Palawan News November 2013

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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.



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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?

WHY??

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

DFA Spokesperson Explains Philippine Foreign Policy to Palawan Students

(DFA)

30 November 2013 – As part of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA’s) efforts to give the public a better understanding of its functions, DFA Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Raul S. Hernandez delivered a lecture on Philippine foreign policy before 160 students of Palawan State University (PSU) and other schools in Puerto Princesa.

The lecture was held on November 29 on PSU’s Puerto Princesa campus.

The Spokesperson explained the various functions and initiatives under the three pillars of Philippine foreign policy, such as passport and assistance-to-nationals services, economic diplomacy initiatives and the arbitration case based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), among others.

Living in a province with a long coastline facing the West Philippine Sea, the students and faculty members paid particular attention to the first pillar, the protection of our national security. Spokesperson Hernandez assured them that the Government is doing its best to preserve our country’s territorial integrity and the resources that rightfully belong to the Filipino people.

He underscored the country’s adherence to the peaceful settlement of disputes and the rule of law as demonstrated by the case filed against China, which he described as an “open, friendly and durable approach” to dispute settlement.

PSU 2“Sa mata ng international law, pantay-pantay tayo (In the eyes of international law, we are all equal). Even in our relationship with other countries we are guided by the principle of daang matuwid,” he remarked.

The Spokesperson also encouraged the students to take part in the DFA’s pursuit of our national interest by joining the Foreign Service and “to strive for and live by the principles of excellence, integrity and patriotism.”

The lecture was attended by Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, PSU President, Dr. Jeter Sespeñe, PSU Vice President, Dr. Lorna C. Gelito, Dean Gabilyn G. Orilla of PSU’s College of Arts and Humanities, Social Science professor Jose Homo, DFA Public Information Services Unit Principal Assistants Sharon Johnnette Agduma and Alvin Malasig, and DFA Puerto Princesa Officer-in-Charge Liza Jane Estalilla. This is the fifth in a series of lectures on Philippine foreign policy conducted by the DFA in a provincial city this year after Baguio, Cebu, Dumaguete and Marawi.

UK aircraft carrier brings relief aid to typhoon victims in Palawan

(PNA), JBP/CARF/PJN

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- The Royal Navy’s second Invincible-class light aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is set to dock on the shores on Palawan to bring much-needed relief aid to survivors of super typhoon Yolanda under the Western Command’ (Wescom) Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Efforts.

Expected to arrive late Friday from a relief mission in the Visayas, the HMS Illustrious, said WESCOM spokesperson Lt. Cherryl Tindog to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), will bring relief aid to the survivors of Yolanda in badly hit Coron and nearby island towns.

Initially, it will bring aid to the residents of barangays Concepcion, Alceciras and Maguin Island in Agutaya municipality that was also affected by Yolanda.

The HMS Illustrious, she disclosed, is also expected to donate a generator set to the Coron District Hospital (CDH) to fully serve the residents, particularly those who survived the onslaught of the monster typhoon.

In related news, the Regional Director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the Southern Tagalog Region has issued a travel advisory informing that travels to the CALABARZON and MIMAROPA regions, including Coron in Palawan, “are safe and secure for any tourist-related activity after Yolanda.

Regional director Rebecca Labit issued the travel advisory Tuesday, even highlighting the municipality of Coron.

“Air, sea, and land transports to CALABARZON and MIMAROPA regions from all points are safe and normal,” she said in a bid to encourage domestic and foreign tourists not to stop going to Coron.

Palawan to invest in infrastructure to level up tourism competitiveness

(PNA), LOR/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 28 (PNA) -– The Palawan government will be investing heavily in infrastructure in 2014 to level up the province’s tourism competitiveness.

Governor Jose Alvarez stressed this following a workshop for stakeholders with the theme “Convergence Towards Palawan’s Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth in Tourism” held over the weekend in a bid to strengthen the opportunities for the tourism sector.

In speaking to the workshop attendees composed of mayors, municipal tourism officers, planning officers and representatives from the private sector, Alvarez said it is important that the provincial government focuses on infrastructure because linkages are significant in the progress of the tourism industry, particularly where investors are concerned.

The governor also stressed that there is a need for a more participative and inclusive involvement of the private sector in pushing for a better tourism industry to generate jobs, and fight poverty.

“Infrastructures must be in place because investors look for them, and to be able to generate additional jobs, everyone must participate actively in flourishing the potentials of our tourism industry,” the governor said.

Among other topics discussed during the workshop were the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project and Historical Context by Ronilo Balbieran and Christina Mata of the Palawan Tourism Council (PTC); and Revisiting the National Tourism Development Plan, presented by Professor Ma. Cherry Lyn Rodolfo of the Research, Education and Institutional Development (REID) Foundation, Inc.

The COMPETE is “intended to contribute to higher growth through the better provision of infrastructure, increased competitiveness of key industries, and increased access to credit.”

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is willing to provide support to measures that will “lower transport and logistics cost, reduce the cost of electricity, and promote the expansion of businesses in the priority sectors identified in the Philippine Development Plan, primarily in tourism and agribusiness.”

Provincial Tourism Office Maribel Buñi said that through the workshop, the stakeholders had the chance to exchange ideas with the others on how to better manage Palawan’s tourism industry for long-term achievement of goals.

It also became a venue for them to upgrade their knowledge on what is the current status of tourism development in the Philippines, where priorities are, and how they can help to achieve high quality services in the industry.

PCG rescues 48 people in Palawan

By Raymund F. Antonio(PNA), PDS/CARF/UTB

Forty eight passengers aboard a motor launch which ran aground were rescued by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) off Rio Tuba in Palawan.

In a report released by its Public Affairs Office, PCG said M/L Albasrom encountered engine problem at sea and was drifted at the vicinity of Ameril Island.

“The skipper failed to drop anchor due to rough seas,” the PCG said.

M/L Albasrom was headed to Puerto Princesa from Mangsee Island when its engine malfunctioned and went dead on water.

A certain Abdul Ambatal from barangay Oring-Oring, Brookes Point reported to the Coast Guard Detachment Rio Tuba about the maritime incident.

PCG sent its search and rescue team to give immediate assistance to the distressed vessel and its passengers. Some volunteer fishermen also responded to the incident and conducted rescue assistance.

