MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Cirilito Sobejana visited Pag-asa Island amid the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, the AFP said Sobejana visited the island on Monday along with key officers from the General Headquarters and the Western Command.
The visit was in connection to the conversion of the island into a logistics hub that seeks to sustain the Philippine government forces deployed in the area.
The trip also aims to uplift the morale and welfare of troops securing Pag-asa Island and other communities within the Kalayaan Island Group.
“The AFP will strike a balance between mission accomplishments and looking after the morale and welfare of our men and women,” Sobejana said, addressing the military force manning the Naval Station Emilio Liwanag on Pag-asa Island.
The AFP chief also stressed the importance of the troop’s role in protecting the citizens of Kalayaan Group of Islands and their livelihood as well as guarding the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea.
The AFP said it recently deployed additional air and naval assets under the operational control of Western Command (WESCOM) in Palawan to support the National Task Force-WPS together with the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in performing sovereignty patrols in the area.
Prior to visiting Pag-asa Island, the Chief of Staff met with the troops of the 3rd Marine Brigade to extend the AFP’s commendation for keeping the Province of Palawan peaceful, stable and progressive.
He also lauded the unit’s contributions in security operations, civil military operations, stakeholder’s engagement and on COVID-19 mitigation which are vital in the over-all mission accomplishment of WESCOM and the AFP as a whole.
The AFP Chief also visited BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS35), one of the many ships currently deployed at WESCOM while docked at Puerto Princesa City Pier, to commend the their efforts in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country particularly in the West Philippine Sea.
He likewise lauded the officers and personnel for their role in the successful rescue of 31 fishermen of MB Pauline 2 at Nares Bank, WPS on May 24.