CAGAYAN DE ORO Representative Rufus Rodriguez proposed to develop the Spratly Group of Islands into a tourist destination.

Rodriguez addressed his proposal to President Benigno Aquino III through a letter following reports from China State that Sanya City in Southern China plans to extend a tourism route to the Spratly Islands.

He said Sanya City is a famed tourist destination in the Southern Chinese province of Hainan where it is planning to include the island chains of the Spratlys on a cruise route under a 10-year tourism development plan.

"Mr. President, these are non-military developments and therefore non-confrontational acts. We should act now otherwise, it may be too late to defend our sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and Panatag Shoal,” Rodriguez said in his letter to Aquino.

Rodriguez suggested that the Aquino Administration should speed up plans to develop the island and showcase its perfect beaches, coral reefs and potential diving spots, including the building of a 100-meter concrete wharf and beaching ramp on the coral-fringed Pagasa Island, the second largest in the Spratly and the biggest occupied by the Philippines in the contested region.

"Other islands in the area should also be developed into tourist spots, including making our Panatag Shoal part of a cruise route in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

It was learned that at present, Pagasa already hosts an airport, existing civilian residential houses, a one-storey municipal building, a function hall and a nursery school, which are all in need of repairs.

According to Rodriguez, additional structures like hospitals, schools and other establishments could be constructed in the islands to further attract tourists to the area.


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