Palawan News May 2013

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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.

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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

Province of Palawan, Philippines

3 PH beaches listed in CNN's 'World's 100 Best Beaches'

By Ron B. Lopez

The Philippines is again in the spotlight for its breathtaking natural beauty.

Three beaches in the country have taken the international limelight, and were listed in CNN's ‘World’s 100 best beaches’ list.

On its website (, CNN recognized the splendor of white-sand beaches of Palaui Island in Cagayan Valley, El Nido in Palawan, and Puka beach in Boracay.

Sitting at the 10th spot, CNN was stunned by the “raw beauty” of Palaui Island where “glorious white sands meet volcanic rocks and blue-green waters topside.”

Divers are invited to lounge in its clear waters and meet the “coral gardens and a rich marine reserve” under the surface. Due to lack of hotels or resorts, tourists have only one option: “camping under the stars. ”

It is the only island in Southeast Asia which managed to enter the top 10 of the list.

El Nido in Palawan is listed in 14th place, for its “powder-fine beaches and gin-clear waters” which stuns every tourist who visited the country’s “last frontier.”

“Karst limestone formations, empty lagoons, marble cliffs, prehistoric caves and waterfalls added to the beauty of one of the Philippines’ hotspot for tourists. The island is noted by other visitors for innumerable species of tropical fish and coral. ”

The Philippine beach be included in thelist is the Puka beach in Boracay. The island is cited for its “powdery beaches, water sports and spas.”

Puka beach, whose name is derived from Puka shells, “is the second-longest beach on Boracay.” The beach proved that even if it has no resorts and has only few restaurants, its beauty attracted attention of the news organization.

The Philippines continues to draw tourists from around the globe for its beautiful islands and tourist spots.

In the first four months of the year 2013, the country listed a 10-percent growth in the foreign tourist arrivals, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT). The DoT said that the South Korea has the biggest contribution on tourist arrivals, while the US came second and Japan third.

The government is expecting a boost in the tourism sector for 2013, which generates jobs for local communities.

New population of critically-endangered Irrawaddy dolphins found in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 30 (PNA) -- A team of dolphin experts associated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines recently discovered a new population of the critically-endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) off the waters of Quezon in the southern part of Palawan.

A report dated April 22 by the team to WWF-Philippines headed by Marivic Matillano said they spotted the rare dolphins by “chance off Quezon, Palawan – along the coastline of the West Philippines Sea.”

The pod of the critically-endangered dolphins that is known locally as “Lampasut,” according to Matillano’s report, displayed “typical behavior, foraging for prey around lift net fish traps sitting approximately one kilometer offshore.”

The report furthered that earlier populations of the Irrawaddy with “features that offer the barest hint of a congenial smile,” have been documented only in the Malampaya Sound in Taytay town in northern Palawan, and the island of Panay.

The pod in Quezon will be the “fourth known group of Irrawaddy dolphins reported in the Philippines,” said Matillano.

Matillano, who has been studying the Irrawaddy dolphins under a conservation program of WWF in the Malampaya Sound, said they saw about 20 individuals in the pod at just one time. The largest “sized pod” compared to six individuals in a pod previously sighted.

The WWF said the sighting “is a very good sign” for Palawan, and a “tremendous new discovery to celebrate Earth Day in the Coral Triangle” this year.

It was Sir Richard Owen who first described the rare dolphin species in 1866 on the east coast of India. The Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale.

The dolphins' color is grey to dark slate blue, paler underneath, with no distinctive pattern. The dorsal fin is small and rounded behind the middle of the back. The forehead is high and rounded; the beak is lacking.

PAGASA: ITCZ to bring rain over parts of Palawan, Visayas, Mindanao

(DVM, GMA News)

Parts of Palawan, Visayas and Mindanao may expect rain on Wednesday due to the inter-tropical convergence zone, state weather forecasters said.

In an interview over dzBB radio, PAGASA forecaster Glaiza Escollar said Metro Manila and other parts of the country may expect generally good weather but with rain in the afternoon.

Escolar also projected that Metro Manila would experience temperatures of 24 to 34 degrees Celsius.

PAGASA's extended weather outlook indicated temperatures of 23 to 34 degrees Celsius for Tuguegarao, Angeles and Olongapo Cities.

Wednesday outlook

For Wednesday, PAGASA's 5 a.m. bulletin said the inter-tropical convergence zone was across Mindanao.

"Palawan, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to at times cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly over the western section," it said.

It added light to moderate winds from the east to southeast will prevail over Luzon and Visayas and coming from the east to northeast over Mindanao.

The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate, it added.

Palawan prov’l board calls on industry giants to explore Palawan's oil & natural gas

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), FPV/CARF/SSC]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan Tuesday wants to summon foreign oil industry giants that want to explore for oil and natural gas in Palawan.

Vice Governor Clara Reyes, the presiding officer of the Palawan Sangguniang Panlalawigan and also chairperson of the body’s Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, said all oil companies have to show their development plans to ensure that their future operations can benefit Palaweños.

She also said even the Department of Energy (DOE) should be invited in the next regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to explain how Palawan and its people can benefit from any future oil and natural gas operation.

“We want to find out about their social programs for the barangays and the municipalities situated adjacent to their service contracts. We also ask representatives from the Department of Energy to come and explain to us the nature of the service contracts,” she said Tuesday, during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

If invitations will reach the offices of the oil companies, they will be invited on June 4 to present their exploration programs, and their social development and management programs (SDMP) for the people dwelling around the area of their service contracts.

Among those that might be called is Pitkin Petroleum, an international upstream oil and gas company focused on tertiary basins primarily in the Pacific Rim region, with operations in Vietnam, the Philippines, Peru and the U.S.A.

Another one to be called is Australian firm Nido Petroleum Ltd. that is planning to penetrate an exploration well in a new prospect called “Baragatan” covered by Service Contract 63. The well reportedly has an oil volume of maybe up to 977 million barrels.

Authorities searching for smugglers of giant sea turtles in Palawan

By Clarinda I. Catimpo [(PNA), LAM/CARF/CIC/SSC]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 27 (PNA) -– Wildlife authorities in Palawan are bent on searching for identified suspects who were responsible for trying to illegally ship out of the southern town of Balabac 69 giant sea turtles (pawikan) allegedly to Chinese traders.

