Faced with the increasing military presence of China in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines should strengthen its defense capability, military chief General Pio Catapang said.
Catapang saw the reclamation activities of the Chinese military at the Subi Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on his way to the town of Kalayaan.
“We need to buy more boats to guard our maritime territory,” he said.
Catapang visited the island municipality with Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, commander of the Western Command and Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. on board a C-130 plane.
The contingent also included representatives of the provincial government, international, national and local media.
Catapang assured Bito-onon of support from the military and help for the repair of the runway that will be opened for commercial flights.
“We have basic services here in the island but it is not complete to serve the people,” the mayor said.
He also pointed out that they are pushing tourism in the area but only through the “backyard approach” as they do not have enough funds.
“We already have a tourism road map which we call ‘tourism for peace,’” Bito-onon said.
He said that they have allotted P10 million to buy a steel boat that they will use to transport foreign and local tourists who want to get to the Spratly Islands.
Catapang also turned over school supplies for the islands 27 students, solar panels and a generator set for use of community and soldiers detailed.