Palawan News February 2014

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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

Malaysian delegation arrives in Puerto Princesa for business matching

By Vicky S. Mendoza (LBR/VSM/PIA4B/Palawan)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Feb. 28 (PIA) – A delegation from the Federal Territory of Labuan, Malaysia is in town to explore business opportunities through Business Matching activity spearheaded by the Palawan Business Council yesterday.

The Labuan delegation, with 49 members in the team, is headed by Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Haji Isli who is also the Chairman and Administrator of the Malaysian territory.

Business Matching aims to provide insights into existing business situations and culture and to facilitate business partnership by arranging business meetings between the two countries.

The Business Matching was opened by Palawan Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez who welcomed visiting participants and businessmen from Puerto Princesa City and Palawan municipalities.

Addressing local businessmen, the Governor said that they should take advantage of this opportunity being offered to them by government, the available connectivity and the fact that many products in Labuan are cheap.

In a press conference, Datuk Isli said that the delegation is looking at potentials of tourism and trade & investment in agriculture products including livestock.

On tourism, he said that the availability of air connectivity between Sabah and Palawan is an advantage and that both will benefit through tour packages that will showcase the best of the two areas.

He said that due to economic growth in Labuan there is now demand for “Halal” foods like beef, goat meat, chicken, and shortage of hotels, malls and skilled and professional workers.

Nicanor Hernandez, Chairman of theBrunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Palawan Business Council said in the press conference that there are many potentials for partnership but two priorities need to be addressed.

“Food exports to Muslim countries and even slaughtering of livestock for these countries needs Halal certification which we do not have yet,” Hernandez said.

Apart from the need for “Halal” certification system, he said that there is a need for a reliable and sustainable cargo ship to ply the route which has already sparked interest in one shipping company from the Visayas.

“We hope that after this Business Matching we can have something definite about the cargo ship that would carry the goods and other products to Labuan and vice versa and other business ventures,” Hernandez said.

The Palawan trip of the Labuan delegation reciprocates the trade mission conducted by the provincial government officials and Palawan Chamber of Commerce Inc. in November last year.

Philippines Tourism Promotions Board (Booth 3H08)


Many travellers know of Palawan as a great scuba diving destination and beach getaway.

But did you know that Palawan is also home to the Tabon Man dating back 50,000 years? Archeological discoveries, such as stone-age tools that simplified tasks and burial jars proved his understanding of the divine.

These archeological finds aren’t the only things that Palawan is known for. Other terrestrial and marine treasures also call this island home. One of them is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River — a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, the river is found in a cave system that is 24km long.

To experience Palawan, Cebu Pacific Air & Philippines Airlines ply the route between Singapore to Puerto Princesa via Manila, Iloilo and Cebu.

Securing territorial waters core competency of Western Command


MANILA, Feb. 26 (PNA) -- Having the Palawan-based Western Command secure Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is very ideal militarily as securing territorial waters is the unit's "core competency".

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala Tuesday stressed this when asked whether the Western Command will be overextended by this task.

The transfer took place last week.

This was done through the orders of AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

"That is their core competency (securing territorial waters). Remember that the Western Command traditionally is commanded by an Air Force or a Navy officer primarily because of (its) external (defense implications)," he added.

By this, Zagala means that the Western Command is geared towards handling threats from the air and sea.

He also clarified that the decision to transfer Scarborough Shoal from the Northern Luzon Command to the Western Command aims to enhance the "unity of command and assets of the AFP" in terms of external defense capabilities.

"We want to enhance our external defense capabilities and in order to do that it should be commanded by one commander," the AFP public affairs chief stressed.

Zagala stressed that no major upheaval will take place despite Scarborough Shoal being attached to the Western Command areas of responsibility, as the said unit is primarily tasked to defend Philippine territorial waters.

Western Command is tasked to secure Palawan territorial waters and the Western Philippine Sea.

"These are all at sea, if you look at it and the Western Command has the necessary assets (both air and sea) that can address territorial defense and monitoring," he added.

And should there be an immediate need to deploy naval assets to respond to possible incidents in Scarborough Shoal, Zagala said that the Western Command can always use prepositioned naval assets in nearby areas.

NPC spending P154 million for Palawan transmission project

(Manila Bulletin)

State-run National Power Corporation (NPC) will be completing the remaining stretch of the 111-kilometer power transmission line that will connect Puerto Princesa to Roxas, of which project cost had been pegged at P154 million.

The two cities have their electricity supplied via separate grids, but with the proposed interconnection, it is seen that provision of service will improve.

The company said the uncompleted portion of the project was derailed in 2007 “due to right of way issues.” For now though, NPC emphasized that it can already move forward with the bidding for the project as targeted around April this year.

The project will be implemented based on a “re-routed plan” approved by the power firm and the affected land owner because of the area to be traversed by the transmission line.

“The re-routing will require replacing the location of two constructed transmission towers with four pole structures which is estimated at P30 million each,” NPC has noted.

It added that project works will include “stringing, right-of-way clearing, cutting of mangroves and tightening bolts and also replacing pilfered materials.”

NPC president Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita emphasized that the resolution of this particular case may serve as a catalyst in addressing similar roadblocks being encountered in the implementation of the company’s projects.

“We are looking forward into long standoff projects of NPC to come up with acceptable arrangement with parties involved to be able to promote a more reliable supply of electricity to missionary areas,” she said.

Apart from Puerto Princesa and Roxas, the government-run power firm also takes responsibility over the transmission systems of Catanduanes, Marinduque, Masbate, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro.

Under the law, NPC has been given a significant function of electrifying off-grid areas, including those on remote communities.

Environment reps confiscate 11 talking mynah birds, 2 leopard cats in Palawan

By Ruth T. Rodriguez [(PNA), FFC/CARF/RTR/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 24 (PNA) -– A joint team of environment and police authorities confiscated Sunday 11 endangered talking mynah birds and two leopard cats in Barangay Marangas, Bataraza in southern Palawan.

Alex Marcaida, spokesperson of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), the implementing arm of the policy-making body Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), told the Philippine New Agency (PNA) that the leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and the talking mynah birds (Gracula religiosa) were confiscated inside the home of a suspected wildlife trafficker Genesis Palasigue Sunday morning.

Palasigue was said to be preparing the animals for transport in their cages when the joint team swooped down on his home. The suspect fled when he saw the members of the joint apprehending team.

Marcaida said police authorities are now looking for the suspect in the Bataraza area. He is facing charges of violation of Section 27 of Republic Act 9147. An act that provides for the protection and conservation of wildlife resources and their habitats in Palawan.

The confiscated wildlife species are now in the custody of the PCSDS, and being prepared for turnover to the Palawan Wildlife Refuge and Rescue Conservation Center (PWRRCC).

According to Marcaida, the confiscation would not have happened without tip offs from members of the community where Palasigue lives.

