Palawan News April 2018

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Palawan - Archived News

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Dietary supplement is a product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredients intended to supplement the diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has special labeling requirements for dietary supplements and treats them as foods, not drugs.

Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients are prohibited from marketing products that are adulterated or misbranded. That means that these firms are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure that they meet all the requirements of DSHEA and FDA regulations.

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Undergroud River in Palawan
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Underground river in Pureto Princesa, Palawan
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Baracuda Lake, Coron, Palawan

Wars of ancient history were about possessions, territory, power, control, family, betrayal, lover's quarrel, politics and sometimes religion.

But we are in the Modern era and supposedly more educated and enlightened .

Think about this. Don't just brush off these questions.

  • Why is RELIGION still involved in WARS? Isn't religion supposed to be about PEACE?
  • Ask yourself; What religion always campaign to have its religious laws be accepted as government laws, always involved in wars and consistently causing WARS, yet insists that it's a religion of peace?


There are only two kinds of people who teach tolerance:
  1. The Bullies. They want you to tolerate them so they can continue to maliciously deprive you. Do not believe these bullies teaching tolerance, saying that it’s the path to prevent hatred and prejudice.
  2. The victims who are waiting for the right moment to retaliate. They can’t win yet, so they tolerate.
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U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney and USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief Daniel Moore witness the safe and sustainable collection of ornamental fish by certified Marine Aquarium Council collectors in Palawan

Palawan to push for creation of federation for parents of PWDs

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The provincial government of Palawan is taking the initiative to form a federation of parents of persons with disabilities (PWDs) to make them partners in strengthening the provision of basic services for them.

Helen Bundal, population program officer of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), said Sunday that the group will be called Federation of Parents of Children with Disabilities (FPCD).

Establishing the group was a result of the recently concluded meeting called by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Mimaropa in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, she said.

“The main purpose of creating the FPCD in the province is part of the DSWD’s target to scale up the delivery of basic social services to individuals with disabilities through their parents who are their voices,” she said.

Information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners and their communities, can be given through the federation.

Bundal said members of the federation will be trained to be partners of the provincial government in the implementation of various programs for the PWDs in their localities such as livelihood support and educational assistance for those who want to study.

Palaweño students receive SM scholarship grants

(SM Foundation PR)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Nine students from Palawan province are among the 500 recipients of college scholarship grants opened by retail giant SM for the first batch of K to 12 graduates.

SM, in a statement released by SM City Puerto Princesa’s public relations officer Russel Fernandez, said the scholarships were simultaneously awarded to the 500 senior high school graduates nationwide.

“Most of this year’s chosen scholars, who belong to the first batch of K to 12 graduates, are children of vendors, tricycle drivers, jeepney drivers, farmers, fishermen, laborers or unemployed parents,” the statement said.

It said that of the total recipients of the scholarship grants, 200 students are from the National Capital Region, and 300 are from the provinces, including nine from Palawan.

“These scholars all passed the screening process that involved a written examination, a face-to-face interview, and background validation. Most of them graduated with high honors,” the SM statement said.

Each scholar will enjoy full tuition and miscellaneous fees, monthly allowances, activities that will develop their character, and opportunities to work at The SM Store during their summer and Christmas breaks.

“(The) awarding of SM Scholarships, a gift from SM thru the SM Foundation, is a testament to our commitment to uplift the lives of our surrounding communities. Mr. Henry Sy Sr., our founder strongly believes that poverty should never be a hindrance to good education,” said in the statement released by Maidja Saliente, mall manager of SM City Puerto Princesa.

The SM College Scholarship program started with the vision of SM patriarch, Henry Sy Sr., to send one child from a less fortunate family to college. After graduation, this child should send one sibling to school and should be able to provide a better future for the family.

Starting with only 100 scholars in 1993, the SM Scholarship Program has produced 3,000 graduates to date.

Now on its 25th year, the Foundation continues to provide poor but deserving students a chance for a better future through higher education. Currently, there are 1,000 SM Scholars enrolled in the Foundation’s 110 partner colleges and universities nationwide.

Agri chief wants farmers to be financially literate


NARRA, Palawan -- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has instructed the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to develop a module that would prepare farmers and fishers in the efficient management of their finances.

The Financial Literacy program, to be undertaken by the ATI with the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), will educate farmers, fishers, livestock raisers, vegetable growers, and other agricultural stakeholders in organizing their budgetary operations to allow them to spend for their projects wisely and earn a higher income.

The Secretary’s order forms part of the master plan to maintain the high repayment success rate of the loan programs launched by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the ACPC.

The agriculture chief mentioned that farmers who had availed of financial aid under the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) credit facility during its launch in Malimono, Surigao del Norte on June 23 last year have already paid their dues even before the maturity date of their loans.

“We want other farmers to follow suit,” Piñol said during the Biyaheng Bukid in Narra, Palawan on Thursday.

With advance payments made, the PHP15 million lent by DA earned PHP900,000 in interest, which the government will make available for other farmers and fishers to enhance their production.

Piñol added the vegetable farmers in the Cordillera region were also able to repay 100 percent of their loans last December. The current repayment success of DA loans is posted at 96 percent.

“The government has money to lend to you, but we need assurance that you will pay your dues so that others may benefit as well,” Piñol told the farmers.

He cited that the ACPC, to date, has PHP400 million in credit funds available under the Farm Equipment and Postharvest Facility Loan Program.

The credit facility is available to farmers’ and fishers’ associations and cooperatives at 2 percent interest, payable in eight years, without collateral.

“We encourage you to avail of this program and be service providers, so you can earn additional income from other farm production activities,” he said.

While in Narra, Piñol distributed PHP25,286,700 worth of assistance in the form of agricultural equipment, hybrid rice seeds, vegetable seeds, cacao seedlings, fertilizer, and other farm inputs.

He also awarded fishery livelihood assistance to fisherfolk groups of Narra, San Vicente, Magsaysay, and El Nido amounting to PHP7 million.

