A Catholic bishop in Manila said the Church is ready to serve in disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea if there is a Catholic community in the area.
Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., retired prelate of Novaliches, said the Philippines must assert its rights in its territories starting with the installation of mobile phone signals there.
The bishop made the statement following reports that government officials who recently visited an island near the disputed territory received an “unexpected greeting” in their mobile phones.
Upon reaching Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, the officials’ mobile phones switched to roaming mode and received messages that read “Welcome to China” or “Welcome to Vietnam.”
Pag-asa Island is part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands, which is inside the country’s exclusive economic zone but is being claimed by several countries, including China and Vietnam.
The mobile phone message was an indication that network coverage of neighboring countries is stronger even inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“Hopefully our government and the private sector will do something to enhance the communication network coverage in those islands,” said Bishop Bacani.
He said the presence of a strong cell phone signal is one of the many ways the country will declare ownership over the disputed territories.