PH Resort, among T+L’s best places to travel in 2014

By Jacky Lynne A. Oiga

The Philippines has yet again been recognized as one of the best places for travel in 2014 by Travel + Leisure’s (T+L) US and Southeast Asian editions, an influential travel magazine with a global readership of five million.

Along with 24 other destinations in the world, El Nido Resort’s Pangulasian Island, situated in El Nido, Palawan’s Bacuit Bay, was featured in the magazine along with: Cape Town, South Africa; Uruguay; Warsaw, Poland; Iceland; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Little Corn Island, Nicaragua; Kerala, India; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Texas; Meads Bay, Anguilla; Sochi, Russia; Puerto Escondido, Mexico; Burma; Palermo, Italy; Zimbabwe; California Wine Country, San Francisco; Tetiaroa, French Polynesia; Santa Marta, Colombia; Lombok, Indonesia; Palm Springs, California; Helsinki, Finland; Vihn Hy Bay, Vietnam; Maui, Hawaii; and Dominica, Caribbean.

El Nido Resorts’ Pangulasian Island was recently endorsed as a top destination in 2014 for affluent, frequent travelers by Travel + Leisure’s US and Southeast Asian editions. This development catapults the Philippines into the luxury travel niche and opens opportunities not just for Pangulasian but also for other top resorts that focus on sustainability and authenticity.

Along with 24 other destinations in the world, Pangulasian was featured as one of the Best Places to Travel in 2014. The island resort with 42 villas is in Palawan’s Bacuit Bay, considered one of the world’s last ecological frontiers.

In the “Best Places to Travel in 2014” article, travel writer Peter Jon Lindberg wrote about the Philippine’s private island: “Its thatched-roof villas are just steps from a ribbon of soft white sand. Behind you lies a thrumming canopy of green. And before you is the limpid blue Bacuit Bay, where outriggers ply the glasslike waters. The bay is part of the UNESCO biosphere; swim just 20 yards out and you’ll be floating with turtles and parrot fish above a pristine coral reef.”

Lindberg also mentioned that Pangulasian Island was spared by the recent Typhoon Haiyan and encouraged affluent travelers to spend their dollars in the Philippines as it will greatly help the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, El Nido Resorts director of sales and marketing Joey Bernardino said the positive comments garnered by Pangulasian from influencers in the world of travel are expected to boost Philippine tourism prospects.

“Travel reviews and positive comments catapult the Philippines into the luxury travel niche and opens opportunities for other top resorts that focus on sustainability and authenticity to catch the attention of this special group of travelers,” Bernardino said.

Prior to Pangulasian’s inclusion in the 2014 must-see list, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia also named El Nido as one of two Philippine resorts in its “Best of the Philippines” article. The Philippines was also named one of the top ten destinations by Rough Guides in 2014, one of the 46 places to go by the New York Times in 2013, the Best Tropical Island Destination by the Shanghai Morning Post in 2013, and the Most Romantic Destination by the Shanghai Morning Post in 2013.

Palawan governor asks PNP chief for more policemen

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), CTB/CARF/PJN]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Governor Jose Alvarez personally requested PNP Director General Alan Purisima to supplement the number of policemen serving to maintain Palawan’s peace and order and security concerns.

In his speech Friday at the inauguration of the Provincial Police Office's (PPO) new administration building at Camp Higinio A. Mendoza Sr. here, Alvarez underlined Palawan’s great need for more policemen to serve not only in Puerto Princesa, but in municipalities that are popular as tourism destinations.

At the minimum, around 250 more policemen are needed all over the province’s 23 municipalities sitting on almost 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of irregular coastline.

To this, Purisima replied by saying that this might no longer be a problem soon as the PNP, on orders by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), is set to hire 15,000 non-uniformed personnel nationwide to become clerks so that the policemen can be sent back to the streets to protect the people.

“We will be hiring some 15,000 non-uniformed personnel nationwide, who will soon be taking the places of our clerks in the provincial headquarters and police stations so, that our policemen can go back to the streets,” Purisima said in reply to Alvarez’ request.

“Our crime registrar will be done by a non-uniformed personnel and our recruitment is ongoing,” he assured the Palawan governor.

Purisima was in Puerto Princesa as guest of honor with Alvarez in the inauguration of the new two-storey administration building at Camp Higinio A. Mendoza, Sr. in Barangay Tiniguiban.

According to him, the new building symbolizes the strong character of the PPO against any threat to peace and order security in Palawan that is popular the world over for its striking and unmatchable natural environment.

He stated to PPO-Palawan Director Sr. Supt. David Martinez that with the new administration building, he hopes that the leadership and the members of the police force should be more inspired to serve the people and the communities with honesty and integrity.

Through the leadership of Alvarez, the provincial government donated 75 kilovolts transformer to the new administration building, including electrical service, and electricity connection that cost P200,000.

“The support that was given by the provincial government and Governor Alvarez is inspiring to our policemen; that indeed there is a working partnership here that is felt towards maintaining peace and order in Palawan,” he said.

Purisima also lauded the PNP Regional Office IV-B and the leadership of Supt. Melito Manzanilla Mabilin on the success of the construction of the building.

“It is important that we maintain peace and order security in Palawan for its residents and its visitors. We need to show our visitors here, and all over the Philippines that they are safe against any risk, that our policemen are doing their duties well to serve the public,” he stated.

University defends anti-coal position vs Palawan govt


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 21 (PNA) --The administration of the Western Philippines University (WPU) defended its anti-coal position and belied that it is spreading lies against the proposed 15-megawatt coal-fed power plant by DMCI Power Corporation (DPC) in Barangay San Juan, Aborlan.

According to university president Dr. Elsa Manarpaac, it is clear in the position paper that they submitted that they do not want proposed coal-fired power plant in their town despite claims that it is safe since it will be employing the newest technology in coal power generation.

Manarpaac also said that the findings they mentioned in the position paper are based on researches and studies conducted by a team of environment experts they created to find out about its positive and negative effects to both human and environment health.

She said that per findings of the team, the effect of the proposed coal-fed power plant will be huge to the environment, especially the people, who leave in Barangay San Juan, including the students who study at WPU.

Manarpaac said they respect Governor Jose Alvarez' statements that support the employment of the coal-fired power plant as a means to ease Palawan's power problems, but the WPU community will remain steadfast on its "No to Coal" position.

"Our position paper is based on researches and studies, and the people, who composed the team, are experts and have the right to state what their findings are. They are experts in environmental science, and the others are from fisheries because of concern for the marine environment. The others, who composed the team, are social scientists. We interpret things differently in accordance with what we believe in," Manarpaac said in local interviews Friday.

Manarpaac's defense of their position came following a decision by the Sangguniang Barangay of San Juan to totally ban any coal project in their community through the unanimous passing of an ordinance Tuesday this week.