The municipality of El Nido also received an additional PHP2 million worth of Fisheries Livelihood Project from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources as part of its reward for being one of the 100 towns to immediately complete its Municipal Fishing Vessels and Gears Registration or BoatR.

‘Sikad Palawan’ bike tour to highlight Viva Europa 2018

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Viva Europa 2018, which is showcasing Europe's culture and heritage this month in Palawan, will highlight the event on April 27 with a bike tour in northern Palawan that will be joined by all European Union (EU) and member-state ambassadors.

The Provincial Information Office (PIO) under information officer Gil Acosta Jr. said in a release Thursday that the bike tour, dubbed “Sikad Palawan,” wishes to promote bicycling as an “illustration of a healthy and climate-friendly lifestyle.”

The envoys will go on a bike tour from El Nido through the municipalities of Taytay and Roxas, and finally, to Puerto Princesa, spanning 200 kilometers from April 27-28, 2018.

Alongside the bike tour, the diplomats will reportedly meet with local communities and representatives of the business sector in Palawan.

The ambassadors in the EU delegation to the Philippines who will join the bike tour are Ambassadors Franz Jessen of EU and his family, Michel Goffin of Belgium and his family, Gordon Kricke of Germany; and the Charge d' Affaires of the Embassy of France, Laurent Legodec and of the Embassy of Romania, Mihai Sion.

"Sikad Palawan" is considered as an offshoot of the Padyak Para sa Kalikasan (Bike for Nature), a yearly bike tour to Irawan watershed in Puerto Princesa held at the sides of the Cine Europa.

Last year Jessen with other ambassadors of EU member-states signed a manifesto of support to the provincial government of Palawan in raising environmental awareness.

Palawan dads support Marines bid as new AFP branch of service

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A provincial board member here has expressed support to a pending bill that seeks to separate the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) from its Philippine Navy (PN) mother unit into a separate armed service.

Board Member Sharon Abiog-Onda said Tuesday in interviews with the media that they are supporting the separation of the PMC under proposed House Bill No. 7304 to enhance the country’ security position, as well as Palawan’s.

“If they are under the Navy, orders will come from there. Unlike if they are already a separate armed service, then orders will come from their own hierarchy, which means their disposal would be fast,” she said.

Onda, the main proponent of a resolution supporting the bill at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, added that their support is also in recognition of the sacrifices of the Marines who help maintain Palawan’s security, and peace and order, and who are partners in development, especially in the countryside.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the resolution supporting House Bill No. 7304 during Tuesday’s session on its first and final reading.

Onda said the Marines have not only been helpful in providing security to the Palaweños but are also there whenever calamities strike the province, ready to provide help to community residents in rural areas.

“In Palawan, most of the Marines assigned here want this too, and this is based on their request,” she said, saying it would have stronger representation in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

She added the Sangguniang Panlalawigan appreciates too, the fact that Marine troops are sacrificing their lives to take care of the West Philippines Sea in the municipality of Kalayaan.

Their selfless sacrifice has gained the support of the people of the province, she said.

“Each time we deploy the Marines in harm’s way, we hear no complaints and no qualms whether they have limited capabilities or otherwise. We hope this resolution we have passed will help the Marines in achieving its goal,” she said.

Puerto Princesa schools urged to hold info drive on depression

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A city councilor has urged all public and private high schools, colleges and universities here Monday to conduct massive information and education campaign on depression and address it as a serious health issue affecting students.

City Councilor Nesario Awat made the request in his proposed resolution, appealing to these learning institutions to work closely with the City Health Office (CHO).

Awat’s proposed measure cited the case of a young female student who reportedly chose to end her life due to depression.

“Someone already died. It’s like it's getting to be a trend among students… because of depression, they commit suicide. Each life is important, it is a big thing if school authorities help in coming up with a campaign about it,” he said.

According to his resolution, depression is a common and serious medical illness negatively affecting how a person feels, thinks, and acts.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO)-Philippines' 2017 global statistics, more than 300 million people are battling depression, an increase of more than 18 percent in a decade, between 2005 and 2015.

In the country alone, an estimated 3.2 million people are living with depression, while over 3.07 million are affected by anxiety.

He said the common causes of depression among students are issues and problems about their studies, which make them vulnerable to depression and could lead to suicide.

“Some lose their interest in their studies, and they get depressed because their grades are low, right? The second is they have financial problems, and third, their parents also become their problem. Sometimes, it’s love life, and the fifth, is the problem in their community,” he said.

Awat said he is looking forward to the response and immediate action of the schools and to the success of the process of planning and carrying out of the resolution.

4Ps beneficiaries in Mimaropa to receive grants by May

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Mimaropa is set to pay the cash grants for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, whose mode of payment is through partner conduits in May 2018.

This includes cash grants under Period 6 (January 2018) and the PHP2,400 (PHP200 per month) grants under the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT), said a statement released by Maria Alyssa Esguerra of DSWD MImaropa.

“The December 2017 cash grants will not be included in the scheduled payout due to insufficient funds because of increased compliance. Additional funds are now being requested from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” the statement disclosed.

Palawan 4Ps beneficiaries are among those who will receive their conditional cash grants.

The UCT program covers all beneficiaries who are active and was able to claim for Period 4 (August to September 2017). A total of 182,220 beneficiaries under the Regular Conditional Cash Transfer (RCCT) and Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) without cash cards, will be able to receive the UCT grants on the scheduled payout.

Meanwhile, only 176,702 beneficiaries compliant with the program’s conditions for January 2018 will receive their grants for the said month.

The synchronization arrangement for the payout for the regular cash transfer of the 4Ps and 2018 UCT has caused the delayed payment through OTC transactions.

DSWD Field Office MIMAROPA has already paid 15,382 Pantawid households with cash cards last March 2018 covering Period 6 and UCCT grants.

The UCT is a component of the national government's Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) program that aims to assist indigent Filipinos, who will be affected by rising prices because of the implementation of the new tax reform program.

As stipulated in the TRAIN Act, DSWD will implement the UCT scheme for three years. It will release PHP2,400 in 2018 and a total of PHP3,600 (PHP300 per month) in 2019 and in 2020.

