Germany enhances Philippine Coast Guard’s security capacity by donating unmanned aerial vehicles

To enhance the Philippine Coast Guard’s capacity in securing the rule-based order along the Philippine’s coastline, the Federal Republic of the Germany, through the German Embassy and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) donated two units of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at the PCG National Headquarters in Manila on 9 June 2022.

German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel and GIZ Country Director Immanuel Gebhardt handed over the drones to PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio M. Abu who conveyed his sincere appreciation to the German government for its continued support to the PCG's capability development.

According to CG Admiral Abu “More than its contribution to maritime surveillance for drug interdiction, illegal fishing operations, marine pollution and other nefarious activities, these UAV can improve PCG disaster response and relief operations particularly in damage assessment and in identifying areas where relief operations are badly needed.”

During the ceremony, Ambassador Anke highlighted that strengthening peace, security, and stability is a priority of German foreign policy, “Germany’s commitment is to strengthen the role of the Coast Guard to protect the coastline and provide capacity development to maximize the equipment provided by Germany. I would also like to commend GIZ for cooperating in this project, GIZ has successfully worked in the Philippines for many decades and has always been a competent, reliable, and professional partner in the programs and projects. I am proud to be here on the eve of the Philippine Independence Day celebrations.”

The drone donation is part of the GIZ Project “Supporting the Philippine Coast Guard in Securing Rule-based Order in the Indo-Pacific Region,” financed from the Enable and Enhance Initiative (German Federal Foreign Office/German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg)), and implemented by GIZ from 1 November 2021 to 30 June 2022.

The PCG faces the challenge of providing effective security along the country’s coastline of more than 36,000 km with inadequate equipment and limited resources. Against the backdrop of the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, it is even more pressing that PCG is able to effectively exercise its mandate.

In this context, PCG has expressed the need for support to increase its capacity in strategy development and operational planning for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) deployment. It will help PCG to monitor violations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) within its jurisdiction.

“These UAVs can provide imagery that can be used for scenarios such as rapid damage assessment of an oil spill incident or a quick survey of an area of interest for possible United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) violations. GIZ strongly appreciates the trust of the German Embassy, the Federal Foreign Office as well as the Philippine Coastguard to jointly work on further strengthening these capacities,” said GIZ Country Director Gebhardt.

Training workshops on UAV operations and geographic information systems (mapping) are currently undertaken by 10 PCG staff. To ensure sustainability of the project, a UAV standard operating procedure will also be developed.

The donated UAVs are Trinity F90+ drones, which cannot be equipped with weapons, can fly up to 60 minutes covering approximately 300 hectares land area at 120 meters altitude. They can capture a series of images that can be processed into high-resolution maps. These maps can provide status of a given area and has potential for various uses. In addition, this type of drone was used in Germany to deliver medical samples to laboratories during the height of the pandemic.