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AFP backs island development in West Philippine Sea
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, in a virtual meeting on Monday with Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez, chair of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, acknowledged the need to turn Pagasa Island into a “logistics hub” to protect KIG’s biodiversity and the livelihood of its fishing communities.
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AFP backs island development in West Philippine Sea

Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The military has vowed to give its full support to ongoing plans and efforts to develop and protect Pagasa Island and the entire Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in the West Philippine Sea.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, in a virtual meeting on Monday with Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez, chair of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), acknowledged the need to turn Pagasa Island into a “logistics hub” to protect KIG’s biodiversity and the livelihood of its fishing communities.

“We are glad that we are on the same page on the future of the province of Palawan, that we view it as a strategic and critical national security frontier, particularly in the interests of ecological balance and sustainable development,” he said.

The AFP chief also lauded the initiatives of the Palawan provincial government to protect the nation’s interest through its proposal to declare the KIG as a protected area under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (Republic Act 7586).

“We are at a point when we have to stick together as one nation and we are glad that the provincial government of Palawan is already on board,” Sobejana said.

Part of the discussion during the virtual meeting was the further development of Pagasa Island as haven for Filipino fishermen as well as a possible tourist destination.

Sobejana said such move will require expansion and construction of facilities that are aimed at sustaining an increase in economic activity in the island.

Present at the meeting were Teodoro Jose Matta, PCSD executive director; Maj. Gen. Rene Diaz, AFP deputy chief of staff for logistics, and Brig. Gen. Rene Raoul Rommel Honasan, assistant deputy for logistics.

Pagasa Island, one of the biggest islands of the KIG, hosts an entire village or barangay where soldiers maintain presence amid the country’s territorial issues with China.

The government is moving to further improve the island’s airstrip and ship facilities to make it a logistics hub for the AFP particularly the Philippine Navy. – Pia Lee-Brago

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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