Volunteers in ‘Freedom Voyage’ reach Pag-asa Island
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Student-volunteers on the Freedom Voyage of the Kalayaan Atin Ito (KAI) Movement yesterday reached Pag-asa Island in the disputed Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea.

Led by former Marine captain Nicanor Faeldon, the 46 volunteers set foot on the island without any hitches, except for an attempt by a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel to block the motorboat they were riding.

“We have landed here at Kalayaan town in Pag-asa Island,” said volunteer Mariel Ipan in a text message to her colleagues who were monitoring their movement from a base camp in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

The Western Command (Wescom), which secures the West Philippine Sea, issued an order to its troops in Pag-asa to allow the student-volunteers to come ashore and mingle with civilian residents. However, it prohibited them from entering declared military areas.

“They were cleared to disembark in the island town. There’s no prohibition at all except at the naval station,” said Vera Joy Ban-eg, a KAI convenor.

She added that no Chinese ship or vessel prevented the group from entering the island.

The group will stay for three days in Pag-asa, an island town located 12 nautical miles from Zamora (Subi) Reef that China has transformed into an artificial island. They are expected back in mainland Palawan on Dec. 30.

Pag-asa is the second biggest island in the Spratly archipelago and is also near Itu Aba, which is being occupied by Taiwanese forces.

The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have claims in the area.

FREEDOM VOYAGE OF THE KALAYAAN ATIN ITO ISLAND ITU ABA MALAYSIA AND BRUNEI MARIEL IPAN NICANOR FAELDON PAG PALAWAN PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD PUERTO PRINCESA CITY WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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