DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga together with Western Command chief V/Adm Alberto Carlos and Kalayaan town Mayor Roberto Del Mundo at the Sandy Cay 2 islet at the West Philippine Sea. (Photo from DENR)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Antonia Loyzaga recently visited Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea. Loyzaga led a comprehensive inspection of the island and its surrounding areas, including Sandy Cay 2, where the team observed firsthand the extent of damage to the coral reefs.

During her visit, she also discussed possible interventions in the area with Western Command commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos and Kalayaan town Mayor Roberto Del Mundo. These interventions include plans to provide water supply to the island’s residents, strategies to enhance community resilience and sustainability, and collaborative efforts to safeguard the ecosystem of the islands in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

Sandy Cay 2, a small islet located two miles off Pag-asa Island, was once a sandy expanse, as its name suggests. However, last September, the Philippine Coast Guard released a video showing dead corals that now cover the area due to an alleged earthmoving activity by China.

Both islets fall within the Philippines’ 12-mile territorial sea but are also subject to territorial claims by China.