Construction begins in ‘US base’ Oyster Bay
PALAWAN, Philippines – The Philippines and the US have yet to formalize the selection of military bases that will be offered to the US.
Bur residents of Barangay Bahile in Puerto Princesa say Oyster Bay will be one of those outposts.
Carmela Fonbuena went there and filed this report.
Welcome to Ulugan Bay in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, a pristine
sanctuary that faces the volatile West Philippines Sea.
Inside this bay is another bay, the Oyster Bay.
It's home to a neglected naval station that is now being upgraded.
PO2 CELSTINO CAYANGA, PHILIPPINE NAVY: Prino-propose nila diyan, pier and dun hangar ng helicopter doon sa taas. Tapos tower ng communication.
(They proposed the pier and the helicopter hangar, and then the communication tower.)
The Philippines set aside a starting fund of P300 million to improve the naval station.
It will serve as re-watering and refueling base for ships.
This includes a boathouse for 2 speedboats.
CARMELA FONBUENA, REPORTING: Oyster Bay is a paradise. But instead of tourists there
are warships and gunboats. This bay within a bay is strategic for the
military. This is one of the bases where the Philippines wants the
Americans to use under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Roads going to the naval station are being developed.
They are also talking about expanding Bahile Wharf.
For a poor community, the improvements and job opportunities are most welcome.
ROMEO MOPAL, KAGAWAD: Ikagaganda ng ating area dito sa Ulugan Bay ma-protektahan ang ating karagatan sa pagitan ng China sea itong Malampaya reef.
(It will make Ulugan Bay look better and our seas will be protected as well as the Malampaya Reef).
SVIVENCIO DATU, TRICYCLE DRIVER AND BOATMAN: Kung welcome sa aming punong barangay, mas lalong welcome sa barangay. (If our captain welcomes it then the entire village will welcome it.)
How will this impact the environment?
The mangroves will be cut and the bay will be dredged.
Residents are counting on the city government to ensure the least damage to Palawan’s famous bay.
And while its clear progress comes with the Americans, the question is: at what price?
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Palawan