The motor launch was towed from its grounding position to Dingal Pier, Marabaha in Rio Tuba, PCG said. PCG Palawan district commander Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista lauded the personnel of CGDet Rio Tuba for their rescue operations as well as the local fishermen.

Palawan govt to cultivate commercial cacao, coffee for more livelihood opportunities

(PNA), PDS/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 26 (PNA)-- The Palawan government is challenging and encouraging Palaweño farmers to put a stake on cultivating cacao and coffee - the high value crops- to provide more livelihood opportunities for them and to harvest from the benefits of the two growing industries in the country.

This, after Governor Jose Alvarez and the provincial government initially signed on November 21 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Rocky Mountain Arabica Coffee Company (RMACC) and Kennemer Foods International, Inc. (KFII) that would implement coffee and cacao projects in seven municipalities in southern Palawan.

RMACC “is a fully integrated Philippine corporation engaged in the production and commercialization of quality Arabica coffee using environment-friendly production technologies.” Its office is in Pasig City.

Kennemer Foods International, Inc., on the other hand, is listed as a “producer and dealer of food and agricultural products, specializing in the growing and trading of high-quality agricultural, such as fermented cacao beans.”

KFII is also the largest buyer of cacao in Davao, and supplies to the chocolate company that makes the Mars chocolate.

Alvarez signed the MOU, which formalized the introduction of the coffee and cacao industries in the province, with RAMCC Director Pierre Yves Cote and KFII Chief Executive Officer Simon Bakker for the southern Palawan towns of Aborlan, Narra, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Española, Quezon and Bataraza in 2014.

According to the MOU, the seven municipalities will each find 1,000-hectares to be devoted to coffee and cacao farming for a combined area of 7,000 hectares in the south.

Cotes and Bakker believe that once everything is in place, the coffee and cacao industry has a huge potential in Palawan due to its good climate and very satisfactory soil quality, and because of the support of the provincial government to investors.

The key to earning good profits, both said, is high-quality harvests as they are the demand of coffee and cocoa-using companies.

Alvarez told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that he expects a contribution of P10 billion from the cacao and coffee industry to Palawan’s economy, with 12 percent directly going to the provincial government that can be used to fund development projects.

He assured that many Palaweños will have ready jobs once the projects have been set up in the seven municipalities.

“We need to open new opportunities to Palaweños, and since Palawan has good quality soil and ideal climate for coffee and cacao, why don’t we begin seriously looking at this industries to help our people,” Alvarez said, adding 60 percent of the coffee supply is imported and the remaining locally-produced.

For technical support to farmers, Alvarez said Palawan’s partner will be the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Accordingly, the Philippines imports 100,000 metric tons of coffee beans every year from Vietnam worth over P10 billion, while 200,000 metric tons of cacao beans worth US million are being bought from African cocoa-producing countries.

120 tons of relief goods reach Calamianes Islands

(PNA), JBP/CARF/JSD

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 25 (PNA) -- Over 120 tons of food relief assistance and rehabilitation and recovery materials arrived Sunday at the Coron Port for the towns of Coron, Busuanga and Culion in the Calamianes Island Group for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).

The arrival of the food relief and rehabilitation and recovery materials in the Calamianes was confirmed by Raymundo Quicho of the PDRRMO.

He said the latest shipment is still part of the PDRRMO’s support to Busuanga, Culion, and Coron, the hardest-hit town in the Calamianes, with over 14,000 homeless residents now.

Quicho said the shipment consists of food relief assistance donated by various groups through the PDRRMO, and basic construction materials that residents can use to start rebuilding their homes.

“Per order by Gov. Jose Alvarez, we also sent along with the shipment, construction materials like plain sheets, plywood, roofing materials, and others, so residents can restart building the homes they lost to the super typhoon,” he said.

Quicho said the PDRRMO continues to receive donations, and all of them will be sent to the devastated towns eventually in the following days.

In Palawan, although Coron suffered the most from Yolanda, 13 other municipalities were declared under states of calamity.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in this city also donated 20,000 family medical kits for Calamianes, and two brand new generators that government hospitals in Coron and Culion can use.

DOE to offer new oil-exploration projects, coal blocks in Q1 of 2014

By Lenie Lectura

The Department of Energy (DOE) will launch in the first quarter of 2014 the Fifth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR 5), the agency’s top official said.

PECR is a regular activity of the DOE that showcases the petroleum-exploration opportunities in the country.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said new petroleum-exploration projects and coal blocks will be offered next year.

“We don’t know how many blocks will be offered because we are still trying to inventory it all, but our target is to launch PECR 5 in the first quarter of next year,” he said.

This early, Petilla said Service Contract (SC) 55 off Palawan could be included in the PECR 5 if members of the consortium that are supposed to undertake the project do not show any interest in pursuing are. “If there is really no interest at all, then I will include it in PECR 5,” Petilla said.

BHP Billiton Petroleum, operator of SC 55, earlier decided to pull out from the drilling of the Cinco-1 of SC 55. Its other partners are Otto Energy and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. There is no word yet from the two as to who will replace BHP Billiton.

“If Otto Energy does not find a drilling partner then I’ll just have to cancel it. Unless they ask for an extension because they are still interested to drill it, then we will extend it. Otherwise, if there is no chance for them to drill it, then we might as well cancel the contract,” Petilla said last week.

In June 2011 the DOE launched its Fourth PECR. Fifteen blocks, covering a total area of approximately 100,339 square kilometers (sq km) were offered in the round. The blocks are mainly located in frontier regions and cover an average size of 6,700 sq km per block, with the largest covering 9,839 sq km in the East Palawan region.

The DOE chief said he has signed all contracts to explore and develop the oil and gas blocks under PECR 4. “I just signed a few remaining contacts and these will be awarded very soon; before the year ends,” Petilla said.

He was referring to Australian firm Planet Gas for Area 1 (Cagayan); Area 4 (Northwest Palawan), which was assigned to a consortium composed of listed firms Philex Petroleum Corp., PNOC Exploration Corp. and PetroEnergy Resources Corp.; Area 5 (Northwest Palawan), which went to Pitkin Petroleum and Philodrill Corp.; and Area 7 (Mindoro Cuyo) , which will be awarded to NorAsian Energy Philippines Inc., the local unit of Australian firm Otto Energy Ltd.

