U.P. Scientists Are Headed to Pag-Asa
A team of Filipino scientists from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) is sailing to Pag-Asa Island, the largest island in the West Philippine Sea, to conduct marine surveys and research.
The scientists will also supervise the repair of a crucial research station on the island, according to a report by the Inquirer.
In a statement poste on Facebook, the UP MSI said it has deployed four of its marine scientists, who are Dr. Cesar Villanoy, Dr. Fernando Siringan, Dr. Deo Florence Onda, and Dr. Hazel Arceo (UP Cebu), as well as their research associates. Dr. Dennis Tanay of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), Dr. Jay Batongbacal of UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, and their researchers are also aboard the MY Panata to conduct marine scientific research and collaborate in implementing the Pag-Asa Island Research Station refurbishment plans.
Below are photos of the expedition posted by the UP MSI.
The expedition aims to revive Pag-Asa island, whose decades-old facilities have languished until recently. The repairs on the facilities will also boost the Philippines' capability to monitor the West Philippine Sea, particularly the exclusive economic zone generated by the island.
In August, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., bared plans to restore the Pag-Asa Island Research Station (PIRS). PIRS was built to help the Philippines understand the richness of its resources in the area surrounding the island.
Apart from repairing the facility, the Philippine government also plans to expand and repair the island's runway, which has also languished for decades, resulting in the erosion on significant parts of it.
In previous years, the presence of Chinese paramilitary vessels in the area slowed down efforts of the Philippines to conduct resupply missions to surrounding outposts such as those in Kalayaan and Ayungin Shoal.