The PNP-Maritime in southern Palawan said ongoing sea operations are being conducted currently to catch unidentified suspects who own the motor launch where live giant sea turtles were found. Sixteen of the species were also discovered dead.

“There is an ongoing operation now in the area of Balabac to find out where these suspects are taking shelter and hiding. If they’re arrested, we will file charges against them,” said Melo Ponce de Leon of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS).

Wildlife authorities thwarted the attempt to smuggle out giant sea turtles or pawikan to Chinese traders when they boarded to inspect a motor launch off Balabac town in southern Palawan Saturday afternoon.

Acting on a tip, operatives from the Philippine Navy and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group at around 1:20 p.m. on May 25 boarded the ML Pagasa off Barangay Bancalaan and saw at least 69 giant sea turtles, an endangered species whose hunting, sale and killing have been banned by law since 2001.

According to Maj. Ferdinand Atos, commanding officer of Naval Station Narciso del Rosario in Balabac, at least 16 of the 69 were immediately seen by the operatives when they boarded the vessel.

But law enforcement failed to make arrests as the operator may have been tipped off and fled before their arrival.

Atos said they are still verifying information that the operator was to deliver the pawikan to Chinese traders.

The PCSDS immediately went to Bataraza for inventory, its spokesperson Alex Marcaida said.

He added that the illegal trade in giant sea turtles is being fueled by the demand of multi-billion dollar marine ornamental industry for exotic decorative species and increasing popularity of exotic and aphrodisiac culinary.

The Wildlife Conservation Act, or Republic Act No. 9147, penalizes violators with a fine of up to P100,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.

The pawikan appears on the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), having become endangered because of poaching, slaughter, blast fishing, illegal trade and pollution.

A signatory of the CITES, the Philippines, through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has implemented the Pawikan Conservation Project nationwide.

The live giant sea turtles were also immediately released in Balabac by the PCSDS and wildlife experts, who said they are better released than be brought to Puerto Princesa City.

Animal welfare groups, meanwhile, consider the whole month of May as the Month of the Ocean, which promotes conservation and protection of sea creatures.

Report: 70 pawikan seized from vessel off Palawan

(LBG, GMA News)

At least 70 pawikan (giant sea turtles) were recovered from a motor launch off Balabac town in Palawan province, but the ship’s operator managed to elude arrest.

Operatives from the Philippine Navy and Philippine National Police acting on a tip boarded the ML Pagasa off Brgy. Bancalaan, radio dzBB’s Palawan affiliate James Viernes reported.

The report said at least 15 dead sea turtles were immediately seen by the operatives when they boarded the vessel.

Pawikan is considered an endangered species.

However, the Navy and police failed to make arrests as the operator may have been tipped off and fled before their arrival.

Authorities are verifying information that the operator was to deliver the pawikan to Chinese fishermen.

Puerto Princesa City gov’t holds regular sports clinic to find new competent players


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 24 (PNA) -– To be able to produce new competent players in different kinds of sports, the City Sports Office (CSO) here regularly conducts regular sports clinic.

According to Noli Hitosis of the CSO, a sports clinic will be conducted again in July to be able to select new players that will represent Puerto Princesa in various sporting events locally and internationally.

This year’s sports clinic will concentrate on both public and private schools to regain the confidence and victory that the city gained in the past year.

He recalled that previously, the city delegation emerged victorious over other contenders in the Mindanao, Masbate, Romblon, Palawan-Regional Athletic Association (MIMAROPA-RAA) event, but for some reason, and maybe several factors, it went to Palawan delegation.

Although Hitosis has no problem about this, he is optimistic that if given serious attention, particularly by trainers, the city delegation can once again shine in the MIMAROPA-RAA.

“Basically, it does not only pertain to individual performance but also a team work,” he said.

Annually, the city government allocates P5 million for the city sports, and though this has not increased, he is positive that 2013 is going to be a brighter year for the city sports delegation.

“This year is a strong indication that in two years, the Puerto Princesa delegation will recapture the championship,” Hitosis confidently said.

Diskwento Caravan Balik Eskwela goes to the south

By Victoria Asuncion S. Mendoza (LBR/VSM/PIA4B-Palawan)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, May 23 (PIA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)–Palawan will roll out its Diskwento Caravan starting May 27 and will last until the first week of June in the southern part of the province.

Diskwento Caravan provides cheaper school supplies like notebooks, pencils, pens, bags, writing pads, art materials, and uniforms to parents who otherwise will be burdened with high costs of commodities before the opening of school. Discounts may range from 10 to 50 percent.

The caravan will open from 8:00am to 5:00 pm in the following areas: May 27 - Brooke’s Point at the 168 Merchandising in Poblacion, Brooke’s Point; June 1 - Narra Covered Court in Poblacion, Narra; Rio Tuba covered court in Rio Tuba, Bataraza; June 1-2 at the 169 Merchandising in Marangas, Bataraza; June 2 at the public market site in Poblacion, Brooke’s Point.

“We wish to reach out to more consumers in the rural areas so that they too can enjoy the discounts as well as quality goods because there will many products and choices available,” said Rosenda Fortunado, DTI provincial director.

Simultaneous with the selling, the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will also give free haircut services to school children present during the conduct of Diskwento Caravan.

Diskwento Caravan is a flagship project of DTI since 2008 that aims to provide non-wage benefits for wage earners and employees to ease the consumers’ burden of rising prices of basic necessities and prime commodities.

DTI's partners for project are the local government units, TESDA), NCCC Supermarket and Department Store, Unitop Supermarket and Department Store, Abot Kaya commercial, and other leading establishments in the localities.

300 blue naped parrots, talking mynah fledglings confiscated in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 22 (PNA) -- Around 300 heads of blue naped parrot and talking mynah fledglings were confiscated by environment authorities in the southern Palawan municipality of Narra Tuesday from two suspects.

The arrested suspects, Ronald Mendiza and Rolando Montaño, claimed the fledglings are not theirs, and were only entrusted to them by an individual, whose name they did not mention.

The Wildlife Trafficking Unit (WTU) of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) said the two suspects were arrested and the fledglings confiscated following tip-offs from concerned residents in Barangay Borirao, Narra.

Mendiza said the birds were supposed to be transported to Manila this week to be sold in the illegal wildlife market, but they have not heard from their owner. They refused to say more to environment authorities.

