Gov't eyes naval station in Fuga Island amid China 'smart city' plan

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2019 05:31 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Navy on Wednesday said it plans to put up a station in Fuga Island, said to have great strategic importance to any nation wishing to monitor activity in northern Philippines.

“Fuga is… very strategic kasi ang location niya eh (Fuga's location is very strategic). We can monitor ships that are passing. That’s a very important Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) of our country, so dapat nandun 'yung Navy (the Navy must be there)," Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said.

“So even if the Chinese are not there, kailangan magtayo na kami dun (we have to build a station there)."

Fuga Island drew attention earlier this month after it was announced that Chinese businessmen secured a deal with the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to turn the island into a highly electronic and online “smart city.” 

The Navy expressed concern about the deal, saying it could compromise national security. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said his department was not consulted about the security implications of having a Chinese-run ‘smart’ island in a strategic location. 

Fuga is also a passage way for submarines, which Empedrad said the Navy must monitor as well now that they have acquired assets like the BRP Conrado Yap and the AW159 helicopters that have anti-surface capabilities.

“Baka kung tanggalin mo 'yung dagat sa Pilipinas marami kang makitang submarines na nakapaligid sa atin. So we have to guard that also,” he said.

(Maybe if you take away the sea surrounding the Philippines, you might see many submarines around the country.)

Empedrad said the Navy was already coordinating with the CEZA, with Lorenzana's support. 

He said there are also plans to put up a Littoral Monitoring Station there, a land-based facility that allows the Navy to monitor all vessels plying the route. 

Empedrad added that he envisions to have a naval detachment along all of the country's sea lines of communication.