A desalination plant project has been completed and launched on Mavulis Island in Batanes, making the island more habitable for people, as the military vows to sustain its presence there.
The desalination system, capable of producing 1,500 gallons of potable water daily, was inaugurated on Wednesday by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was joined by top military officials, including Armed Forces Chief of Staff Cirilito Sobejana and Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) Commander Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr.
Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco was also present during the inauguration.
Mavulis, which is considered as the country’s “northern frontier” and the farthest island of Itbayat, falls under the operational jurisdiction of the Nolcom, which has stepped up both its presence and maritime patrol in the country’s northern waters.
A news statement released by the Department of National Defense, through its spokesman Arsenio “Popong” Andolong, said the desalination plant was completed at the amount of P3,089, 600 and through the partnership of Nolcom and the AFP Savings and Loan Association Inc.
Over the years, Nolcom has slowly built its presence on Mavulis, both due to its strategic importance in military terms and due to its rich marine resources, which has attracted poachers from neighboring countries until it was checked by the presence of soldiers.
A multipurpose shelter for Filipino fishermen complete with a fish-drying facility and even a detachment for soldiers has been constructed on Mavulis powered by a 1.2-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system.
The Nolcom has recognized the strategic importance of Mavulis to the country’s defense, given the presence of China in the West Philippine Sea and some parts of the Kalayaan Island Group.
Mavulis, a four-square-kilometer jagged island, is considered as a defense stronghold against the Chinese if and when they would formally occupy and develop Scarborough Shoal near Zambales into a military base.
The island known as Mavudis to the residents of Batanes borders Taiwan and sits on the Bashi Channel, which connect the West Philippine Sea or even the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The Bashi Channel is considered as a strategic waterway which the Chinese Navy, including its submarines, has to cross in the event that it may ever decide to attack American forces in Guam and Hawaii.