The two will be facing charges for violation of Section 27 (f) of Republic Act (also known as the Wildlife Act) 9147 for collecting, hunting or possessing of wildlife.

The blue naped parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis), locally known as “pikoy”, is being hunted in secondary forests and forest edges in Palawan. In illegal wildlife trading, they fetch as much as P4,000. They are also sold illegally on the internet.

According to the World Parrot Trust, the blue naped parrot only has a remaining population of 10,000 and is considered near-threatened.

30 Chinese vessels, 1 warship sighted in Palawan

By Ace Tamayo (

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez confirmed on Tuesday, May 21, that around 30 Chinese fishing vessels, including 3 Chinese government ships, have been sighted for more than a week at Ayungin Shoal, part of the Kalayaan Island Group off Palawan.

Hernandez said the DFA has already filed a protest with the Chinese Embassy in Manila on May 10 over “the provocative and illegal presence” of the Chinese government ships, two China Marine Surveillance (CMS) ships and one warship, around the shoal.

“The Philippine calls on China to respect the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines over its continental shelf including the waters around the [Ayungin] shoal,” Hernandez said.

The incident is the latest flare-up of tensions between the two countries over competing territorial claims to parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

In 2012, at least 10 Chinese ships were monitored by the Philippine Navy's flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), when it was deployed at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal for maritime patrol in the area.

‘Harassing vessels’

Hernandez reported that the Chinese fishing vessels have been “going around” the shoal for more than a week, which triggered the DFA to file a protest to respect sovereign rights over the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“China's interference with the sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea is a violation of international law particularly United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the United Nations charter and the DOC," Hernandez said.

On Friday, May 17, Kalayaan Island Group Mayor Joel Bito-onon disclosed that two foreign vessels he believed were owned by the Chinese harassed him early Wednesday morning, May 15.

Bito-onon recalled that while they were sailing near Ayungin, the two vessels followed them with strong searchlights, with one only 30 meters away from them.

Ayungin Shoal is located 105.77 nautical miles from Palawan and constitutes part of the Philippines’ 200 nautical miles continental shelf provided under UNCLOS.

“Ayungin Shoal is an integral part of our national territory,” Hernandez said.

Palawan NGOs ready to show proof coal power is destructive to environment, human health


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 20 (PNA) -– Non-government organizations (NGOs)for the environment in Palawan are ready to show proof that coal power is dangerous and destructive to environment and human health anytime, anywhere, according to Elizabeth Maclang of the Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI).

Maclang’s statement came in the wake of an alleged dare by the DMCI Power Corporation (DPC) that they should show substantial proof of actual cases instead of substantiations only found on the internet that may have also been posted by those who are opposed to coal power in other places.

In an interview, she challenged the DPC in return to open an email account or a Facebook account where they can upload proofs and evidences that coal power can have serious long-term effects to human health and the environment.

“Mag-open sila ng email account o di kaya ng FB account nila at doon namin i-u-upload ang mga ebidensya na sinasabi nila (They should open and email account or an FB account and we will upload the proofs they need),” she challenged the DPC in return.

The alleged DPC challenge came after conservation groups in Palawan launched and mounted online signature campaigns against the planned construction of a coal power plant in Barangay Panacan, Narra that is located near the Philippine Cockatoo sanctuary Rasa Island.

To date, the Katala Foundation, Inc. (KFI), the NGO that is behind the signature campaign against the DPC-proposed coal power, has already gathered over 65,000 signatures from the Philippines, including other countries.

Indira Widdman, one of the heads of KFI, said that with the number of signatures they have already gathered, they are hoping that the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) would listen and not accommodate the “dangeour project.”

Bullying by Sino ship alarms gov’t

By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The government has expressed concern over last Wednesday’s incident in the disputed Spratly Islands wherein a Chinese warship chased the utility boat of the Kalayaan island town for almost one hour.

“Our national government is concerned on the latest incident,” re-elected Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon said after he reported to higher authorities the alleged bullying by a Chinese warship of their boat M/T Queen Seagull.

Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have asked for a full and official report on the matter from the Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom).

M/T Queen Seagull, a 40-meter supply and utility boat of Kalayaan town, was ferrying 133 Kalayaan islanders and 14 crewmembers back to Palawan from Pag-Asa Island in the Spratly archipelago, following the conduct of the midterm elections.

Bito-onon said the Chinese warship started chasing the Queen Seagull when their boat was passing by Ayungin Reef at around midnight Wednesday.

He said on several occasions the Chinese vessel sailed toward the Queen Seagull, and came so close as if the warship was poised to ram the boat.

The Chinese warship, with its floodlights directed at the Queen Seagull, also maneuvered left and right in apparent attempts to get the Philippine boat to sail toward shallow waters and be grounded.

“I was just thankful that most of our passengers were asleep. It could have triggered a major incident (if the passengers would panic),” Bito-onon said.

He added that even the skipper of the Queen Seagull and his assistant, both seasoned sailors, panicked when the Chinese warship conducted a ship-side maneuver toward the left when the Queen Seagull was passing by a reef to the right.

Bito-onon said he could only surmise that the Chinese warship is an escort vessel of two larger Chinese ships now anchored within the general vicinity of Ayungin Reef.

“With her powerful floodlights trained on our boat, our skipper and our guards were blinded from seeing what type of Chinese warship that harassed us. But it was a harrowing experience,” Bito-onon said.

Located halfway between Pag-Asa Island and Palawan, Ayungin Reef is being guarded by Filipino troops on board a grounded Philippine Navy cargo ship, BRP Sierra Madre.

Alvarez humbles Mitra in Palawan

By Redempto Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – Jose C. Alvarez’s proclamation as the next governor of Palawan snuffed incumbent Abraham Kahlil Mitra’s (LP) bid for a second term and underscored an almost total wipeout of the ruling party’s local bets in the province.

Even with votes from three more towns still to be received by the central computer at the Capitol’s session hall, but with Mitra lagging behind Alvarez by nearly 70,000 votes, the provincial election body ruled to proclaim Alvarez last Wednesday.

A businessman and former logging concessionaire in the province, Alvarez headed a local party allied with the Nationalist People’s Coalition to sweep nearly all major provincial posts, including majority of the Provincial Board seats.

