Tag Archives: KIG

Traveling to Pag-asa island: 2013

At over 300 kilometers west of Palawan, the islands of the Municipality of Kalayaan are among the most remote communities in the Republic of the Philippines. It is in the same league as Basco in Batanes, and Mapun (Cagayan de Sulu) and Bongao in Tawi-Tawi.  What sets this municipality apart, however, are the a unique combination of barriers-to-access that have greatly retarded its development. This article explores those challenges.

Travel period

Travel to the island is only advisable within a narrow window each year. As per reports from the office of the municipal mayor, the interval between April of May presents the best weather conditions for both sea and air travel. As will be described later in this article, optimal sea conditions are essential for travel by boat.

While weather information specifically for Pag-asa is unavailable on various online weather Websites, Weather.com publishes weather information for nearby Song Tu Tay island — formerly Pugad Island.


Travel by air

From the air, Pag-asa’s defining feature is its 1.3 kilometer runway: Rancudo airfield. It is an unpaved coral airstrip, covered for the most part, by grass, named after a forward-thinking Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force who had it constructed in the early 70s.


As per a Memorandum of Agreement between the Armed Force of the Philippines and the Municipality of Kalayaan, signed in October 5, 2005, the airfield is open for joint civilian and military use. However, no regular commercial flights visit the island.

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To date, Rancudo does not appear on the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) official list of airports and has not been rated as a civilian aerodrome. The latter reportedly presents aircraft charter companies with potential aircraft insurance issues, thus serving as a deterrent to service. As per the above agreement, responsibility for having Rancudo rated as an aerodrome rests with the municipality — whose attempts to initiate the rating process, thus far, have been unsuccessful. Rejuvenated efforts to pursue certification are currently underway by way of the KIG development forum FB group and on Timawa.net

Despite the lack of  a civilian rating, on July 20, 2011, a Dornier DO-228 became one of the first chartered commercial flights to land on Pag-asa island. The passengers (which consisted of a congressional delegation and other government dignitaries) chartered the plane at a cost of PhP65,000 per flying-hour and PhP7,000 per hour on stand-by time, for a total price tag of P1.8M. The rates quoted were a function of the aircraft type and cheaper alternatives would have reportedly been available. The impact of the unrated airstrip on overall cost is unclear at this point.

Travel time to Pag-asa by air is approximately two to three hours by propeller-driven aircraft.


Travel by sea

As of writing Pag-asa island does not have port facilities. Ships, therefore, have to weigh anchor off-shore — exposed to the waves of the West Philippine Sea — and transfer cargo to shore via small boats. This greatly limits the times of year when the island is accessible by sea, as well complicates disembarkation of potential investors and tourists. The struggle to build this port is chronicled in the following article: Timeline: Kalayaan Sheltered Port Project.

In addition to passage on-board Philippine Navy transports that reach Pag-asa on a quarterly basis, Pag-asa residents also travel to and from the Palawan via the MARINA-rated municipal service boat: M/L Queen Seagull. This is a 200-ton-capacity wooden boat that can get underway at 9 knots. From Puerto Princessa, via the Balabac strait, it can reach Pag-asa in 56 hours under favorable weather conditions. When sailing from Ulungan Bay on the western side of Palawan, total travel time is 32 hours. Arguably, much too lengthy a transit for most visitors.


Red tape

Of the nine occupied islands and above-water outposts that make up the municipality, only Pag-asa island — the seat of the municipal government — is currently open for civilian occupation. The rest of the municipality is restricted to military use. In addition to military personnel, Pag-asa hosts a community of fishing families and municipal workers that have established a variety of livelihood activities on the island and have even setup a municipal health center and an elementary school for the 20 children that call the island home.

The heavy military presence, and the international controversy over sovereignty over the islands and the waters around them, mean that anyone who seeks to travel to Pag-asa must obtain clearances from various Philippine government offices.

The Kalayaan Extension Office (KEO) in Puerto Princessa is available to assist potential travelers wade through the clearance system. The municipality maintains excellent rapport with the Western Philippine Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has jurisdiction over the islands, and is therefore familiar with requirements at that level — which until a few years ago had largely been issued for domestic travelers.


