Markers installed on Cagayan islands to assert PH territory
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines — Months after reports of Chinese investments being funneled to the country’s northern frontier surfaced last year, the military installed sovereign markers near Fuga Island in Aparri town, Cagayan province, to assert the Philippines’ right over these territories.
Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., commander of the military’s Northern Luzon Command, said the markers were installed in prominent areas on the islands of Mabaag and Barit from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19.
The islands, estimated to be 7.3 square kilometers (2.8 square miles), are situated 70 kilometers north of Aparri and are near Fuga, one of the town’s 42 villages.
In a statement, Burgos said the markers would assert that these areas were maritime territories of the country and would be visible to vessels passing by the country’s northern maritime territory.These would also secure the areas known as “key sources” of livelihood due to their abundant marine resources and strategic trading routes, Burgos said. President Duterte, in August last year, directed the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) to set aside 20 hectares on Fuga for a “naval detachment” of the Philippine Navy.
The President’s order came after reports that Chinese investors were planning to take over the 10,000-hectare island located in the country’s second northernmost island group.
But Ceza officials denied any investment plans on Fuga.
Navy personnel held a flag-raising ceremony with island residents, also in August last year, to assert sovereignty over the territory.
According to Commodore Caesar Valencia, head of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, the newly installed markers would help the government ensure that Philippine sovereignty would be recognized in these areas.
Mabaag and Barit, and their surrounding territorial waters are an “integral part of the country’s territory,” he said.
Last year, 11 sovereign markers were also installed in uninhabited islands north of the province within the Babuyan Channel in Batanes province.
—VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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