The Western Command has launched a regular ferry services for military personnel and civilian residents, as well as essential supplies to Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, dedicating a Philippine Navy vessel that will hold a twice-a-month voyage from Puerto Princesa City to the remote island, amid rising geopolitical tension in the region.
The regular trip to Pag-asa Island commenced last June 21 when BRP Mangyan (AC 71) left Tidepole Pier for a ferry and logistics run. Its second trip since the inception for the purpose, transporting around 10 tons of cargo as well as 12 military and civilian passenger, was on July 5.
In a statement released by Wescom today, July 14, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said the regular ferry service acts as a vital lifeline for the residents of Pag-asa Island, providing them with the necessary resources to sustain their livelihood and maintain a functioning community.
“It exemplifies WESCOM’s unwavering dedication to supporting the Philippine territory in the midst of an increasingly complex geopolitical environment,” the Wecom chief said.
Carlos said the missions will take place every 14 days to deliver much-needed supplies and provide a brief respite to the sailors and ship’s crew, as they spend 2-3 days in Pag-asa Island before embarking on their return journey to mainland Palawan.
It was conceptualized not only reinforces the logistical support to the island but also strengthens the bond between the military and civilian population in the remote island, he added.
Pag-asa Island is the farthest island territory of the Philippines that serves as the country’s stronghold in the West Philippine Sea and is also home of Kalayaan municipal government, being its lone barangay.
“As tensions once again heighten in the region due to the increasing number of Chinese maritime militia vessels (CMMVs) and maritime law enforcement assets monitored in WPS, the regular ferry service illuminates the Philippines’ commitment to asserting its sovereignty and ensuring the well-being of its citizens in the area,” Carlos said.
The top military official in the province also said that as the world closely watches the evolving situation in the WPS, WESCOM regular ferry service to Pag-asa Island stands as a testament to the Philippines’ unyielding dedication to safeguarding its remote territories and ensuring the well-being of all Filipinos living in these challenging environments.
Meamwhile, Mayor Roberto Del Mundo of Kalayaan expressed gratitude to WESCOM for initiating the regular ferry service to Pag-asa Island.
“Napakalaking tulong itong regular ferry service papunta sa Pag-asa,” Del Mundo said as he acknowledged the significance of the assistance for the residents of Pag-asa Island. (with a report from Celeste Anna Formoso)