About PHP24 billion has been earmarked for the 2018 UCT implementation in the FY 2018 GAA.

The statement further said that included in the 10 million UCT beneficiaries are three million indigent senior citizens nationwide, who are also beneficiaries of the Social Pension Program (SPP) being implemented with the help of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and Special Disbursing Officers (SDOs).

The remaining 2.6 million households nationwide will be selected from the Listahanan or National Household Targeting System (NHTS-PR), which will go through validation. In MIMAROPA, there are 92,790 target households to be validated.

Hybrid energy project breaks ground Tuesday in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Sabang Renewable Energy Corporation (SREC) will break ground in Palawan its first hybrid power plant with a micro-grid to provide power to Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan on Tuesday.

The hybrid power plant consists of a 1.4-megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaics (PV) with a 2.3-megawatt (MW) battery storage system; and 1.2-MW diesel generators to power 14 circuit kilometer of distribution facility.

“The solar PV/battery system enables SREC to provide an average of 50 percent of clean energy to the grid,” Walden Tantuico, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the SREC and Gigawatt Power, said in a statement.

SREC, a Department of Energy (DOE)-registered renewable energy (RE) developer composed of WEnergy Global, Gigawatt Power Inc. and Vivant Corporation, aims to provide households and businesses in Cabayugan with 24/7 electricity.

Due to the project’s renewable (RE) component, the Philippine government may expect to realize savings on subsidies for rural electrification between PHP298 million (USD 5.7 million) and PHP527 million (USD 10 million) over 20 years compared with a full diesel operated plant.

The solar and batteries of the hybrid system reduce diesel consumption and make the cost less dependent on volatilities in the price of oil.

Such savings will enable the government to accelerate its rural electrification program while promoting RE.

SREC’s hybrid power generation technology will not only provide round the clock electricity but will also avoid about 25,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions over a 20-year lifetime.

The total carbon avoided can be compared to saving about 9.1 million liters of gasoline, or 7,136 hectares of carbon sequestering forests.

“This is an important contribution to green growth development and the fight against climate change,” said Atem Ramsundersingh, director of the SREC and CEO of WEnergy Global.

Only a few households and tourism-related establishments in Cabayugan have electricity, with supply lasting for about three to six hours from small diesel generators.

Cabayugan hosts the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The SREC project will power over 650 residential, public and commercial establishments with uninterrupted power supply.

The project is expected to be operational in 2019 and will be operated by SREC under an Energy Regulatory Commission-approved Qualified Third Party (QTP) agreement with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO).

As QTP, SREC is authorized to generate and distribute electricity in Barangay Cabayugan, which has been waived from PALECO’s franchise area.

“SREC’s investment and operations will provide a catalyst to greater business and economic activity in the region. Beyond an increase in tourism investments and arrivals, the electricity infrastructure will spur the creation of more enterprises to improve the standard of living of Palawenos,” said Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron.

The Sabang project will also serve as a model for other clean energy projects in Palawan to protect the island paradise’s ecosystem and promote sustainable development.

Palawan steps up campaign vs. single-use plastic straws

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The campaign against single-use plastic straws in Palawan under the “Skip-the-Straw” (StS) project has gained additional support on Saturday after eight restaurant establishments agreed to stop offering plastic straws to customers.

The signing of the agreement was led by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock, Inc. (JCIPPPI or Peacock Jaycees) at SM City Puerto Princesa.

“Our goal in the chapter is to protect our marine life, especially the sea turtles that think of them as food. We wish to encourage restaurant establishments, eateries, and even hotels, to help clean the oceans by no longer offering single-use plastic straws to their clients,” Peacock Jaycees president Zahren Vila Magrata said.

The MOA was signed by the PCSD with Hibiscus Garden Inn, Campsite by Kusina ni Tito Ernie’s, Tatang’s Boneless Lechon, Coco Garden Café, Crenzo’s Canteen and Catering Services, Sabie Bakes Café, Divine Sweets Cafe and Bakery, and Ancient Dynasty Kitchen.

Jessaids Daquer, former president of the organization, said the eight establishments that signed the agreement bring the number of restaurants, which agreed to skip using plastic straws, to 26.

“We have brought the campaign outside of Palawan to Mindanao under the Life Below Water and the Clean Water for Community projects of the JCI region and national offices, where local chapters are now encouraging restaurant owners not to use plastic straws and instead bring their own mugs or tumblers,” she said.

Daquer said the StS was initiated in Palawan under a partnership project with PCSD under her term as president of the Peacock Jaycees.

PCSD’s Atty. Adelina Villena said the collaboration with the Peacock Jaycees is “very important” in the pursuit of reducing plastic pollution in the ocean.

“Of course, this is really very important to us. We are thankful for the social responsibility of our partners, which addresses the future of our sea turtles. We have been fighting against the destruction of our environment in Palawan, and these plastic straws do not only affect our sea turtles but other marine wildlife as well,” she said.

For her part, Siobe Yu of the Ancient Dynasty Kitchen, said her goal to use less plastic has pushed her to regularly ask servers to skip straws in her drinks.

“The goal of the Skip-the-Straw is very admirable, which is to protect the environment. I think for our business, it is good to join and implement this to protect the sea turtles and other marine wildlife,” she said.

The MOA signing was done in celebration of the JCI Week, a weeklong activity simultaneously adopted by all chapters of JCI Philippines.

This year, the festivities ran from April 15 to 21, 2018 chaired by Peacock Jaycees executive vice president Mabelle Castro.

Sustainability mapping sought for Palawan seaweed industry

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Palawan’s Livelihood Project Management Unit (LPMU) has requested the Department of Agriculture (DA) to conduct a sustainability mapping to determine which part of the province would be appropriate for seaweed production.

Dr. Myrna Lacanilao, head of the LMPU, said Friday the sustainability mapping aims to determine the most suitable shoreline area where seaweeds can be farmed to provide Palaweños an alternative livelihood.

The DA’s National Fisheries Research and Development Institute has been asked to conduct the mapping.