Aside from this, there remains a temporary environment protection order (TEPO) issued by the local court, preventing the DPC to start any construction activity, and further delaying its target to finish the controversial power plant by 2015.

PAMANA projects inaugurated in 2 Palawan towns

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAM/CARF/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) – Two Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) projects of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) were formally inaugurated in Palawan this week.

The first was the turnover ceremony of a multi-purpose gym in the southern Palawan town of Aborlan in Barangay Magsaysay, which cost P 1.8 million to construct.

The next was a 2-kilometer farm-to-market road at Sitio Bukid-Bukid, Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza.

The event was witnessed by Director Yusop A. Paraji of the Bangsamoro Office, OPPAP on February 18 with Aborlan Vice Mayor Ariston Madeja, and Frank Paduga, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO).

In a message Thursday, Paraji expressed gratitude to the warm welcome he received from the residents and local government officials of Aborlan and Bataraza, whose support is important to the realization of the projects.

“If there is no support like this from the LGU, and the people of Aborlan and Bataraza, these projects will not be completed,” Paraji said, adding he will study the possibility of adding more for beneficiaries in Palawan.

Paduga, representing Governor Jose Alvarez, also thanked the OPPAP for choosing Palawan as recipient of the two projects of PAMANA.

He told Paraji that the governor fully supports any similar project of the OPPAP, and the provincial government is willing to share in the funding for community development.

Aside from the farm-to-market road in Bataraza, the OPPAP also inaugurated two classrooms in Barangay Sapa costing P2.4 million.

Sapa barangay chairman Julhane Aslie also thanked OPAPP saying the two classrooms can accommodate more students in their community, and assist the goal of the municipality to upgrade Bataraza’s educational standard for its young people.

“We hope that this is not the last project that OPPAP will fund in our barangay. We need more classrooms here for our children so, that we will no longer send them faraway to other barangays to get education,” Aslie said.

PAMANA is the national government’s program "that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, and conflict-affected areas, ensuring that they are not left behind.”

Its design and delivery is conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting to ensure peace is maintained in the community.

Buntis Congress held in northern Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 19 (PNA) -– In a bid to create further awareness on safe motherhood and newborn care, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Palawan recently held a congress for pregnant mothers in the northern provincial town of Taytay.

Mimie Torres, Family Health Unit Head of the province’s health office, said through the Provincial Information Office (PHO) Wednesday that the congress held on February 17 centered on the advancement of information regarding maternal and infant care for pregnant women, and those planning to conceive babies.

She said there is a need to continuously educate mothers and other women on the importance of health while they are pregnant, and how to care for their infants and children to avoid maternal and infant mortality.

Around 52 pregnant women attended the congress in Barangay Liminangcong, Taytay that provided them lectures on breastfeeding, symptoms of risks during pregnancy, and how to avoid them.

Torres said that as part of the activities, a pre-natal check-up was provided to the attendees of the Buntis Congress. Also, pregnancy kits from the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria (KLM) that contain iodine, iron, treated bed nets, baby booklet, malaria leaflet, bag and groceries, were distributed.

The PHO group was led by Dr. Louie Ocampo, Dr. Vina Crisostomo and Dr. Samuel Panem of the Provincial Health Office; Meyrick Garces, Extended Program for Immunization Manager; Aileen Balderian, KLM Program Manager; Jenevil Tombaga, Program Manager; Maternal Health Program and Focal Person, Inter Local Health Zone.

Before the congress, a free medical and dental services mission, and free circumcision for young boys were also held.

Palawan gov tells scholars to study hard; reports of more classrooms in university centers

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAP/CARF/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 18 (PNA) -- Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez reminded beneficiaries of the Programang Pang-Edukasyon Para sa Palawenyo (PPP), a scholarship grant program of the provincial government for poor but deserving students, to be diligent in their studies and not waste the opportunities they were provided to carve a good future for themselves.

He said this following a trip over the weekend to southern Palawan, particularly in the towns of Quezon and Narra, where he announced that the "education component" of IHELP, or Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood, and Protection of the Environment, is set to add five more classrooms each to the Palawan State University (PSU) and Western Philippines University (WPU) centers in both municipalities.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta, who was with Alvarez, Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, and Orphy Ordinario, the program manager of the PPP, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Tuesday that the governor announced that IHELP will add five classrooms to the PSU centers in Narra and Quezon, and five too, for the WPU.

In support of the effort, the municipal government will double the number by adding five classrooms too, in all the universities' centers - a move, which Acosta described as a "superlative support for the upgrading of education and it's welfare in Palawan."

PSU and WPU are two top universities in Palawan providing educational services to students in the province, including the scholars that qualified under the PPP.

Acosta said that under the Alvarez administration, the provincial government is targeting to construct a total of 900 classrooms all over Palawan, which would be an opportunity for more students being accepted, and more teachers being hired.

"Education is very important to the people of Palawan. Governor Alvarez's administration is not only talking about the students, who will directly benefit, but also their families, because a bright future for their children means an opportunity too, for them to get out of poverty," he said.

In recent weeks, Alvarez has been traveling all over Palawan, breaking grounds for the programmed construction of more municipal hospitals in the province in a bid to push forward the province's development agenda for health under IHELP, Acosta said.

"The governor will be traveling more all over the province in the next few days for IHELP; to implement what he promised to the people of Palawan, and that is to help them by providing necessary infrastructure, taking care of their health, upgrading the quality of education, livelihood support so that people can bring food to their tables, and protection of the balance in the environment," he said.

Del Rosario, Po shine in Palawan netfest


MANILA, Philippines – Top seed Marcus del Rosario ruled two divisions while young Mariana Po posted a win and a runner-up finish in the third leg of the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala regional age group tennis circuit presented by Tecnifibre at the Los Baños College Country Club in Laguna Monday.

Del Rosario, a 13-year-old find from Letran, stopped No. 4 Tomas Puno, 7-6(3), 6-0, to capture the boys’ 18-and-under crown and routed unranked Antonio Villarosa, 6-0, 6-0, in the 14-and-U finals of the event marred by a number of reversals.

The 11-year-old Po, from International School Manila, stunned top seed Gabrielle Zoleta from Lucena, 6-4, 7-6(4), to snare the girls’ 12-and-U diadem after Zoleta repulsed her, 6-4, 7-5, in the 14-and-U finals of the event sponsored by Palawan Pawnshop and Technifibre.

Other winners in the event held for the first time in Los Baños and sanctioned by the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) were Andie Villarosa, local ace Denise Bernardo, Macie Carlos, Juan Enrique Jugo and Tomas Puno.