Investments in these service contracts may vary depending on their respective petroleum seismic studies, which may cost at least $5 million, and exploration well-drilling, which could reach up to $100 million per well, Petilla said.

4 Palaweño farmers to receive awards from regional search for Gawad SAKA 2013

(PNA), CTB/CARF/PJN

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) -- Four Palaweño farmers will receive awards on Monday from the Department of Agriculture-sponsored regional search for Gawad SAKA 2013 to be held in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental.

Mila Veneranda of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), named regional farmer awardee Carlo Louie Valdestamon of Samariniana, Brooke’s Point as the Regional Outstanding Young Farmer for the MIMAROPA Region and runner up in the national level of the search.

The other regional awardees are Alexander Marcelo of Barangay Urduja, Narra for the category Integrated Farming; Basilio Macola of Roxas for the category Coconut Farming; and Geoffrey Dureza of Brooke’s Point for the category Small Animal Raiser.

Veneranda said each awardee will receive P30,000 as prize and intervention for their livelihood projects.

Meanwhile, on November 19, the OPA conducted the Provincial Rural Based Organization (RBOs) 4th Quarter Meeting that was attended by federation presidents of the farmers’ association, fisherfolk, vegetable federations, rural improvement clubs, 4-H Club, indigenous peoples associations and farming scientists.

Among the topics discussed were their accomplishment reports for the year, updates on payments of members of the 4-H Club on the financial loans they availed of, and their plans for 2014.

ECC: Workers who got injured, sick during Yolanda may claim benefits

By Victoria Asuncion S. Mendoza (LBR/LP/VM/ECP)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Nov. 22 (PIA) – Typhoon Yolanda victims may secure income and medical benefits in the event of work-connected injuries, sickness, or death during the performance of their duties or were required to render their services in the time of disaster.

If you were hurt at that time and injured that will take long a time to heal and will require weeks of bed rest---you may qualify to file claims at Employees Compensation Commission (ECC).

At a recent forum at Hotel Centro, ECC Deputy Executive Director Jonathan Villasoto said those belonging to government and private sector who at the time when super-typhoon Yolanda hit or during rescue or relief operations thereafter were either on actual performance of their duties and responsibilities or who were ‘on-duty’, can claim compensation and related benefits under the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP).

Attorney Villasoto and his team were in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan last Thursday as part of the ECC Advocacy campaign that promotes programs of ECC on three ECP components: prevention, compensation, and rehabilitation services for occupational-disabled workers (ODWs) or persons who were disabled during their employment).

The ECC advocacy campaign is reaching out to employers, administrative officers, human resource officers, safety officers, labor union presidents or their representatives and rank and file employees.

ECP is a government program designed to provide a compensation package to public and private employees or their dependents in the event of work-related sickness or death.

Covered under ECP are registered members of the Social Security System or SSS (except self-employed and voluntary members) and Government Service Insurance System or GSIS and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Elective government officials who are receiving regular salary and all casual, emergency, temporary and substitute or contractual employees are also covered.

Coverage of the program begins at the first day of employment. ODWs can avail of income and medical benefits, rehabilitation services and carer's allowance (for ODWs with permanent disabilities and rely on the assistance of others for their basic needs).

Death benefits are granted to beneficiaries of an employee who dies as a result of sickness or injury out of or in the course of employment.

Another ECC program, the ECC-Quick Response Team Program (ECC-QRTP), helps workers who are victims of work-connected contingencies, or their families who have to deal with work disasters, calamities, accidents or sudden onset of occupational disease or death at the workplace.

ECC-QRTP is designed to mitigate the effects of accidents or sudden onset of occupational disease or death at the workplace among eligible workers.

Aside from SSS and GSIS members, sea-based workers are likewise covered by ECC-QRTP. ECC-QRTP also provide assistance in the processing of EC requirements, facilitation on the prompt release of payment of the EC benefits to workers (injured or sick) or their beneficiaries (for deceased workers)

For more information, workers may inquire at the Public Employment Service Office (PESO), the nearest DOLE office or call ECC at 02-899-4251 local 226.

Red Cross in Palawan launches 1-month “Bunyog Palawenyo Fund Drive” for 'Yolanda' survivors

(PNA), FPV/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) -- The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the provincial government, and other government and non-government organizations (GOs/NGOs) are coming together here under the one-month “Bunyog Palawenyo Fund Drive.”

PRC-Palawan Chapter Administrator Arsenia Tabique told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the goal of the fund drive is to raise much-needed financial assistance to support recovery and rehabilitation in heavily devastated areas in northern Palawan and other parts of the country after super typhoon Yolanda.

“Bunyog,” a Cuyunon term which means “unite,” was an idea started by different agencies and organizations in close partnership and cooperation with the PRC.

The one-month fund drive will raffle prizes to residents who will purchase tickets, and the announcement of winners will be on December 20, 2013.

Aside from the PRC office, collection centers for the fund drive can also be set up in various establishments. Each will be issued ticket booklets, and for each P100 donation, the donor gets a raffle ticket.

Tabique said help continues to reach Yolanda survivors in the Calamianes, but more is needed to ensure that those who lost their homes can have support to rebuild them.


DND to bid out upgrade of Puerto Princesa naval facilities

(PNA), CTB/PFN

MANILA, Nov. 20 (PNA) -- The Department of National Defense (DND) announced Wednesday that it is allocating P313,614,957.11 to upgrade existing naval facilities in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

These can be broken down into:

-P237,121,130.22 for the construction of a harbor and pier at the Naval Detachment Oyster Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan and another P76,493,826. 89 for the construction of support facilities for the former base.

Winning bidders are expected to complete the harbor and pier within 406 calendar days upon the opening of the letter of credit while support facilities are expected to be completed within 250 calendar days.

Interested parties can acquire the bidding documents at the DND Bidding Awards Committee Secretariat.

Bid opening conference is on Dec. 2 at the DND Bidding Awards Committee, Conference Room, Right Wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The project is restricted only to Filipino-owned corporations or businesses.

Commodore Natalio Abinuman, Naval Forces West commander, said the project, when completed, will boost their capability in territorial defense.

The latter command is based at the Ulugan Bay in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Abinuman said while the Navy has existing facilities at the Oyster Bay it is very dilapidated.

“If we have ships in the West Philippine Sea, we have to support them (through the facility)...This will help...We need this for refueling of our ships,” he said.

