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Gov't to spend P480M to upgrade Navy, Air Force facilities in Spratlys

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The government is planning to spend almost P480 million to upgrade the Air Force and Navy facilities in Pag-Asa Island, one of the areas occupied by the Philippines in the disputed Spratlys region.

Defense department data showed that the project costs P479.75 million and would be undertaken through public bidding.

The project will be bankrolled by the Armed Forces Modernization Law of 1995 and is now being studied by security officials.

Details of the project were not immediately available. 

Sources, however, said the multi-million project would cover the upgrade of naval facilities and the repair of the eroding airstrip.

The project is expected to improve the military’s monitoring capabilities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the subject of a territorial row in the region.

Pag-Asa Island is part of Kalayaan Island, a fifth class municipality in Palawan.

The Philippines has constructed a town hall, a 1.3-kilometer airstrip, a naval station, a health center and a kindergarten school at Pag-asa Island.

The Defense department earlier bared plans to spend P313-million to construct vital facilities at a naval detachment in Oyster Bay facing the West Philippine Sea.

The project would involve the building of pier, harbor and support facilities at the Palawan-based detachment.

The construction of the pier and harbor costs P237.12 million while the building of support facilities will require P76.49 million.

Oyster Bay is located about 160 kilometers from the Spratly Islands, the subject of a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

The Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan claim either part or the entire Spratly Islands, which is said to be rich in oil.

China has been building structures in disputed areas to assert its territorial claims, raising concerns among other claimants.

It has built a military garrison in the Mischief Reef or Panganiban Reef, one of the areas being claimed by the Philippines. Mischief Reef is located about 130 nautical miles off Palawan and has been occupied by China since 1995.

China initially built structures on stilts at the reef, supposedly to provide shelter for fishermen but these were later on converted into a military garrison with powerful radars.

China has also installed a powerful radar station in Subi Reef near Pag-asa Island. 

AIR FORCE AND NAVY ARMED FORCES MODERNIZATION LAW CHINA KALAYAAN ISLAND MISCHIEF REEF OYSTER BAY PAG PAG-ASA ISLAND PALAWAN SPRATLY ISLANDS WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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