was the first time that they are encouraging the fishermen to join the PCGA. “They do not have to pay for anything. We even provide them with t-shirts so there would be a semblance of authority whenever they are out at sea, when they are on auxiliary duty.”
Balilo believes there would be fishermen interested to join the PCGA program because there are those who want to help improve their community.
“We will come up with a program for the fishermen so they would be organized,” he said.
Balilo said the fishermen who will be part of the program would not be paid, “but we are trying to figure out if we could train them for livelihood or form a cooperative. We will see.”