“The salinity of water and everything about seaweeds and production should be mapped because we saw that it works. This time, we will do it scientifically. In the past when there are seaweeds, growers just plant without basis if their area is apt for farming and production,” she said.

She cited the case of Barangay Isumbo, Sofronio Española, where good quality seaweeds are being harvested by farmers.

Lacanilao added that Palawan produces 98 percent of the Mimaropa region’s seaweed production.

“The mapping might start in June in the shorelines of Palawan starting from the municipality of Taytay in the northern area,” she said.

The seaweed propagules that the province are growing come from the nurseries located in the municipalities of Taytay, El Nido, and Araceli, which in turn source them from the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center based in Iloilo.

At present, the number of individuals who have benefited from the Seaweeds Industry Development Program has reached 15,000 individuals since it began in 2015.

Lacanilao said she believes the seaweed industry will bring economic development to Palawan and uplift the lives of many of its residents.

Pangolin habitats in Palawan to be studied

By Celeste Anna Formoso (With reports from Keith Anthony Fabro/PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A study of the habitats of the critically endangered pangolin (balintong) is set to be conducted by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) for declaration as conservation territories.

This developed following last month’s launch of the pangolin conservation project among the PCSD, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other stakeholders in Palawan.

PCSD zoologist Levita Lagrada said the proposed declaration of critical habitats would help focus all protection and conservation efforts to save the scaly anteaters from poaching and other trafficking abuses.

“We have to study and identify their population strongholds in the province to be able to better protect them,” she said in an interview on Thursday.

Once declared as conservation habitats, a management body will be created to implement the management plan for the pangolin habitats, she said.

The PCSD and USAID-funded “Protect Wildlife” project will undertake the study sometime this May or June across Palawan, she said.

“From its output, we could already tell where the priority areas for protection are,” she said. The Palawan or Philippine pangolin is among eight species indigenous to Asia and Africa, and inhabiting the province’s islands.

She said declaring their homes as critical habitats could save their population from dwindling and avoid species loss.

“Those who will do the prohibited acts inside these critical habitats can be held liable,” she added, saying their establishment is contained in a 25-year strategy to safeguard the pangolins.

The PCSD will work alongside indigenous groups and key law enforcement agencies and experts from the Zoological Society of London - Philippines, International Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission’s Pangolin Specialist Group, and the Katala Foundation, Inc.

Aside from improving law enforcement on poaching, part of the strategy is to also engage the communities to increase local stewardship and protection efforts.

“We have to train the communities so they can help in wildlife law enforcement,” she added.

Malaysian minister says Kudat-Palawan RoRo to create more jobs

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- State Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang of Malaysia expressed optimism Wednesday that the roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ferry link between Kudat and Palawan will create more job opportunities for the residents of both territories.

In an interview by Malaysian paper New Straits Times writer Norasikin Daineh on the ferry service that is waiting to operate any month this year, Teo was quoted as saying that he had contacted the Palawan government regarding the confirmation of the ferry service, whose maiden voyage had been canceled for several times since late last year.

He said one of his visions is to make Kudat to be Palawan’s entry point north of Sabah under the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“The ferry service that connects both regions will change the town at the end of the road or the tip of Borneo into the route for daily import and export activities,” the New Strait Times quoted him.

The special tasks minister said the RoRo ferry service link would “definitely stimulate economic development and create more employment and entrepreneurship in Kudat.”

Also an assemblyman of Tanjong Kapor, a town in Malaysia, Teo said it “took years to plan the (ferry) service, get an allocation from the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department to construct the ramp at the jetty.”

Alongside these, there were also various meetings held to resolve technical issues and obtain support from numerous departments and agencies both in Malaysia and the Philippines.

“Sabah government has agreed to the ferry service subject to existing laws and regulations. Unfortunately, the other side only has a domestic license when it was compulsory to own an international license for this sector, which the Transport Ministry could not disregard,” he was further quoted.

Teo said that for this, he has contacted the Palawan government “to check on its commitment towards this goal.”

“I am confident they can propose a ferry ship service with an international license. The ferry service will be a reality soon,” he told the New Straits Times, stating that the RM8-million (about PHP107 million) ramp is a project that will not go to waste.

Earlier, Palawan provincial information officer Gil Acosta Jr. assured that the ferry service will pursue but is just awaiting the completion of several required documents. Its launching was interrupted several times due to a weather disturbance.

El Nido LGU donates lot for fire station building

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A 500-square-meter property was donated by the municipal government of El Nido to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Palawan province for the construction of a fire station building.

Senior Fire Officer 4 Arturo Pablico of the BFP said Tuesday the donated lot, located in Barangay Villa Libertad, is a big help in carrying out the plan to build a facility that would house El Nido’s fire engines and other equipment.

“We are thankful that there is now a place where we can put up the fire station building, and there is already a deed of donation from the local government unit (LGU) of El Nido,” Pablico said.

The fire station will be built using a PHP7.5-million fund from the BFP.

“Our higher office will allocate a budget to construct the building for our fire station in El Nido. The design is standard and the same in other municipalities in the province,” Pablico said in an interview.

The BFP, which holds office at the second floor of the municipal building hall, is only equipped with one fire truck and one tanker truck.

As a prime tourist destination in Palawan, Pablico said it is imperative for El Nido to have its own municipal fire station.

Summer 2018: Why this El Nido property doesn't use straws, cups

By Angelo G. Garcia

EL NIDO -- Ayala Land's Lio Beach tourism estate in El Nido, Palawan kicked off summer in grand fashion.

A one-day beach festival was held, with several activities headlining the celebration like a food and local products market, big board games on the beach, and interactive wildlife storytelling, among others. The festival ended with a free concert featuring local Palawan artists and UDD, formerly known as Up Dharma Down.

The celebration can be compared to beach festivals and concerts in Boracay, but Lio Beach is far from the current state of the troubled island paradise.

Boracay can actually learn a thing or two from Lio Beach about responsible and sustainable tourism.

The tourism estate covers more than 300 hectares of land in El Nido, just a few steps away from the airport and a 30-minute drive from the town proper. It is operated by the Ayala Land-acquired Ten Knots Philippines, Inc., which also operates the luxury El Nido Resorts group.

