Kalayaan, Palawan

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Municipality of Kalayaan
Flag of Kalayaan
Official seal of Kalayaan
Map of Palawan with Kalayaan highlighted
Map of Palawan with Kalayaan highlighted
Kalayaan is located in Philippines
Location in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippines
Kalayaan is located in South China Sea
Kalayaan (South China Sea)
Kalayaan is located in Southeast Asia
Kalayaan (Southeast Asia)
Coordinates: 11°03′09″N 114°17′04″E / 11.052553°N 114.284564°E / 11.052553; 114.284564Coordinates: 11°03′09″N 114°17′04″E / 11.052553°N 114.284564°E / 11.052553; 114.284564
District 1st district
FoundedJune 11, 1978
Barangays1 (Pag-asa)
 • TypeSangguniang Bayan
 • MayorRoberto M. del Mundo
 • Vice MayorHermoso A. Ornopia
 • RepresentativeFranz Josef George E. Alvarez
 • Electorate391 voters (2019)
 • Total290.00 km2 (111.97 sq mi)
0 m (0 ft)
Highest elevation
14 m (46 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 (2020 census) [3]
 • Total193
 • Density0.67/km2 (1.7/sq mi)
 • Households
 • Income class5th municipal income class
 • Revenue₱59,743,684.44 (2016)
Service provider
 • ElectricityKalayaan Municipal Electric System (KAMES)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)48
Climate typetropical climate
Native languagesPalawano

Kalayaan, officially the Municipality of Kalayaan (Tagalog: Bayan ng Kalayaan), is a 5th class municipality in the West Philippine Sea under the jurisdiction of the province of Palawan, Philippines. According to the 2020 census, it has a population of 193 people. [3]

Part of the Spratly Islands, situated within the West Philippine Sea, the Kalayaan municipality, which includes Pag-asa Island (the administrative center of Kalayaan Island Group) is 280 nautical miles north-west of Puerto Princesa and 932 kilometres (579 mi) south-west of Metro Manila. It consists of a single barangay located on Pag-asa Island, which also serves as the seat of the municipal government. It is the least populated municipality in the Philippines. Kalayaan's annual budget is 47 million pesos (about $1.1 million).[4]

Kalayaan municipality has an airstrip, a naval port, a five-bed lying-in clinic, a police station, a coast guard station, and a small elementary school.[5]

Formerly an exclusively military installation, Pag-asa Island was opened to civilian settlement in 2002.[5][6]


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

In 1946, Vice President Elpidio Quirino reiterated the "New Southern Islands", the forerunner name for Kalayaan, as part of the Philippines.[11]

In 1947, Tomás Cloma "discovered" a group of several uninhabited and unoccupied islands/islets in the vastness of the Luzon Sea.[11]

On May 11, 1956, together with forty men, Cloma took formal possession of the islands, lying some 380 miles (610 km) 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".[12]

On May 31, 1956, Cloma declared the establishment of the Free Territory of Freedomland, ten days after sending his second representation to the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, informing the latter that the territory claimed was named "Freedomland".[12]

On July 6, 1956, Cloma declared his claim to the whole world 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 it effectively garrisoned the nearby island of Itu Aba and intercepted Cloma's men and vessels found within its immediate waters on September 24, 1956.

In 1974, Cloma ceded his rights over the islands for one peso, after being imprisoned by Ferdinand Marcos.[13]

Presidential Decree No. 1596[edit]

President Ferdinand E. Marcos created the Municipality of Kalayaan by signing Presidential Decree No. 1596[14] into law on June 11, 1978.[11] 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 north-eastward 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 No. 9522[edit]

Republic Act No. 9522,[15] 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.[16]

Rival claims[edit]

In addition to the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia all claim the Spratly Archipelago either as a whole or in part. The Philippines occupies 10 reefs and islands. The People's Republic of China presently occupies seven reefs. The Republic of China (Taiwan)'s solitary island is the largest in the archipelago at approximately 43 hectares (0.43 km2). Vietnam occupies 21 islets and reefs. Malaysia claims 7 reefs including Layang Layang which currently hosts a naval base and a diving resort.[17] Interest in the archipelago was reportedly triggered by Cloma's declaration and subsequent assertion by the Philippines.

