The provincial government is set to ratify the local ordinance passed by the municipality of Kalayaan naming six sandbars and reef features around Pag-Asa island in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Ito ay sinususugan natin sa pamamagitan ng isang ordinansa kung saan pinagtitibay natin ang pangalan na ipinasa ng munisipyo ng Kalayaan,” Board Member Ryan Maminta said Wednesday.
The municipal government earlier passed the resolution, stating it is part of the town’s “vision” to develop Pag-Asa Island for “possible agri-tourism and fishery” projects.
Maurice Phillip Albayda, municipal information officer, said the ordinance was signed by Mayor Roberto del Mundo on August 14.
The four sandbars were named Pag-Asa Cay 1, 2, 3 and 4 from the nearest to the farthest point of the Pag-Asa Island, while the reefs were named Pag-Asa Reef 1 and 2.
Pag-asa Cay 1, the largest superficial feature stretching “more or less 500 meters”, was previously referred to by the locals as “Secret Island”, while Pag-asa Cay 2 was locally called as “Sandy Cay”.
Albayda said that giving Filipino names to the said features “would also uphold the country’s sovereignty” asserting the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Case No. 2013-19, ruling in favor of the Philippines.
Albayda added however that the local government “has no intention to pre-empt” the policy of the national government to maintain friendly relations with China amid the dispute on the WPS.
Board Member Ryan Maminta said during his privilege speech on the regular session Tuesday that the move of the town might change the current situation in the disputed waters.
“Ang nationalism at patriotism ay mas malawak pa sa politika, tayo ay binigyan ng maganda at mayaman na lugar. ‘Yong ginawa ng Kalayaan ay maaring maliit, pwedeng hindi mahalata o marecognize ng buong mundo pero ito ay parang bato na kapag itinapon ay magigig alon. Kaya po sinusuportahan natin ito dahil maaari itong magbigay ng pagbabago,” Maminta said.
The municipal ordinance was forwarded to the provincial board for ratification, where it currently sits at the committee on rules and laws for further discussion.