“I’m simply glad it is all over and we can hit the road running,” lawyer Victorino Socrates, Alvarez’s running mate who trounced LP bet and board member Rolando Bonoan for the vice governorship, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Lawyer Nesario Awat, an election lawyer for some LP candidates who was observing the provincial canvassing, described the defeat of the LP lineup in Palawan “an unexpected total annihilation.”

Alvarez’s local party, the Partido Pagbabago ng Palawan (PPP), also won the majority of seats on the Provincial Board and the mayoralty of most large municipalities. The PPP also swept the three congressional seats in the province, with the victories of Eric Abueg (2nd district), Franz Joseph Alvarez (1st district) and Douglas Hagedorn (3rd district).

“I was expecting that the turnout would be close, at least for the governorship, considering that Mitra was an incumbent and Alvarez already lost to him in 2010. This was quite surprising,” Awat told the Inquirer.

Mitra was a no-show in the provincial canvassing and did not concede defeat, prompting the Comelec to wait two days to establish an irreversible margin in favor of Alvarez before ruling to proclaim Alvarez.

Mitra, son of the late former Speaker Ramon V. Mitra, won over Alvarez in the 2010 elections but was since hounded by allegations of corruption related to the misuse of Malampaya royalty funds in Palawan.

In Puerto Princesa City, Ellen Hagedorn (NPC), the wife of incumbent city mayor and senatorial candidate Edward S. Hagedorn (IND), failed in her bid to take on the torch held by the popular clan for the past two decades, bowing to current vice mayor Lucilo Bayron in the mayoral race.

2 vessels harass Palawan mayor, 200 others at sea

By Redempto Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – The mayor of Kalayaan town in Palawan, along with around 200 people, were harassed by two unidentified vessels while they were traveling by sea before midnight Thursday, the local official said.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan, which governs Pag-asa and four other islets in the Spratlys claimed by the Philippines, said they left Pag-asa Island on Wednesday, after casting their votes Monday.

He said they were on their way to Puerto Princesa, about 280 nautical miles away, on board a municipal boat and passing by the Ayungin Shoal when the two vessels approached them.

Ayungin Shoal is about 100 nautical miles from Pag-asa and near Mischief Reef, which is occupied by China.

The vessels looked like big military naval vessels, said Bito-onon, who just arrived here Friday afternoon.

He said it came as close as 30 meters and followed them for about an hour, with a strong spotlight, then left.

Last week, the Philippines called on China to back off the country’s established maritime borders in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), saying any foray into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) would be a violation of international law.

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued the statement amid reports that China has deployed a large fleet of fishing vessels in the Kalayaan group of islands in the disputed Spratlys archipelago.

2 foreign ships 'harass' Filipino vessel near Ayungin reef but incident 'normal,' mayor says

By Abigail C. Kwok in Manila, Elmer Badilla in Puerto Princesa (

A re-elected mayor of an island being claimed by both the Philippines and China was tailed and harassed by two unidentified patrol vessels while on the way back to mainland Palawan.

While onboard the vessel MV Queen Seagull, Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. of the Municipality of Kalayaan said they were passing through the Ayungin Shoal on their way to Balabac town when a “navy ship” tailed them and trained a search light on them.

“Yung isa 30-40 meters away from us. Yung isa medyo malayo na. Ayun pinailawan kami ng napakalakas na search light kumbaga mula ulo hanggang paa. Akala ata may mga dala kaming armas,” Bitoonon told Interaksyon.

(The first one was 30 to 40 meters away from us. The other was located at a distance. The first trained a powerful search light on us, as if we were being examined from head to foot. They thought that we carried arms.)

The Mayor also said that they were tailed for about an hour until they have reached some distance from the shoal.

But Bito-onon, who was onboard the vessel at the time of the incident, said this was "normal" for him and residents of Kalayaan Island and was unfazed by the incident.

Bito-onon said he was travelling with 146 others en route to Balabac Island from Kalayaan Island after being re-elected as mayor past midnight of May 15 when they were tailed by a foreign vessel.

The incident occurred near Ayungin Reef, some 176 nautical miles from mainland Palawan.

"Tulog ako eh, naikwento lang ng mga kasama ko. Hinabol daw kami for about an hour until we passed by Ayungin where a big unidentified boat is anchored. At close range wala silang nakitang numero kasi ang lakas ng spotlight nila...wala naman silang ginawa sa amin except sinundan lang kami," Bito-onon said.

(I was asleep at that time and it was just narrated to me by my companions. We were supposedly chased for an hour until we passed by Ayungin. My companions were unable to see any number or markings that would identify the ship because its spotlight was so bright and powerful. But they didn't do us any harm. Except that they just tailed us.)

He said another unidentified ship was anchored off Ayungin and trained its searchlight on them when their vessel passed by.

The ship that was tailing them was unable to catch up with their vessel but followed them for an hour, Bito-onon said.

Most of the Filipino ship's crew was asleep at the time and his narration was based on accounts of his crew who were awake at the time, he said.

Asked if the ship them could have been from the Philippine Navy, Bito-onon said: "Walang ganung kabilis na barko natin. Barko ng China tumatakbo ng 40 knots mahigit eh, seven times faster ng lantsa namin, tumatakbo kami ng seven knots."

(There are no Philippine ships that travel as fast as that. Chinese vessels run as much as 40 knots an hour, seven times faster than our boat which only runs seven knots an hour.)

But the mayor dismissed the incident as a normal occurrence.

"Sanay na kami diyan. Hindi naman kami sinasaktan, wala naman silang ginagawa sa amin so kumbaga posture-posture lang, puro pagbibida lang," Bito-onon said.

(We're used to that. After all, they're not hurting us--they're just showing off.)

He further revealed that a foreign ship often passed near Kalayaan Island, probably from the Chinese coast guard.

Bito-onon also confirmed that there is a “big naval ship” anchored on Ayungin shoal as earlier reported by but denied by Western Command.

Ellaine Martir, election officer of Kalayaan separately told that they also spotted a “fishing fleet” in the area on their way to conduct elections in the island while aboard a nomad aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.

DVD of award-winning Palawan film 'Busong' released in US

(GMA News)

The film, “Busong (Palawan Fate),” had its U.S. and international DVD release on May 1st. The DVD will be available from the official website

Set on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, the film maps the quest of a brother and sister. Punay, born with wounds on her feet so severe, cannot step on the earth. Her brother Angkadang, carries her as they search the changing landscapes of Palawan for a healer.

