Senator Jinggoy Estrada has passionately called upon his fellow lawmakers to prioritize the upliftment of the living conditions of Filipino residents in Pag-asa Island, located in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
In a heartfelt privilege speech delivered during a plenary session, Estrada emphasized the need to provide essential health, education and economic services, as well as infrastructure and support to enhance the quality of life for those residing on the island.
Pag-asa Island, which is part of the municipality of Kalayaan in the province of Palawan, is home to a small but resilient community of Filipino citizens. These individuals face various challenges due to the island’s geographical remoteness and limited resources.
Also known as Thitu Island, Pag-asa Island is the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Despite its relatively small land area of approximately 37 hectares, Pag-asa Island holds significant strategic, economic, and ecological value.
The island is home to a small community of Filipino residents, primarily composed of military personnel, government workers, and their families. These residents play a vital role in safeguarding the island’s sovereignty and maintaining its day-to-day operations.
The Philippine government maintains a military presence on Pag-asa Island to ensure the country’s territorial integrity and protect the interests of its citizens. The presence of military personnel helps safeguard the island and its surrounding waters.
Pag-asa Island also holds a strategic location in terms of maritime navigation and resource exploration. Its location has made it a subject of territorial disputes between the Philippines and the South China Sea region for years.
Estrada expressed his concern for the welfare of the Pag-asa Island community and highlighted the importance of equitable development across the nation.
“They have endured the harsh realities of a life cut off from essential services and opportunities that many of us take for granted,” Estrada said.
“It is our moral obligation as public servants to ensure that they, too, will have access to basic necessities such as education, healthcare, and livelihood. We should invest in infrastructure projects that enhance connectivity, healthcare facilities, and educational resources to nurture the development of the next generation,” he added.
The senator called for increased government investment in the development of Pag-asa Island, emphasizing the importance of harnessing the island’s potential as a strategic outpost and promoting sustainable tourism that respects the area’s ecological integrity.
As Estrada’s call gains momentum, efforts to uplift the living conditions of the island’s residents are expected to gather further support from his fellow lawmakers and concerned citizens alike.
The plight of the Filipino residents in Pag-asa Island also highlights the importance of inclusive development and the need to address regional disparities across the Philippines.
“Let us not allow the remoteness of Pag-asa Island to be an excuse for neglect. Let us embody the spirit of solidarity and compassion that defines us as a nation,” Estrada said.