In March 1976, President Marcos issued the Letter of Instruction (LOI) No.1-76 organizing the 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 consists of one barangay, Pag-asa, and currently exercises jurisdiction over eight islets (four of which are cays) and three reefs, with an aggregate land area of approximately 79 hectares (0.79 km2). They are:

Feature name Area Type
Philippine name International name
Pag-asa Thitu Island 32.7 hectares (81 acres) Island
Likas West York Island 18.6 hectares (46 acres) Island
Parola Northeast Cay 12.7 hectares (31 acres) Cay
Lawak Nanshan Island 7.9 hectares (20 acres) Island
Kota Loaita Island 6.5 hectares (16 acres) Island
Patag Flat Island 0.57 hectares (1.4 acres) Cay
Melchora Aquino Loaita Cay 0.53 hectares (1.3 acres) Cay
Panata Lankiam Cay 0.44 hectares (1.1 acres) Cay
Balagtas Irving Reef 0 hectares (0 acres) Reef
Ayungin Second Thomas Shoal 0 hectares (0 acres) Reef
Rizal Commodore Reef 0 hectares (0 acres) Reef


The islets that comprise the municipality are generally flat. The highest ground elevation is approximately two meters above sea level.


Climate data for Kalayaan, Palawan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 27
Average low °C (°F) 26
Average precipitation mm (inches) 155
Average rainy days 17.4 11.1 11.8 11.2 19.4 24.6 25.3 25.2 25.4 24.1 24.6 23.5 243.6
Source: Meteoblue (modeled/calculated data, not measured locally)[18]


Population census of Kalayaan
YearPop.±% p.a.
1980 334—    
1990 50−17.30%
1995 349+43.92%
2000 223−9.16%
2007 114−8.84%
2010 222+27.45%
2015 184−3.51%
2020 193+0.94%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[19][20][21][22]

In the 2020 census, the population of Kalayaan was 193 people, [3] with a density of 0.67 inhabitants per square kilometre or 1.7 inhabitants per square mile. The civilian population, which includes children, was introduced in 2001.[23]


Rancudo Airfield[edit]

Pag-asa Island (Thitu) hosts a 1,300-meter runway constructed in the early 1970s on orders of Major General Jose Rancudo, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force. In February 1992,[24] the Armed Forces of the Philippines named the runway "Rancudo Airfield" in honor of its architect.

Beaching Ramp and Seaport[edit]

On June 9, 2020, the Department of National Defense led the inauguration of a beaching ramp on Pag-asa Island (Thitu) which was finally completed after three years. The facility enabled to bring in more materials and equipment to repair and maintain the airstrip and building of other facilities.[25] Also, Department of Transportation (DOTR) confirmed that the new seaport and sheltered port in the Pag-asa Island (Thitu) is completed and ready to operate by June 12.[26][27]


Smart Telecommunications established a cell site, connected to its main network via VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), on Pag-asa Island (Thitu) 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.[28] However, the cell site was inactive since 2015.[29] On August 30, 2020, Smart Telecommunications repaired and upgraded its cell site for 4G/LTE services in Pag-asa Island (Thitu).[30][31]

In April 2021, the Department of Information and Communications Technology announced the installation of free Wi-Fi facilities at Pag-asa Island Elementary School, Barangay Hall, and other sites on the Pag-asa Island. This has allowed children on the island to continue with their distance learning.[32][33]

Power Supply[edit]

By day, the residents get electricity from a power generator owned by the municipal government. By night, they shift to stored solar power that comes from 1.5-volt solar panels installed on the Pag-asa Island.[34] On June 12, 2021, The National Power Corporation switched on its P33 million Kalayaan Diesel Power Plant project that covered the supply, delivery and installation of the 300 kilowatt diesel generating sets, a 13.8-kilovolt (kV) distribution line and fuel oil storage tanks, providing round-the-clock power to the facilities on the Pag-asa Island.[35][36]


On June 8, 1982, Kota (Loaita) and Panata (Lankiam) islands were designated as marine turtle sanctuaries by the Ministry of National Resources (MNR) when it issued Administrative Order No. 8.[37]


Mayor Eugenio B. Bito-Onon Jr., August 23, 2015.

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

The Municipality of Kalayaan "demilitarized" on January 18, 1988, and the first appointed Mayor, Alejandro Rodriguez, was replaced by his appointed Vice Mayor, Gaudencio R. Avencena.

