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  • Writer's pictureBy Lito U. Gagni

WPS Island Touted As Tourist Destination

The Philippine Navy's (PN) highest-ranking officer visited troops and military facilities on Pag-asa Island on Friday as efforts are underway to develop Kalayaan town's seat of governance as a tourist destination.


Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., the Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command, arrived with Commodore Alan Javier, commander of Naval Forces West (Navforwest), as well as other senior Navy officials and representatives of various sectors "to demonstrate the country's sovereignty over the contested area and its readiness to welcome everyone, including tourists." I Photo: Philippine Navy Facebook



Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., the Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command, arrived with Commodore Alan Javier, commander of Naval Forces West (Navforwest), as well as other senior Navy officials and representatives of various sectors "to demonstrate the country's sovereignty over the contested area and its readiness to welcome everyone, including tourists," Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS), said.



"It's a visit for the senior leadership of the Philippine Navy to check on the troops and to inspect facilities. Likewise, there's also a visit from a body of stakeholders of the Philippine Navy to Pag-asa Island. This is to show them not only what Navy troops are doing there but also the Marines, Air Force, Army, PNP (Philippine National Police), and Coast Guard," he said.



"Pag-asa is accessible to everybody. It is now open to tourism. It is ours, and we would like to encourage Filipinos to visit Pag-asa Island. It is also to show them what our country is doing on the island."


Trinidad highlighted that although public attention is mainly on Ayungin Shoal, where the BRP Sierra Madre (LT 57) serves as a stationary outpost for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippines maintains outposts on other features as well.


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The focus on Ayungin Shoal stems from incidents of obstruction and harassment by China Coast Guard and militia vessels toward the Navy's rotation and resupply (RORE) missions, carried out using civilian vessels to provide for the troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre.


He reiterated that the WPS encompasses more than just Ayungin, pointing out the existence of eight other detachments staffed by Armed Forces of the Philippines troops, PNP, and Coast Guard personnel.


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"It's only in Ayungin Shoal that we experience illegal actions. All other detachments, we have unimpeded access. We also conduct regular RORE missions. In fact, we completed one (on Wednesday) and we have no problem whatsoever," he said.


Additionally, he noted that the Navy is exploring various strategies to ensure that Navforwest and Western Command (Wescom) are adequately equipped to fulfill their duties in the WPS.


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On the other hand, Vice Admiral Carlos, the chief of Wescom, has pledged steadfast commitment and support for the Philippine Navy's strategic direction, especially in its pursuit to bolster and enhance its capabilities for external defense security operations.


"Not only Wescom, but the whole AFP is ready to shift to external defense operations. The holding of the PN’s command conference here at Wescom is a welcome sign for us and for those who are involved in external defense operations," Carlos said.


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"The command conference not only underscores the PN's dedication to safeguarding national security but also highlights Wescom's pivotal role in external defense operations."











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