In 1946, Vice President Elpidio Quirino reiterated that the Southern Islands, the forerunner name for Kalayaan, as part of the Philippines.
In 1947, Tomas Cloma, a Filipino adventurer and a fishing magnate, discovered a group of several uninhabited and unoccupied islands/islets in the vastness of the Luzon Sea also called the South China Sea.
On May 11, 1956, together with 40 men, Tomas Cloma and his brother Filemon took formal possession of the islands, lying some 380 miles west of the southern end of Palawan and named it “Free Territory of Freedomland.” Four days later on May 15, 1956, 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.
Then on May 31, 1956, Tomas Cloma declared the establishment of the Free Territory of Freedomland, ten days after he sent his second representation to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, informing the latter that the territory.
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. Unable to surmount the difficulties and pressure, he ceded his claim to the Philippines for one peso.
The Spratly Archipelago or the Spratlys is the international reference to the entire archipelago wherein the Kalayaan Chain of Islands is located. In so far as claims are concerned, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), claim the entire archipelago. The Philippines essentially claims only the western section of the Spratlys, which is nearest to Palawan. Malaysia occupies five reefs. Brunei claims only a reef in the southern part of the Spratlys which is still underwater. Unlike other claimants, Brunei does not maintain any military presence in the Spratlys.
The dispute exists because of the claims and counterclaims of countries around like the PRC which presently occupies eight (8) islets, the ROC which occupies only one (1) island which is the biggest in land area (approximately 42 hectares) and, Vietnam which occupies 25 islands which China had considered a vassal state and subject to Chinese sovereignty. Moreover, the display of active interest in the archipelago was triggered by Cloma’s declaration and subsequent assertion of 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.
To further the claim of the Philippines, on June 11, 1978 President Marcos, by virtue of Presidential Decree No.1596, formally annexed the Kalayaan Islands creating a distinct and separate Municipality known as “Kalayaan” under the political jurisdiction of the Province of Palawan, but under the custody of the Department of National Defense.
The nature by which the Municipality was created by-passed the normal procedures and requirements embodied in the Local Government Code. The Municipality therefore is a creation to facilitate its development and strengthen the Philippine claim.
The first ever recorded election in Kalayaan during the post Marcos dictatorship was on January 30, 1980 where Mr. Aloner M. Heraldo was elected as the first Municipal Mayor.
But the Municipality of Kalayaan was after the Marcos regime created “demilitarized” on January 18, 1988 and the first appointed Mayor was Alejandro Rodriguez who was subsequently replaced by his appointed Vice-mayor Gaudencio R. Avencena.
The first free election in Kalayaan was held on May 11, 1992 synchronized election, where mostly young Municipal officers under the leadership of Hon. Mayor Gil D. Policarpio served for nine years, equivalent to three (3) terms from 1992-2001.
A new administration assumed office on July 2, 2001 when Hon. Mayor Rosendo L. Mantes won the election on May 14, 2001.