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Kalayaan, Palawan

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Title: Kalayaan, Palawan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Palawan, West York Island, Loaita Island, Nanshan Island, Northeast Cay
Collection: Former Countries in Philippine History, Kalayaan, Palawan, Municipalities of Palawan, Spratly Islands
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Kalayaan, Palawan

Official seal of Kalayaan
Map of Palawan showing the location of Kalayaan
Map of Palawan showing the location of Kalayaan
Kalayaan is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Country  Philippines
Region MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)
Province Palawan
District 1st District of Palawan
Founded June 11, 1978
Barangays 1
 • Mayor Eugenio B. Bito-onon Jr.
 • Total 290 km2 (110 sq mi)
 • Land 0.79 km2 (0.31 sq mi)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 222
 • Density 0.77/km2 (2.0/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
ZIP code 5322
Income class 5th class; rural

Kalayaan is a fifth class municipality in the Philippine province of Palawan in the Spratly archipelago, situated within the South China Sea.

Kalayaan municipality, which includes the Pagasa (Thitu) island, is 280 nautical miles northwest of Puerto Princessa (Palawan) and 579 miles southwest of Metro Manila. According to the 2010 census,[3] it has a population of 222 people consisting of a single barangay located on Pag-asa Island, which also serves as the seat of the municipal government. It is the smallest municipality in the Philippines. Kalayaan's annual budget is 47 million pesos (about $1.1 million).[4]

Pag-asa Island has a dilapidated airstrip, a 5-bed lying-in clinic, and a small elementary school.[5]

Once a strictly a military installation, Pag-asa was opened to civilian settlement in 2002.[5][6]


  • History 1
    • Presidential Decree 1596 1.1
    • Republic Act 9522 1.2
    • Rival claims 1.3
  • Geography 2
    • Topography 2.1
  • Demographics 3
  • Transportation 4
    • Rancudo Airfield 4.1
  • Telecommunications 5
  • Politics 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


There are records of the island having been inhabited, at various times in history, by the Chinese and by people from the Champa Kingdom of Vietnam, and during the second world war, French Indochina and Imperial Japanese troops.[7][8][9] However, there were no large settlements on these islands till 1956, when Filipino lawyer / businessman / adventurer / fishing magnate Tomas Cloma decided to "claim" a part of Spratly islands as his own, naming it the "Free Territory of Freedomland".[10]

In 1946, Vice President Elpidio Quirino reiterated the Southern Islands, the forerunner name for Kalayaan, as part of the Philippines.

In 1947, Tomas Cloma "discovered" a group of several uninhabited and unoccupied islands/islets in the vastness of the Luzon Sea.

On May 11, 1956, together with forty men, Tomas Cloma took formal possession of the islands, lying some 380 miles west of the southern end of Palawan and named them the "Free Territory of Freedomland". Four days later Cloma issued and posted copies of his "Notice to the Whole World" on each of the islands as "a decisive manifestation of unwavering claim over the territory".

On May 31, 1956, Cloma declared the establishment of the Free Territory of Freedomland, ten days after he sent his second representation to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, informing the latter that the territory claimed was named "Freedomland".

On July 6, 1956, Cloma declared to the whole world his claim and the establishment of a separate government for the "Free Territory of Freedomland" with its capital on Flat Island (Patag Island). His declaration was met with violent and unfriendly reactions from several neighboring countries especially the Republic of China (ROC; on Taiwan since 1949) when on September 24, 1956 it effectively garrisoned the nearby island of Itu Aba and intercepted Cloma's men and vessels found within its immediate waters.

In 1974, Cloma ceded his rights over the islands for one peso, after being imprisoned by Ferdinand Marcos.[11]

Presidential Decree 1596

President Ferdinand E. Marcos created the Municipality of Kalayaan by signing PD 1596[12] into law on June 11, 1978. This established what the document described as "a distinct and separate municipality of the Province of Palawan".