Lio Beach is the first large-scale tourism estate development by Ayala Group and the company's flagship tourism township project. The company has already put up four resort/hotels namely Casa Kalaw, Hotel Covo, Balai Adlao, and El Nido Cove, and another currently in construction, Seda Hotel. There are also several commercial businesses in the main beach property like restaurants including Seafood Island and Manille Beach Bar.

The property also built Kalye Artisano, a commercial and activity space for local artists. It houses a few stores featuring products of Palawan and from other parts of the country.

It looks like any other tourism destination but guests would immediately notice something different.


The hotels and the businesses in the estate do not use plastic like single-use straws and cups. Instead of complimentary water bottles, the hotels provide a jug of filtered water in rooms. The structures are far away from the beach and the main mode of transportation are electric vehicles.

The property is literally very green, with trees everywhere. The developer built a viaduct around trees as one of the main access roads to the beach. It employs proper solid waste management, operating their own materials recovery facility.

Although electricity is not from a renewable source, renewable energy is already in the planning stages.

“When you talk about sustainability, in the context of Lio for example, it's not just something the group came up with or because it sounded nice at that moment. It's a continuation of a long-term commitment to developing responsibly -- in this case, developing extra responsibly because they are going into a place that has been long known for its very special natural features,” explained Lio Beach director of environment and sustainability Mariglo Laririt.

She further said that the sustainability efforts in El Nido have long been an advocacy of Ten Knots, which complements Ayala Land's vision of responsible development.

“Even before sustainability was used in a manner that it is used today, Ten Knots has shown that being environmentally responsible and taking care of the community is good for business. That's important because not all businesses think that way. The company comes from a long history of island resorts management, done in a sustainable manner. And then there's the Ayala, which follows a very strict standard in development and very strong corporate governance. It's continuing a tradition of sustainability,” she said.


El Nido is located in Northern Palawan, an island that is known to be the Philippines' “Last Frontier.” But the recent government crackdown on tourism destinations like Palawan revealed that El Nido also has a problem.

El Nido is known for its natural beauty, from white sand beaches to hidden lagoons to limestone karsts. The small town welcomes thousands of tourist every year.

Before building Lio Beach, which opened last year, Ayala Land made sure that they are not hurting the environment.

“Even before starting to build, a lot of studies were conducted. Even before the land development phase, there were biodiversity studies, coastal dynamics, flood studies, etc., the works. We know that we have to get to know the nature first so we know what we're dealing with,” said Jamie Dichaves, sustainability officer of Lio Beach.

In the property they found one of the last remaining littoral forests or forests located near the shoreline. Wildlife still thrive in the area like the Palawan hornbill, peacock peasant, civet, pangolin, and many more. The waters of Lio Beach also have several reefs and the beach itself are nesting grounds for sea turtles.

Ayala Land still has a lot of developments planned for the property like more hotels, commercial areas, residential buildings, and other expansion projects by other developers. However, all plans are carefully studied and must abide by environmental laws. In fact, Ayala Land is not building and not allowing developers to build structures higher than coconut trees. And they already dedicated 80 hectares of land to forests.


“For the forest in general, we are part of Ayala's carbon neutrality program. In that program, it says that the whole of Ayala is striving to be carbon neutral by 2030. So part of that program is to account for all the forest of the different Ayala properties in the Philippines,” Dichaves shared.

“For Lio in particular, we have dedicated 80 hectares of the 325 hectares as carbon forest meaning, nothing will be built there. But then it doesn't mean that the remaining land will be dedicated to structures. Each lot has a building limit of 60 percent maximum land occupation,” she added.

They also make sure that everyone in the property, from business owners to employees to guests, take part in its green advocacy.

“I think the no plastic straws and cups rule makes us head and shoulders above similar establishments, not just the country but all over the world. We were able to get the cooperation of everybody here. And that's so important for people who are thinking. There are many stakeholders in this case, one is if you're an investor, and you want to do something right, when do you do it? You do it as early as possible,” Laririt said.

Joint venture sewage plant project eyed in Puerto Princesa

By Keith Anthony Fabro (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The city government here is likely to enter into a joint venture agreement with a private company for a sewage treatment plant that would put a halt to the disposal of domestic wastewater into Puerto Princesa Bay.

The city government is discussing the project after it received a proposal from a private company that would help address the wastewater problem here, city administration and legal officer Arnel Pedrosa said Thursday.

Pedrosa said the proposal is in read-through status and is being checked if suitable under the city’s joint venture agreement ordinance.

“We are deliberating on it, but we have yet to give recommendations. We will release it in due time and the public will know,” he said, declining to disclose other details, even the name of the private company.

Pedrosa said the foul-smelling water in the bay due to wastewater from homes and business establishments is undeniable.

“You can’t really hide the fact that Puerto Princesa bay is a bit polluted,” he said, adding that measures being done to get rid of the unwanted smell are only temporary.

However, he did not say the measures being carried out to eliminate the foul smell.

Pedrosa said what Mayor Lucilo Bayron wants is a permanent solution for the bay that has become a well-known seaside promenade for foreign and domestic visitors.

DoE signs contract for Philippine's first waste-to-energy project

(Manila Standard)

Faced with a high cost, unreliable, and 100 percent-fossil-fuel-dependent electricity and the rapid growth of waste as population, tourism and development growth in his city, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron decided to pursue a novel and sustainable solid waste management system that converts waste to energy, thereby solving two problems at the same time.

Solid waste management and power generation used to be concerns that were poles apart and completely unrelated, but because of innovative technology, they had become interconnected.

Adopting the Westinghouse thermalgasification technology that is already in use in Japan and in many European countries, Austworks Corp., in joint venture with the City Government of Puerto Princesa, will be putting up a P2.1-billion waste-to-energy plant at the city’s Sta. Lourdes Sanitary Landfill.

Using the city’s 110 MT/day municipal waste as feedstock, the plant will generate some 5.5 MW electricity. The generating capacity will increase as the volume of the city’s solid waste increases.

