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SBMA asked to explain lease of Grande, Chiquita Islands to Chinese firm

A group has asked the Senate to urge the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority to look into reports that the freeports had leased Grande and Chiquita Islands and the Fuga Islands in Aparri to Chinese companies.

In a statement, the Pinoy Action for Governance and the Environment said Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate's Blue Ribbon Committee, said it was alarmed by the reported Chinese investments in Grande and Chiquita islands off the coast of Subic Bay and Fuga Island in Aparri, Cagayan.

"May report na isang Chinese firm lang ang umuupa sa Grande at Chiquita Islands sa Subic. Pwede ba ito? Dapat alam ito ng sambayanang Pilipino," said Bencyrus Ellorin, the group's convenor.

“We have had enough on the intrusions in our exclusive economic zone. We cannot and should never allow intrusions right into the Philippine territory in the name of foreign investments and economic cooperation,” added Ellorin.

Ellorin was referring to the reported $298-million project by the GFTG Property Holdings and Sanya CEDF Sino-Philippine Investment Corp., which would develop the adjacent Grande and Chiquita islands under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

“Not an inch of Philippine territory is for sale,” Ellorin said.

In Cagayan, the 10,000-hectare Fuga Island in Aparri town is being eyed for $2-billion worth of development for a “smart city,” Ellorin said.

Ellorin requested Gordon to investigate the SBMA and CEZA for these moves.

“We have sat idly by the intrusions in the Panatag Shoal, which the Chinese said is part of their 9-dash territorial claim, despite a UN Arbitral ruling in our favor,” Ellorins said.

He added: “If we give away Fuga, Chiquita and Grande which are well within our national territory, what’s next? Appari and the oil and natural resources rich Benham Rise in the Pacific?”

Last year, SBMA Chair Wilma Eisma said they had deferred a proposal by Sanya CEDF Sino-Philippine Investment Corp. to put up hotels and recreational facilities on Grande and Chiquita islands due to “some problems about the proposed activities.”

Eisma said the company had planned to build 80 ultra-high-end housing units perched on water along the coast of Grande up to Chiquita.

“This cannot be allowed because the Constitution limits the use and enjoyment of archipelagic waters exclusively to Filipino citizens,” she said.

Pinoy Aksyon said the Filipino people assurance from the government that the lease deal with SBMA is. "While we appreciate SBMA for talking on the matter, the same be said of the CEZA which has been mum on developments at Fuga Island.

"The Filipino public deserves full disclosure on this matter. Are the investments in these islands a go or no go?" said Ellorin.

He noted the lack of transparency on what is actually happening in the islands at the mouth Subic Bay, which has historically been a naval outpost and continues to be islands of national security and strategic importance, especially Fuga Island in the Luzon Straight.

Topics: Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority , Cagayan Economic Zone Authority , Chiquita Islands , Pinoy Aksyon
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