PD 1596 defined the boundaries of the municipality as follows:

From a point [on the Philippine Treaty Limits] at latitude 7º40' North and longitude 116º00' East of Greenwich, thence due West along the parallel of 7º40' N to its intersection with the meridian of longitude 112º10' E, thence due north along the meridian of 112º10' E to its intersection with the parallel of 9º00' N, thence northeastward to the intersection of parallel of 12º00' N with the meridian of longitude 114º30' E, thence, due East along the parallel of 12º00' N to its intersection with the meridian of 118º00' E, thence, due South along the meridian of longitude 118º00' E to its intersection with the parallel of 10º00' N, thence Southwestwards to the point of beginning at 7º40' N, latitude and 116º00' E longitude.

i.e. 7º40'N 116º00'E; west to 7º40'N 112º10'E; north to 9º00'N 112º10'E; NE to 12º00'N 114º30'E; east to 12º00'N 118º00'E; south to 10º00'N 118º00'E; SW to 7º40'N 116º00'E.

Republic Act 9522

Republic Act 9522 of 2009,[13] which defined the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines, claimed sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group under Section 2, sub-paragraph A which described the territory as a "Regime of Islands"—a concept defined in the United Nation Convention on Law of the Sea for similar bodies of land.[14]

Rival claims

In addition to the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam claim all claim the Spratley Archipelago either as a whole or in part. The Philippines occupies 10 reefs and islands. The People's Republic of China presently occupies seven (7) reefs. The Republic of China (Taiwan)'s solitary island is the largest in the archipelago at approximately 43 hectares. Vietnam occupies 21 islets and reefs. Malaysia claims 7 reefs including Layang Layang which currently hosts a naval base and a diving resort.[15] Interest in the archipelago was reportedly triggered by Cloma’s declaration and subsequent assertion by the Philippines.

In March 1976, AFP Western Command based in Palawan in response to the heightening conflict of interest in the region and to abate any untoward incident.


The Municipality of Kalayaan is located in the western section of the Province of Palawan. It is composed of six islets, two cays and two (2) reefs, with an aggregate land area of approximately 79 hectares. They are:

Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) is the largest of the Kalayaan islands. It has an airstrip with an area of 5.6 hectares, and length of approximately 1,260 meters.

Likas Island (West York Is) is located 47 miles northeast of Pag-asa. Its outcrops are visible on the southern and eastern portion of the island during low tides. This island is a sanctuary for giant sea turtles (pawikan) that lay their eggs on the island all year round. The high salinity of the ground water on the island retards the growth of introduced trees like coconuts, ipil-ipil, and other types. Only those native to the area (mostly beach type of plants) thrive and survive the hot and humid conditions especially during the dry season.

Parola Island (Northeast Cay) is located 28 miles northwest of Pag-asa Island. Parola is closer to the Vietnamese occupied Pugad island than to Pag-asa Island. Some of its outcrops are visible on its western side. It has high salinity groundwater and vegetation limited to beach type of plants. The corals around the island were mostly destroyed by rampant use of dynamite fishing and cyanide methods employed by foreign fishing boats in the past.

Lawak Island (Nanshan Is) is located 98 miles east of Pag-asa. This island is the bird sanctuary of Kalayaan. Its surroundings are so highly phosphatized that superphosphate materials can be mined out on a small-scale basis. Near the fringes of the breakwaters (approx. 2 miles from the island), intact hard coral reefs were observed to retain their natural environment and beautiful tropical fishes were seen colonizing these coral beds of varying colors.

Kota Island (Loita Is) is located 22 miles southeast of Pag-asa. It fringes the Laoita bank and reef. Its calcarenite outcrop is visible along its western side at low tide. The present shape of the island indicates sand buildup along its eastern side. The anchor-shaped side will eventually connect with the northern portion as the sand buildup continues, thereby creating another mini-lagoon in the process. Kota was designated a marine turtle sanctuary on June 8, 1982 by Ministry of National Resources (MNR) Administrative Order No.8.[16] The presence of migrating sea birds adds to the high phosphorus contents of the sand found in the island. Occasionally, giant sea turtles are reported to be laying their eggs on the island.

About 6 miles southwest of Lawak Island is Patag Island (Flat Is). Patag Island is an example of a cay. It changes its shape seasonally. The sand build up will depend largely on the direction of prevailing wind and waves. Presently, it takes the shape of an elongated one, three years ago it had a shape like that of a crescent moon, and years back it formed the shape of a letter "S". Like Panata Island, it is also barren of any vegetation. No underground water source is found in the island. Presently, this island serves only as a military observation post in Kalayaan.