The system’s complexities are particularly pronounced when dealing with foreign tourists. The KEO discovered this to its dismay in 2011 when an Australian-led international group of ham radio enthusiasts attempted to organize an expedition on Pag-asa. As related by the incumbent mayor, The Civil Aviation Administration of the Philippines (CAAP) would not approve a flight plan to the Pag-asa without clearance from the AFP. The AFP wouldn’t grant such clearance without approval of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The DFA, in turn, did not appear to have a clear policy about granting foreigner-access to the island. The resulting delays eventually scuttled the expedition.

As of writing another group, this time led by Fil-Am enthusiasts, is gearing up for an ham radio expedition in 2015. With two years of advanced preparation time, the KEO, in cooperation with volunteers from various sectors, hopes to sort out all relevant procedures before the targeted expedition date.

Of the four key hurdles: weather, air access, sea access, and red tape — the latter is both the principal show-stopper, as well as the issue that should be the easiest to address. It is, after all, merely procedural and can resolved if all relevant agencies simply get together and work out a process.  The reward for such inter-agency cooperation, is best exemplified by the Malaysian Spratlys outpost on Layang-Layang, which boasts of a thriving international diving destination with regular air transportation to its concrete runway — despite being co-located with a Malaysian Navy base.

Today, travel to Pag-asa Island is exceedingly difficult. Only the hardiest, or individuals with professional interest, would dare to visit the island. But with the build up of attention to the territory thanks to the power of social media and the efforts of ordinary Filipinos who were willing to take action beyond mouse-clicks and keyboard strokes, those difficulties are expected to diminish over time. The fate of the 2015 ham expedition will be an acid test for these efforts.

Anyone can stand up to China’s bullying

At the best of times, hostilities between nations are the exclusive domain of the ambassadors. At worst, they are the province of the generals tasked to apply martial solutions to the problem. Tensions between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China are no different in that they leave the man-on-the-street with no scope for involvement beyond street and online protests — which may very well fall on deaf Sino ears.

However, thanks to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, all that changed on the 25th of June 2012.  Ten days earlier, the Municipality of Kalayaan opened the Pag-asa Elementary School which sought to end the 34-year absence of educational opportunities on Pag-asa Island. To this end, island residents converted an unused multi-purpose building into a one-classroom facility, and sought the services of a teacher who agreed to be relocated to Pag-asa. The municipality inaugurated the school on the 15th of June.


The Chinese foreign ministry, always keen to respond to any perceived challenge to PRC claims or international positions, condemned the school’s creation with the following press release.


Long-time China-watchers recognized the press release as a routine activity. It was reminiscent of the tit-for-tat exchange that regularly took place between the foreign affairs ministries of Taiwan and mainland China (Note: The author lived in Taiwan for 3.5 years and saw these exchanges first-hand). However in this instance, it inadvertently brought the issue down to the level of the everyday Filipino. With that press statement, China associated its sovereignty with the fate of the school. This meant that for as long as the school remained open, it was an affront to Chinese claims over the territory. Consequently, anyone who helped to ensure school’s success, was DIRECTLY challenging Chinese claims within the Philippine EEZ. China had given the Filipino people a tangible, permanent, means of protesting its machinations in the Western Philippine Sea.

The opportunity this unique turn of events created was not lost upon members of the Timawa Donation Group (TDG) — a sub-set of an online national defense-oriented community known as Timawa.net (translation: Free man) that had long been involved in efforts to provide assistance to individual AFP units as well as to support AFP community outreach programs. The TDG promptly organized an exploratory project in June 2012 to develop procedures for the collection of donations and their transport to the Pag-asa Elementary School. As a precaution in the pilot project, participation was by invitation only.  Volunteers from the United States, Singapore, and various cities within the Philippines took part.

The group wrapped up the  project in November 2012 with the successful turnover of goods to the liaison office of the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. The group had corresponded with the commanding officer of the command at the time, who then endorsed the group to his Public Information Officer who offered to facilitate transport of the items. However, scheduling difficulties meant that the items did not actually reach Pag-asa island till early 2013. Despite the delay, donation items successfully reached the school. Lessons were learned, procedures modified and the pilot was declared a success. Project proponents created the following video to celebrate the completion of the pilot project.

