MANILA, Philippines – The government has allocated a P800 million budget for the construction of new shelter ports in the Kalayaan Group of Islands for national territorial defense purposes.
Makati City 2nd district Rep. Luis Campos Jr. stated that the Philippines is expediting the construction of transportation facilities in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) with an allocated budget of P800 million. This move comes in response to China’s extensive artificial island development in the Spratly archipelago.
“The sum for the Lawak shelter port is itemized in the 2024 Maritime Transportation Infrastructure Program,” Campos said, noting that the Department of Transportation will build the new port on Lawak Island.
A shelter port is a facility designed to provide a safe haven for boats, including those used for fishing. It typically includes anchorages, access channels, breakwaters, jetties, and other structures to offer protection and refuge.
“The P800 million for the Lawak shelter port is on top of, and separate from, the P1.5 billion for the expansion of the airport on Pag-asa Island,” Campos, vice chair of the House committee on appropriations, pointed out.
“The shelter port and the airport expansion projects give substance to House Speaker Martin Romualdez’s pledge to develop the Kalayaan Island Group in a bid to encourage civilian settlements there,” he added.
Lawak, spanning 7.93 hectares, is situated 157 kilometers to the east of Pag-asa, which covers a land area of 37.2 hectares. Apart from Pag-asa and Lawak, the Kalayaan Island Group comprises Likas, Parola, Kota, Patag, and Panata islands, along with Balagtas Reef, Ayungin Shoal, and Rizal Shoal.
Established through Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1596 on June 11, 1978, by President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the Municipality of Kalayaan encompasses the Kalayaan Island Group within the Province of Palawan.
Classified as a sixth-class municipality, Kalayaan holds the distinction of being the least populated town in the Philippines, with only 193 residents, all residing on Pag-asa, as indicated by the 2020 census. The municipal government of Kalayaan is headquartered in Pag-asa.
In December, Speaker Martin Romualdez mentioned that a substantial portion of the 2024 budget had been allocated to security agencies, including the Philippine Coast Guard, with a focus on enhancing defense capabilities in the West Philippine Sea.
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