The first free election was held on May 11, 1992, where mostly young Municipal officers under the leadership of Mayor Gil D. Policarpio served for nine years (1992-2001).

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

It was replaced by Mayor Eugenio B. Bito-onon Jr. who served from June 30, 2010, to June 30, 2016.[38][39]

The current Mayor of the municipality is Mayor Roberto M. del Mundo, who won an upset victory on May 9, 2016.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Municipality of Kalayaan | (DILG)
  2. ^ "2015 Census of Population, Report No. 3 – Population, Land Area, and Population Density" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. Quezon City, Philippines. August 2016. ISSN 0117-1453. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 25, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Census of Population (2020). "MIMAROPA". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  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. www.spratlys.org. Archived from the original on 21 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  8. ^ Chemillier-Gendreau, Monique (2000). Sovereignty Over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Kluwer Law International. ISBN 9041113819.
  9. ^ China Sea pilot, Volume 1 (8th ed.). 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. ^ a b c Palatino, Mong (1 November 2010). "Aquino's Spratly Islands Call". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  12. ^ a b Shicun Wu; Keyuan Zou (2 March 2016). Arbitration Concerning the South China Sea: Philippines Versus China. Routledge. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-1-317-17989-4.
  13. ^ Womack, Brantly (13 February 2006). China and Vietnam. Cambridge University Press. p. 218 footnote 18. ISBN 9781139448444. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  14. ^ "PD 1596". Pasig, Philippines: Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Republic Act No. 9522". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Archived from the original on 14 August 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  16. ^ "PREAMBLE TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA". United Nations. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Layang Layang". Avillon. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  18. ^ "Kalayaan, Palawan: Average Temperatures and Rainfall". Meteoblue. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  19. ^ Census of Population (2015). "Region IV-B (Mimaropa)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  20. ^ Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region IV-B (Mimaropa)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  21. ^ Censuses of Population (1903–2007). "Region IV-B (Mimaropa)". Table 1. Population Enumerated in Various Censuses by Province/Highly Urbanized City: 1903 to 2007. NSO.
  22. ^ "Province of Palawan". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  23. ^ Glionna, John M. (26 July 2009), "Squatters in paradise say it's job from hell", Los Angeles Times, Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  24. ^ "Kalayaan Chain of Islands". Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association. Archived from the original on 21 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  25. ^ Sadongdong, Martin. "PH inaugurates beaching ramp on Pagasa Island in West PH Sea". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  26. ^ Acosta, Rene. "A 'Historic' Landing". BusinessMirror. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  27. ^ Yumol, David Tristan. "Tugade confirms Pag-Asa Island seaport ready to open by June 12". CNN Philippines. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  28. ^ "RP’s remotest town freed from isolation"[dead link], Manila Bulletin, Manila, 13 June 2005. Retrieved on 23 May 2006.
  29. ^ https://globalnation.inquirer.net/188320/fwd-welcome-to-china-vietnam-messages-in-pag-asa-island-sent-by-cellular-providers-roaming-partners
  30. ^ https://www.rappler.com/business/pag-asa-island-now-has-smart-lte
  31. ^ https://www.cnn.ph/news/2020/9/4/Pag-asa-Island-West-Philippine-Sea-LTE.html
  32. ^ "Bridging the Digital Gap: DICT activates Free Wi-Fi sites and provides Tech4Ed in Kalayaan, Palawan". DICT. Department of Information and Communication Technology. 2021-05-07. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  33. ^ Rey, Aika (7 April 2021). "Pag-asa Island residents get free internet access from gov't". Rappler. Rappler. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  34. ^ Campbell, Eric (20 May 2014). "Reef Madness". ABC News. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  35. ^ Rivera, Danessa (13 June 2021). "Napocor powers up Kalayaan Island". Philstar.com. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  36. ^ Domingo, Ronnel (12 June 2021). "Freedom Day brings more power to outpost asserting PH sovereignty". Inquirer.net. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  37. ^ "PCP-LGU Kalayaan and AFP in Palawan". Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  38. ^ "Chinese warship chases Kalayaan town boat carrying mayor-elect". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  39. ^ A Game of Shark and Minnow, NY Times Magazine, 27 October 2013.
  40. ^ dela Cruz, Ace. "President-elect Duterte most voted in Pag-asa Island". Updating Filipinos Online. Retrieved 8 June 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]