Villarosa, playing out of Alabang Country Club, took the girls’ 18-and-U crown with a walkover win over Hannah Angeles; Bernardo, from CSA Biñan, upended top seed Gwyneth Bejer, 6-2, 6-4, to clinch the girls’ 16-and-U title; Carlos, from Valle Verde Country Club, held her ground and toppled No. 1 Rafael Liangco, 6-2, 7-5, to snatch the 10-unisex crown; Jugo, also from Alabang Country Club, shocked top seed Jose Angelo Aparte, 6-4, 6-7, 10-5, to bag the boys’ 12-and-U diadem; and Puno, from Southwoods Tennis Club, also pulled off a reversal of No. 1 Aidyl Ignacio, 6-1, 3-6, 10-7, to cop the boys’ 16-and-U title.

“The reversals only underscored the level playing field and proved that there are a lot of talented young players raring to show their worth,” said Palawan Pawnshop COO Bobby Castro. “The series of nationwide age-group tournaments is part of Palawan Pawnshop’s commitment to help develop the sport from the grassroots level.”

Meanwhile, the fourth leg of the 29-stage Palawan Pawnshop circuit, a Group 4 tournament, resumes on Feb 21-24 at the Ubay Tennis Club in Ubay, Bohol. For details, call tournament director Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.

First hybrid renewable energy power system inaugurated in Palawan

By Cristina Lee-Pisco

THE United States Embassy in Manila recently inaugurated the newly-built 25.5 kilowatt hybrid renewable energy power system in Palawan.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Director for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Joseph Foltz and Roxas Mayor Maria Angela Sabanda led the inauguration of the new power system, which USAID helped build.

The system harnesses the energy from the sun, wind and biomass and converts them to clean and sustainable energy for the community in Sitio Green Island, Roxas, Palawan.

The pilot project will benefit over 50 households living in the area.

As part of the sustainability plan, the project includes an ice flake machine maker to help preserve the catch of the fisherfolk and a reverse-osmosis machine as source of potable water for the residents.

The establishment of the Hybrid RE Power System was made possible through a grant awarded to Solutions Using Renewable Energy Inc. (SURE) under the USAID-CEnergy Grants Program.

The Green Island project is one of the six grants of USAID’s CEnergy Project which promotes renewable energy for utilization in the power and transport sectors.

Environmental group eyes forest reserve near Puerto Princesa Underground River


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) -- An international non-profit conservation organization is proposing to turn 80,000 acres of land at Cleopatra’s Needle in central Palawan -- adjacent the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) -- into a forest reserve as it is a “biodiversity hotspot and home to many endemic species.”

John Moore, PhD, conservation officer with Rainforest Trust (RT), formerly World Land Trust-U.S. and World Parks Endowment, a non-profit environmental organization established in New York, U.S.A. in 1988, confirmed the proposal to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an email.

The first report about the proposal came out at Thursday, made by Dr. Paul Salaman, chief executive officer of RT. He said the new project in the Philippines “is an extraordinary opportunity to save a vast area of unprotected rainforest near an important UNESCO World Heritage Site, the subterranean river.

Moore said Cleopatra’s Needle, described by mountaineers as one of the “mystical mountains of Palawan,” is being targeted as a forest reserve to sustainably protect its prevalent wildlife residents, such as the Palawan bearcat (binturong), Palawan pangolin (balintong), Palawan horned frog, Philippine flat-headed frog, and Philippine cockatoo.

The RT conservation officer said that if their proposal sees ground with the administration of Mayor Lucilo Bayron, it will be implemented with their local partner The Center for Sustainability (TCS) that has been active in laying down the “groundwork” for the project for five years now.

In a visit to Puerto Princesa in January, Moore said he met with city administrator Rod Saucelo, and Tutu Almonte, chief of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

“I had a good meeting with Rod Saucelo, the City Administrator, and Tutu Almonte of the CENRO office, both of whom expressed their support for the project and desire to collaborate,” Moore said.

Almonte, he said, is “especially excited about the potential for the project as a flagship program.”

Moore added that he also had the opportunity to spend a night in the forest and to meet with the Batak, who are “fully involved and supportive.”

Currently, Rainforest Trust has reportedly raised around US $ 160,000, and needs around US $ 40,000 more to fund the proposed Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve (CNFR), including the establishment of a management framework plan, coming up with the forest wardens to handle law enforcement, and giving sustainable alternative livelihood activities to the Batak indigenous peoples (IPs) dwelling in the area.

“We have been helping to raise the support needed to make the project happen, and we are currently conducting a fundraising campaign among supporters of the Rainforest Trust to meet our goal of US $ 200,000,” he said.

When approved by the city government, the project will be implemented over the course of 2014, and Moore hopes that announcement about it will be announced later in the year.

In August, a comprehensive survey will be conducted to determine what fauna and flora occur within the proposed reserve boundaries.

The study will be led by the TCS through Kyra Hoevenaars, its executive director, and Jonah van Beijinen, one of its founders.

Cleopatra’s Needles’ name is believed to have been derived from “the obelisk-like rock structure” that is on its peak. According to the Suakwal Mountaineers, “the environment is extensively covered with forests and teeming with wildlife species.”

The mountaineers group further described its summit as a gorgeous site, where panoramic views of Honda Bay, Sulu Sea, the West Philippines Sea, and Puerto Princesa are offered.

Trekking Cleopatra’s Needle, they said, is a “challenging hike for serious climbers, at least 3-4 days,” as it involves “countless river crossings and bends, rock boulders, and abundant collection of various flora and fauna.”

From downtown Puerto Princesa, capital of Palawan, there are three set off points to trek the needle mountain. However, many who have been enthralled have often used the Sitio Tagnaya, Barangay Concepcion jumped-off point off north the city.

Mangrove planting and mass wedding mark Valentine's Day in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), PDS/CARF/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 14 (PNA)--With the sea, the mangroves, and the cloudless sky standing witness, Mayor Lucilo Bayron of this city officiated the wedding early Friday morning of 268 couples at the annually celebrated Valentine’s environment event Love Affair with Nature in Barangay San Manuel.

City Information Officer (CIO) Henry Gadiano in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) said the couples were wed by the mayor in a simple ceremony after each completed the planting of mangrove saplings as a pre-requisite.

As the sun shines on the horizon, all the couples kissed, committing to love one another and to support the sustainable protection, preservation and conservation of the mangroves, not only where they planted but all over Puerto Princesa and Palawan.

In his message to the couples, Bayron told them to always remember the "Love Affair with Nature" as their lives’ symbolic event, inculcating in them the importance of the environment and the abundant gifts it can provide when man knows how to shield them from abuse.

A huge wedding cake ordered by the city government was shared by all the couples in the mangrove planting site after the ceremony.

Gadiano said the mass wedding is a regular highlight of the "Love Affair with Nature", a mangrove project started by the city government during former mayor Edward Hagedorn’s leadership.

In an aim to continue caring for Puerto Princesa as the capital town of Palawan, which is a mangrove reserve, over 7,000 mangrove seedlings were planted along the coast of San Manuel.

