Group seeks probe of plans to give China control of strategic PH islands
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—An advocacy group on Monday (Jan. 4) asked the Senate to investigate the alleged sellout of two national security strategic islands in Luzon to Chinese investors.
In a letter to Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, the group Pinoy Action for Governance and the Environment (PAGE) said it was alarmed by the reported Chinese investments in Grande and Chiquita islands off the coast of Subic Bay and Fuga Island in Aparri, Cagayan.
“We have had enough on the intrusions in our exclusive economic zone,” said BenCyrus Ellorin, the group’s chair. “We cannot and should never allow intrusions right into the Philippine territory in the name of foreign investments and economic cooperation,” he said.
Ellorin was referring to the reported $298-million project of GFTG Property Holdings and Sanya CEDF Sino-Philippine Investment Corp., which would develop the adjacent Grande and Chiquita islands which are under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
“Not an inch of Philippine territory is for sale,” Ellorin said.
In Cagayan, the 10,000-hectare Fuga Island in Aparri town is being eyed as site of a $2-billion “smart city” development, Ellorin said.
Ellorin asked Gordon to investigate the SBMA and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) in connection with the deals.
He said Filipinos “have sat idly” as China intruded into Panatag Shoal, which the Chinese government claims to be part of its nine-dash territorial claim that an arbitration court in The Hague had ruled as baseless in a case won by the Philippines.
“If we give away Fuga, Chiquita and Grande which are well within our national territory, what’s next? Appari and the oil and natural resources rich Benham Rise in the Pacific?” Ellorin said.
In 2019, SBMA Chair Wilma Eisma said the agency had deferred a proposal by Sanya CEDF Sino-Philippine Investment Corp. to build hotels and recreational facilities on Grande and Chiquita islands due to “some problems about the proposed activities.”
Eisma at the time said the company had planned to build 80 ultra high-end housing units perched on water along the coast of Grande up to Chiquita.
“This cannot be allowed because the Constitution limits the use and enjoyment of archipelagic waters exclusively to Filipino citizens,” she had said.
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