Different people help: a woman searching for her husband, a fisherman who has lost his boat, and a young man on a journey to find himself. Each one finds his/her ‘busong.’

Inspired by his mother’s stories, the legends and myths of Palawan, director Auraeus Solito explains that “busong” is the indigenous Palawanon concept of fate or instant karma. “What you do to nature, you do to yourself.”

“Busong” marks the first Palawanon film directed by Solito, one of the Philippines’ leading independent filmmakers. His first feature film “The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros” won numerous awards, was the first Filipino film screened at Sundance, and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Solito comes from a lineage of Shaman-Kings from the Palawan tribe and is one of the first born outside his tribal land. He is also known as Kanakan-Balintagos, a tribal spirit name meaning “Hunter of Truths.”

“Busong” has garnered international accolades. It premiered as an official selection at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival’s Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors’ Fortnight).

It won awards for best direction, best sound, and best original music score at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in July of 2011. It also earned the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Eurasia International Film Festival in September 2011, the Emile Cantillon Tomorrow’s Cinema Award at the Brussels International Festival of Independent Films in October 2011, the Merata Mita “Best of Stories” Award at National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival in September 2012, and two awards, the Special Award for Artistic Achievement and the Terroir of Cinema Award, at the Santa Rosa International Film Festival also in September 2012.

“Busong” has been screened in over 25 international film festivals in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Asia, South America and the Pacific. Fittingly, the final festival screening will be at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival in New Zealand this May 30-June 3, 2013, as a tribute to the pioneering Maori filmmaker, the late Ms. Merata Mita.

“Busong” stars Alessandra de Rossi, Clifford Banagale, Bonivie Budao and Dax Alejandro.

For more information, please visit, or contact Jong de Castro via Facebook. - The FilAm

Palawan COMELEC proclaims Hagedorn congressman of new 3rd congressional district

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), HBC/CARF/SSC]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 15 (PNA) –- Transmission of election results to the Palawan COMELEC Board of Canvassers at the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan remains sluggish.

But on Wednesday morning it already proclaimed Douglas Hagedorn, the eldest brother of senatorial candidate Edward Hagedorn, as the new and the first congressman of the 3rd Palawan Congressional District covering this city and the town of Aborlan.

Douglas, who ran under the Nationalist People’s Coalition and the eldest brother of senatorial candidate Edward, bested five other candidates by a wide margin, two of them retired ranking police officers.

As of 12:49, May 15, Douglas’ lead was no longer doubtful at 34,957 against close rivals former policeman and incumbent councilor Jimmy Carbonell, who only gained 18,005 votes, and former ranking police colonel Eduardo Matillano, who only received 9,535 votes.

Three other independent candidates received scanty votes: Lakay Lagasca-3,834; Arcelie Altamera-190 and Sonny Lazo-141 votes.

Of the four Hagedorns who ran in various key positions – Mayor Edward for senator; his wife Ellen Hagedorn for Puerto Princesa mayor and Douglas’ son Mark Hagedorn for vice mayor – only Douglas won in the elections.

With “Tiger” as non de plume, Douglas is known for being strict in terms of implementing policies when he was an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod for being president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen in Puerto Princesa as former barangay chairman of San Miguel, which is most populated.

In his Facebook account, he is described as a “determined leader and a clever political strategist. Devoid of a degree in law, this did not limit him from understanding and applying the basics of the law and how it can serve the interest of the people. He is respected as a man of wisdom and action. His co-legislators often regard him as a lawyer due to his proficiency in policy and legal matters.”

Douglas told the Philippines News Agency briefly that he considers his win as “fate,” and he shall do his best to make the destiny the chance to improve Puerto Princesa and the municipality of Aborlan.

Alvarez leads Mitra in Palawan's gubernatorial race

(Celeste A Formoso/Lily O Ramos/Media Ng Bayan)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 14 (PNA) -– The Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBC) waiting at the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in this city has not yet received any official transmittal of election returns (ERs) from municipal precincts in Palawan.

Palawan Comelec chief Atty. Orlando Ba-alan said they are just waiting for the arrival of the results, but he did not say what is causing the delay.

“Ganito talaga ang sitwasyon every election sa level natin. Talagang maghihintay tayo ng padalang resulta. Usually, ganito po talaga (The situation is really like this in our level. We really need to wait for the transmission of results. Usually, it is like this),” Ba-alan said.

Despite the absence of unofficial partial results from the Palawan PBC, those from the Comelec National Office say businessman and philanthropist Jose Chaves Alvarez is leading in the gubernatorial race in the partial unofficial election results canvassing against rival incumbent Palawan Governor Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra.

As of 7:47 a.m. Tuesday, partial unofficial results released by the Commission on Elections in the website disclosed Alvarez, who ran under the Nationalist Peoples’ Coalition (NPC)/Partidong Pagbabago ng Palawan (PPP) has already logged a total of 85,491 votes which represent 62.76 percent of the election returns (ERs).

Mitra, who ran under the Liberal Party (LP), on the other hand, has recorded a total of 50,190 votes that represent 36.85 percent of the ERs. Another candidate, Richard Lopez, who ran independently, received 538 votes or 0.39 percent of the election returns.

In the Rappler website, supposedly the only news website that has an electronically sourced result from the Comelec’s Transparency Server via a mirror server, partial unofficial result as of May 14, 9:25 a.m., Alvarez has already gained 102,026 votes, while Mitra has 60,261 and Lopez 637 votes.

Ba-alan said canvassing on Tuesday will begin for local announcements as soon as transmissions have already been made.

Meanwhile, Ba-alan said elections in Palawan was “generally peaceful” despite the heated situation in the municipality of Bataraza following a shooting incident between the supporters of two rival mayoralty candidates.

As head of Task Force HOPE (Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Election) in Palawan, he said the Bataraza incident was the only one reported in terms of election violence.

More Marines deployed in Palawan town as tensions grips area

By Redempto D. Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – The Western Command has deployed an additional contingent of Marines in the town of Bataraza following a still-unresolved shooting incident Friday, as tension continued to grip the Muslim-dominated town near the southern tip of Palawan. Provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) Supervisor Orlando Ba-alan said additional forces from the 3rd Marine Brigade and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were deployed in Bataraza to quell potential violence between two warring camps for the town’s mayoralty post.

“So far, we have relative control of the situation. So far everything is going well,” Ba-alan said.

