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Kalayaan, officially the Municipality of Kalayaan, is a 5th class municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 184 people.[3]

Municipality of Kalayaan
Official seal of Kalayaan
Map of Palawan with Kalayaan highlighted
Map of Palawan with Kalayaan highlighted
Kalayaan is located in South China Sea
Kalayaan is located in Southeast Asia
Kalayaan (Southeast Asia)
Kalayaan is located in Philippines
Kalayaan (Philippines)
Coordinates: 11°03′N 114°17′E / 11.05°N 114.28°E / 11.05; 114.28Coordinates: 11°03′N 114°17′E / 11.05°N 114.28°E / 11.05; 114.28
Country Philippines
RegionMimaropa (Region IV-B)
District1st District of Palawan
FoundedJune 11, 1978
Barangays1 (Pag-asa)
 • TypeSangguniang Bayan
 • MayorRoberto M. Del Mundo
 • Electorate335 voters (2016)
 • Total290.00 km2 (111.97 sq mi)
 (2015 census)[3]
 • Total184
 • Density0.63/km2 (1.6/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)48
Climate typeTropical climate
Income class5th municipal income class
Revenue (₱)59.7 million  (2016)
Native languagesPalawano language

Part of the Spratly Group of Islands, situated within the South China Sea, the Kalayaan municipality, which includes the Pagasa (Thitu) island, is 280 nautical miles north-west of Puerto Princesa and 932 kilometres (579 mi) south-west of Metro Manila. It consist 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]

Pag-asa Island has an airstrip, a 5-bed lying-in clinic, and a small elementary school.[5]

Once strictly a military installation, Pag-asa 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 the Champa Kingdom of Vietnam, and during the second world war, French Indochina and Imperial Japanese troops.[7][8][9] However, there were no large settlements on these islands till 1956, when Filipino lawyer, businessman, adventurer and fishing magnate Tomás Cloma decided to "claim" a part of 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, Tomás Cloma took formal possession of the islands, lying some 380 miles 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".[citation needed]

On May 31, 1956, Cloma declared the establishment of the Free Territory of Freedomland, ten days after he sent his second representation to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,[which?] informing the latter that the territory claimed was named "Freedomland".[citation needed]

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

In 1974, Cloma ceded his rights over the islands for one peso, after being imprisoned by Ferdinand Marcos.[12]

Presidential Decree 1596Edit

President Ferdinand E. Marcos created the Municipality of Kalayaan by signing Presidential Decree 1596[13] 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 9522Edit

Republic Act 9522 of 2009,[14] 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.[15]

Rival claimsEdit

In addition to the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam claim 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 (7) reefs. The Republic of China (Taiwan)'s solitary island is the largest in the archipelago at approximately 43 hectares. Vietnam occupies 21 islets and reefs. Malaysia claims 7 reefs including Layang Layang which currently hosts a naval base and a diving resort.[16] 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
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 07.9 hectares (20 acres) Island
Kota Loaita Island 06.5 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 Reef 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 (2) meters above sea level.


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%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][17][18][19]

In the 2015 census, the population of Kalayaan was 184 people,[3] with a density of 0.63 inhabitants per square kilometre or 1.6 inhabitants per square mile.


Rancudo AirfieldEdit

Pag-asa island hosts a 1,300 meter runway constructed in the early 70s on orders of MGEN Jose Rancudo, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Forces. In February 1992,[20] the Armed Forces of the Philippines named the runway "Rancudo Airfield" in honor of its architect.


Smart Telecommunications established a cell site, connected to its main network via VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), on the island 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.[21]


On June 8, 1982, Kota (Loaita) and Panata (Lankiam) islands were designated are marine turtle sanctuaries by the Ministry of National Resources (MNR) Administrative Order No.8.[22]


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.[23][24]

The current Mayor of the municipality is Mayor Roberto M. Del Mundo, won in upset victory on May 9, 2016.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Municipality". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Province: Palawan". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Census of Population (2015). "Region IV-B (Mimaropa)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  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. 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 Edition). 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. ^ Womack, Brantly. China and Vietnam. Cambridge University Press. p. 218 footnote 18. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  13. ^ "PD 1596". Pasig City, Philippines: Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Republic Act No. 9522". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Layang Layang". Avillon. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  17. ^ Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region IV-B (Mimaropa)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Province of Palawan". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Kalayaan Chain of Islands". Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association. Archived from the original on 21 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  21. ^ "RP’s remotest town freed from isolation"[dead link], Manila Bulletin, Manila, 13 June 2005. Retrieved on 23 May 2006.
  22. ^ "PCP-LGU Kalayaan and AFP in Palawan". Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  23. ^ "Chinese warship chases Kalayaan town boat carrying mayor-elect". Philippine Star. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  24. ^ A Game of Shark and Minnow, NY Times Magazine, 27 October 2013.
  25. ^ dela Cruz, Ace. "President-elect Duterte most voted in Pag-asa Island". Updating Filipinos Online. Retrieved 8 June 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit