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12:15 PM, August 18, 2016
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BRP Tubbataha is the first of ten patrol vessels to Philippines Coast Guard from Japan

Japan has delivered the first of 10 patrol vessels to Philippines as part of the official development assistance loan to help Manila’s maritime capabilities.

The 44-meter multi-role patrol vessel will be assigned to the Philippine coast guard. The response vessel has been funded by a $158 million loan from Japan. Philippines is contributing 1.4 billion pesos to the 10-vessel project and is expected to be completed by 2018, Japan Times reported Thursday.

“In the past few years, we have all been witness to the growing and evolving challenges that the Philippine Coast Guard is facing, and the maritime community and the sea-traveling public also had to face. Who could forget the devastation and horror brought about by Super Typhoon Yolanda?” Rear Adm. William Melad, the coast guard chief was quoted as saying by the news daily at the ceremony to welcome the BRP Tubbataha. Yolanda, known elsewhere as Typhoon Haiyan, claimed more than 6,300 lives in the Philippines in 2013.

“These instances have reverberated the call for a modern and equipped Philippine Coast Guard that can speedily respond to cries for help and engage in rescue and rehabilitation efforts, one that has technical capability to match . . . against poachers, smugglers, human and drug traffickers, and one that can stand up for the country’s citizens against maritime bullies,” he said.

Coast guard spokesman Armando Balilo said that, once commissioned, the BRP Tubbataha is likely to be deployed on patrol missions in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea where the Philippines claims jurisdiction.

In addition to the patrol vessels, Japan has agreed to lease up to five Maritime Self-Defense Force TC-90 training aircraft to the Philippines.

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