Foreign ships harass mayor of disputed isle

/ 05:33 AM May 18, 2013

This undated photo handout released by the Kayalaan Municipal office on July 13, 2011 shows the island of Kalayaan, which means “Freedom” in the Filipino language, that was created in 1978 mainly to assert the Philippines’ claim to the disputed territory in the Spratlys, a chain of islets in the South China Sea. For the few dozen Filipinos living on a remote speck of land in the South China Sea, each day is a battle against loneliness but also a love affair with nature. Contact with the outside world is limited and comforts are few for the residents of “Freedom” town, which exists mainly to raise the Philippine flag and fend off the other claimants to the Spratly islands. AFP PHOTO/Kayalaan Municipal office/HO

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The mayor of Kalayaan town in Palawan was harassed by two unidentified vessels while traveling with around 200 others by sea toward midnight on Thursday.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan, which governs Pag-asa and four other islets in the Spratlys claimed by the Philippines, said they left Pag-asa Island on Wednesday, two days after casting their votes.


He said they were on their way to Puerto Princesa, about 280 nautical miles away, on board a municipal boat and passing by the Ayungin Shoal when the two vessels approached them.

Ayungin Shoal is about 100 nautical miles from Pag-asa and near Mischief Reef, which is occupied by China.


The vessels looked like big military naval vessels, said Bito-onon, who arrived here Friday afternoon.

He said the vessels came as close as 30 meters, following them for about an hour with heavy spotlight.

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TAGS: Ayungin Shoal, Bito-onon, Kalayaan town, Mischief Reef, Pag-asa Island, Palawan
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