Encouraged by the results of the first run, the group launched the 2013 effort on June 14, with a synchronized delivery date of October 20. With the first live project donation items were sent directly to the Kalayaan Extension Office in Puerto Princessa, Palawan.

Now operating under the hashtag “#pagasaKIG”, participation in the project was opened to all interested parties. Invitations to participate were issued on the main Timawa.net forum (see A year of defiance [#pagasaKIG]), as well as on the Kalayaan Island Group development forum group on Facebook.


Although the project deadline was set for October, the group decided to take advantage of the availability of a Philippine Navy vessel for transporting goods in August. The Makati node for the project sent an early batch of items consisting of five boxes containing various books, school and personal hygiene supplies was sent to the Kalayaan Extension Office in Puerto Princessa on July 31st.

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The boxes arrived in Puerto Princessa the following day and are due for delivery to Pag-asa island in early August. The photographs below show personnel at the Kalayaan extension office sealing the boxes in plastic to protect them for the journey to Pag-asa.

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All other nodes are still scheduled to send their items in on October the 20th — including the Makati node which will be sending a second package on that date.

About the school

When the Pag-asa Elementary School opened, the Department of Education (DepEd) had not yet assumed administration of the school. At that point the municipality had not yet complied with all the requirements for the establishment of the school. Among the requirements was the formal turn over of land for the school; a task complicated by the absence of land titles on the island. The DepEd also required financial commitment from municipality to fund the school for the next five years. While these requirements were being worked out, the municipal government and the DepEd entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to allow the school to operate.

Eight kindergarten students and a lone teacher populated the school in its inaugural school year.  Although there were a total of 24 children on the island five were not yet of school age, and the rest had enrolled in Palawan by the time the school opened.   By the end of the school year, four of the children graduated, and the teaching staff grew to two educators.

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School Year 2013-2014 saw a number of noteworthy improvements:

  • The municipality had already complied with the one-hectare land allocation requirement imposed by the DepEd
  • A second building, funded by the Ayala Foundation, was under construction. A third building funded by the Provincial government was being processed
  • Enrollment jumped to 23 students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 6

The photographs below show the enlarged student body celebrating nutrition month along with the island’s military residents.

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The Pag-asa Elementary School, a symbol of a republic’s defiance against foreign encroachment, was gaining steam. Maintenance of that momentum, however, is contingent upon continued support by the remainder of the republic. If this school fails . . . China wins.


Timeline: Kalayaan Sheltered Port project (Updated for May 2014)

Note: This article has been updated on to include information about House Bill 4167

The fishermen and municipal workers and families that live on Pag-asa Island comprise the most isolated civilian community in the Republic of the Philippines. The island, the largest of eight (8) Philippine occupied coral outcroppings in the Municipality of Kalayaan, is approximately 509 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princessa and 828 kilometers southwest of Metro Manila. Once a strictly a military installation, Pag-asa was opened to civilian settlement in 2002.


Since the creation of the settlement, the Municipal government of Kalayaan has established a range of facilities that provide vital public services that are expected of a functional community. Pag-asa has a power station consisting of a solar panel farm, charging a bank of 48 batteries, as well a conventional fossil-fueled generator to provide for the island’s electrical needs. The island’s reverse osmosis plant converts seawater into potable drinking water that residents collect from the plant. Water for domestic use is piped into individual homes.


Smart Telecommunications established a cell site, connected to its main network via VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), on the island in 2005 making normal GSM-based cellphone communication with the island possible. The first call on the system took place on June 12 at 5:18 PM between the mayor of the municipality at the time and a Smart Telecom executive. The company completed a maintenance visit to the cell site in 2011, thus ensuring continued operation of the facility.


In 2012, the municipal government entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education to establish the Pag-asa Elementary School. There are currently 24 children that call Pag-asa, Kalayaan  home. Fourteen are from fishing families, while the other 10 are children of municipal workers. Children of the latter go to school in Palawan. As of last year, 8 of the 14 enrolled in the Pag-asa Elementary School. Five were still too young to go to school and were candidates for the next school year. One child was un-enrolled. By mid-school year, the teaching staff at the school had expanded to two teachers. The school started with municipality’s multi-purpose hall which residents converted for its current purpose. Two buildings will be added this year. One funded by the Ayala Foundation is currently under construction. Another is being funded by the Provincial Governor of Palawan.