“Today’s mass mangrove planting event was a huge success – there was no rain, it was low-tide, it was a perfect day,” Gadiano said.

Around 7,000 mangrove saplings, he said, were planted during the extraordinary celebration of Valentine’s Day in the city by over 20,000 residents, foreign and domestic tourists, representatives from the public and private sectors, the academe, the religious groups, and advocates of the environment.

It’s been recorded that Palawan contains 43% of the total mangrove forests of the Philippines, and Puerto Princesa is a city in the country, where the total area of mangrove forests does not decline, but are increasing.

Mangroves play an important role in coastal ecosystems. They form important nurseries for many fish and shrimp species, but also for spiny lobster larvae. Besides, they produce good quality wood, basic ingredients for medicines, fruits and seafood products like oysters and several shells.

Puerto Princesa and Palawan LGUs to forge partnership for construction of P300-M state-of-the-art hospital

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), CTB/CARF/UTB]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 13 (PNA) -– The city government here and the province under the leadership of Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez recently meet to discuss the possibility of forging a partnership for the construction of a P300 million, over 200-bed capacity state-of-the-art two-storey hospital, the Provincial Information Office (PIO) announced Thursday.

Information officer Gil Acosta told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that Alvarez and other government officials of the province met Tuesday this week with Mayor Lucilo Bayron and other city leaders and discussed the preliminaries of the planned hospital.

Acosta said the governor started his presentation to the city government officials with statistics showing that 80 percent Palaweños are underprivileged, and most of them do not have access to a hospital that is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

The modern hospital will support 14 other hospitals that are due to be constructed in several municipalities in the province, the first of which is going to be in Aborlan town in southern Palawan, he said.

Explaining that the planned construction of the said hospital is under the Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood, and Protection of the Environment (or IHELP) development agenda by his administration, Alvarez was hopeful that Mayor Bayron and other key leaders of Puerto Princesa city will fully support the project by donating an spacious lot as site of the hospital.

Through this, even residents of the city can benefit from the up-to-date services it will provide, Alvarez said, adding, “With the forging of a partnership, he also wants the people of Puerto Princesa to benefit from this state-of-the-art hospital.

Acosta said "participants in the meeting were very excited and responses positive,” noting that Mayor Bayron and members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod were amenable to the proposal considering its importance to the health of the people of both Puerto Princesa and Palawan province.

The provincial government, according to Acosta, is eyeing to construct the cutting-edge hospital on a six- hectare lot at the back of the City Coliseum in Barangay San Pedro, a site that is accessible to people coming from the southern and northern parts of the province.

Under the partnership proposal, Alvarez reportedly informed Bayron that if it will donate the site for the project, the provincial government will shoulder the fund needed for the construction.

A board of directors will be created to manage the hospital, and that the city and provincial governments will equally divide the income it will generate.

Included in the planned hospital construction project is a medical school that will be operated and administered by the Palawan State University (PSU).

The governor said that those who will enroll in the medical school, or will avail of any future scholarship grants will be required to serve to Palaweños first in remote areas after graduation, before they go to practice in other provinces.

Aside from this, the modern hospital, can also attract more tourists to come to the city and other tourism sites in Palawan since there is a facility that will take care of their health requirements.

“This hospital can be a boost to the confidence of the city and the province in terms of receiving more tourists,” Acosta stressed.

He said more meetings will be conducted in the coming days to prepare the forging of the partnership, and other concerns the city government needs to clarify with the provincial leaders.

Cloudy Thursday in parts of PH


MANILA, Philippines – Cloudy skies are in the forecast for large parts of the archipelago, particularly in the south, on Thursday, February 13, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

Eastern Visayas will feel the effects of the tail-end of a cold front, while the trough of a low pressure area is in the area of eastern Mindanao, the bureau said in its 24-hour forecast Wednesday, February 12.

Cloudy skies with light to moderate rain and isolated thunderstorms are expected in the Visayas, Mindanao, and Palawan, the bureau said.

Aurora, Quezon, and the regions of Bicol and Cagayan Valley are expected to be cloudy, while the rest of Luzon will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains.

Prevailing winds will come from the east to northeast.

A doctor with 21,000 patients


Dr. Moses Princesa often gets a call in the wee hours of the morning to deliver a baby.

The 38-year-old is a general practitioner, not an obstetrician or a midwife, but he is the only public doctor the people of Busuanga town in Palawan—all 21,000 of them—could turn to.

His situation is far from the national average, which itself is a low 3.5 doctors per 10,000 people, based on the records of the Department of Health.

But it's actually better than the numbers for rural areas, where the doctor-to-population ratio is three doctors to 100,000 people.

In Busuanga, Princesa serves 24/7 as the lone municipal health officer, medico-legal officer and pediatrician.

If Princesa is done delivering the baby at 7 a.m., he is expected to arrive on time for his regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. duty at the municipal health office. But his duty does not end at 5 p.m., as people still seek him for consultation outside office hours, even going to his house for emergencies.

He admitted that he barely has time for his wife, who is six months pregnant with their second child, and their three-year-old son, Isaac.

But this is just part of his sacrifice as the health officer for the whole of the third-class municipality.

Serving his country

Princesa is not even a native of Busuanga. He grew up in the US, but returned to the Philippines to study medicine at the University of the Philippines. He graduated in 2007 and decided to serve poor communities here. He was deployed to Palawan in 2008.

Princesa said he is sustained by his faith.

"God's grace. That's the only thing that is sustaining me," Princesa told reporters in a health forum in Quezon City Tuesday. "It is my faith because kung wala yan, kung trabaho lang ang hinahabol ko hindi na ako nagpursige sa malayo."

Princesa cried as he recalled the plight of his poor patients and his inability to save some of them.

“Titignan ka nila, sasabihin nila wala kaming pera, Doc. Makikita mo yung tao mamamatay. Ayokong masanay na ganun, buhay pa rin 'yun,” he said.

He lamented that Busuanga does not have an ambulance to bring the patients to the nearest hospital 55 kilometers away.

“Yung ambulance namin hindi tumatakbo, wala naman kami kahit mahiraman,” said Princesa.

A shortfall of 30,000

At the same forum, Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said the Philippines has a shortage not only of doctors but of healthcare workers in general, including nurses and midwives. This is not a new situation; the exodus of Filipino medical professionals from the country started as early as the 1960s, he said.

He thanked Princesa, who was his student, for deciding to stay in the country and serve his countrymen.

Herbosa added that the ideal ratio should be 1 doctor per 1,000 population. To achieve this ratio, he said, the country needs 30,000 more doctors.

He said the Professional Regulation Commission issues licenses to 72,000 doctors a year but that many of these new health professionals choose to go abroad. He further said that many of those who stay in the country are in the urban areas “where people have a living.”

Herbosa admitted that the government cannot address the problem alone, and called on the help of the private sector and the academe.