Palawan mayor eyes ‘super adobe homes’

By PHOEBE JEN INDINO

CORON, Palawan- With over 3,000 households in this town that were totally damaged by super typhoon “Yolanda”, Coron Mayor Clara Reyes is eyeing to construct superadobe homes for the affected residents.

“I am appealing for expert engineers and architects to help us on how to build green homes, like the superadobe,” she said in an interview.

Superadobe is a form of earthbag construction that was developed by Iranian architect Nader Khalili. The technique uses layered long fabric tubes or bags filled with adobe or sand to form a compression structure.

Reyes came up with the idea, saying that Coron has rich sand deposits.

The lady mayor now considers the reconstruction of damage houses as her main priority given the ongoing distribution of relief goods and tourist destinations have already been cleared of debris.

Coron has 10,161 household as of December 2012, where 3,334 were totally damaged and another 6,521 were partially damaged.

Of the 23 villages in Coron, Tagumpay and Poblacion 1 have the most damages affecting 2,571 families or 10,678 individuals.

In barangay Tagumpay alone which has the highest household records, 606 houses were totally damaged while another 905 have partial damages.

Reyes admitted that even her own house was damaged by the typhoon, “I am now staying at my father-in law.”

She also said that they will also tap Habitat for Humanity and the office of Vice President Jejomar Binay who is the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

Moreover, Reyes disclosed that she have also sent a communication for a California-based institution that builds green homes.

“I asked them if they could send consultants here,” she said.

Coron: Business as usual

By Robert A. Evora

CORON--“It’s business as usual,” said Mayor Carla Reyes as travelers have started to return after typhoon Yolanda struck her town on the night of November 8.

Tourists, locals and foreigners alike, are arriving every day since commercial flights resumed its operations more than a week ago, she said in a statement.

Sea ferries from Manila not only brought relief and merchandise but visitors as well to the island provinces of Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

“The hotels, restaurants, dive shops, boats, vans and travel agencies are operating,” Reyes said.

Foreign tourists with scheduled bookings have emailed the mayor’s office on their intinerary including Coron to bring relief and toys for the local children, said Lyle Coruna, municipal information officer.

Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, of the United Nations World Tourism Organization said expressed optimism “that this tragic occurrence (Yolanda’s devastation of the Visayan region), the tourism sector in the Philippines will continue to strive and make a key contribution to the development of the country.”

Coron tourism officer Chippy Pe said the travel sector in the province was on a rebound.

“Supplies of food are now secured after Coron airport resumed its operations. Power is being provided by generator sets. Dive shops are all open for business. Boats can accommodate 400 tourists a day,” she said.

The famous 2,000-foot cross atop Mount Tapyas previaled upon Yolanda’s wrath.

The shrine, with its 717 steps, is the first landmark that can bee seen upon entering Coron waters.

Media can bridge the gap between the victims and the world

By Ofie R. Rondina (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan—These days, media, both print and broadcast, has done its homework in giving the public a blow-by-blow account of the extent of the damage Supertyphoon “Yolanda” has wrought in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Capiz, Iloilo and Northern Cebu, as well as other places that unfortunately lay in its path.

Beyond the imagination and expectation of Leyteños, Warays, Cebuanos and the people of the Calamianes group of islands in Northern Palawan, Yolanda unleashed gigantic, monstrous waves that slammed down and wreaked havoc on everything and anything in its path. And the radio, TV and newspaper reports and accounts confirmed this.

Once again, media has done its job in bridging the distance between the victims and the televiewers, radio listeners and readers, and in reducing the gap between the towns and cities in Eastern Visayas and Metro Manila and even the world. Top news networks have covered and headlined the devastation of Yolanda in the Philippines in their news programs, also seen via cable stations and the Internet.

And more than these, media has fueled the appeal for food and water for the victims, who have become desperate and frustrated by the sheer magnitude of the disaster that has come upon their lives.

Helplessness, hopelessness and vulnerability are written all over the faces of the victims and in the smashed homes, broken windows, roofless establishments, wrecked churches, and damaged walls of government buildings and other structures. The picture of the wiped-out community speaks a thousand words.

Support for Yolanda victims pour in Palawan’s Calamianes Islands; state of calamity declared in 14 towns

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 16 (PNA) -- Financial and other relief support pour in for victims of typhoon Yolanda in the Calamianes Islands, particularly in the towns Coron and Busuanga, authorities said.

In an update by Palawan's Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council(PDRRMO) released Saturday, executive director Gilbert Baaco said “the compassion of the people for the Palawenos, who were devastated by Yolanda is even overwhelming than the strong winds and heavy rains that slammed the northernmost island towns.”

Foreign tourists, and ex-pats, who now consider Palawan their home, continue to arrive at the PDRRMO command center to bring relief goods. One such foreign tourist Jessica Stuckstaette, brought in 10 boxes of easy-to-open tinned meals.

The Palawan Provincial Government Employees’ Association (PPGEA) also launched its own donation campaign and turned over to the PDRRMO various relief goods, including soap, toothpastes, toothbrushes, hand towels, and others valued at P100,000.

Baaco also received from Malampaya Foundation, Inc. representative Cecil Formoso P1 million-worth of food packs for the Calamianes Islands. Earlier, the MFI also sent half a million worth of relief goods to Coron.

Petroleum giant Pitkins, JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock, Inc., Palawan State University, Citinickel Mining Corporation, and others, also donated many sacks of rice and other relief items for those who were hit badly by Yolanda.

Due to the enormity of devastation suffered in the province, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) placed 14 towns in the province under a state of calamity. These are Agutaya, Araceli, Busuanga, Cagayancillo, Coron, Culion, Cuyo Dumaran, El Nido, Linapacan, Magsaysay, Roxas, San Vicente and Taytay.

In a resolution that was unanimously passed by members of the SP, Board Member Leoncio Ola, who penned it, disclosed that around 20,308 families in these towns were affected by Yolanda. The data was provided by the PDRRMO.

Ola said the declaration aims to provide Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez the authority to use the province’s calamity fund to reach out to the residents, who are in dire need of assistance.