First classroom First graduation
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Continued development of the island and the rest of the municipality hinges on the availability of reliable and regular transportation to the rest of the country, especially the province of Palawan. This would facilitate the transport of goods and materials to the islands, and promote socio-economic activity — whose development has thus far been painfully slow.

Pag-asa Island is one of only two islands in the Spratly Islands with a functional airstrip. The Armed Forces of the Philippines constructed the Pag-asa airfield in the early 70’s and named if after the visionary PAF Commanding General that ordered its construction:  Jose Rancudo. To date, however, there are no scheduled commercial flights to the municipal seat of power, save for periodic flights by AFP aircraft (the runway can accommodate the C-130 Hercules cargo planes and host of smaller aircraft). Charter flights have reached the island in the recent past. But with costs of reportedly P100K per charter, this would be too cost-prohibitive for local residents.

The primary means by which settlers travel to and from the closest Philippine landmass — Palawan — is by sea. Up until recently, passage to the island primarily by way of Philippine Navy ships. Civilians would be taken aboard as passengers on navy warships which re-supplied the various garrisons on Philippine-held islands. The Municipality expanded the community’s transportation options by acquiring its own vessel: the 40-meter M/V Queen Seagull.

Ship-to-shore transfers however are difficult because of the absence of port facilities. During the monsoon season, vessels have to drop anchor approximately 5 kilometers to the east to a submerged reef that provides comparatively better shelter than the waters around Pag-asa itself. This deficiency also means that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are unable to station patrol craft in the area to enforce environmental protection and similar laws. As had been reported on numerous occasions in the Philippine press, poachers are able to wreck havoc on the coral reefs within sight of Pag-asa authorities who were powerless to take appropriate action. The Philippine Navy is similarly unable to pre-position vessels for sovereignty patrols. The nearest naval station with a functional pier is in Ulungan Bay in Palawan which is over 500 kilometers to the east of the island.

For this reason, the Municipality of Kalayaan proposed the the Kalayaan Sheltered Port project. The Municipal government used the following graphic in one of their presentations to various national government agencies. It shows the location of the proposed port as well as the rehabilitated runway.


The following table chronicles the twists and turns that this project has taken. Efforts to create a port have been initiated in the past. However this article will focus on the most recent project. Updates will be posted as new information becomes available . . . both current and historical.