Austworks will cap the existing sanitary landfill once the project becomes operational and will add on a methane harvesting facility to capture the methane gas inherent in landfills, thereby preventing it from polluting the atmosphere, and generate additional power as well.

“Doing away with the need to construct another expensive sanitary landfill; earning unexpected income of up to P20M/year as its share from project revenue;the city will save P40M annually which is its budget allocation for solid waste collectionsince Austworks will do the actual waste collection themselves; and unlike most renewable energies that are intermittent, this project will provide the first base-load renewable energy in the province that is very much competitive in terms of reliability, sustainability and low- generation cost—these are the benefits that Puerto Princesa stands to gain from this trailblazing technology,” Mayor Bayron said.

After full and faithful compliance with City Ordinance No. 702,“An Ordinance Pursuing A Joint Venture (JV) Approach Towards Development, Providing For The Procedure In Selecting The JV Private Sector Partner And Regulation Of The JV Activity, And Instituting Accountability Mechanism,” the City Government and Austworks Corporation signed on August 2016 a Joint Venture Agreement for the waste-to-energy project.

The project then got a Certificate of Approval from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD); Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); and an Endorsement of the selected technology from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Based on its JVA with the City Government, Austworks will start preparation of the Detailed Engineering and Design (DED) within thirty (30) calendar days from the signing of the DOE Operating Contract. Construction shall commence within fifteen (15) calendar days from approval of the DED by the Department of Energy.

“We were inspired to pursue this project by no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself who endorsed this waste-to-energy project as aninnovative mode of solid waste disposalin his first State of the Nation Address. And we are very thankful to DOE Secretary Cusi for having facilitated and signed the necessary Operating Contract,” Mayor Bayronadded.

Secretary Cusi congratulated Mayor Bayron for having pioneered in his city the country’s first thermal gasification waste-to-energy project. “The entire country should benefit from this new technology,” Cusi said.

Coffee production prospects seen in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Seeing the need to explore the province’s coffee production potentials, the Palawan government has recently created a council to lead the management and implementation of programs and projects to promote coffee as its top agricultural crop.

The creation of Provincial Coffee Councils (PCC) is mandated by the national government to help in the development of coffee farming and production in the provinces, and for farmers to be able to access interventions provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“There is a need for provinces to create a PCC for interventions we can gain access through and avail from the DA,” Romeo Biobe Palao, High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) provincial coordinator of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), said Saturday.

Based on initial estimates by the OPA this year, Palawan has 576 hectares of land being planted with different varieties of coffee, generating an average yield of 0.17 metric tons.

Palao said that of the total land areas, 158 hectares are planted with robusta and 414 hectares with the liberica variety.

“That is just the initial that is why we need to do benchmarking. Let us go to the municipalities and see where else are we planting coffee,” he said.

He said there is a need to focus on helping coffee growers in Palawan in terms of educating them on the proper planting of the bean tree to ensure increase in harvests.

At present, the Philippines has a national average production of 500 kilos per hectare of coffee. Palawan’s yield is 100 kilos per hectare.

Meanwhile, during its first consultative meeting on April 5, the members of the council learned that problems besetting coffee growers include seeds sourcing, pest and diseases, fertilizers, land suitability and environment, proper cultural management, post-harvest management, harvesting, packaging, and marketing.

Jane Buenaobra, officer-in-charge of the OPA, said one of the solutions that may solve the seeds sourcing problem is to have a mother plant garden that would supply the seedling and rooted cuttings requirements of coffee growers and farmers.

On the other hand, Board Member Albert Rama, the chairman of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said agricultural development, technology, financing, facilities and types of machinery, and infrastructure should also be given consideration in the development of Palawan’s coffee industry.

“When it comes to coffee, the moment we launch any program, we also need to identify the areas, what types of facilities we have or we need, what infrastructure projects should be established to support its growth,” he stated.

He said the provincial government fully supports agro and tourism development to reduce the province’s poverty index from 57 percent to 25 percent, and potential coffee growers should take advantage of it.

The council is chaired by Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez with the DA-Mimaropa as co-chairperson.

It is also composed of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Cooperative Development Office, Western Philippine University, League of Municipal Agriculturists, Agricultural Credit Policy Council, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Coconut Authority, National Commission of Indigenous People, Sangguniang Panlalawigan-Committee on Agriculture, Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, Landbank of the Philippines and the Caramay Coffee Planters MPC.

Displaced workers in Palawan undergo labor orientation

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Some 3,300 people in seven municipalities in Palawan who lost their jobs due to typhoons in December last year are undergoing labor orientation to help them find work.

“This is to support Palaweños who lost their jobs due to typhoons in December 2017. We requested the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) to provide funds for this and more than PHP10 million was approved,” program manager of the provincial Public Employment Services Office (PESO), Richard Rebote, said Wednesday.

Rebote said the 3,300 are beneficiaries of the “Tulong panghanap-buhay Para sa Ating Displaced workers” (TUPAD) initiated by DOLE, in partnership with the provincial government of Palawan.

He said the labor orientation began on April 3 in three southern Palawan towns, and will be held in Aborlan, Narra, and Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, and Quezon and Rizal until April 5.

Rebote said the beneficiaries of TUPAD in the province were identified by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office to ensure they were directly affected by tropical disturbances Vinta, Urduja and Agaton.

After the orientation, he said the TUPAD beneficiaries may either work as road and canal cleaners, tree planters, repairmen of public facilities, and other jobs beneficial to communities.

They will be paid PHP300 per day or PHP3,000 for 10 days under the cash-for-work program this month.

“Through this, we will be able to help the families of the displaced workers, who were also victims of calamities until they are able to return to their normal lives,” Rebote said.

DENR won't extend demolition deadline in El Nido shoreline

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro (

PALAWAN, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Wednesday, April 4, rejected the request of El Nido coastal easement violators to extend until the end of peak season the deadline to self-demolish illegally built structures.

DENR Mimaropa Director Natividad Bernardino said the 32 business establishment owners only have until April 11 to remove their structures built on the 3-meter coastal easement zone.

