MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday said that his proposal to turn the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea into tourist spots would boost the country’s sovereign claims in the area.
In an interview with John Susi over Radyo Inquirer 990AM, Rodriguez said he believes that it would not escalate tensions in the area as the proposed move was not military or confrontational, but was civilian in nature.
“We will strengthen our sovereignty by improving the tourism aspect, and not setting up a canon like what China is doing in mischief reef…for them it’s military fortifications for us it is not,” Rodriguez said in the interview.
Rodriguez argued that since the country had its presence in Pag-asa Island in the Spratlys, it should also showcase its pristine beaches and coral reefs for Filipinos and other tourists.
Rodriguez reiterated that he had sent a letter to President Benigno Aquino III about his proposal, including plans to build a 100-meter concrete wharf and beaching ramp on Pag-asa Island, the second largest (island) in the Spratlys and the biggest occupied by the Philippines in the contested region.
“The letter has been sent to the President and I think that today (Wednesday) the President will make some comments and let us see,” he said.
Asked whether he was willing to contribute money for the project, Rodriguez said he would be willing to donate a token of P1 million.
“If other congressmen will give then that would amount to P285M, that would be good,” he added.
Rodriguez made the proposal after a city in southern China said that it plans to extend a tourism route to the Spratly Islands.
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