Palawan eyes booming coffee industry in 6 towns

(PNA), LAP/SEP/RGL/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Nov. 15 (PNA) -– The Palawan Provincial Government is eyeing a large-scale coffee plantation in the near future with the passage of a provincial legislative measure supporting the project.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial legislative council) of Palawan passed Resolution 10771 authorizing Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez to enter into and sign a memorandum of agreement with the government and private agencies in the development of the coffee industry in the province.

The local endorsement measure augurs well for prospective coffee business investors who have visited the province recently.

A team from the Rocky Mountain Café headed by its Philippine manager Piere Cote visited Palawan last Tuesday and called on Gov. Alvarez and Vice Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates at the Provincial Capitol.

The business meeting also included the mayors of six target plantation sites in Palawan’s southern towns of Aborlan, Brooke’s Point, Española, Bataraza, Quezon and Rizal.

According to Romeo Palao, Coffee Coordinator from the Provincial Agriculture Office, they are targeting 200 hectares of coffee farms in each identified municipality and will commence next year in meeting the total of 1,200 hectares before the end of 2014.

Provincial government officials expressed optimism to the coffee business boom here and the impact in raising the standard of living among Palaweño farmers besides the traditional agricultural crops.

They quoted Nestle, a leading coffee and beverage firm, that coffee is next to petroleum as a commodity and the most drank beverage inside the households next to water.

Philippine coffee industry research also showed that coffee consumption rate is 0.5 per cent cups per day for consumers 15 year old and above for instant coffee drinkers of two grams of coffee.

Also, 67 per cent or 64 million out of the total population of 95.5 million Filipinos are drinking instant coffee.

Industry data indicate a shortfall of more than half of the 69,300 tons per annum of the country’s domestic coffee consumption because the coffee production only reaches 25,000 tons annually.

Palawan PDRRMO continues to monitor, assess damage caused by Yolanda

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 14 (PNA) – The number of families in Palawan affected by the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda has reached 10,810, according to an update issued Wednesday by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).

This number of families affected is in the current record while the PDRRMO still continues to conduct monitoring and damage assessment in every municipality in northern Palawan, where Yolanda passed to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

According to the report, the number of affected families in Coron alone reached 2,800 while other municipalities affected are Agutaya-1,165; Roxas-1,093; Taytay-1,672; Araceli-674; Linapacan-496; Cuyo-355; Dumaran-315; Culion-295; Magsaysay-274; San Vicente-146; El Nido-154; and Cagayanicillo-8.

Yolanda did not also leave the PAR without affecting at least 137 families in southern Palawan, said the PDRRMO.

On the number of casualties, the PDRRMO reported that the figure has increased to 15. Six died in Coron, and one of them was a tourist.

Fourteen people, on the other hand, are feared dead after their relatives have not heard from them since November 8 – 10 fishermen and four individuals. Busuanga has three casualties too, while Culion has 5 and Linapacan 1.

Support continues to come in too, from different sectors in Palawan for the victims of Yolanda in the municipalities in the Calamianes Group of Islands, especially Coron.

In a report released Wednesday by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), the bags of rice that have been donated and distributed to typhoon victims have reached 217.5, 110 assorted sacks of used and wearable clothing, linen and towels.

Donations for canned/tinned food, noodles, biscuits, bottled water, assorted groceries and medicine also poured, including cash amounting to P42,131 with more still being collected.

Immigration detains 13 Vietnamese poachers caught in Palawan

(JDS, GMA News)

The Bureau of Immigration has detained 13 Vietnamese arrested by the Philippine National Police Maritime Group for fishing in Philippine waters.

Immigration commissioner Siegfred Mison said the Vietnamese fishermen were caught aboard a Malaysian-registered vessel near Barangay Mangsee in Balabac, Palawan.

Aside from entering Philippine territory without passing through Immigration, the Vietnamese fishermen were also fishing illegally. They have been charged with poaching, the bureau said.

Under the Fisheries Act, it is "unlawful for any foreign person, corporation or entity to fish or operate any fishing vessel in Philippine waters."

Foreign fishing vessels caught within Philippine territory are assumed to be engaged in fishing, and therefore, are assumed to be breaking the law.

The law allows the government to confiscate the catch, equipment, and fishing vessel. Poaching also carries a fine of from $50,000 to $200,000 or its equivalent in Philippine pesos.

The bureau said foreigners convicted of crimes shall be deported to their country of origin and banned from coming back to the Philippines.

They will also be placed under the bureau’s watchlist for violating the country’s immigration laws.

Coron appeals for relief assistance

By Celeste Ana R. Formoso [(PNA), FPV/CARF/UTB]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 12 (PNA) -- "In 2 days from now, Coron will run out of food," Mayor Fems Reyes posted in her social media account Tuesday to call on the national government to also provide support for her constituents who have been left homeless by super typhoon Yolanda.

“Coronians are calling for help. The effect of Yolanda in Tacloban and Coron is the same. May the national government and the Filipinos put their eyes and ears on Coron, too,” Reyes posted further on her Facebook account in desperation to seek for much-needed food relief assistance for reportedly over 14,000 residents, who are still in super typhoon-ravaged evacuation centers.

Relief assistance continue to pour on the island town of over 40,000 residents from the PDRRMO and various civic organizations through air, water, and land assets provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) contingent in Palawan.

However, these are not enough for homeless residents who may have to remain in evacuation centers for a long time for lack of options on how to rebuild their houses and away from the sea that could threaten them every time a strong typhoon happens.

As of this writing, the lady mayor, who is being admired for using her FB account responsibly to get information to the PDRRMO, said only 200 sacks of rice are available in Coron.

Yet despite the challenge of feeding more residents for a lengthy period of time, Reyes is positive that Coron will rise again soon from the disaster.

"Sa pagtutulungan ng mga Pilipino at Coronians, ibabangon muli natin ang Coron! (Through the help of Pilipinos and Coronions, we will get Coron back on its feet!)" she said emphatically.

Power in Coron is still out. “It may take two months before power is restored in Coron,” she said, while Mactan Rock Water Services, the town’s water distributor and supplier, has resumed operations as water is very much-need too.

Residents in Coron, meanwhile, are no longer waiting for heavy equipment to clean up the highways. Reyes said residents are helping in the clearing to speed up the passage and delivery of relief assistances.

Other updates in the typhoon aftermath she posted are that all airlines have landed at the Busuanga Airport despite an earlier announcement by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) that it may take until November 15 before it becomes operational.