"We have no choice but to enforce the law. They will be forcibly demolished after the April 11 deadline if they don't start self-demolition now," she said in a text message.

Affected members of the Cottages, Resorts, and Restaurants Association of El Nido (CRRAEN) on Monday, April 2 held a dialogue with local environment officials to discuss concerns about their imminent eviction, in compliance with the easement provision of the Philippines' Water Code.

"We're asking to allow us to begin the demolition mid-July because most of us have already received booking reservations until end of June 2018, which is part of the peak tourism season," CRRAEN president Henri Fernandez said.

DENR Mimaropa on March 12 had served eviction notices to commercial establishments along the beach facing Bacuit Bay. They were given 30 days to dismantle and vacate the area.

Fernandez admitted the abrupt implementation has caught them by surprise, noting that before the crackdown in Boracay happened, the municipal government and the DENR's Protected Area Management Board already agreed for a "3 to 5 years' phase-out period for us to recover our hard-earned investments."

"Whatever revenue to be generated until the requested extension period is much needed, as part of it will be used in the demolition of structures that encroach the easement area," he said.

Eviction notices

But the DENR regional office has remained firm in its decision, saying the El Nido Task Force will oversee the dismantling demolitions in the coming days.

"The members of the task force will supervise the demolition of each and every establishment and determine how long each one will take to finish the demolition," Bernardino said.

She added that in the next two days, the task force will be serving eviction notices to around 300 occupants of timberland-classified areas, including more than 50 hotels and restaurants along the shoreline of Barangay Corong-Corong.

"If they are on the [prescribed 40-meter] salvage zone [for timberland], they need to move out; if not, we will respect the titles issued [to them] prior to the land classification map of 1941," she said.

Bernardino said everyone will be issued notices, but they will also be asked to produce evidence that will prove their occupation of the timberland areas is lawful.

"If they [are able to] produce titles, we will scrutinize each title and determine applicability of the law," she added.

Reversion cases to be filed

Meanwhile, the DENR said on Thursday morning said it will file reversion cases before the court to cancel the land titles issued by erring local environment officials to nearly 40 business establishments occupying forestland in El Nido.

These land titles certifying the lots as alienable and disposable are "ab ibnitio or void from the start" since they have been designated as timberland in the 1935 DENR land classification map.

"We will need to file reversion cases in the court to cancel those titles," DENR regional director Natividad Bernardino said in a text message.

Bernardino, however, reiterated her previous statement that they will respect the titles issued prior to the land classification map, such as those issued as early as 1920s during the American regime.

She said they will ask the Office of the Solicitor General to file the cases in court for the DENR regional office.

"It takes years [to get the court decision] because we have to do the reversion case per individual title or lot," she added. "Usually, DENR wins especially for patents or OCTs (owner certificate of titles) issued by DENR itself."

Based on initial count, she said less than half of around 80 establishments in portions deemed as timberland along the shoreline of Barangay Corong-Corong have spuriously secured titles.

Cases vs DENR personnel

"We will fast-track everything as soon as they show us their titles," Bernardino said, when asked about the timeline of scrutinizing the titles and eventually filing the reversion cases.

Under the Philippine Water Code, a 40-meter coastal easement zone has to be observed in forestland-classified area. Those found on this no-build zone have been ordered to self-demolish within 30 days upon receipt Friday.

Bernardino also said that her office will also make the erring local environment officials liable for the unlawful issuance of such land titles despite the existing land classification.

"We will file cases against DENR personnel responsible for illegally issuing titles and certifying timberland as A and D (alienable and disposable). Some [of them] are already retired but others are still in active service," she said.

Her office will ask for help from the anti-fake titling task force of DENR Central Office for additional legal staff and logistics to pursue this move.

Bernardino said they "have initially identified more than 2,000 illegally issued titles on timberland" in Palawan, the very reason why titling by DENR in the province has been suspended since 2015.

"Secretary Roy Cimatu fully supports our initiative in El Nido and wants every DENR personnel made accountable for issuing illegal titles and the whole mess created by our own people in El Nido similar to Boracay," she said.

DOT-Mimaropa to conduct visitor surveys in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Mimaropa is set to conduct visitor surveys this month in tourist destinations in this city, in Coron and in El Nido to update their profile details.

Mimaropa stands for Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.

Rutchel Alcantara of the Provincial Tourism Promotions and Development Office (PTPDO) said Wednesday that the activity would focus on doing Accommodation Establishment Visitor Survey, Tourist Attraction Visitor Survey and Departure Points Visitor Survey starting April 9.

“These surveys will help in the planning of tourism activities, projects, and programs to further develop the tourism industry in the province and the region,” she said. The surveys will specifically determine the profiles of visitors, their travel characteristics, and the effects of tourism to the economies of both towns.

“They will help in making plans and programs for tourism. Through these surveys, we will be able to see how they are contributing to local economies. We will get the lengths of stay of the tourists, what their expenses are, and what we call revenue of tourism receipts,” she added.

She said when the surveys have been collated, the DOT Mimaropa and the province would be able to plan appropriate activity programs for the tourists.

“Through the surveys, we will be able to upgrade the services we provide and we will be able to bridge any gap we would see,” Alcantara said.

In Puerto Princesa, surveys will be carried out in the Underground River in Barangay Cabayugan; Honda Bay in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, and Crocodile Farm in Barangay Irawan.

In El Nido, in Bacuit Bay and Nacpan Beach; and in Kayangan Lake, Coron Island, and Maquinit Hotspring in Coron. Departure Points Visitor Survey will be done at the Puerto Princesa International Airport, Lio Airport in El Nido, and Francisco B. Reyes Airport and Coron Seaport in Coron town.

Students of the Palawan State University (PSU) will participate as enumerators.

Tribal chieftains seek closure of lime milk plant in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

BATARAZA, Palawan -- Palawan tribal chieftains in this town are demanding the closure of a state-of-the-art lime milk manufacturing plant for allegedly failing to pay royalty shares and for illegal operation due to the absence of certification precondition (CP) issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

At a media conference Monday at the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC), 27 Pala’wan tribal leaders demanded the NCIP to close down the operation of Unichamp Mineral Philippines Inc. (Unichamp) lime milk processing plant in Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza, for not paying more than PHP3 million in royalty shares, PHP5 million in penalty interest and securing the precondition certificate.

