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MANILA, Philippines -- Two lawmakers on Tuesday pledged a portion of their Priority Development Assistance Fund, more popularly known as pork barrel, to help jumpstart the development of an island in the disputed Kalayaan Island Group into a tourism destination.
Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said developing structures on Pag-asa Island and bringing people there would help strengthen the country’s claim against that of China.
During deliberations on the proposed 2013 budget of the Department of Tourism, Rodriguez said he was willing to allocate P1 million from his PDAF and another P1 million from that of his brother, Representative Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao party-list, for this purpose.
“If you are able to bring people there, clearly, it will strengthen our rights. It’s about time that we do it,” he said.
Rodriguez proposed the allocation of part of the DOT’s appropriations for the construction of an airport and a port on Pag-asa.
“The seas there are very pristine, untouched. We are not possessing another island, that’s already our possession,” he said.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said any movement in the disputed area would need to be consulted with the executive branch.
“The area in question is now under the control of the President. We will take our cue from him,” he said.
The DOT has been allotted P2.6 billion for 2013 to fund aggressive plans to generate at least 5.5 million tourist arrivals.