By Junex Doronio
May 5, 2021
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu — Apparently fulfilling its constitutional mandate to be the protector of the Filipino people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is determined to build a military logistics hub in the the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Clearly a Philippine territory, Pag-asa island is only 400 kilometers from mainland Palawan province and it is the biggest and most strategically important Philippine outpost.
“We came up with the proposal to turn our municipality in Pag-asa into a logistics hub so our ships, instead of going back to Puerto Princesa to refuel, will get their supplies there,” AFP chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana revealed in an interview with radio station dzBB on Tuesday, May 4.
He confidently said the military would be able to sustain its patrols more effectively if Pag-asa is turned into a supply hub.
“By transforming Pag-asa island into a logistics hub, our ships would no longer venture far and there would not be interruption in our sovereignty patrols in the West Philippine Sea,” Sobejana said as he noted that it takes weeks for ships to go to Puerto Princesa, the capital.of Palawan.
It was learned that the military is also considering the construction of recreational facilities on Pag-asa for sailors who needed R&R (Rest and Recreation).
“When our sailors disembark in Pag-asa island, they should have entertainment,” Sobejana said.
“That means we will build recreational facilities there to balance the lives of our sailors,” the AFP chief explained.
He added: “They patrol the seas. When they dock in Pag-asa they will have places to visit and so they can relax, too.”
It can be recalled that in 2020, the Philippine government finished building a beaching ramp and sheltered port on Pag-asa. These would allow the transport of construction materials and serve as safe harbor for vessels on a visit.
Despite the reported Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea, Sobejana said the Philippine military and coast guard remained determined in their tasks to conduct sovereignty patrols.
“We are not intimidated by the challenges. We are not swayed by that and continue our resupply missions,” the AFP chief pointed out.
On Monday, May 3, the Philippines accused China coast guard of “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuvers, and radio challenges of the Philippine coast guard vessels.”
This latest move by the military was seen as a positive sign in asserting the county’s sovereignty following the April 7 stern warning by the United States to China that it would not hesitate to militarily back up the Philippines in case of a “shooting war.”
“An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price had stressed. (AI/MTVN)