Although many tourist destinations remain close, those that are near the center of the island town are now operating. Mount Tapyas, which lost its cross statue to Yolanda, has opened its view deck to the public.

Offshore oil field resumes production after ‘Yolanda’

By Riza Olchondra (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – The Galoc oil field is back in production following a brief shutdown after supertyphoon “Yolanda” passed through its area of operations off northeast Palawan, Otto Energy Ltd. said Monday.

All personnel are “safe and unharmed,” a statement issued by the Australian company said.

Otto Energy reported that “Yolanda” passed the Galoc field area on the night of November 8 and early hours of Nov. 9.

“During the storm, sea states and wind speeds were the most severe ever experienced at Galoc. Production from the field was suspended as a precautionary measure on Nov. 8,” Otto Energy said.

All support vessels and crew working on the expansionary Galoc Phase II development were evacuated from the field ahead of the anticipated passage of the typhoon.

Following the storm, Otto Energy said, all personnel were reported “safe and unharmed.” Personnel have since been re-mobilized, it added.


NFA warehouse in Coron opens to provide food relief assistance to Calamianes residents

(PNA), PDS/CARF/PJN

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 10 (PNA) --The National Food Authority (NFA) in the Calamianes Group of Islands has opened its warehouse to help provide food relief assistance to over 14,000 residents of Coron, Linapacan, Culion and Busuanga devastated by super typhoon "Yolanda".

As of this posting, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) has already started the delivery of food assistance prepared with the help of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (MDRRMC) of Coron.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta, who is now in Coron, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a telephone interview, that Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez is still conducting aerial inspection of the towns of Coron, Linapacan, Magsaysay, Araceli, and Cuyo that were in the super typhoon’s path.

Acosta said reports are still slow in coming due to lack of communication.

An initial report made to the provincial government by the MDRRC in the town said it suffered damages but no fatality. “There were minor injuries, but we have not heard if anyone died,” Acosta said.

Palawan gov in Calamianes to personally assess 'Yolanda' damage

(PNA), LAP/CARF/PJN

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 9 (PNA) -- Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez arrived in Coron in the Calamianes Group of Islands Saturday afternoon to personally assess the damages that Yolanda caused.

The information on Alvarez’s immediate trip to Coron after Yolanda’s massive onslaught Friday was posted on his FB account by Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, who went with him.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Princesa an estimated 966 families, or 4,830 residents from 14 barangays out of 66, were affected by heavy rains and strong winds brought by Yolanda.

They are currently taking shelter in different schools, according to the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO).

They are from barangays Bagong Silang, Bagong Sikat, Matiyaga, Masipag, Lucbuan, Tanabag, Langogan, San Manuel, San Pedro, Irawan, Babuyan, Mangingisda, and Tanabag.

The national highway from Langogan, an outlying northern barangay in this city, was rendered inaccessible by Yolanda after its culverts collapsed, according to the CDRRMC.

At Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, trips to the famous Puerto Princesa Undeground River remain prohibited as it is still raining heavily.

Many trees along the road leading to the New 7 Wonders site fell, obstructing normal traffic passage. Clearing operations remain in the site.

Palawan PDRRMO intensifies 'Yolanda' info drive

(PNA), PDS/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 7 (PNA) -–The Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) has intensified its information and dissemination against Yolanda, said to be the “biggest storm” on earth to hit the Philippines.

PDRRMO head Gilbert Baaco said their intensified information campaign is directed towards the municipalities in northern Palawan, especially the Calamianes Group of Islands, which have been reported to be already under signal number 4.

He said notices have been sent earlier to the municipal governments in the towns of Coron, Busuanga, Linapacan and Culion, and on mainland Palawan in El Nido, Taytay, Roxas and San Vicente, Dumaran, including the island towns of Magsaysay, Cuyo and Araceli, and Cagayancillo.

Baaco said LGUs have been told to reactivate their contingency plans in lieu of the strong typhoon.

Sacks of rice, other food, and non-food items are now being sent to the areas that will be affected: 300 sacks of rice for Busuanga and Culion; 500 sacks for Coron; 500 sacks for Cuyo, 100 sacks for Agutaya, and over 150 sacks for Magsaysay.

In Culion, a report from the PDRMMO said 100 residents have been evacuated from the coastal areas. Disaster evacuation attention is also being concentrated in Barangay Carabao in Culion, where around 2,000 Tagbanua indigenous people live near the coastal area.

Baaco said forced evacuation is being done to bring them to safety .

In Puerto Princesa, the city government has activated the Kilos Agad Action Center (KAAC) with the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), and the use of the city coliseum as temporary evacuation and command centers in case families need to be evacuated, acting management office head Earl Timbancaya said Friday in interviews with the media.

The relief goods, he said, are already being prepared by the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).

“We will feel the effect early in the morning of Saturday, so the disaster operation of the city government is already activated. In that state, we are prepared to respond and to receive residents, who will evacuate,” he said.

Classes have been suspended in the elementary and secondary levels, according to the CDRRMC. For the tertiary levels, it has to be the administration of the universities and colleges to make the decision on the cancellation of classes.

At the Puerto Princesa City Airport (PPCA) two flights – Air Asia and Cebu Pacific – were still able to take off this morning for Manila, said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

No flight cancellation has been activated but the CAAP said they are ready to do it any time the weather worsens.

In Puerto Princesa, slight-to-moderate rains are already being experienced, along with slender wind strength.

Happy 63rd Birthday, Marines!

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 7 (PNA) -- Western Command (Wescom) extends greetings and well wishes to all the Marines under its command and control in celebration of the Philippine Marine Corps’ (PMC) 63rd Birthday Thursday with the theme "Forging the Cutting Edge to Win Peace as the Nation's Force of Choice".

Unlike other organizations, the country's elite force Philippine Marine Corps celebrates November 7 as "birthday" not "anniversary" because every Marine believes that the organization is a living institution that continues to grow and improve in time.

Every year, all Marines whether in active or retired service, and their families, greet one another in the full spirit of esprit de corps manifesting the strong bond of brotherhood as epitomed in the saying "Once a Marine, always a Marine".

Just like any birthdays, the Marines celebrate with a cake cutting ceremony which symbolizes sharing and passing on of the finest traditions of the Corps from the senior Marines to the younger ones. This tradition has been done for the past six decades and passed on from one generation to another.

