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More fun in Pag-asa? Catapang sees tourism potential

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Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang has welcomed the move of the municipal government of Kalayaan in Palawan province to welcome tourists to the disputed Pag-asa island by opening the runway to commercial planes.

Following his first visit to Pag-asa Island, Catapang confirmed that the municipality of Kalayaan has plans to develop its local tourism industry by next year. “This will need an interagency effort,” he said.

The island is one of the disputed territories being claimed by China. Photos obtained by the AFP showed China’s reclamation in other parts of the West Philippine Sea near Pag-asa Island has been moving at a more aggressive pace these last few months.

Following the demiltarization of Kalayaan’s airspace, Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. said the local government plans to purchase a 25-meter boat that could carry up to 25 tourists to Pag-asa Island.

“We really don’t have a budget set aside for this, but we can accommodate 30 persons at a time on the island. Many tourists actually already expressed interest to visit and everything is still in the planning stage but we plan to start next year,” he said.