Chinese takeover of Fuga Island?
While we’re not looking, the Philippines’ Fuga Island, located north of mainland Luzon, could become an exclusive domain of China, its special enclave and playground, a dream isle of Chinese investors and more. The island could be slowly slipping away without us knowing it, and it could soon be lost forever and become, for Filipinos, a forbidden city.
A dystopian scenario? We’ve all been gazing westward. Let us look north for a change.
Last week, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) announced through a news headline in its website: “Chinese firm invests $2B on Cagayan isle.”
The piece by Ceza website writer Leander C. Domingo said: “A $2-billion ‘Smart City’ on Fuga Island here will be constructed under a memorandum of understanding between the Ceza and the Xiamen-based Fong Zhi Enterprise Corp.
“Secretary Raul Lambino, Ceza administrator and chief executive officer, said the project would be patterned after the firm’s ongoing mega-infrastructure project in Fujian province in China.
“The investment is part of $3.9 (billion) worth of commitment investments made at the sidelines of the recently concluded 2nd Belt and Road Initiative Forum in Beijing.”
Yeah, that Belt and Road whatchmacallit…
We have been up in arms, and rightly so, over China’s intrusion into Philippine waters and disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. We went to an international court and won our case against China’s bullying, although making the bully back off is another matter. Our westward gaze has made us all but forget to look north where an island, not a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t rock, shoal or reef but a real island, a jewel in the sun, is being taken over.
Fuga Island is part of the Babuyan group of islands that lies between Cagayan province and the Batanes group of islands. Fuga is part of the mainland town of Aparri, Cagayan, while the rest in the Babuyan group belong to the island town of Calayan. Fuga is now a coveted place because of its proximity to Sta. Ana, Cagayan, where Ceza is.
While Batanes farthest north is now on everybody’s bucket list because of its preserved beauty, thanks to those who worked hard to make it an accessible and unforgettable destination, many do not know that when they fly to Batanes they are flying over less explored islands that are now coveted, salivated over by foreign investors, the Chinese specifically, who have been hovering over our seas like deadly predators. I dread the day when these places, turned into so-called “smart cities,” would have “keep off” signs for Filipinos and with their own foreign currencies to boot.
But Fuga Island, the report said, is in fact owned by Isla Fuga Resort Inc. The whole of it? Who are they, what are they? Wouldn’t we like to know? I only remember that in the 1990s, there were plans to transform Fuga into a dream island by business tycoon Tan Yu and his heirs. And then nothing more was heard about it. Are they Isla Fuga Resort Inc.? We should find out.
With an area of approximately 100 square kilometers, Fuga is smaller than Quezon City (166.2 sq km) and 10 times bigger than Boracay.
Lambino could only be upbeat when he was quoted as saying, “The company (Fong Zhi Enterprise Group) would also set up an agricultural breeding center and soil improvement project, build medical schools, promote culture and tourism and establish a high-tech industrial park.” A city unto itself, owned by them, run by them. Are longtime inhabitants, if any, in the picture?
Lambino, the report said, also signed seven memoranda of understanding and two letters of intent with Chinese companies, which included the Shanghai Jucheng Group, Pai Hao Investment, Shenzhen Dawah Real Estates, China Zhejiang Guannan Group, Golden Millennial Quickpay and Yatai International Holdings.
These, Lambino said, would be for Sta. Ana’s infrastructure that “would propel the development of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.”
Resorts, global entertainment, sports, shopping, private villas, manufacturing, airport expansion, name it. I hope they don’t turn Palaui Island into a Boracay II.
The “sinofication” of Fuga Island and Sta. Ana, Cagayan, deserves watching.
Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.