Palawan is part of the main Philippine Islands chain and about 160 kilometers away from the disputed Spratly Islands where China is rapidly doing land reclamation in seven submerge reefs causing alarm among some Asian countries and drawing increasing International criticism including the United States.
China defended its land reclamation in the Spratly Islands, saying the new islands would provide civilian services such as weather forecasting and search and rescue facilities that would benefit other countries.
With this concern, the Philippine Military’s top priority is to build the naval base on the country’s western coastline of Palawan, a location opposite to the disputed Spratly Islands. Although plans have been delayed by funding bottlenecks, developing the island into a full naval facility could also worsen tensions with China which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea.
According to Armed Forces of the Philippines general, the initial stage development cost around Php 800 million pesos, and additional Php 5 billion pesos to turn it into major operating base similar to Subic Base, Zambales.
The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia , Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the islands which lies in the very important shipping lanes.