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House leaders: Build permanent structures in Pag-asa, Kalayaan islands

MANILA: Ranking members of the House of Representatives on Monday emphasized the need to develop major infrastructure projects in the Kalayaan Island Group, especially in Pag-asa Island, to assert Philippine presence following increased Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a press briefing, Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez and Representatives Geraldine Roman (Bataan, 1st District), Jeffrey Khonghun (Zambales, 1st District), and Franciso Paolo Ortega (La Union, 1st District) said they fully support Speaker Martin Romualdez’s efforts to develop more permanent structures in the Philippines-occupied island groups to help patrols in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

They also lauded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s position that the Philippines will not allow ‘any attempt by any foreign power to take even one square inch of our sovereign territory.’

In turn, the legislators vowed to double down on the country’s defense spending, funding and allocation to
‘properly protect what is naturally ours.’

‘It should be a matter of priority, actually. Alam nyo naman, ayaw natin ‘yung nagpapa-bully. And pinapakita natin na meron tayong paninindigan sa ating bansa (We don’t want to be bullied. And we are showing that we have principles in our country). And I believe that the President is a taking the right actions in this regard,’ Roman said.

Khonghun said aside from continuously filing diplomatic protests against China, developing more permanent facilities in the Spratlys will help assert Philippine sovereignty in the WPS.

‘Napaka-importante nun na talagang masabi natin na ‘yung presence natin nandun and dapat lang talaga na hindi natin isinusuko ang ating teritoryo (It’s very important that we can say that we have a presence there, and it’s just right that we don’t surrender our territory),’ he said.

Ortega said aside from airports and seaports, the Philippine government should develop tourism and business destinations in the disputed islands.

For Suarez, bilatera
l agreements with other countries are very important in supporting the Philippine cause in the WPS.

‘So, it’s very important, the partnerships, bilateral agreements and cooperation that President Bongbong Marcos has been doing and strengthening with his trips because this strengthens the position of the President when it comes to our exclusive economic zone,’ he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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