National Security Adviser Carlos visits Pag-asa Island in West Philippine Sea

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2022 11:37 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2022 04:01 PM

National Security Adviser Carlos visits Pag-asa Island 1
National Security Adviser Carlos visits Pag-asa Island 2
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National Security Adviser Sec. Clarita Carlos visited Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea on August 17, 2022. Courtesy of AFP Western Command Public Affairs Office

National Security Adviser Sec. Clarita Carlos visited Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea on August 17, 2022. Courtesy of AFP Western Command Public Affairs Office

National Security Adviser Sec. Clarita Carlos visited Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea on August 17, 2022. Courtesy of AFP Western Command Public Affairs Office

MANILA (UPDATE) — National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos on Wednesday visited Pag-asa Island (international name: Thitu Island) in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea to inspect the area, officials said.

In a Facebook post, the municipal government of Kalayaan, which is part of Palawan province, shared photos of Carlos with military officials, residents, and children on the island that serves as the seat of the municipality.

"Bumisita si National Security Adviser Prof. Clarita R. Carlos sa Barangay Pag-Asa Munisipyo ng Kalayaan upang personal umano niyang matunghayan ang pisikal na kalagayan ng nasabing bayan, kasabay ng kanyang pagbisita sa Probinsya ng Palawan," the LGU said in a post.

 

Maj. Cherryl Tindog, spokesperson of the Armed Forces' Western Command (WESCOM), confirmed Carlos' visit to the island, which is part of the Spratlys being contested by China, Taiwan, and a few other Southeast Asian nations.

"The commander of Wescom, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, joined her. There were also representatives from other law enforcement agencies like the Coast Guard and the police," Tindog told ABS-CBN News.

Vice Admiral Carlos, who is not related to the NSA, said her visit "bespeaks of our common aspiration, strong stand, unwavering dedication to protect the people and the state under our responsibility."

Pag-asa Island, located some 285 miles west of mainland Palawan, is home to Philippine troops and civilians who are constituents of Kalayaan, a municipality created in 1978. China calls it Zhongye Dao.

Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam also have overlapping claims in the maritime area.

Carlos took a C-212i aircraft going to the island and spent around five hours there after her arrival at 9 a.m., said Tindog.

She thanked government forces stationed there “for their efforts in protecting what is ours there," the military spokesman added.

The NSA also took part in the aerial patrol over the contested waters on their way to and from Pag-asa. Tindog said she is not sure if Carlos' aircraft was challenged by the Chinese, although she pointed out that that happens "every now and then" with Philippine military aircraft going there.

“Basically, she saw the situation in the areas (covered by the patrol). I think its very important that she will see for herself (the situation) as the NSA,” Tindog said of Carlos' visit.

China's historical claims over almost the entire South China Sea, within which is the West Philippine Sea, had been invalidated by an arbitration court in 2016. But it disregards the ruling and continues to be the most aggressive among the claimants. 

It has protested visits of ranking Philippine officials to Pag-asa Island in the past, and has repeatedly committed incursions in Philippine waters.

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