For the first time under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, a Philippine military chief visits Pag-Asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.
Rappler Carmela Fonbuena filed this report.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gregorio Catapang Jr arrives in Pag-asa Island on Monday, May 11.
He leads various activities meant to boost the morale of island residents and the troops deployed here at a time when tension in the region continues to escalate.
It is the first known trip of a Philippine military chief in the disputed South China Sea in almost a decade.
It is also the first high profile visit since the 2012 standoff in Scarborough Shoal, the incident that prompted the Philippines’ case against China.
His message in this visit is a message to China, which claims almost all of the South China and which is expected to react negatively to his visit.
General Gregorio Catapang Jr:
I’m visiting this palce to establish the fact that Pag-Asa is municipality of Palawan and Palawan is a province of the Republic of the Philippines. Therefore Pag-Asa is a territory of the Republic of the Philippines.
Leading one of the weakest militaries in Asia, Catapang’s visit is a media campaign meant to rally national support at a time that the military is asking for a bigger modernization budget and to court internation attention on the issue.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Pag-Asa Island