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COA: BFAR patrol boats poorly maintained

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Is it safe to use a patrol boat without a working navigation equipment?

The Commission on Audit (COA) raised the issue as it found that seven—or half—of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) patrol vessels had nonoperational navigational and communications equipment.

In its 2017 annual audit report, the COA noted the explanation of the Vessel Operation Center that there was no available budget for capital outlays to purchase new equipment for the vessels.

Auditors said the safety of the crew conducting monitoring and surveillance operations in the high seas “may be compromised or at risk.”

“Any distress signals cannot be received/send as the VHF/UHF all mode transceivers were not operational,” read the report.

The vessels were purchased way back in 2001 and cost P991.09 million. The government is still paying back the loans for the acquisition of the vessels.

The COA urged the BFAR to provide “adequate budget for the immediate repair of the auxiliary machinery, navigational and communications equipment to maintain the seaworthiness to avoid further deterioration of the vessels.”