The Western Command has entered into talks with the provincial government to put up a new naval station in the municipality to provide support to its operating units.
The significance of such new infrastructure project goes beyond bolstering the defense capability of the local military, crucial as it is considering the importance of a strong defense capability to protect the West Philippine Sea, a disputed and highly volatile area. For Palawan’s interest, such facilities have also the potential to spur economic growth not only in southern Palawan but for the entire province.
Balabac until now is considered a remote area vis-a-vis Puerto Princesa City which currently serves as the province’s main economic and political hub. Connectivity remains a raw challenge. Consider, for instance, that the town’s largest barangay, Mangsee Island, thrives on the Malaysian economy as it is closer to our southern neighbor. Traveling to this southernmost town from the capital takes at least four hours of grueling land travel and another four or five hours on a boat.
Plans to open the Palawan-Malaysian trade route has long been on the drawing board, with a roll-on-roll-off port already having been completed on the Buliluyan coast. The provincial government’s plans, if realized, promises an economic corridor that opens new business opportunities for the Malaysian markets.
Air and naval facilities in the island town that can also be utilized for civilian and economic activities address the security needs attendant to a robust local economy. Such projects, viewed objectively, can serve as turnkey infrastructure facilities to boost the local economy.
Given such potential, and absent any social or environmental issues that may be attendant to the construction of such facilities, these projects may well be worthy of support from the national government and its line agencies concerned.