Date   Description   Relevant documents
June 22, 2011 Upon advice of the Philippine Ports Authority, the Office of the Municipal Mayor brought its appeal for funds to build port facilities on Pag-asa to the Office of the President. The letter suggested tapping into Malampaya proceeds for the project. Letter to PNoy June 22, Re Port Page 1Letter to PNoy June 22, 2011 Re Port Page 2
July 5, 2011 Office of the President referred the matter of the port facilities to Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for appropriate action. Note the inclusion of a patrol craft in the request, which was not mentioned in the initial correspondence in June.The rationale for why the request was routed to the DA instead of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), which has oversight over the Philippine Ports Authority, is unclear. 1st Indorsement from Malacanang to DA OSec Re Port Project
July 19, 2011 Department of Agriculture acknowledged receipt of correspondence from Office of the President and indicates that the matter has been referred to Director  of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) DA Acknowledgement Sheet Re Port Project
August 4, 2011 Office of the Municipal Mayor sends a letter to the Department of Transportation and Communications appealing for assistance to build port facilities on Pag-asa Island. This line-of-communication is separate from the one that eventually went to the Department of Agriculture. Letter to Sec Mar Roxas
August 10, 2011 The BFAR asks the Municipality of Kalayaan to submit a formal project proposal that includes designs and drawings of the proposed port as well as technical specifications for the requested patrol craft. 2nd Indorsement BFAR Response Re Port & Patrol Craft
August 19, 2011 DOTC informs Kalayaan Municipal government that the Kalayaan Shelter Port has been included in the DOTC infrastructure program for Calendar Year 2012. The letter, however, notes that continued action on the request hinged on Congressional deliberation and availability of funds.The Kalayaan port is included in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2012. See here. An excerpt of the relevant section of the document appears to the right of the aforementioned letter. ASec Esguerra DOTC Letter Response Aug 4 Re Port with SignatureNEP2012 details
December 15, 2011 Office of the President signs Republic Act 10155, General Appropriations Act of 2012, into law. This budget allocated the sum of P5M to the development of two ports on Palawan, to include the port in Pag-asa, in accordance with the DOTC proposal for the NEP. See page 3 of this Department of Budget and Management (DBM) document. Relevant excerpt appears on the right.As per DBM guidance, funds allocated in this budget are only available until December 31, 2013. See here. gaa_allocation2012
February 2, 2012 Municipal government sends message to BFAR, amending original request to exclude patrol craft and focus instead on port facilities.Photographs and graphic representations of the proposed facilities, as well as a photo what the Vietnamese had done on Pugad Island, were included reponse_2nd_endorsement1reponse_2nd_endorsement2
March 28, 2012 Kalayaan Municipal government responds, via email, to an urgent request from the DOTC for information about the scope of work, and specifications of the port.The response mentions a conference between the Philippine Ports Authority and the Flag-Officer-In-Command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy on March 21, 2012 where both parties agreed to pool their resources to construct the port. Both agencies put forth their respective proposals. The Municipal government expressed preference for the Philippine Navy proposal.The Municipal office, admitting to a lack of expertise, referred the DOTC to the aforementioned agencies for the technical details. KIG_respose_to_DOTC_response_to_reply_to_response_2nd_endorse
March 30, 2012 DOTC requests that the Kalayaan Municipal government present a thorough feasibility study of the project, that included justification for the project (e.g., technical, social, financial, and economic aspects), as well as details designs of the proposed port.The email indicates that this information is part of budget planning for 2013. However, the Pag-asa port project is not included in the DOTC section of the National Expenditure Program for 2013 (see here). Funds allocated in the 2012 budget, however, remain valid till the end of 2013. reply_to_response_2nd_endorse_by_DOTC
August 30, 2012 DOTC requested the Municipality of Kalayaan for information about previous studies conducted by the PPA/DA or the AFP about the feasibility of constructing a port. This data will reportedly be use for the drafting of a Term of Reference (TOR) for hiring of consultants for the drafting of a Master Plan for the project. request_for_data_for_TOR
July 17, 2013 In response to an update request from the Municipality of Kalayaan, the regional DOTC office relates that an un-named Under Secretary sought information about the purpose of the port — seemingly oblivious to the discussions between the municipality and various national government entities over the past three years Lardizabal17Jul2013
July 17, 2013 Office of the Municipal Mayor of Kalayaan sent the following exasperated response to the latest information request from the DOTC Bitoon response to Lardizabal 7-2013Bitoon response to Lardizabal 7-2013 - part2
December 8, 2013 Office of the Municipal Mayor of Kalayaan sought the assistance of Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat (Lone district of Ifugao), one of the members of a congressional delegation that visited Pag-asa island in 2011, to push for the realization of the port project. baguilat2013
March 12, 2014 Representatives Rufus B. Rodriguez and Maximo B. Rodriguez Jr introduced House Bill 4167, which states the following:”The amount of One Billion Pesos (P1,000,000,000) is hereby appropriated to be exclusively used for the fortification and improvement of current structures present in the Kalayaan Group of Islands. Further, the same amount shall also be used to build new structures in the island like harbors, berthing facilities and other structures necessary to promote tourism in the islands and increase the defensive capabilities of the Philippines to strengthen the Philippines’ claim over it” hb4167ahb4167b
May 5, 2014 As per the House of Representatives legislative database, House Bill 4167 was referred to the Committee on Appropriations

Other references

RP’s remotest town freed from isolation, Manila Bulletin, June 15, 2005; copy retrieved from Timawa.net June 16, 2013

The promise of Pag-asa, Manila Standard, August 22, 2005; copy retrieved from Timawa.net June 16, 2013

Smart maintains GSM service on Pag-asa Is., Philippine Star, July 30, 2011; retrieved from Timawa.net on June 16, 2013

Chinese fishing fleet closes in on Pag-asa Island, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 26, 2012; retrieved June 16, 2013

Status of the Pag-asa Elementary School

As of writing, the Pag-asa Elementary School is not yet under the administration of the Department of Education. Reportedly the DepEd is only providing technical assistance at this point, because the Municipal government of Kalayaan is still working to fulfill the following requirements:

1. Formal turnover of a one hectare plot of land for the school. A requirement that is complicated by the absence of land titles on the island.