Access inequity

Among the steps taken by the government to address the needs of rural Filipinos are the DOH's Doctors to Barrios program as well as scholarships given to medical students with the proviso that they serve in public hospitals after graduation.

However, “We do not give value to our health workers,” said NARS party-list Rep. Leah Paquiz at the same forum.

She said many health workers are employed as contractuals and are dismissed arbitrarily.

“They became vulnerable to exploitation and became pawns in the world of precarious working conditions. Hapless health workers take on false volunteer programs in dire exchange for training or employment certificates which is not given to them. Some even pay the hospitals for these training,” she said.

She added that some health workers volunteer and take on the work of a regular employee without pay just so they can practice in a hospital and are not protected from the risks and hazards in the performance of their duties.

"The crisis of the Philippine healthcare workforce is not only that of a shortage of workers, but also of serious inequity in the ability of the rich and poor to access doctors," she further said.

"There is a huge discrepancy in the quantity and quality of health care services received by the poor and the rich, which at its extreme, are world class for millionaires, while insufficient for the poor and marginalized groups," said Paquiz.

Dr. Antonio Dans, president of Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine (PSGIM), said the chronic deficit and inequity of health professionals is a complex, systemic problem and should be considered as a crisis.

Among the factors contributing to this crisis are:

the cross-country migration of Philippine health workers to more developed areas such as the United States, Europe, and the Middle East;
the intensity of urbanization and rural-to-urban migration, which has led to a disproportionate concentration of health professionals in urban centers such as Metro Manila;
the lack of incentives that encourage doctors to over-specialize, and to seek employment in the private sector while the public health sector remains understaffed; and
the lack of priority of health and the state of the healthcare workforce in public policy, which has remained despite the devolution of heathcare to local government units.

Palawan GAD prepares for celebration of National Women’s Month

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), CTB/CARF/UTB]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 10 (PNA) -– The Palawan Provincial Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point announced Monday that it is now preparing to celebrate the National Women’s Month in March with female employees of the provincial government taking the lead.

With the theme “Juana, ang tatag mo ay tatag natin sa pagbangon at pagsulong (Juana, your strength is the strength of our rise and progress),” GAD Focal Point Chairperson Norma Arrieta, who is also the officer-in-charge of provincial budget office, said the celebration will center on strengthening the awareness of the female employees of the provincial government regarding gender and development.

The month-long celebration will begin on March 7 with a mass to be followed by a parade of the female employees around the Capitol Building.

They will be inspired by a talk coming from Dr. Welthy Villanueva as guest of honor. Villanueva is an awardee of the Gawad Genny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino in 2011 and is also a Dangal ng Bayan Awardee of the Civil Service Commission in 2012.

Currently, she is the medical specialist of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) assigned at the Roxas District Hospital (RDH) in the town of Roxas.

Arrieta believes that Villanueva would be able to inspire the women employees to further do good in their personal lives by being aware of their rights, as well as their children.

Fun activities are also lined up for them; stress busters like Zumba, free manicure, pedicure, haircut and massage, Palarong Pinoy, free dog grooming, and their vaccination.p>A free medical consultation and diabetes screening are also among the activities for the women employees of the provincial government. Arrieta said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) will also conduct a quick response training for the women personnel.

This time, US warship treads PH waters carefully

By Tarra Quismundo (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines—On this its first visit to the Philippines, the US warship made sure to navigate the waters very carefully.

Arriving a year after the grounding of another US vessel in Palawan, the guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney entered Philippine waters under the tight reins of its officers who are held to “very high standards” to ensure safe and smooth sailing at all times.

“While it was regrettable that the incident happened early last year, we take all possible measures to ensure safe navigation at all times,” said Commander Frank Okata, the Pinckney’s commanding officer, taking questions from reporters.

Okata was referring to the grounding of the USS Guardian, the Avenger-class minesweeper that ran aground on the protected Tubbataha Reef in Palawan on Jan. 17, 2013, destroying some 4,000 square meters of coral.

The Guardian, which was making its way out of Philippine waters at the time, got stuck on the reef and had to be cut to pieces to remove it without causing further damage to the Unesco world heritage site.

Investigation by the US Navy found that poor leadership decisions and planning, among other factors. had led to the accident.

The US has yet to pay the P58 million fine for damaging the reef, saying it was still awaiting a formal request to do so from the Philippine government.

“Navigation is our most fundamental skill as mariners. So we hold ourselves always to our very high standards and, because of this, we are always training and looking at all of our voyage preparations with meticulous detail to prevent any incidents from happening,” Okata said.

The 155-meter 9,300-ton warship docked at Manila’s South Harbor on Friday afternoon for a five-day rest and refueling stop, a routine port visit for US vessels deployed in the Asia Pacific.

It is the second American naval vessel to dock in the Philippines this year, after the missile cruiser USS Shiloh which stopped over in Cebu province on Jan. 31 and stayed for four days.

“We take advantage of this pause in operations to interact with people like yourselves to spread the story about what we do and what our mission is. We also try to restock our supplies, because it’s been a long voyage for us,” said Okata.

The Pinckney took a break after a month at sea, traveling across the Pacific Ocean from its home port of San Diego, California, and conducting training and proficiency exercises on its weapons systems for its crew along the way.]]

How 2 Pinoy doctors are getting kids to love science

By Rachelle Cruz (ABS-CBN Canada)

TORONTO - Two Filipino doctors in Toronto are changing the way kids learn science by staging events to show how fun and interesting science can be beyond textbooks.

It is science made fun, thanks to Dr. Mayrose Salvador and Dr. Cynthia Goh.

The two doctors founded Pueblo Science, a local non-profit organization working to raise science literacy in underprivileged communities in Canada and the developing world.

"I come from the northern Philippines. It's a small village in Ilocos Norte and I grew up there and I actually see a lot of practices that, you know, with proper knowledge, would have been avoided, that's affecting the lives of people there. Llike for example, lots of people still burn forests up to these days. So that got me thinking about trying to educate the kids, for the younger age, for them to be able to make better decisions, when they actually grow up,” said Salvador, a physical chemistry scientist.

Dr. Goh is from Palawan and she said the time she spent there was an inspiration for Pueblo Science.

"I actually volunteered with the school there and that summer, I created a summer camp for kids, so I did that for a couple of years, and the teachers from the barrios, they came and they were very enthusiastic, and they wanted to observe the kids, that's when I thought we should really do some work with the teachers, how we can make things affordable and really hands-on,” the chemistry professor said.

University of Toronto students with science backgrounds also volunteer to work with the organization.

“So primarily here it's just been about doing science demonstrations for adults and youth and creating science kits we can bring overseas," said Jennifer Tsoung.

Like travelling caravans, Pueblo Science goes to many places. One of them was the Family Sundays at Hart House, showcasing Curious Kids Love Science experiments.