Reports from several residents in the municipality indicated a slow turnout of voters in the area.

In Igang-igang, the village where two people were killed in a shooting incident Friday night occurred, some 100 Palaw-an natives who fled their village following the shooting have reportedly returned, he said. In other parts of the province, reports received by the Comelec indicated a breakdown of PCOS machines in at least three places in the province, including the capital of Puerto Princesa City where the machines stopped reading the ballots after just over 50 votes were fed into ithem.

Ba-alan said they have prepared contingency measures to address PCOS malfunction issues, including capability to perform manual counting.

Teenage girl killed in gun battle between Palawan bets

By Lynette dela Cruz (ABS-CBN News Palawan,

MANILA, Philippines -- A 16-year-old girl was killed after the camps of two mayoral candidates in Bataraza, Palawan allegedly exchanged gunfire Saturday evening.

Police said several armed men, suspected to be supporters of mayoral bet Mulsinin Abdurajik, strafed the house of a certain Saburi Basariang where supporters of mayoral bet Katrina Ibba were staying.

The firing of shots, which occurred at around 11:45 p.m., then resulted in a gunfight after the camp of Ibba returned fire.

Sixteen-year-old Myra Basari was killed in the incident. She was reportedly sleeping inside Basariang's house when the firefight ensued.

Five people from Ibba's camp were also injured. They were rushed to the Leoncio Hospital in Brooke's Point for treatment.

At least one suspect was also reported injured and was brought to the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital.

Police said nine of the suspects were arrested and are now under their custody.

Authorities said hours before the incident, a supporter of Abdurajik identified as Alrasid Badidina was also killed.

Police said it is possible that Abdurajik was seeking revenge for the death of Badidina.

Abdurajik has denied any involvement in the incident while Ibba has yet to issue a statement.

Investigations are still ongoing.

2 dead, 6 hurt in Palawan town shootout

By Redempto D. Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY–Two person were killed, including a local municipal official, and at least six were reported wounded in a shootout late Friday night between supporters of two mayoral candidates in the southern municipality of Bataraza.

The Philippine National Police provincial command also said an undetermined number of armed supporters of the opposing candidates have been held in custody.

The fatalities were identified as Alrazid Balidin, the secretary of the Bataraza municipal council, and Myra Ossop Bazari, 16, and daughter of a local village councilor.

PNP provincial spokesperson Inspector Pearl Lamban Marzo said the shooting happened at 11:45 p.m. in the village of Igang-Igang, Bataraza between supporters of mayoral candidates Katrina Ibba and Mulzinin Abdurajik.

Both camps had accused each other of initiating the shooting, in separate local radio interviews.

Marzo said the PNP has recovered spent high caliber firearms shells in the area of the shooting.

“We are still completing our investigation and we will determine whether to recommend that Bataraza be placed under Comelec control,” Marzo said.

Ex-PNP official tagged in Palawan killings


AN alleged first cousin of former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director, Eduardo Matillano, has issued a statement linking the police official in two murders in Puerto Princesa City and in the foiled attempt to murder independent senatorial candidate and mayor, Edward Hagedorn during the 2007 mayoralty campaign.

In a three-page affidavit before Assistant State Prosecutor Philip de la Cruz, Joel Matillano, first cousin to the retired police official, declared that he has intimate knowledge about the plots as he served as “close-in bodyguard” to his cousin.

The younger Matillano’s statement subscribed before de la Cruz in February, was only released Wednesday, while he is now under police custody in Palawan. A copy of the document has been furnished this reporter.

He said that when his uncle decided to contest the mayoralty race in Puerto Princesa during the 2007 elections, he was then staying in Manila but was asked by the latter to join him as his “bodyguard.”

In Palawan, he said it was revealed to him by Matillano’s “chief of staff,” a certain “Kiko Aquino,” that they have come up with a plan to murder Hagedorn, coded as “04,” his brother, Douglas, coded “Tiger” and one Col. Dimayuga, coded “Galadgad.”

Joel said two groups of “hitmen” from Davao province were hired by the camp of his uncle to execute the three.

The eight-man first group was tasked to eliminate Hagedorn while the other, a two-man hit squad composed of an “uncle and his nephew” was to kill Douglas and Dimayuga.

Joel also confessed that the two-man hit team as “highly dependable” and was also behind the May 22, 2006 murder of local radio-broadcaster, Fernando “Dong” Batul, also allegedly on the orders of Matillano.

But before Hagedorn, his brother and Dimayuga could be killed, Matillano allegedly ordered the second team to first kill Puerto Princesa assistant election official, Petronillo Amorin, who was said to favor Hagedorn.

Amorin was shot dead in 2007 and a policeman, PO1 Alfredo Carandang, was charged.

Joel, however, said the police got the wrong suspect as Carandang was merely asked by Matillano to check on the Amorin hit job done by the second team when he was arrested and subsequently charged for the crime.

He added the plan to kill Hagedorn by throwing a grenade during his campaign rally in Mendoza Park was derailed after Hagedorn changed the venue inside a coliseum “where it was hard to smuggle in grenade and guns,” Joel said.

The older Matillano was recently placed on the Bureau of Immigration watchlist on the order of the Sandiganbayan for perjury and faking the details of his Statement of Assets, Net worth and Liabilities from 1994 to 2000 and then again in 2004.

Conservationists mount signature drive vs coal-fired power plant in Palawan

By Redempto D. Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines–Conservation groups have mounted a signature campaign to stop a planned construction of a coal-fired power facility beside Rasa Island in southern Palawan, which is considered as the last remaining habitat of the critically endangered Palawan Cockatoo.

“We have already collected 65,000 signatures including people from other countries who are as concerned as we are about saving the Katala (the local name of the Palawan Cockatoo). We are hoping the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) will finally listen to our plea,” Indira Widdman of the Katala Foundation said Wednesday in a press conference launching the campaign.

The signature drive is so far directed towards the members of the PCSD, a local regulatory and permitting body which the anti-coal lobbyists have accused of being “unreasonably partial” to the coal plant proponent, the Consunji-led DMCI Powers Corp.

DMCI last year won a contract to supply 15 megawatts of electricity to the Palawan Electric Cooperative and has applied for local permits to set up the plant in the coastal village of Panacan in the municipality of Narra. It needs a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance from PCSD before it can apply for an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Environmentalists however are opposing the coal facility, warning that the plant’s choice of location will disrupt the flight path of the Palawan cockatoo from the island of Rasa just about a kilometer away from the pier of the planned coal facility.

