Vietnam puts up supermarket on occupied Pugad Island
MANILA, Philippines - Vietnam has reportedly put up and is now operating a supermarket in Pugad Island in the hotly contested Spratly archipelago to cater to the needs of the growing number of local and foreign tourists visiting its occupied area.
The local government of Kalayaan, an island town based in Pag-Asa Island, has received reports from Filipino fishermen who just returned from Pugad, where they sought shelter during a storm, that a supermarket is now fully operational in the Vietnamese-held island.
“Our local fishermen said that there’s now a supermarket in Pugad. We are still trying to verify and validate this,” Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. said, adding that the best way to confirm the report is through diplomatic channels.
Only 2.5 kilometers away from Parola Island, one of the country’s regime of islands in the Spratlys, Pugad Island has been monitored to be bustling with development over the years, the latest of which was the completed construction of an encircled jetty port with sailboats, apparently part of Vietnam’s tourism program in the island.
Bito-onon, however, is not alarmed over this development.
He even said that once the report is confirmed, this would make living for all Spratly archipelago residents easier and more comfortable.
“Through proper coordination via diplomatic channels, perhaps we can go there and shop for our basic needs instead of sourcing our supplies from mainland Palawan, which is quite far,” Bito-onon said, remaining optimistic that all residents in the region – Filipinos, Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians and Taiwanese – will continue to coexist peacefully despite tensions in the area.
With a land area of 12 hectares, Pugad Island is the sixth largest island in the disputed region aside from being the highest point at four meters above sea level.
In 1968, Filipino troops established a military garrison in Pugad but Vietnamese forces took possession in 1975, when the Filipinos left to attend a birthday party of their commanding officer based at nearby Parola.