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Kalayaan island town to acquire steel-hulled ship, mayor says

Jul 29, 2015 @ 1:30

Amid China’s continuing reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, the mayor of Kalayaan island town in Palawan has revealed plans to acquire a steel-hulled ship to improve the transport needs of its small population and visiting tourists.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon, Jr. said that through the help of the city government of Puerto Princesa, P10 million has been set aside to acquire a bigger and sturdier vessel.

“We are acquiring another vessel. This time it will be steel-hulled,” Bito-onon said.

With a 2010 population of only 222 people, Kalayaan town in Pag-asa Island is the smallest municipality in the Philippines.

Part of the Spratly Islands, it is located is 280 nautical miles northwest of Puerto Princesa, just 12 miles from Subi Reef that has been reclaimed by China.

Bito-onon said they are only relying on their wooden-hulled M/L Seagull vessel in transporting goods and supplies from the mainland, aside from military transport planes and Navy logistics ships.

Pag-asa Island has a dilapidated airstrip, a 5-bed lying-in clinic, and a small elementary school.

The only inhabited island in the Spratly, Bito-onon said Pag-asa Island is attracting the interests of both local and foreign tourists because of the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

“Because of the maritime awareness campaign, a lot of visitors are lining up to visit our island town,” the Kalayaan mayor said.

Bito-onon said the municipal government intends to develop Kalayaan as a tourism and marine fisheries development zone.

But the island town remains beset by problems of limited facilities, power, potable water and staple food, he pointed out.

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