Pag-asa island not for tourists — official
“Pag-asa island is a municipality. It’s very good to put hotels there but probably not for tourists because that is a contested area and we do not want to compound the problem,” Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said.
AFP
Pag-asa island not for tourists — official
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The plan to develop Pag-asa island in the Spratlys into a tourist spot would only bring more trouble to the island, a ranking security official said yesterday.

“Pag-asa island is a municipality. It’s very good to put hotels there but probably not for tourists because that is a contested area and we do not want to compound the problem,” Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said.

Just last month, around a hundred Chinese fishing vessels, believed to be maritime militia ships under the direct control of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN), swarmed the waters close to Sandy Cay, a maritime feature that serves as buffer for Pag-asa island.

However, the latest maritime monitoring by the Western Command over the island town showed the huge number of Chinese fishing vessels near Sandy Cay has been drastically reduced to only three ships.

As former military chief, Año said he visited the troops in Pag-asa island, the biggest of the nine outposts within the country’s Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) occupied and being continuously guarded by government troops.

While living conditions have significantly improved for soldiers in the island town with more or less 300 civilian population, it remains a major challenge for those who are deployed on eight other outposts, particularly those who are based at Panata Cay, Ayungin Shoal and Rizal Reef.

“We’d rather use that hotel (if ever it will be built) for our troops, our visiting government personalities and probably for our citizens who want to visit Pag-asa island,” Año said, referring to the plans of building a hotel on the island.

During an inter-agency meeting with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, also a former Armed Forces chief, and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Año said they tackled current tourism issues in Palawan.

When asked if the tourism plan of the Department of National Defense in Pag-asa island was also discussed in their agency meeting, Año said it was not taken up.

But Año agreed with the defense and military’s plan to build facilities and other infrastructure to improve the living conditions in Pag-asa and the other eight military outposts that are all located in the middle of the current maritime disputes between six Spratlys-claimant states.

PAG-ASA ISLAND
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