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MANILA, Philippines — A new seaport will soon rise on Pag-asa Island to improve access to the area and bolster the country’s claims to the Spratly Island.
The Department of Transportation, which seeks P3.98 billion for the maritime sector in the proposed 2017 national budget, has earmarked P450 million for the Pag-asa port, Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel said.
In a report submitted to Congress, the DOTr said the new port would “improve accessibility to the area and bolster the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea.”
Located 518 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Pag-asa belongs to the Kalayaan Island Group at the western section of the Spratly archipelago. Ownership of the entire Spratly archipelago and its many ridges is being disputed by China, the Philippines and other claimants.
In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea could not be overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.
“We support the port development project, which will surely help encourage human settlement in the remote Philippine island that now has less than 400 residents, mostly fishermen,” Pimentel, a member of the House committee on national defense and security, said.
The lawmaker said the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources should now consider putting up a research station in Pag-asa.
He also urged the Department of Energy to find ways to provide the 37.2-hectare island a renewable and stable source of electricity. At present, only a 75KVa generator set supplies some of the electricity needs of the island.
A low-lying landmass surrounded by shallow coral ranges, Pag-asa has been occupied by the Philippines since 1970. Pag-asa is the lone barangay of Kalayaan, which is the country’s smallest municipality.