Party-list group to use pork barrel for school on Pagasa
MANILA, Philippines—The party list Alliance of Concerned Teachers will use the second tranche of its Priority Development Fund this year to fund the construction of a two-storey, six-classroom school building on Pag-asa, the largest island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) occupied by the Philippines.
ACT Representative Antonio Tinio said that the local Kalayaan government, through Mayor Eugenio B. Bito-onon, Jr., proposed the project to Tinio who promised to send assistance to the newly opened elementary school.
The school will stand on a one-hectare land provided by the local government. Initial estimates by the municipal engineer set the cost of the project’s first phase at P4.3 million.
In his proposal, Bito-onon said it was high time for Pagasa children’s right to education to be addressed after 34 years.
“A school standing on Pagasa Island is an earnest affirmation of Philippine sovereignty in the Spratly group of islands—the provision for education, a basic social service,” Tinio said.
“This school will guarantee that the hope of Pagasa’s children for a better future is secured,” he added.
Tinio urged Malacañang to also do the same to similarly disadvantaged schools in other areas nationwide.
Several lawmakers have called on the national government to strengthen its territorial claim on the disputed Spratlys by fortifying existing structures on the island.
Pagasa Island is part of Kalayaan town in Palawan. Home to about 200 Filipinos, the island has been under the Philippine government’s control since the 1970s. It has a town hall, a health center, an airstrip and a naval station, among other facilities.
Last week, China warned the Philippines against operating a public kindergarten school on Pagasa.
Hong Lei, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing, said that China “opposes any illegal activity that may infringe on China’s sovereignty.”
He said that Manila should “refrain from taking any measure that will complicate and exacerbate the current situation and affect peace and stability in the South China Sea.”