"These days with Pueblo Science, we try to relate anything that we teach the kids and the teachers with things that they see around them, for them to be able to understand the world that's surrounding them better," Dr. Salvador said.

Six volunteers from Pueblo Science will be heading back to the Philippines in April and their first stop will be in Palawan, Batanes and Ilocos Norte. The science educators will be training teachers on how to develop a more fun and engaging science lessons using locally available materials.

Palawan Inaugurates First Hybrid Renewable Energy Power System

(Press Release)

Roxas, Palawan February 7, 2014 – Thanks to the support of the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), residents of Sitio Green Island in Roxas, Palawan, will now enjoy reliable and sustainable electricity using hybrid renewable energy.

Sitio Green Island is categorized as a “missionary area,” or an area that is not connected to the main electricity grid. Missionary areas are often powered by small generator sets run by diesel or bunker fuel which is costly and unreliable. Missionary areas are often so remote that it is hard to establish electric power systems.

Through USAID’s Climate Change and Clean Energy (CEnergy) Project, however, USAID helped build a 25.5kW Hybrid Renewable Energy (RE) Power System on the island. The system is composed of a biomass gasifier which uses plant-derived energy, along with solar panels and wind turbines.

USAID’s Joseph Foltz, Acting Director for Environment, Energy, and Climate Change Office, joined Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, Undersecretary Loreta G. Ayson of the Department of Energy; Govenor Jose Alvarez of Palawan, Mayor Angela Sabando of Roxas, Palawan, and Executive Director Laurence Padilla of the Palawan Center for Appropriate Rural Technology (PCART) for the inauguration ceremony on February 7.

The renewable energy system was initiated in support of the Philippine Government’s Energy Reform Agenda, Energy Access for More, which aims to provide electricity for Filipinos from all parts of the country.

USAID Philippines Mission Director Gloria D. Steele said in a message: “We hope this pioneering initiative will be replicated so that more communities especially in remote areas in the country can have access to electricity and help contribute to their economic development.”

This project is implemented in partnership with the Local Government of Roxas and the Palawan Center for Appropriate Rural Technology, which will eventually own and operate the Hybrid RE Power Station. The pilot project will result in the provision of electricity to over 50 households in Green Island’s Zone IV, the area furthest from the diesel-generator set. As part of the sustainability plan, the project includes an ice-flake machine maker to help preserve the catch of fisherfolk, and a reverse-osmosis machine as a source of potable water for the residents of Green Island.

The establishment of the Hybrid RE Power System was made possible through a grant awarded to Solutions Using Renewable Energy, Inc. (SURE) under the USAID-CEnergy Grants Program. The Green Island project is one of the six grants of USAID’s CEnergy Project which promotes renewable energy for utilization in the power and transport sectors.

Puerto Princesa satellite clinics to strengthen services to residents

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAP/CARF/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 6 (PNA) -– The City Health Office (CHO) here said it will strengthen and increase the services its seven satellite clinics are providing to residents after they were placed under its supervision and management.

Dr. Juancho Monserate, head of the CHO, said in a local radio interview that the decision to place the satellite clinics in Puerto Princesa under their management is part of the “clustering”

The clustering is a project of Mayor Lucilo Bayron to put satellite city governments in the outlying northern and southern barangays of Puerto Princesa for easy access to services.

There are 66 barangays in the city, and many of them are located in far-off areas. Bayron wants the city government to bring services closer to the people by bringing parts of his administration where they are.

Monserate said the seven satellite clinics, one of which is adjacent to the New 7 Wonders of Nature Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in Barangay Cabayugan, were devolved under his offices management and supervision only last week.

“We are strengthening the services by amalgamating the volunteers with CHO staff on a regular basis,” he said. The satellite clinics, he added, will now be called “Satellite Health Centers.”

The satellite clinics are located in barangays Cabayugan, Mangingisda, Napsan, Salvacion and San Rafael. The first was started in 1992 by former mayor Edward Hagedorn.

They were set up with the objectives “to provide residents living in far-flung barangays with access to medical support services; reduction of mortality rate in distant barangays; and reduction of unnecessary suffering due to illness.”

The satellite clinics have doctors, who stay for two days a week; a dentist, who stays the same amount of period; two midwives, and utility personnel. They are equipped with four-five beds, basic clinic equipment, radio communications; solar power panels and regular ambulance services.

New Marine brigade commander vows to support environment protection efforts in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 5 (PNA) --Newly-installed 3rd Marine Brigade commander Col. Armando Bañez vowed to support Palawan’s efforts to protect, preserve and conserve its environment.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Bañez, who was the deputy for Marine Operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) before his assignment in Palawan, said that aside from ensuring the residents’ safety against destabilization attempts of members of the leftist movement in the province, they are also duty-bound to provide support to endeavors to protect the environment.

“Our commitment to support efforts to protect Palawan’s environment is long-standing; we will never waiver in this since we know it is important to Palaweños,” Bañez said, adding that since he came to know the province, he also came to know about its peoples’ passion to live with balance with its environment.

His current post in the brigade is not Bañez first stint in the province. In late 90’s, he was among the officers of the 6th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT 6) until it was sent to Jolo, Sulu in Mindanao for a new assignment.

Bañez recalled that during then, their assignment included protecting Palawan’s forests against unscrupulous individuals in the north and south, who cut down trees unabashedly.

He said he is elated to be back in Palawan that has taught him many things – the people’s kindness and hospitality, their love for the environment, simple living, and “fresh seafood.”

“Here in Palawan, people are so welcoming that you immediately feel you are already a Palaweño. And with that, we commit that we will support their need for their environment to be protected,” he said.

Bañez took over the leadership of the brigade last December from Brigadier General Andrei Costales.

DPWH authorizes Palawan govt to undertake DOH-funded hospital projects


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 4 (PNA) --The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region IV-B, MIMAROPA has authorized the Palawan government to undertake the construction, expansion, and rehabilitation of seven hospital projects funded by the Department of Health (DOH).

In a statement released by the provincial government Tuesday, the memorandum of agreement (MOA) reportedly signed by Governor Jose Alvarez and DPWH Regional Director Subair S. Diron, CESO III, stated that based on the public works and highways Department Order No. 137, it has determined that the present Palawan leadership has the capability to undertake the said projects.

Seven hospitals are targeted for construction this year, which might be completed by 2015.

All hospital projects are funded by the DOH under its 2013 Health Facilities Enhancement Project.

According to DOH Mimaropa Director Ariel Valencia, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and the DPWH gave their full support and confidence to the leadership of Alvarez, and the capability of the provincial government in undertaking the projects by the administration.

Last January 31, Vice Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates, representing Alvarez, led the ground-breaking of the third hospital project in the island municipality of Cuyo, northern Palawan.

