The beaching ramp on Pagasa Island is almost complete, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.
“Ninety-seven percent finished na ‘yung beaching ramp (The beaching ramp is 97 percent finished). For all intent and purposes, it’s complete,” he said in a message to reporters.
The construction of the beaching ramp, which began in 2018, would allow the Philippines to bring in shallow-draft vessels or those with roll-on/roll-off capability that is essential for landing engineering equipment and other construction materials needed for the upgrade.
Lorenzana said after the completion of the beaching ramp, the next step for the improvement of Pagasa Island would be the repair and upgrading of the Rancudo Airfield, which sustained erosion damage.
“The next phase is for the repair and concreting of the runway and we expect this to be complete in a year’s time from the time the contract is signed. Separate project kasi ‘yung runway (The runway is a separate project),” he added.
The 1.2-km. Rancudo Airfield can accommodate medium-sized military aircraft. It was constructed out of packed sand and coral debris during the 1970s.
Lorenzana noted that plans to develop Pagasa Island into a tourism and fishing destination would have to wait pending the completion and improvement of its facilities.
“We’ll see after the facilities are complete if the plan to make it a tourist destination is viable. Fishing has always been done in the waters adjacent to Pagasa. To support this industry, the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) constructed a shelter for our fishing ships where they can shelter in inclement weather. This shelter is likewise finished,” he said.
Lorenzana earlier said the government is allocating PHP1.6 billion for the improvement of Pagasa Island.
Out of the seven islands and three reefs being controlled by the Philippines in the Spratlys, Pagasa is the largest, measuring 37.2 hectares.
The other Philippine possessions in the area are Likas Island which measures 18.6 hectares; Parolo Island, 12.7 hectares; Lawak Island, 7.93 hectares; Kota Island, 6.45 hectares; Patag Island, 0.57 hectare; Panata Island, 0.44 hectare; and the Rizal, Balagtas and Ayungin Reefs. (PNA)