2. Financial commitment to provide for the salaries of the teaching staff of the school for the next five years. As of the moment, the school has one teacher. The plan is reportedly to eventually have a two-teacher staff, with one teaching assistant.

As part of the school’s expansion plan, a two-storey building is being planned for the next school year. Funds for the new structure were reportedly promised by Cong. Antonio Tinio. Details of this commitment are unclear at this time.

There are currently 24 children that call Pag-asa, Kalayaan (Philippines) home. Fourteen are from fishing families, while the other 10 are children of municipal workers. Children of the latter go to school in Palawan. Of the remaining 14, 8 are currently in the Pag-asa Elementary School. Five are still too young to go to school and are candidates for the next school year. One remains un-enrolled.


The most important school in the Philippines

The most important school in the Republic of the Philippines has been established on the Kalayaan Island Group: The Palawan Elementary School.


The photo above was taken from an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which posted the following caption for it:

PAG-ASA CLASS OF 2012 The Philippine flag flies in the breeze as Kalayaan town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon (center) poses with the teacher, schoolchildren and their parents at the opening of Pag-asa Elementary School on a disputed West Philippine Sea island on June 15. AP/OFFICE OF KALAYAAN MUNICIPAL MAYOR

To establish the school, local residents added walls to an unused multi-purpose hall to create a classroom, and the municipal government hired a teacher that agreed to re-locate her family to the island. It commenced operations on the 15th of June for the benefit of five kindergarten students. The town mayor,  Eugenio Bito-onon, is reportedly seeking additional funding to expand the school so that it can offer additional courses of instruction.

The school’s importance not only stems from the fact that it ended a 34-year absence of educational options on the island and thus giving local residents an alternative to sending their children to the mainland, but also because of how it elicited the following response from the People’s Republic of China:

China to PHL: Don’t worsen tension by setting up school on disputed island

Such statements are a normal facet of territorial disputes. Whenever one side of the issue makes a move, the other must file a protest to avoid appearing to accept the move. The proper Philippine response to this countermove, therefore, is to ensure the school’s survival. Otherwise . . . we could be misconstrued as having submitted to their demand.

Never in the history of human conflict has so much of an independent nation’s honor rested on the shoulders of a teacher and her students. It is in the Filipino people’s collective interest that this school succeed.

Primer: Mischief Reef

Timawa.net/forum discussionhttp://www.timawa.net/forum/index.php?topic=27691.0

The Spratly / Kalayaan Island Group issue made its way to Philippine consciousness in 1995 when China built structures on a hitherto unoccupied submerged atoll appropriately called “Mischief Reef”.  The following New York Times story was one of the articles that heralded the event to the world:

New York Times archive

The reef is part of the Spratly Islands, a chain of more than 100 tiny atolls and other rocky formations that straddle vital shipping lanes and, more importantly, are believed to shelter large oil reserves. The Spratlys are claimed in full or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

< Edited >

The Chinese platform was discovered on Feb. 2, when a Philippine patrol boat and reconnaissance plane followed up on the report of a Filipino fisherman who said he had been taken captive by Chinese soldiers on the reef. It is also known in the Philippines as Panganiban Reef and is about 135 miles west of the Philippine island of Palawan.

Aerial photographs show that the platform is made up four octagonal structures perched on stilts over the reef, with a satellite dish for communications with the Chinese mainland. A Chinese flag flutters high above the platform.

While Philippine military officials reported that Chinese soldiers have been seen on the platform, foreign diplomats and military analysts agreed that it had no value as a military staging area or supply depot. They say the platform was meant instead to serve as a marker of Chinese territorial claims.

< Edited >

The octagonal structure described in the article was, or eventually became, one of only three structures that were established around the periphery of the reef.

Marker in large image Google Earth image Aerial photo
Mischief 1 To be added
Mischief 2
Mischief 3