Philippines establishes fishermen’s shelter in Batanes



BASCO , Philippines — Government troops have completed construction of a fisherman’s shelter on Mavulis Island, the uninhabited and northernmost island of the country.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) on Monday formally turned over the facility to the provincial government of Batanes to serve as a shelter for fishermen from the island of Itbayat as well as other fishermen from the Batanes group of islands.

Also known as Y’Ami island, Mavulis is considered highly strategic, being the country’s northernmost frontier facing Taiwan and overlooking the busy Bashi Channel, a key waterway that connects the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Fishermen from Itbayat are known to avoid Mavulis due to the presence of foreign poachers.

Nolcom commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said the construction of the shelter started in 2018. Soldiers and other volunteers found it difficult to complete the task of building the shelter due to inclement weather and the island’s remoteness.

He said they were able to complete the facility despite the odds.

The one-room fishermen’s shelter can accommodate at least 20 people. It is equipped with dining area, living room, kitchen, comfort room with complete appliances and amenities.

Also known as the Mavulis project, the shelter has its own solar power facility donated by the One Meralco Foundation to provide electricity to the entire island and a desalination plant for potable water.

A dual-purpose area was provided as helipad and as fish drying section.

“This fishermen’s shelter is a gesture of shared resources from various stakeholders. This is AFP’s gesture of support to the Filipino fishermen and manifests our commitment in protecting our sovereignty and asserting our ownership over this territory,” said Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr., who was at the remote island to grace the handover ceremony.

Salamat handed over the Mavulis Project to the local govenment of Batanes, specifically to the Itbayat local leadership being the administrator of the islet and having political control over the area.

Salamat said not a single centavo from government was spent during the construction of the project.

“The materials used during the construction period were provided by our donors and stakeholders, including all the amenities and appliances, while the construction of the project is through the joint efforts of our troops and other volunteers from our local fishermen,” Salamat said.

The fishermen’s shelter will also serve as military barracks for soldiers who will be deployed in the islet.

“Nolcom will continuously focus its efforts to further enhance interoperability and interagency cooperation and stay true to its mandate of safeguarding the interests of our nation and its people on land, air or maritime areas. In so doing, our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the northern frontier will always be protected and maintained,” Salamat said.

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