Palawan News October 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

BJMP-Puerto Princesa City Jail celebrates NACOCOW 2013


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 31 (PNA) -- This year’s theme “Makabago at Makataong Piitan, Kaagapay sa Matuwid na Daan” unravels the celebration of National Correctional Consciousness Week from October 21-27, 2013 spearheaded by Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) -Puerto Princesa City Jail management showcasing week-long activities for its residents.

The annual celebration is aimed at persuading inmates’ rights to cultural, social, and other recreational activities and to further uphold unity, camaraderie, and discipline while inside the facility.

A Mini Olympic Games on October 22 jump-started the celebration which include basketball, chess and table tennis participated by different teams.

Meanwhile, a Medical and Dental mission was conducted on the third day of celebration benefiting about one hundred seventy five (175) inmates in cooperation with Adventist Hospital of Palawan led by Dr. Ramil Morales and City Health Office of Puerto Princesa led by Dr. Edgar Villagracia.

Adventist Hospital of Palawan also initiated a free prostate screening among forty (40) years old and above male inmates which was regarded first time to be accomplished in Puerto Princesa City Jail.

It was remembered that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the Puerto Princesa City Jail management and Adventist Hospital of Palawan together with the other religious service providers of the said facility on October 3, 2013 to strengthen inmates’ welfare and development programs particularly the spiritual nourishment that molds the values formation of every inmate.

Service providers were represented by Pastor Elmer T. Ferry of Life Church Prison Ministry, Rev. Msgr. Jose D. Delfin of Seminario De San Jose, Mr. Danilo O. Atanacio of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Chaplain Jehu P. Cayaon of National Auxiliary Chaplaincy Philippines, Pastor Carlito G. Lape of Jesus Miracle Crusade Ministry, Dr. Melvyn F. Orbe of Palawan Adventist Hospital, Minister Roberto Santos of Iglesia Ni Cristo, Imam Sonsong M. Camama of Islam, and couple Mrs. Joy and Mr. Paul Laverty of SEED Mission.

The exceptional performances of Malaya Band, Talahib Band, Makahiya Band, Salakot Band and the Dayami Band enliven the night of the residents and personnel including visitors, their families and friends on October 26, 2013 in the first ever “PPCJ Battle of the Bands Competition” that highlighted the singing and instruments playing talents of the jail’s detainees.

Malaya Band was hailed the First PPCJ Battle of the Bands Champion receiving trophy plus cash prizes.

Offering of Thanks Giving Mass and Awarding of Trophies and Prizes to the winners of the Mini Olympic Games and other competitions concluded the NACOCOW celebration.

J/S Insp Lino M Soriano (Warden of Puerto Princesa City Jail) meanwhile expressed his highest appreciation to all the guests, sponsors, and to all the BJMP personnel and inmates for making the celebration meaningful and successful.

Palawan grand slam in this year's Ulirang Nakatatanda Awards

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, October 30 (PIA) -- Palawan nominees swept all the major awards in the recent 5th Regional Ulirang Nakatatanda Awards of the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development held at the Atrium in Makati City.

Created in 2008, Ulirang Nakatatanda Award recognizes the contributions and valuable services of the senior citizens in the MIMAROPA region to their respective community. The award has four categories – Basic Sector, Professional, Government Service and the Group Category.

The winners are Leonila Buenavista of Barangay Jose Rizal, Aborlan for the Basic Sector category; Editha Feria of Bataraza for Professional category; and the Rio Tuba Senior Citizen Association winning the Group category. Feliberto Yara of San Juan, Aborlan is second runner-up in the Government Service category.

The winners passed through a series of background checks, paper validations, area visitations and panel interviews conducted by the judges composed of representatives coming from partner agencies – Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Public Works & Highways, Department of Health, and the Philippine Information Agency.

The Week of the Elderly is celebrated every October and this year’s theme is “Nakatatanda: Pagtulungang Isulong Benepisyo’t Karapatan Tungo sa Maginhawa at Masayang Pamayanan”.

Coast Guard rescues seven from distressed boat off Agutaya, Palawan


DOTC-PCG: A total of seven passengers were safely disembarked in Agutaya, Palawan after the boat, that will supposedly transport them to Algeciras, suddenly encountered engine trouble while underway yesterday, 28 October.

The unnamed motor boat, owned by a certain Felix Porkadilla, was reportedly bound for Algeciras to transport six members of the "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino" namely Losiel Porkadilla,34 years old; Analyn Pronola, 33 years old; Shela Ybanez, 27 years old; Michelle Llanera, 23 years old; Marites Talingting, 33 years old; and Plerie Madrazo, 39 years old.

While underway at the vicinity waters of Diit,Agutaya, Palawan, the unnamed motor boat suddenly encountered engine trouble.

On the same day around 7:30AM, the personnel of Coast Guard Station (CGS) Cuyo received the distress report and immediately directed Coast Guard Sub Station (CGSS) Agutaya to render necessary assistance to the boat.

