Panfilo Lacson

Ping: Foreign scientists may help prevent invasion of Pag-asa Island

November 23, 2021 Joel dela Torre 313 views

PARTIDO Reporma chairman and presidential candidate Panfilo “Ping” Lacson yesterday said sending scientists and researchers and inviting foreign scientists on Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea may prevent China from invading the area.

In an interview with Pinky Webb on CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Lacson said the presence of scientists and researchers, not just Filipinos but from all nations, will help preserve the balance of power in the region and make aggressor countries think twice about moving into and claiming these features in the WPS.

“Parang subliminally, kapag merong foreign scientists doon, parang naka-enhance na rin ng defense posture because China, knowing there are foreign scientists in the area, they will think ten times before invading the area, which is a possibility by the way,” Lacson told Webb.

Expanding on his research and development platform for the country, Lacson urged scientists and researchers to go and pursue their maritime studies and at the same time unearth the ecological richers these islands can provide the Philippines.

The Partido Reporma standard-bearer pointed out that ongoing construction projects on Pag-Asa Island will allow more people to visit the country’s western front and see for themselves the extent of the Philippines’ natural resources in the area.

These developments, he added, include an improved road network, a deepwater port, and the planned expansion of the Pag-Asa airstrip into a proper runway to accommodate larger aircraft.

Last November 20, the former PNP chief and chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense, visited Pag-Asa Island, which is 225 km from Ayungin Shoal, to learn the safety situation of the island.

The visit came four days after a China Coast Guard ship blocked and water-cannoned two supply ships seeking to deliver to the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin, an act which President Duterte called “abhorrent” and condemned by the international community.

Before leaving the island, Lacson planted a Philippine flag there as a symbol of his resolve to defend the country’s territory.

He was accompanied by other Partido Reporma candidates and officials and the media.

Lacson’s proposal to send scientists and researchers, also dovetails with the recent announcement by the government that it is reactivating the Marine Research Center on Pag-asa Island.

Lacson noted that the University of the Philippines and the Department of Science and Technology will send a team to the center in January 2022.

“So aside from sending scientists from UP and DOST to the area, why not invite foreign scientists as well? I think they will be interested to get involved because the WPS area, masyadong malawak and very rich in aquatic resources,” the Partido Reporma chairman said.

“Gusto ko lang bigyan ng credit ang mga tao sa Pag-Asa, especially the troops who are stationed there. The first time I saw them, kita ko agad ang patriotism in their hearts. My heart goes out to them for staying there (despite the meager resources on the island),” he added,

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said reactivating the Marine Research Center aims to better study and safeguard the country’s maritime resources and look after the welfare of fishermen in the area.