Runway fix for PH-occupied Pag-asa Island to start soon | Global News
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Runway fix for PH-occupied Pag-asa Island to start soon

/ 07:55 PM May 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Work may soon officially start for the repair and upgrade of the decrepit runway on Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea.

According to a government source, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is set to sign the contract and notice to proceed for the project, which had been long planned even by previous administrations.

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A notice of award was issued by the Department of National Defense to the company Mamsar Construction last April 27, the official said.

Mamsar also built the P450 million sheltered port on Pag-asa Island, which was inaugurated in 2020.

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In 2020, the government launched a beaching ramp and sheltered port on the island, the biggest infrastructure upgrades since the Philippines occupied it in the 1970s.

The P268-million beaching ramp, built by Luzviminda Engineering Construction, was envisioned to allow the smooth transport of heavy construction materials to jumpstart the repair of the island’s runway and construction of other facilities.

Pag-asa, internationally known as Thitu, is the only Philippine-controlled outpost in the Municipality of Kalayaan that has civilian inhabitants. Eight other islands and reefs around the Spratly Islands occupied by the Philippines are guarded by the Philippine military.

The basing support project, which will be overseen by the Philippine Air Force, has an estimated cost of P1.3 billion. It would include the restoration and concreting of the runway and construction of other facilities.

Only 850 meters of the 1.3 km unpaved runway, dotted with tufts of green grass, is currently usable, posing a challenge to pilots in landing big military planes.

The runway becomes muddy during rain days and at least three straight days of sunny weather are needed for planes to use it for landing.

The planned development comes amid the Philippines’ series of diplomatic protests against China’s continued incursion and territory-grabbing in the West Philippine Sea.

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TAGS: Delfin Lorenzana, Kalayaan, Pag-asa Island, Philippine Air Force, runway, Thitu, West Philippine Sea
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