Since 1951, the Philippine Marines as the AFP's cutting edge, braved the challenges of time at the height of communist insurgency, Moro rebellion, counter terrorism and winning peace and community development in coastal and littoral deployments.

The Marines have always been sent when everything else fails guided by its vision of being the country's premiere force in readiness and the nation's force of choice, living up to its motto of Karangalan, Katungkulan and Kabayanihan.

"I wish all 'the few, the proud' Marines in the WESCOM AOR and all over the world, together with their families, a mighty 63rd birthday. Let us continue to uphold the ideals set forth by our forefathers and always make God and our Motherland proud," said WESCOM Commander LtGen Rustico Guerrero who is a Marine warrior himself.

At this momentous time, the "Mandirigmas" stationed in the province renew their commitment to serve Palawan and the Filipino people in the name of unwavered honor, relentless duty and unquenchable valor.

Palawan readies for Yolanda; activates disaster relief operations

(PNA), PDS/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 6 (PNA) -–The provincial and city governments here both activated their disaster relief operations on Wednesday in preparation for incoming super typhoon "Yolanda", according to Gilbert Baaco, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).

Baaco said since Tuesday, two mobile teams have been sent to southern and northern Palawan to raise the typhoon alarm to residents, particularly living near areas that are prone to landslides, near river banks where water could overflow, and near the coastal areas.

The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Councils (MDRRMCs) of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, and Linapacan have also been ordered to activate and prepare for the predicted heavy onslaught of "Yolanda", particularly those living near the coasts.

“Yesterday, we sent two mobile teams in the southern and northern parts of the province for the purpose of just warning residents to be prepared, leave dangerous areas and zones,” Baaco told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a telephone interview.

In northern Palawan, two teams from the PDRRMO were placed on standby in the towns of Roxas and Dumaran – two areas, prone to floods during heavy torrential rains, Baaco said.

“The two towns are special cases. Even if it’s just LPA (low pressure area), they get flooded. We have posted two separate teams in them to help evacuate residents just in case,” he said.

He added relief supplies are now being prepared too, for distribution in case "Yolanda" metes out more evacuees during its assault supposedly on Friday when it makes its exit between Palawan and Mindoro.

The local government units of the towns of Taytay, El Nido and San Vicente on mainland Palawan were also told to prepare for any effect the super typhoon may bring about, said Baaco.

In Puerto Princesa City, Mayor Lucilo Bayron reportedly called a meeting for the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) Monday afternoon also in preparation for Yolanda.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the city, on the other hand, said it has directed all its units “to prepare rescue units and to take pro-active measures to prevent loss of lives due to maritime- and land-based incidents because of Yolanda."

Even the local Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and other disaster relief organizations have been activated to respond to emergency rescue calls.

Palawan gov to lead land title distribution in Brooke’s Point; launching of cadastral survey in Balabac

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 5 (PNA) -– Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez will lead on November 7 the distribution of land titles to 263 beneficiaries in the town of Brooke’s Point in the southern part of the province as part of Handog Titulo Program of provincial government.

In cooperation with the Registry of Deeds-Palawan (ROD) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Alvarez will finally make the dreams of the residents of Balabac come true by awarding them their land titles, according to a statement released by the Provincial Information Office (PIO) Monday.

The land title distribution will also include the formal launching of the Cadastral Survey Project at the southernmost tip of Palawan in Balabac town with Regional Technical Director for Lands Oscar Dominguez of the ROD.

According to the PIO, the beneficiaries of the land titles are 121 in Brooke’s Point; 115 from Bataraza, and 27 from Sofronio Española. They will receive the titles after the lands where they live have reclassified as residential and agricultural.

Deputy ROD Corazon Bilog said the land titles that will be distributed are those called “free patent” and “homestead.”

She said that although the beneficiaries will receive the titles for free, it is their responsibility to pay for their real property taxes after awarding.

To claim their land titles, beneficiaries should bring valid identification cards, tax declarations, and tax clearances to authenticate their personalities.

Bilog explained that the recipients of the lands have been waiting for their titles for the longest time. Through the Handog Titulo Program, they will now own the lands where they have lived and which they have been tilling for a long time.

The Cadastral Survey in Balabac on the other hand, will be done to determine the metes and bounds of all parcels within the entire Balabac for systematic land adjudication and Internal Revenue Allotment and other purposes.

According to the DENR, it consists of three categories: establishment of main and subsidiary controls, the conduct of political boundary survey and lot survey; establishments of main and subsidiary controls and conduct of political boundary survey; and purely lot surveys.

New park manager wants PPUR territorial coverage enlarged

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 4 (PNA) -– Fresh from Corsica, France, where she was invited to attend the UNESCO Marine World Heritage Convention in October, new Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) park manager Elizabeth Maclang is reportedly considering efforts to expand its land area coverage.

PPUR spokesperson Elmer Badilla said Monday that Maclang is contemplating on proposing an expansion of the territorial coverage of the approximately 5,753-hectare PPUR park located in Barangay Cabayugan after getting enlightenment from the convention held on October 13-15.

“Basically, she was invited to attend the UNESCO Marine World Heritage Convention. All the park managers of all marine world heritage sites in the globe were reportedly introduced. They had sharing of good experiences, bad experiences where they can learn from, workshops on communications, etcetera. They formulated also an outlook for all the marine world heritage sites. She was inspired on why in other countries, marine parks or protected marine parks are expanding, and yet, in Palawan, they’re getting smaller and smaller,” Badilla said.

Badilla said before the new head of the PPUR makes any effort, an assessment of the park and its covered territories will be done first through the help of experts, one of which is the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) that has the capability and the technical persons.

“There will be an assessment of the park first before any proposal to expand it is done by the management,” Badilla said.

According to the UNESCO, the PPUR park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river.

One of the river's distinguishing features is that it emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full "mountain-to-sea" ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

It is located in the south-western part of the Philippine Archipelago on the mid-western coast of Palawan, approximately 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa and 360 km. southwest of Manila.

US use of PH as major spy hub is reason enough to abrogate VFA, say critics

(InterAksyon.com)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government should immediately abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and other military pacts with the United States (US) after reports confirmed that Washington has been using Manila as major spy hub in the region, the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a statement Sunday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense have yet to verify reports of the Australian media that exposed that the Philippines has been used by Washington's National Security Agency (NSA) for US intelligence units tracking communications networks in Asia.