The CP under NCIP Administrative Order No. 3 refers to the certificate issued by the NCIP, signed by its chairperson, attesting to the grant of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) by the concerned indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) or indigenous peoples (IPs).

Artolin Edlap, one of the tribal chieftains and the indigenous peoples’ mandatory representative (IPMR) in the Barangay Council of Rio Tuba, said despite numerous dialogues with Unichamp, it still refused to pay three years-worth of royalty shares.

“Sobra na ang ginagawa nila sa amin, tatlong taon na mahigit silang di nagbabayad ng royalty share at isa pa, wala silang CP galing sa NCIP dapat isara sila dahil iligal ang operasyon (What they are doing to us is too much, they have not paid our royalty shares for more than three years, and they do not have CP from the NCIP, so they should stop operations),” Edlap said.

He said since the last dialogue on February 15, they have not heard from Unichamp plant manager Alvin Trazona, and from its president, Rommel Ibuna.

In the memorandum of agreement (MOA), which they said they signed with Unichamp on October 22, 2011, it is obligated to release their royalty shares and Social Development and Management Programs (SDMP) funds through the Indigenous Peoples Development Office (IPDO) in Bataraza.

“Ang royalty ay nagkakahalaga ng PHP1,000,000 bawat taon at para sa 2015, ang Unichamp ay may balanse ng PHP217,195.52. Walang bayad na natanggap para sa 2016, 2017, at 2018 (The royalty share is worth PHP1,000,000 per year and for 2015, Unichamp already has unpaid balance of PHH217,195.52. Since then, they have not paid for 2016, 2017, and 2018),” he said.

He said Unichamp should cease and desist from operating because of two resolutions they passed withdrawing their previous consent to establish the operation of the lime milk manufacturing facility and ordering it to stop operations.

Dadong Corio, another IP chieftain, said Unichamp’s failure to pay royalty shares has shamed their culture and traditions and has affected the scholarship grants for their children, a carabao purchasing plan for ICC farmers, and other social development projects. They had decided a PHP5-million penalty, an amount not even enough remuneration for the embarrassment they feel having represented the other indigenous peoples in Rio Tuba.

“Sa amin kapag nagkasala ang isang tao, bago siya magbigay ng dapat niyang ibigay, mumultahan muna namin siya bago siya makipag-usap sa aming mga leader. Hanggang sa huli ilalaban namin ito (In our tradition, a person who commits a mistake must be fined first before he/she can speak to our leaders. Until the end, we will fight for this),” he said to explain how the penalty came up.

Meanwhile, Benguet lawyer Alfonso Aroco, who is helping the Pala’wan chieftains, said they will also bring Unichamp to court if it still fails to settle the over PHP8 million in royalty shares and penalties.

“The Supreme Court has a decision about filing cases that says if you want to sue companies like Unichamp, you have to file in the regular court. What we will file is about the violation of the rights of the IPs and then we will add cases which I will not say yet,” he said.

The USD22-million Unichamp, said to be a leading lime milk manufacturer in Asia, has gained a 15-year contract to supply Coral Bay Nickel Corp., a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. of Japan, which operates a nickel mine in Rio Tuba.

The PNA waited for the call of Unichamp plant manager Trazona to comment but as of this posting, no call has been made.

5 Reds in Palawan surrender on NPA anniversary

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Five members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered in Palawan on March 29, the day their comrades were celebrating the armed guerrilla struggle’s 49th founding anniversary.

"We are glad that these five NPA members had decided to surrender and return to the fold of the law. Their surrender is another serious blow to the ranks of communist-terrorism in the province of Palawan," Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan, said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

Briguez did not name the five rebels for fear they would be punished by their comrades, but noted they also yielded their firearms to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 (MBLT-12) under Wescom’s Joint Task Group North.

The surrenderers are now in the custody of the military for validation and documentation, a required process before they could qualify for assistance under the provincial government’s Local Social Integration Program (LSIP), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

The LSIP and the CLIP are amnesty programs offered to rebel returnees as part of the government’s commitment to pursue peace and development amid the stalled peace talks with the communists.

"Their surrender is a clear indicator of their unwillingness to continue with the armed struggle. According to them, their rank is tainted with the corruption of their leaders, fatigue, and disappointments due to unfulfilled promises," the general added.

Briguez called on the other rebels in Palawan to choose peace instead of making their families suffer by continuing to stay with the NPA, which he said has lost its ideology.

"We call on them to put their arms down, surrender and rejoin the society," he said.

DOH-Mimaropa to open new dorm in QC for indigent patients

By Celeste Anna Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Indigent patients in Mimaropa region who need to go to Manila for treatment can soon stay in a new dormitory, which the regional health office will open in Project 4, Quezon City this April.

“All MAIP (Medical Assistance Indigent Patients) of Mimaropa, especially those without relatives to settle with temporarily in Metro Manila, are welcome to stay in the facility while waiting for their scheduled treatment,” Department of Health (DOH) 4-B (Mimaropa) Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said in a press statement issued Saturday morning.

“This will be their temporary abode, that is why we have placed the essential amenities needed for them to be comfortable and secure. It is not just a dormitory per se, but a home away from home,” Janairo said of the new dorm that is located beside the regional health office at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center Compound.

The MAIP dormitory, which has three bedrooms, a receiving area, separate shower rooms for male and female patients, and a spacious kitchen, is being built using PHP1.67 million from the 2018 Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses of the regional health office.

Four MAIP patients from the provinces of Palawan and Oriental Mindoro are currently staying at the regional health office.

“Once this facility is completed, we can accommodate more patients from the provinces, and they will be provided with free board and lodging and other basic needs, including meals and medicines,” Janairo added.

He said it is very important that indigent patients from Mimaropa are provided the assistance and moral support to make them feel that they are not neglected and that the government is always prepared to give them what they need.

Mimaropa covers the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. (PNA)