While the Philippine claim to the Spratly Islands was first expressed in the United Nations General Assembly in 1946, Philippine involvement in the Spratlys did not begin in earnest until 1956, when on 15 May Philippine citizen Tomas Cloma proclaimed the founding of a new state, Kalayaan (Freedom Land).
Cloma’s Kalayaan encompassed fifty three features spread throughout the eastern South China Sea, including Spratly Island proper, Itu Aba, Pagasa
and Nam Yit Islands, as well as West York Island, North Danger Reef, Mariveles Reef and Investigator Shoal.
then established a protectorate in July 1956 with Pagasa
as its capital and Cloma
as “Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Kalayaan State”.
This action, although not officially endorsed by the Philippine government, was considered by other claimant nations as an act of aggression by the Philippines and international reaction was swift.
Taiwan, the PRC, South Vietnam, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands lodged official protests (the Netherlands on the premise that it considered the Spratly Islands part of Dutch New Guinea) and Taiwan sent a naval task force to “liberate” the islands and establish a base on Itu Aba, which it retains to the present day.
and the Philippines continued to state their claims over the islands; in October 1956 Cloma
travelled to New York to plead his
case before the United Nations and the Philippines had troops posted on three islands by 1968 on the premise of protecting Kalayaan citizens.
In early 1971 the Philippines sent a diplomatic note on behalf of Cloma
to Taipei demanding Taiwan’s withdrawal from Itu Aba and on 10 July in the same year Ferdinand Marcos announced the annexation of the fifty three island group known as Kalayaan
, although since neither Cloma or Marcos specified which fifty three features constituted Kalayaan, the Philippines began to claim as many features as possible.
In April of 1972 Kalayaan
was officially incorporated into Palawan province and was administered as a single “poblacion” (township), with Tomas Cloma
as the town council Chairman and by 1992, there were twelve registered voters on Kalayaan
Philippine businessman Tomas Cloma
did exactly that in 1956 and while the Philippines never officially supported Cloma’s claim, upon transference of the islands’ sovereignty from Cloma
to the Philippines, the Philippines used the same sovereignty argument as Cloma