“The Palawan cockatoo is facing an extremely high risk of extinction. We hope the PCSD will finally listen,” biologist Peter Widdman said.

Another oil well to rise in Palawan

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Another oil well will rise in Palawan after Nido Petroleum Ltd, an Australian company and PNOC-Exploration Corp. approved the working plan for the drilling of the Baragatan prospect.

The two companies are set to start drilling the new oil prospect, located 30 kilometers in offshore Palawan, Nido said in a regulatory filing. Nido and PNOC-EC are joint venture partners in Service Contract 63, which includes the Baragatan prospect.

In its announcement, Nido said both partners have approved the work plan and budget to drill the Baragatan Prospect. Nido holds a 50 percent participating interest in SC 63 and will be the technical operator during the drilling phase.

The Baragatan Prospect is a large well-defined -block with an estimated oil-in-place of 676 million barrels of oil with an upside potential of 977 million barrels.

The proponents place the recoverable oil volume at 115 million barrels with a potential of up to 166 million barrels.

In its announcement, Nido said its share of drilling costs is fully funded from current cash reserves and ongoing production revenue. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

The joint venture is allotting $22 to $25 million, with Nido’s share estimated at $11 to $12.5 million. Nido will finance its share of the drilling cost from its current cash reserves and ongoing production from the Galoc oil field.

The two companies expect to start the drilling activities as soon as possible, possibly within the year.

“The joint venture is progressing activities to secure a jack-up rig for the drilling of the exploration well and will drill the well as soon as practicable,” Nido said.

The joint venture through PNOC-EC has also secured the Strategic Environmental Plan Clearance (SEP) from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) for its exploration activities within the block.

“I am pleased the joint venture has approved the drilling of the high impact Baragatan oil Prospect, in SC 63. A successful discovery has the potential to materially change the value of Nido Petroleum Limited. We are fully funded for this well from current cash reserves and ongoing production, and we look forward to securing a rig and updating the market accordingly on timing,” said Nido managing director Philip Byrne.

DOH-CHD gives free immunization for influenza, pneumonia in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 7 (PNA) -- Given that influenza and other pneumococcal diseases are the top causes of death in old age, health workers in Palawan equipped themselves with trainings to administer vaccines against these fatal diseases.

According to Apolonia David, chief of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PWSDO) in Palawan, the health workers and senior citizens themselves attended the training held by the Center for Health Development Region IV-B (CHD4B) in Batangas to ensure effective and fast administration of influenza and pneumococcal vaccines for indigent senior citizens.

The training was attended by program coordinators of the Palawan provincial health well-being for older persons; expanded program on immunization; presidents of the Office of Senior Citizens Affair in the province; and officers of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, David said.

“Ang pulmonya at trangkaso ang karaniwang dahilan ng pagkakasakit ng mga matatanda na kapag lumala at hindi naagapan kaya nagiging sanhi ng pagkamatay. Dahil dito, isinagawa ang training na ito upang maibigay at maituro ang mga impormasyon para sa tamang pag-iimbak at pag-iingat ng flu and pneumococcal vaccines (Pulmonary disease and flu are the common ailments of elderly people, and if they get serious and nothing was done, they can cause death. This is the reason why the training was called; to teach them information for the proper way of storing and managing themselves against flu and pneumococcal vaccines),” David said.

Both diseases were responsible for hospitalizations, including deaths worldwide and complications occur among elderly especially those having underlying chronic medical conditions.

“Immunization remains the best preventive measure to fight cases of pneumonia and influenza,” David revealed.

David furthered that indigent senior citizens are given pneumococcal immunizations only once while influenza vaccine is being provided yearly. This is because pneumococcal vaccine provides lifetime immunity for senior citizens.

On the other hand, treatment for influenza depends on the strain of the flu virus prevailing for a given year.

The training is part of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act. No.9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010” where it assigns the Department of Health to supervise distribution of free pneumococcal and influenza vaccines to indigent senior citizens that are beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development under the program National Household Targetting System for Poverty Reduction or the DSWD-NHTS-PR.

Health authorities are optimistic that after the vaccination, indigent senior citizens will be more protected against the disease reducing the risk of contracting it.

SC unseats Palawan vice gov

By Jovan Cerda (

A week before the midterm polls, the Supreme Court announced its decision to unseat Palawan Vice Gov. Clara Espiritu-Reyes after affirming the Commission on Elections' decision invalidating her certificate of candidacy (COC) in the 2010 elections.

The vice governor is the wife of former Gov. Joel Reyes, a suspect in the slay of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

The poll body earlier ordered the invalidation of Clara's COC for the vice gubernatorial post in the May 10, 2010 elections due to her failure to substantiate her claim that she is a permanent resident of Barangay Tigman, Aborlan, Palawan.

The Comelec 2nd Division found Reyes guilty of "material misrepresentation" in her COC. She filed pleas before the poll body to reconsider its decision but subsequent denials prompted her to elevate the case to the SC.

The SC issued a resolution stating that it found no grave avuse of discretion on the part of Comelec in its rulings. Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

"Accordingly, the resolutions dated May 5, 2010 and July 12, 2010 of the Comelec 2nd Division and the Comelec en banc, respectively, are hereby affirmed. The status quo ante order dated July 27, 2010 is hereby lifted," the SC said, referring to the ruling in favor of Clara.

New resto reveals Puerto Princesa's most exciting dining experience


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 5 (PNA) -- The new Kinamai Sa Puerto (KSP) located in the central part of this city has recently opened, offering residents and visitors a full spectrum of the rich mystical flavors and aromas of Mongolian barbecue.

Every evening diners can enjoy the traditional sounds of kulintang and hegelung instruments playing discreetly in the background, cultural dances and tribal musical performances on weekends.

According to Korean couple Martin Chung and Maria Yoon, KSP introduces to Puerto Princesa a new dining experience: the all-you-can-eat Mongolian barbecue buffet.

This cuisine gives you the freedom to choose your ingredients from 36 choices of beef, pork, poultry, fish, vegetables, noodles, sauces and condiments.

