Martin2 Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe, Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, Committee on Appropriation Chairman and Ako Bicol Party List Rep. Zaldy Co, AFP Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner, Wescom Commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, and other AFP officials pose fora historic picture during arrival at the Pag-asa island in Kalayaan, Palawan. Romualdez and his team inspecedt the ongoing projects at the island. Photos by VER NOVENO

House eyes P3B dev’t projects for Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan

October 5, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 535 views

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday said the House of Representatives will try to allocate at least P3 billion for development projects on Pag-asa, the main island in and the seat of the town of Kalayaan in Palawan.

He made the commitment following a visit to the remote town in the West Philippine Sea accompanied by some congressmen and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Well initially, just for the airport and the reclamation here, we’re looking at a budget of at least P3 billion for the airport reclamation extension, which coincides with the naval port and fishing sanctuary (for fishermen),” Speaker Romualdez, the leader of 300-plus strong House of Representatives, told reporters in an interview.

Asked whether Pag-asa would get a share from billions in confidential funds the House intends to realign, he said, “Yes. Well of course, a portion of it that initially has been decided to be allocated will be put in. Beyond that mas malaki pa ang iniisip nating pondo para dito.”

“Definitely, asahan ng buong Pag-asa at Kalayaan Island group that help and support is on the way. We have the leadership of the House of Representatives where the budget emanates. Baka meron pa tayong maihabol dito sa bicam na ‘yung mga priority na tulong. We are looking at doing some reclamation here to facilitate longer, wider runway and that will also help for the naval port and fishing port area here at the other end of the runway,” he said.

“We’re here to look at where we could do more improvements. There is a possibility of putting up a naval wharf right here and repair this port here as well…Kaya maganda talaga dito na maisasagawa talaga ‘yung mga proyektong pang-development and improvement of the Pag-asa Island facilities,” he said.

He pointed out that his trip Thursday was the first time he visited Pag-asa Island.

“I’m very proud kasi nandito lahat ng mga sundalo natin, all of the members of the AFP and of course the Coast Guard, and of course the local governments, they are here, they are doing a wonderful job. And we want to give support, tutulungan talaga natin at na-appreciate lalo natin ang serbisyo na ginagawa ng lahat na nandito sa Pag-asa,” he stressed.

Speaker Romualdez added that the remote Palawan town could even have tourism-oriented facilities and be turned into the Maldives of the Philippines.

“So we’re looking at hindi lang to support, hindi lang ‘yung budget ng DND, hindi lang DOTR baka pwede rin yung DOT, kasi napakaganda dito baka pwede itong maging tourist destination…There are other islands that we would like to develop…parang sa Maldives, so pwede sigurong maging Philippine Maldives… So we shall invite everyone to come and visit. But we shall develop the facilities here, the airport, the seaport and the other facilities within the Kalayaan Island group,” he said.