The Palawan Provincial Board passed a resolution recently to officially express the province’s support to Senator Juan Edgardo Angara’s bill which declares Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan as a Special Ecological Tourism Zone.The said resolution, which was authored by Board Member Roseller Pineda, is a reiteration for a previously passed resolution, in support to the re-filing of the bill in the current Upper House.
According to Pineda, the clamor for passing the resolution came from the people and officials in the said municipality. “Ito talaga nag-emanate sa mga mamamayan, sa mga opisyales natin, noon pang panahon ni dating Mayor Bitoon-on, noong last set of government officials pa, doon nagsimula at humingi nga ng support sa amin,” Pineda explained.
The local legislator also cited what he sees as the undeniable ecotourism potential of Pag-asa Island, including the adjoining islands of Parola, Kota and Panata, which are all within the disputed area of West Philippine Sea. “Very potential diba? Nakita natin ang Palawan as tourist destination, number 1 island in the world. Ideal talaga na tourist destination,” BM Pineda said in an interview.
Another notable provision of the resolution is the proposal to declare the Spratlys as an international marine park and protected area, which the document said originated from a Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice who served as a member of the legal team that prepared the country’s case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Meanwhile, AFP Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya, in his visit to Western Command on Wednesday, October 5, expressed support to the proposed legislation. “Alam niyo ang ating Armed Forces  we will always support the government programs. Basta pagdating sa kabutihan ng ating bansa, nand’yan ang ating armed forces,” Visaya said in a media interview.
SB 944 also aims to declare Parola, Kota and Panata as protected areas under NIPAS or National Integrated Protected Areas System.