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Jinggoy Estrada appeals for better gov’t services for Pag-asa Island residents

Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Monday brought before the Senate plenary the dire situation of residents living in Pag-asa Island and appealed for better government services for the people in the remote area.

The lawmaker delivered a privilege speech after he visited Pag-asa Island last Thursday as part of his duties as the chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, peace, unification and reconciliation.

“For far too long, our brothers and sisters in Pag-asa Island have lived in constant uncertainty. They have endured the harsh realities of a life cut off from essential services and opportunities that many of us take for granted,” Estrada said. 

“Their access to healthcare, education, and even the basic necessities of life is hampered by their geographic isolation. Their hopes and dreams often seem distant, obscured by the vastness of the sea that surrounds them,” he added.

Estrada also emphasized the residents' problems with lack of transportation and energy.

Power supply in the island is cut off by ten in the evening, there are no local radio stations, no economic transactions and financial activities, and the repair of the airfield is still ongoing, Estrada shared.

“Let us not allow the remoteness of Pag-asa Island to be an excuse for neglect. Let us embody the spirit of solidarity and compassion that defines us as a nation… Bigyan natin ng pag-asa ang mga taga Pag-asa,” he added. 

Additional funding

Last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines asked the government for additional funds to better secure Pag-asa Island against hovering foreign ships and planes in the area.

The Philippine Navy said about 4-5 Chinese fishing vessels approach Pag-asa Island every week, in addition to the Chinese Coast Guard.

The Philippines has filed several diplomatic protests against China following the swarming of Chinese fishing vessels in the country’s maritime waters including Pag-asa Island. —VAL, GMA Integrated News