Panata Island (Lankiam Cay) is located 8 miles northeast of Kota Island. A few years ago this island has a surface area of more than 5 hectares, but strong waves brought by a strong typhoon washed out the sandy surface (beach) of the island leaving behind today the calcarenite foundation that can be seen at low tide. Panata was designated a marine turtle sanctuary on June 8, 1982 by Ministry of National Resources (MNR) Administrative Order No.8[16]

Balagtas Reef (Irving Reef) is located nearest to Likas Island. It is also a typical reef lying underwater and is now being manned by a military contingent based and established in the area.

Ayungin Reef (Second Thomas Reef) is located nearest to Mischief Reef. It is also a typical reef lying underwater and is now being manned by a military contingent based and established in the area. Their shelter is the grounded BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine naval vessel.

Rizal Reef (Commodore Reef) is located nearest to Balabac. It is a typical reef lying underwater and is now being manned by a military contingent based and established in the area.


The islets that comprise the Municipality are generally flat. The highest ground elevation is approximately two (2) meters above sea level.



Rancudo Airfield

Pag-asa island hosts a 1,300 meter runway constructed in the early 70s on orders of MGEN Jose Rancudo, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Forces. In February 1992,[18] the Armed Forces of the Philippines named the runway "Rancudo Airfield" in honor of its architect.


Smart Telecommunications established a cell site, connected to its main network via VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), on the island in 2005 making normal GSM-based cellphone communication with the island possible. The first call on the system took place on June 12 at 5:18 PM between the mayor of the municipality at the time and a Smart Telecom executive. The company completed a maintenance visit to the cell site in 2011, thus ensuring continued operation of the facility.[19]


The first ever recorded election in Kalayaan during the post Marcos dictatorship was on January 30, 1980 where Mr. Aloner M. Heraldo was elected as the first Municipal Mayor.

But the Municipality of Kalayaan was after the Marcos regime created “demilitarized” on January 18, 1988 and the first appointed Mayor was Alejandro Rodriguez who was subsequently replaced by his appointed Vice-mayor Gaudencio R. Avencena.

The first free election in Kalayaan was held on May 11, 1992 synchronized election, where mostly young Municipal officers under the leadership of Hon. Mayor Gil D. Policarpio served for nine years, equivalent to three (3) terms from 1992-2001.

A new administration assumed office on July 2, 2001, when Mayor Rosendo L. Mantes won the election on May 14, 2001.

The current Mayor of Municipality of Kalayaan is Eugenio B. Bito-Onon Jr. He won his second term as Mayor on May 13, 2013[20][21]

See also


  1. ^ "Municipalities". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Province: PALAWAN". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Countries Around South China Sea Bolster Claims With Island Outposts". 
  5. ^ a b Esmaquel II, Paterno (19 July 2014). "PH town 'no match' vs China's Sansha City". Rappler. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Angelina G. Goloy "Promise of Pag-asa", Manila Standard, Manila, 22 August 2005. Retrieved on 10 October 2005.
  7. ^ "Timeline". History of the Spratlys. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Chemillier-Gendreau, Monique (2000). Sovereignty Over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Kluwer Law International.  
  9. ^ China Sea pilot, Volume 1 (8th Edition). Taunton: UKHO - United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  10. ^ "China and Philippines: The reasons why a battle for Zhongye (Pag-asa) Island seems unavoidable". China Daily Mail. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Womack, Brantly. China and Vietnam. Cambridge University Press. p. 218 footnote 18. Retrieved March 4, 2012. 
  12. ^ "PD 1596". Pasig City, Philippines: Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Republic Act 9522", Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, Manila, 10 March 2009. Retrieved on 24 August 2013.
  14. ^ "UNCLOS Part VIII", United Nations, New York, 10 December 1982. Retrieved on 24 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Layang Layang". Avillon. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "PCP-LGU Kalayaan and AFP in Palawan". Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "Province of Palawan". Municipality Population Data. LWUA Research Division. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  18. ^ "Kalayaan Chain of Islands". Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "RP’s remotest town freed from isolation", Manila Bulletin, Manila, 13 June 2005. Retrieved on 23 May 2006.
  20. ^ "Chinese warship chases Kalayaan town boat carrying mayor-elect". Philippine Star. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  21. ^ A Game of Shark and Minnow, NY Times Magazine, 27 October 2013.

Further reading


External links

  • Philippine Standard Geographic Code
  • Philippine Census Information
  • Local Governance Performance Management System
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