The SAR Team, together with PNP-Agutaya, scoured the vicinity waters of Diit Island and found the distressed boat 4.5NM northwest off the island.

The team successfully towed the said boat around 11:12AM of the same date with the seven passengers onboard and arrived at Sitio Mandit Agutaya, Palawan. All passengers are in good physical condition. The team advised the owner to rectify the derangement of the engine before proceeding to their destination.

More cruise ship companies including Puerto Princesa in PHL travel itineraries


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) -- The emerging Asian cruise market is posing a challenge to local government leaders to prepare and improve facilities for the city’s tourism industry.

In the recently concluded 2013 Asia Pacific Conference and Trade show, where the city government participated, more and more cruise ship operators expressed their interest to include Puerto Princesa in their Philippine travel itineraries.

City Councilor Matthew K. Mendoza, representing the city government in the recent international trade show in Manila, said that three world-class voyager companies already committed the inclusion of “the City in a Forest” in their across-the-country route.

“The Carnival Cruise Ship, Star Cruise Ship, and the Royal Caribbean – where one of the its luxury ships, the Legend of the Seas docked here last March – told us that they will include Puerto Princesa City in their travel itinerary in the country,” said Mendoza, chairman of the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s Committee on Tourism.

He clarified, however, that cruise market requires efficient preparations and commitment.

“One of the primary considerations is the upgrading or improvement of the pier terminal where these luxury ships will be docking. This year, a total of seven foreign luxury cruise ships berthed at the city port carrying more than 12,000 passengers and crews based on the data of the City Tourism Department,” Mendoza said.

An estimated of 3.7 million guests are expected to travel by 2017, Mendoza said, and the good news is the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa in the route.

“There’s a keen interest in the Philippines and in Palawan. The challenge is we should plan to handle and be ready to keep their interest,” Mendoza said.

With the arrival of the seven cruise ships in the city this year, the Puerto Princesa Ports Authority (PPA) generated an income of P1.25-M in just seven days, Mendoza said. If those ships boarded an approximately 4,000 passengers and each of them will spend only $ 28 this would mean additional revenue of $ 80,000 or P3.52-M income per day that will benefit all the sectors in the society.

Reports reveal that six cruise ships will be arriving this coming 2014 from January to June and another four ships in 2015.

Mendoza said the challenge for the city government to support and meet the demands for the growing tourism industry requires a strong political will.

“We have to commit and rise to the challenge for the benefit of our citizens,” he said.

ITCZ brings heavy rainshowers over Palawan, Mindanao


MANILA, Oct. 27 (PNA) --An Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rainshowers over Palawan and Mindanao, the state weather bureau said on Sunday.

In its advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Eastern Visayas and Mindanao will have cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rainshowers and thunderstorms.

It added that Northern Luzon including regions of Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Bicol and the provinces of Aurora and Quezon will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains due to northeast monsoon or "hangin amihan".

The rest of the country including Metro Manila will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

Meanwhile, Vicente Malano, officer-in-charge, Administrator's Office of PAGASA, said that most of the country may expect generally fair weather on Monday, when Filipinos troop to polling centers for the barangay elections.

Malano said that Palawan and Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with scattered light to moderate rains and thunderstorms.

He added that the rest of the country will have generally fair weather aside from isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon.

Moderate to occasionally strong northeasterly winds will prevail over northern and eastern section of Luzon with moderate to occasionally rough seas.

The rest of Luzon and Visayas will have light to moderate northeasterly winds with slight to moderate seas. Mindanao will have light northeasterly to variable winds with slight seas except during the occurrence of thunderstorms.

Saving the Philippine cockatoo, Palawan’s most treasured bird

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

THE Philippine cockatoo, scientifically named Cacatua haematuropygia, is Palawan’s most treasured bird. One of the very few parrots that can dance and mimic human voice, the Philippine cockatoo is facing extinction because of massive habitat destruction and illegal wildlife trade.

Called katala in Palawan, it is listed as critically endangered under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (Cites) Appendix I. The Philippines is a signatory to Cites, an international agreement among governments to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, strictly prohibits the capture, sale and transport of critically endangered or threatened species.

There is only a thousand of this rare bird left in the country, says world-renowned conservationist Peter Widmann—and most of them are found in Palawan. The number represents the global population of the katala, which can be found only in the Philippines.

There are a few katala on Siargao Island, Pulilio Island and Loboc in Bohol. It is deemed already extinct in the Leyte province, Widmann said.

Outside Palawan, around 150 katala can also be found is in Sulu, Widmann said.

Widmann, founder of the Katala Foundation Inc. whose purpose is to save the katala from extinction, is leading the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program.

Along with his wife, Indira Dayang, the 47-year-old German biologist has dedicated his life to saving the critically endangered katala in partnership with Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) and local communities in the town of Narra, Palawan.

Widmann said Katala Foundation’s work focuses on information, education and communication to help protect the bird’s natural habitat and other threats to its survival in the wild.