"President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and officials of the defense and foreign affairs department are well informed about the covert operations of Washington DC in the Philippines, including these intelligence-gathering escapades of NSA and therefore they are crime partners of imperial America in Asia. They should all be held accountable for rated A violation of people's sovereignty. But for the meantime, the most immediate thing to do is to abrogate the VFA and nullify other existing military pacts with Washington DC," said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.

The Pamalakaya official said the Philippine Senate's committees on defense and foreign affairs should conduct parallel investigation on the report that NSA is using the Philippines as a major spy hub in Asia to monitor political forces and entities friendly or adversarial to Washington DC.

"When these reports about US spying and the use of Philippines as well staffed spy hub in Asia first came out to the media, the Philippine Senate should have come into the picture and declare at least an indefinite suspension of VFA and other military agreements with US and pursue a thorough investigation in aid of legislation. But the senators did not do their assignment and they refused to engage the puppetry of Aquino and the increasing military aggression of Washington in PH to a national debate," France said.

According to an article posted on the website of Australia's ABC News, the US maintains a secret map where surveillance facilities in their embassies and consulates in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Yangon, Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, and Beijing.

According to ABC News, the map was apparently the same map Snowden released to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, which initially it posted but has since censored, showing 90 listening posts around the world with Manila described as one of 74 "staffed" locations.

A copy of the original map that appeared in Der Spiegel is archived on Cryptome, a digital library host created by American architects and independent scholars John Young and Deobrah Natsias that "are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance -- open, secret and classified documents -- but not limited to those."

Pamalakaya said the ongoing construction of a mini-Subic Naval Base in Oyster Bay southwest of Manila will be used as one of the command posts of the US Marines and will be also be used by the US for spying operations.

The militant group said command and listening posts for US spy operations will also be constructed inside the 246-hectare Philippine Marine Corps reservation in Samariniana town in Palawan. He said the US will also develop Ulugan Bay, Macarascas, Puerto Princesa, and Tarumpitao Point in Rizal and San Vicente into US command and spy posts.

Pamalakaya said the Oyster Bay mini-naval base project is part of the US agenda to increase its military presence in the Philippines on rotational basis. The group said the mini naval base is also designed to host military warships of Washington not only to check the disturbing presence of Chinese military in West Philippine Sea but to preserve the military hegemony of the US in East Asia and the Pacific in the name of military program known as US Pivot in the region.

This automatically falls under full-pledged US military basing and as such represents wholesale violation of sovereignty, it said.

The group said the impact of Oyster Bay naval base project to the livelihood of fishing folks and marine environment is far reaching, extremely dangerous, and totally catastrophic.

Pamalakaya lamented that taxpayers' money had been used to develop the naval base for US marines. It said a total of P 500 million will be released for the construction of 12-kilometer road as enabling structure for the Oyster Bay naval base.

Malampaya scam next on Senate list

By TJ Burgonio (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Next on the list of the Senate blue ribbon committee is the alleged misuse of the Malampaya Fund.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, head of the committee, said he would call a hearing on the alleged diversion of proceeds from the gas project off Palawan to spurious beneficiaries after the inquiry into the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

“We will have to do the others also. Next one on the list would be the Malampaya,” said Guingona.

This coming Thursday, the committee is set to hear Napoles’ testimony on her alleged racket of converting billions of pesos in pork barrel into kickbacks, as well as those of her former employees-turned-whistle-blowers.

Whether Napoles talks or not, the committee has a “pretty good idea” of how the racket, involving senators and House representatives, was carried out for 10 years based on the whistle-blowers’ testimonies, Guingona said.

The senator, however, hasn’t indicated a date for the completion of the inquiry into the pork scam.

Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano had earlier filed a resolution seeking an investigation of the alleged embezzlement of P900 million in Malampaya Fund in 2009. The fund was coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform.

The amount, allotted for the rehabilitation of farms after devastation of powerful storms in 97 towns, was allegedly siphoned off to questionable nongovernment organizations, mostly associated with Janet Lim-Napoles.

The government collects royalties from the project which involves the extraction of natural gas from the waters off Palawan beginning 2002.

The outstanding P136-billion balance from the fund is lodged in a special account in the general fund, Treasury officials said.

Napoles and several others are facing two separate complaints for plunder at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam and misuse of the Malampaya Fund.

After Napoles’ appearance, Guingona said the committee has to decide whether to summon the chiefs of staff of senators who were also implicated in the scandal.

‘Lonely Planet’ cites Palawan, adobo

By Donnabelle Gatdula (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Palawan has once again been recognized as one of the world’s best travel destinations, this time by the largest global travel guidebook Lonely Planet, which also cited adobo as one of the best hidden foodie highlights.

In its top picks for Best Value Destinations for 2014, Lonely Planet has recommended Palawan as the affordable tropical paradise, which is ideal for tourists who are looking for a value-for-money vacation.

Lonely Planet cited Palawan’s jungle rivers, limestone cliffs and awesome beaches.

“This mix, combined with standout attractions such as Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Bacuit Archipelago (all available at a competitive price), makes it a great-value pick for old Asia hands and novices alike,” Lonely Planet said.

“A journey to Palawan leads to the Calamian Islands where apparently Alex Garland saw the strip of sand that inspired ‘The Beach.’ Watch out for the May to October monsoon: it brings heavy rain, usually in the afternoon,” it added.

Aside from Palawan, the other top picks in Lonely Planet’s value destinations are Nicaragua and Kartanaka in India.

Palawan has also been chosen as the Best Island for International Travelers on a recent survey “2013 World’s Best” conducted by Travel+Leisure magazine.

This was the first time that Palawan became part of the international travel magazine’s list, and it even topped Boracay which landed second best, coming from first last year.

Based on the survey of the magazine’s readers from December 2012 to April 2013, Palawan scored 95.04 points against Boracay’s 93.58 points.

The respondents for the survey rated the islands based on natural attractions and beaches as wells as activities, food and people.

Last year, Palawan hugged the limelight after its Puerto Princesa Underground River was named as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

Palawan’s El Nido beach was also recognized recently by CNN as one of the best beaches in the world.

Meanwhile, Lonely Planet had also chosen the Filipino staple dish adobo as one of the top 10 best hidden foodie highlights.