AFP chief visits Pag-asa Island, inspects other facilities in Palawan

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2022 11:18 AM | Updated as of Mar 06 2022 11:45 AM

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Andres Centino visits Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan. Photo courtesy of AFP
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Andres Centino visits Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan. Photo courtesy of AFP

MANILA — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Andres Centino visited Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea and inspected other government facilities in Palawan, the organization said Sunday.

During his visit last Friday, Centino also led the donning of three-star rank on Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, the new commander of the AFP Western Command.

Carlos became chief of the AFP Wescom after Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez retired last Jan. 21.

"This is very significant because we are all here in the most remote deployment of our troops, the valiant defenders of the Philippines' first frontier," Centino said of the donning ceremony, according to a statement from the AFP Public Affairs Office.

Pag-asa (international name: Thitu Island) is part of the Spratlys, which is being claimed by several Asian countries including the Philippines and China, as well as Taiwan.

It is among nine features in the Kalayaan Islands Group occupied by the Philippines, and is part of Palawan's Kalayaan municipality.

A day earlier, the Philippine military chief also inspected the headquarters of Joint Task Force (JTF) Malampaya in El Nido, which is responsible for safeguarding the Malampaya gas field, the AFP said.

He also went to the former Matinloc and Nido gas platforms, which are being manned by JTF Malampaya.

Centino inspected as well the Philippine Navy's BRP Jose Rizal, which conducts routine patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

During his talk to the troops, Centino assured them that the AFP would support the continued modernization of the Navy.

China is the most aggressive among claimants in the South China Sea, within which is the West Philippine Sea, building artificial islands on some features, fortifying those with military installations, and driving away officials and fishermen from other countries.

It continues to defy a landmark ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016, declaring its nine-dash line claim over almost the entire South China Sea as having no legal basis.

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