Jinggoy promises to send lechon to Pag-asa Island residents

(MANILA BULLETIN) The chairman of the Senate National Defense Committee on Saturday, May 20, asked his colleagues in the 24-member Senate as well as other government officials to visit the Pag-asa island chain in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to see its dilapidated buildings hit by storm “Odette” one and one half years ago.

Senator Jose ‘’Jinggoy’’ Ejercito Estrada said he visited the Pag-asa Island, which he described as a very nice place last Thursday. He, however, admitted that he was later shocked to see its health center closed, its town hall damaged and its school building that teaches from grade one to grade six also  dilapidated. The school has only two teachers, he added.

The health center had no doctor but had one nurse, he noted during a DWIZ radio interview on Saturday.

A pregnant woman nearing her delivery schedule had to be flown aboard a helicopter to mainland Palawan, Estrada said.

The senator said he observed that the island had no market, meaning they have to store their food supply until another supply ship comes at the end of the month.

This is why he is asking his fellow senators to visit the island and see the actual situation and that they might also move for additions to the AFP budget when the budget hearing season starts in August, he explained.

Jinggoy said he promised the island residents that he would try to send ‘’lechon’’ (roast pig)–considered food for special occasions–when transportation is available.

He thanked the Canadian embassy for its position that it would help the Philippines by providing satellite surveillance.

‘’That is a welcome development. I would like to thank the official of Canada for donating equipment that is much needed,’’ he said.

China has developed its claimed islands in the WPS, including the installation of military equipment on them. It also has many Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels that harass Filipino fishermen and even Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels.

Estrada conceded that the Philippines could not compete with China, a military and economic power, in developing the contested islands and showing its military muscle.

China rejected in July 2016 a decision of the United Nations (UN) arbitration court throwing out its historic claim over most parts of the South China Sea, which includes the  WPS.

Philippine Navy flag officer in command, Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., was joined by Naval Forces West commander, Commodore Alan Javier, in his visit to Pag-asa Island on March 19, 2023.

Adaci inspected naval installations in the area and reached out to troops during his visit and other outposts in the Kalayaan Island Group.