Press Release
August 27, 2016


Senator Sonny Angara has filed a bill that seeks to declare Pag-asa Island as a special ecological tourism zone to promote and develop the island cluster as a tourist destination while protecting its natural resources.

"With its impeccable beauty, the island is an ideal tourist destination. The government should provide the necessary support to promote the island's rich biodiversity and Philippine heritage that our country should be proud of," Angara said.

Thus, Senate Bill 944 seeks to create and mandate the Pag-asa Island Ecotourism Cluster Governing Board, in coordination with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), to prepare an ecotourism master plan to ensure the island's tourism promotion, employment generation, livelihood development, and the protection and preservation of its environment and ecosystem.

The Pag-asa island and its adjoining islands of Parola, Kota and Panata, collectively referred to as the Pag-asa Island Cluster, are located in the Municipality of Kalayaan in the province of Palawan.

The proposed measure aims to declare the islands of Parola, Kota and Panata as protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

The Pag-asa island is the second largest island in the whole of Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys) in the West Philippine Sea, and is the only Philippine-occupied island in the Spratlys that is inhabited by civilians.

Just recently, the Philippine Coast Guard has completed a humanitarian mission to Pagasa Island, delivering provisions including clothes, rice, canned goods, cooking oil, condiments, other grocery items, and fuel and various supplies to the Filipinos residing there.

The bill highlights the recent ruling on the West Philippine Sea of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a member of the legal team that prepared the Philippines' case before the PCA, believes that "the government should push for a peace agreement with China and other claimants in the Spratlys by declaring the area as an international marine park and protected area, as originally suggested by American marine biology professor John McManus."

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