Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Roger G. Mercado tours Thursday, May 5, 2022 the 37-hectare Pag-Asa Island under the Municipality of Kalayaan, Province of Palawan in western Philippines.
The ocular visit of the DPWH official is in connection with the planned development of infrastructure under the DPWH-Department of National Defense (DND) Tatag ng Imprastraktura para sa Kapayapaan at Seguridad or TIKAS Program aimed at providing infrastructure that will uplift and transform the lives of communities in the Kalayaan Islands Group in the West Philippine Sea.
Joining Secretary Mercado in visiting Barangay Pag-Asa, seat of the local government and the lone barangay of the Municipality of Kalayaan located 480 kilometers west of Puerto Princesa City, are Senior Undersecretary Rafael C. Yabut; Undersecretaries Maximo L. Carvajal, Eugenio R. Pipo Jr.; Assistant Secretaries Wilfredo S. Mallari, Antonio V. Molano, Jr., Ador G. Canlas, and Rolly Manalo; Region 4B Director Gerald A. Pacanan; Western Command (WESCOM) Chief Vice Admiral Alberto B. Carlos; DPWH-DND TIKAS Program coordinator Project Manager John Dominique Pulido; and other military officials.
We are excited to implement much-needed infrastructure projects that will complement the on-going efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, other national government agencies and the local government unit aimed at improving the living conditions of Filipino troops and civilians deployed and living in the southern island of Kalayaan, said Secretary Mercado during his meeting with Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo and Vice Mayor Hermoso Ornopia.
There is much work to do in the biggest and most strategically important Philippine-held island in the Spratlys– to make local economy grow, create jobs, improve living standards, and ensure peace and security in Pag-Asa Island, added Secretary Mercado.
In his presentation of proposed island development, DPWH Region 4B Director Pacanan said that the improvement of infrastructure in Pag-Asa Island will be greatly beneficial as it has the potential to become the next top tourist spot in the Philippines with the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island.
Other than the transportation hub in the island consisting of port and maritime facilities, and airport strip with terminal building for domestic use, the government plans to put up local hospital with 50-bed capacity; LGU building; PNP building; school facilities; central business district with market area, commercial building and activity center, local housing; road network development; sewage treatment plant; and tourism and cultural projects.
The AFP in a briefing at Antonio Bautista Airbase in Puerto Princesa also presented to Secretary Mercado their proposed projects under DND-DPWH TIKAS Convergence Program to support the development of Kalayaan Islands Group.
Proposed projects in Pag-Asa Island include dredged wharf with breakwater as docking facility, barracks for the billeting of military personnel assigned in Pag-Asa, water system, hybrid power generation facility, medical infirmary, multi-purpose building, hangars for the aircrafts, runway extension, among others.
Other project proposals for the establishment of logistical hub were also made for Lawak, Likas, Kota, Parola, Ayungin, Rizal, Patag and Panata Islands.
The proposed projects to develop and strengthen logistic support will also establish a minimum posture of asserting the country’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the Western Command of the AFP also presented additional priority infrastructure projects for TIKAS such as the hospital and dental facilities, road network and drainage improvement, improvement of WESCOM Gymnasium, construction of nurses’ station that will enhance the capability of the Command based in Camp General Artemio Ricarte, Puerto Princesa City.