The P 25 million funding from the DOH coursed through the DPWH will be used to construct a 50-bed capacity hospital that will be more equipped to meet the growing health and medical needs of the residents of Cuyo, Magsaysay and Agutaya.

Prior to Cuyo, Alvarez led the ground-breaking for the new Aborlan District Hospital last January 20, followed by the new Coron District Hospital on January 22.

Sydney Andao-Aviles, a registered nurse, who serves as officer in charge of the Administrative Office of the old Cuyo District Hospital, said that the construction of a new hospital is “a dream come true.”

For Dr. Aries Dexter Rana, chief of hospital, the new hospital will bring about the much-needed improvements for a more efficient and effective health and medical care.

He said the old hospital has been so neglected, it can only give first aid to the few patients, who still come to the hospital for treatment.

Those needing further treatment are sent either to Iloilo, Manila or Puerto Princesa.

During the groundbreaking for the new Aborlan District Hospital, Alvarez stated that he will tap the Development Bank of the Philippines for bridge financing of the project should there be a delay in the release of the funds from DOH.

“I don’t want to have any delays in the completion of the construction of these hospitals,” he said, citing that he wants the roof of the Aborlan District Hospital completed before the onset of the rainy season.

The Aborlan district hospital has an initial funding of P 6 million from the DOH. It will be constructed on a 1.5 hectare lot with a 50-bed capacity.

In memory of the late environmentalist Dr. Gerardo V. Ortega, the Governor has sought the support of Vice Gov. Victorino Dennis M. Socrates for the passage of a resolution naming the new district hospital as the Dr. Gerry Ortega Memorial Hospital.

Aborlan Mayor Jaime Ortega said that the construction of the new district hospital will help in the further development of his province.

Meanwhile, the Coron District Hospital has an initial budget of P 40M from DOH. It will be a three-story building with a 50-bed capacity.

Dr. Edgar Flores, resident physician of the Coron District Hospital, said that the establishment of the new hospital will surely stir hope and inspiration among health and medical workers to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public service. We are very happy Other hospitals in the drawing board include the Quezon District Hospital with an initial funding of P5M; Narra has an initial budget of P 10M while Balabac, located in the southernmost tip of the province, has an initial funding of P 40M.

Alvarez is optimistic that with this new hospital projects, his administration will be able to meet the health and medical needs of Palaweños. Under his health program, in line with his IHELP flagship program which stands for Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment, the governor aims to expand the coverage of the Philhealth insurance program to more marginalized members of the communities, provide free medical consultations and medicines.

$27.5-M budget set for SC 55 drilling

(Manila Bulletin)

Through their re-assignment agreement, BHP Billiton will be allocating $27.5 million to successor-firm Otto Energy Ltd. for drilling budget in Service Contract 55, a petroleum block in offshore southwest Palawan.

In an investor presentation, Otto Energy chief executive Gregor McNab noted that two wells – the Hawkeye and Cinco wells – are ready targets for “high impact exploration.”

He said there will be “$27.5 million funding from BHP Billiton for Otto to drill first exploration well in SC 55.”

The funding arrangement had been part of the 60-percent shares re-assignment undertaken by BHP Billiton to Otto Energy, following the former’s exit from the SC55 investment.

Based on arithmetically aggregated best estimate, it was noted that the SC55 block manifests “an impressive gas and condensate portfolio.”

The development parameters, according to Otto Energy, could be anchored on “emerging major regional trend” for petroleum resources.

The net prospective gas resource for the block had been estimated at 9.0 trillion standard cubic feet (Tscf), while condensate yield may reach 320 million barrels. Otto Energy previously disclosed that it will be submitting an updated work plan with the Department of Energy (DOE). The drilling of the first well at Hawkeye is targeted this year.

While firming up a revised exploration program, McNab emphasized that Otto Energy will also be “seeking a new farm-in partner to participate in drilling in SC55.” Otto Energy became the block’s operator after BHP Billiton opted out from the venture due to delays in seeking necessary permits that should have allowed well drilling as early as August last year.

DOE moves oil, coal contracting round to Q2

By Riza T. Olchondra (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Extra time will allow gov’t to hold international roadshow

The Department of Energy (DOE) pushed back the 5th Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) to April of 2014 to account for all energy blocks that are fit for contracting.

“The most likely deadline (for the launch) is April. The target for the awarding is June 30,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told reporters.

The DOE had originally scheduled the launch of PECR5 for the first quarter of this year. However, Petilla said the department had noticed changes in some of the blocks that were being considered for auction, prompting it to defer the launch.

“We need to verify all areas, to make sure we will not forget anything,” Petilla said.

Considered for PECR5 was Service Contract 55, the oil and gas exploration off Palawan that Otto Energy Ltd. of Australia is taking over from operator BHP Billiton. The project, touted as the next Malampaya gas field, was considered for a rebidding after BHP withdrew last year amid problems in securing permits at the local government level. Otto Energy has since sought the permission of the DOE to take over BHP’s 60 percent working interest (for a total stake of 93.18 percent), saving the SC55 project from a restart.

The delay in the launch of PERC5 would make room for the holding of an international road show to woo more investors for new oil and coal exploration blocs.

Energy Undersecretary Ramon Allan V. Oca said such a roadshow, if it would push through, might be timed with international conferences such as that of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. “That way we can reach a bigger audience. All the oil companies are there,” Oca said.

AAPG schedules its annual conference alternately in the United States, Europe and Asia. In 2014, the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition will be held in Houston from April 6 to 9, according to the association’s website. Oca said the itinerary for the Philippine roadshow will be finalized soon.

As for improvements expected in the PECR round, held regularly to boost local energy resources and curb the Philippines’ dependence on fuel imports, Oca said the DOE had been streamlining bidding rules and offering more assistance to investors.

He said the DOE was now open to helping foreign companies authenticate their documents to be able to participate in the bidding. Another proposed improvement is for the DOE to hold the equivalent of a pre-bidding conference to clarify all documentary and other requirements before the auction.

“We want to make sure bids are not wasted,” Oca said.

Palawan island-hopping, boat tours canceled due to Storm Basyang

(GMA News)

Tourism-related activities in Palawan province were canceled for Saturday due to Tropical Storm Basyang (Kajiki), state-run Philippine Information Agency reported.

In posts on its Twitter account, PIA said these include the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) and island-hopping tours in the province.

"PPUR boat tours canceled early morning today [Saturday]," it said.

Also canceled were the island-hopping tours in Honda Bay, El Nido, and Coron.

The PIA said Palawan's Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office reminded residents in northern Palawan to "take heed of typhoon warning."

As of Saturday morning, PAGASA said Basyang was heading for Palawan.

Meanwhile, in Central Visayas, the PIA reported preemptive evacuation was done in parts of Bohol.

It said the evacuation was conducted in coastal barangays as ordered by PDRRMC Chairman and Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto.