Military releases P31M to repair air strip in Pagasa Island
PAGASA ISLAND, Kalayaan, Philippines — The military has released P31 million for the rehabilitation of the air strip here located in the disputed Spratlys chain in the South China Sea, which officials want to develop as a tourist spot.
The amount is enough only for the eastern portion of the air strip and additional funding is needed for the western part, Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said in an interview with reporters here.
“We released funds already for the repair of the runway… The air strip itself needs improvement. We will see how we can source additional funds,” said Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Once he returns to Manila late Friday, Ebdane said he would “find a way” to secure funding for the project.
The rehabilitation of the eastern portion of the air strip will take between four and five months, said Major General Bob Regala of the Air Force Engineering Wing, whom Esperon had tasked to oversee the project.
Rear Admiral Tirso Danga, commander of the Armed Forces Western Command, said some investors have approached him about the idea of developing the island into a diving site for tourists.
“There are proposals from some entrepreneurs to develop resorts here to entice Filipinos [to visit]. [The development] is also part of national patrimony,” Danga said.
“We can have a diving resort here, fishing also. You can see the white sand beach is very beautiful,” Danga said, adding, “This [island] is ours. It’s ours. We might as well develop it.”
The reported oil-rich Spratlys are being claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
Edbane and Esperon were here Thursday to turn over a P13-million potable water machine, which the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) had donated.
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