For the uninitiated, Martin describes how it works, "All the ingredients are lined-up on a long buffet table placed in individual containers. You will get your bowl, fill it up with your choice ingredients, scoop in sauces and seasoning and at the end of the line you will hand over your bowl to the chef. You can watch while your dish is being cooked on a very hot iron plate or you may go back to your table and the cooked dish will be served to you by the food servers."

"Come back for more, it is all-you-can-eat, and experiment on the mixture of ingredients. Some like it spice, some like it sweet, some like it salty, just enjoy the freedom to mix-and-match," Maria added.

For its main offering, KSP will feature cultural dance and song numbers by the Life Dance Ensemble. Cultural dance numbers from Palawan and select regions of the Philippines shall be rendered. There will be two shows nightly except Monday; 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays.

This is a treat that the whole family, residents, and guests of Puerto Princesa, shall enjoy. Take advantage of the introductory prices (15 percent discount per buffet) until May 15th, 2013.

KSP restaurant is along Kilometer 4 of North National Highway, between Robinsons Place and Ka Inato Restaurant in San Manuel, Puerto Princesa City.

Palawan gov’t lauds El Nido Resorts triumph in UAE Global Summit


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 3 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Palawan lauded the El Nido Resorts (ENR) of Ten Knots Development Corporation’s (TKDC) win in the recent 13th World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Annual Global Summit held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates as worthy of emulation for the optimistic opportunities it brings to the province’s tourism industry and people.

Palawan Gov. Baham Mitra through the Provincial Information Office (PIO) said ENR’s victory in the WTTC is also the people of the province’s and the numerous foreign and domestic tourists’ attainment simply because of their full participation in the strict observance and implementation of environment and community policies and guidelines principles.

The PIO said Mitra hopes that El Nido Resorts compliance to these policies will be replicated by other resorts, high-end or otherwise, in the province to show the world that while Palawan is highly engaged in tourism, it does not take for granted the welfare of its people and environment.

He said the benefits that the ENR has imparted to the people of El Nido only goes to show that it does not only care for profits, but also cares for the well-being of the community where it operates.

The El Nido Resorts won the global award for “Tourism for Tomorrow 2013 Award in the Community Benefit Category organized by the WTTC.

The WTTC is an organization of business leaders, multinational corporations, airlines, and hotel chains that gives prestigious awards to recognize best practices in global travel and tourism.

El Nido Resorts won the award as a group of ecotourism destinations in the northern Palawan town of El Nido for its contribution to community development that helps the people and putting forward their cultural heritage.

Ninety percent of El Nido Resorts’ workforce is from the town, but what makes them exceptional is that they are lent small amounts to start their small businesses under the micro-financing for small entrepreneurship program.

Resort supervisors are also involved in training residents on food and beverage handling, kitchen and housekeeping skills, and others that can become a leverage of anyone applying for resort jobs.

The ENR ensures too, that its employees and guests are given awareness to make sure that the environment of the resort is kept safe through the BeGREEN or Guard, Respect, Educate El Nido course that pushes environmental best practices.

Environmental groups to file cases vs 4 PCDC members in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 2 (PNA) -- A network of environmental groups here is preparing to file charges against four members of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) after issuing a conditional Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP)clearance to the proposed coal power plant of DMCI Power Corporation(DPC).

The Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI) advocacy officer Elizabeth Maclang said the issuance of the conditional SEP clearance to DPC was highly irregular since it was issued out of an executive committee meeting with only eight members, not during a regular one when all 20 members should be present.

Maclang said this is by far the only remedy they have to stop the DPC from pursuing its detrimental coal power project in Barangay Panacan, Narra, after the conditional SEP clearance was approved.

Those they might charge are former House representative of the 1st Palawan District and vice governor David Ponce de Leon, former House representative of the 1st Palawan District Vicente Sandoval, Board Member Ramon Zabala, and Palawan Provincial Police Office Sr. Supt. Atanacio Macalan, and four others in the alleged absence of a quorum.

She said that per observation by the PNNI, it appears that what the PCSD’s doing is no longer within acceptable reasons considering the fact that it ignored the policy on mandatory public consultation and endorsement, particularly from affected people in the area where the local government unit (LGU) has a big decision to give.

Maclang added that it was weird that Ponce de Leon, who chaired the executive committee meeting and who issued the conditional endorsement, violated Provincial Ordinance No. 682, Series of 2003, or “The Provincial Mandatory Consultation Ordinance of Palawan” that orders the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to make its endorsement mandatory on all projects that are related to the environment before a SEP clearance is issued.

“Based on our observation, it looks like the PCSD is no longer functioning to do its job as caretaker of Palawan’s environment,” Maclang said.

But Alex Marcaida, spokesperson of the PCSD Staff, said the approval of the conditional clearance is not final.

He said that in fact, no SEP clearance has been issued until now since it still has to be approved formally by the PCSD which will sit as a council in its next meeting on May 31 if a quorum is present.

The three members who abstained in voting to issue a conditional endorsement will not be charged by the PNNI. They are PCSD Staff executive director Romeo Dorado; Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, and the Western Command representative.

Maclang said only environment lawyer Grizelda Mayo-Anda stood up to oppose the issuance of a conditional endorsement.

Product development and agri-processing plant opens in Aborlan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, May 1 (PNA) –- In a bid to resolve the mango pulp weevil problem in Palawan, a product development and agri-processing plant was opened in the southern Palawan town of Aborlan recently.

The project was implemented as a response to the mango pulp weevil problem that mango farmers and growers in southern Palawan and Puerto Princesa are still facing after so many years.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Executive Director Cipriano Santiago said that through the said processing plant, mango growers will be encouraged to keep their mango trees and make them bear fruits.

He said the processing plant will accept mangos even if they are infested with mango pulp weevil because the affected flesh is actually removed.

On the other hand, Marylou Hontiveros-Fernando, chairman of Nature’s Tropical Delight (NTD), the U.S.-based company that runs the facility, said that the project wishes to support and assist in rehabilitating Aborlan’s mango industry.

She added that the only problem so far is that mango growers and farmers still have very small knowledge that such a facility was placed in Aborlan.

Aside from mangoes, the plant also processes banana, sweet potato, and coconut that they directly ship to the U.S., while the firm part of coconut is made into coco candies that are being sold in the local market.

Fernando called on mango growers to take advantage of the facility and bring mangoes affective with the pulp weevil to Aborlan to be processed into other products that might be able to generate incomes for them.