Katala loves fruits and seeds, and has been discovered to love the fruit of malunggay (moringa). Katala fly to nearby communities to eat fruits at daytime, and go back to the island before nightfall.

Part of Katala Foundation’s conservation effort is to encourage people not to harm the birds, and support their survival by planting fruit and malunggay trees to ensure their adequate food supply.

Widmann said people used to source wood for fuel and charcoal-making from the island. The challenge, he said, was to stop the cutting of trees and, more important, turn the poachers into protectors of the bird sanctuary.

“We hired the poachers as wildlife protectors. We’ve learned a lot from them on how they find nests and catch the birds and how to prevent poaching,” he said.

On the other hand, he said the Katala Foundation provided poachers jobs, and educated them about the importance of saving the katala from extinction.

The Philippine cockatoo is mostly white, with some yellow and orange feathers on its tail.

Katala lives in extreme lowland areas. With the increasing human population and unabated development that cause its natural habitat to shrink, the number of katala also shrunk over the years.

“Katala was once very common in the Philippines. Twenty or 30 years ago, there are about 10,000 or maybe 100,000 of this bird in the Philippines. But because of massive habitat destruction, poaching for the pet trade, they are now in the brink of extinction,” he said.

Of the estimated 1,000 katala left in the country, roughly 750 are in Palawan.

The katala found safe haven at the Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary, a declared protected area under Republic Act 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act of 1992.

The Katala Foundation gave a big push for the bird sanctuary’s recognition as a protected area

Rasa Island has a total area of 1,983.72 hectares of mangroves, including the marine portions surrounding the island. There are more than a hundred other species of wild birds that thrive on the island.

Katala is not migratory. It lives in one place where it was hatched and able to find a pair.

Widmann believes that Philippine Cockatoo pairs for life and breed only once a year. It lays four eggs at the most, but usually would produce two eggs.

Upon hatching, the young katala lives with its parents for about two years, until it is ready to fend for itself in the wild and be on its own.

In captivity, the rare, highly intelligent birds can live up to 50 years to 60 years. In the wild, because of poaching, their life expectancy is much shorter, Widmann said, as he underscored the need to protect their remaining known habitats, such as Rasa Island.

This bird is unique because there is evidence that it can think.

“It is highly intelligent,” he said.

“One observation is that a katala held captive used a stick to unlock the door of its cage,” he said.

But because of katala’s popularity as pets, it is captured, sold as pets, which prevent them from breeding.

Thanks to conservation efforts of the Katala Foundation, Palawan’s most treasured bird is surviving on Rasa Island.

In the past 10 years, the number of katala on the island have increased tenfold, Widmann, whose passion for birds started when he was a toddler who tags along with his father, whose hobby is bird watching.

“When we [foundation] started in 1980s, there were only about 20 to 30 birds. Today there are about 140 to 160 birds on the island,” he said.

However, he said the katala and its sanctuary in Narra, across Rasa Island, are faced with a serious threat—industrial development.

Over the past several months, the Katala Foundation is busy fighting off not poachers—but proponents of a proposed coal-fired power plant which picked the shores of Narra as site. The power plant, that would generate 15 megawatt of electricity, is being pushed by DMCI.

Joining the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines in its “Seize Your Power Campaign” in Palawan, Katala Foundation lobbied against the project.

Widmann said the operation of such power plant in Palawan threatens many birds, particularly the katala.

The smoke to be emitted by the coalfired power plant, he said, will block the flight path of the katala to find food. Katala, he said, travel 20 kilometers (km) to 30 km in search for food but with smoke from the proposed power plant, the birds would have to fly farther, making it difficult for them to find food for themselves and their young.

Luckily, he said the strong opposition of the community and the local government of Narra forced the proponents of the coal-fired power plant project to look for other locations elsewhere. Sadly, however, he said the company has decided to pick a fishing village in the nearby town of Aborlan.

Anywhere else, a coal-fired power plant that emits thick, black, smoke poses a serious threat not only to the katala but all other birds in Palawan.

“They are presently the most serious threat to katala,” he said.

On Wednesday Katala Foundation launched the “Katala Watch” to promote awareness about the plight of katala to encourage people, especially young students, to help protect and ensure the survival of Palawan’s most treasured bird.

Members of the group are also being trained to help observe and record sightings of the rare bird, as well as advocate its protection and conservation in the wild.

The katala is the most famous tourist attraction among bird watchers and nature lovers that frequent Narra, which local officials of Palawan hope would help boost its ecotourism potential and generate jobs and livelihood for the people.

Palawan’s clean dev’t urged; no to coal power plant

By DJ Yap (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines—Palawan can set the standard for fueling development with clean and affordable renewable energy sources instead of dirty and expensive fossil fuel plants, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines.

WWF-Philippines has launched a campaign called “Seize Your Power” in the province considered the country’s last ecological frontier. The campaign calls on financial institutions, private investors, pension funds and the government to invest in clean energy.

“Palawan can become an example for the rest of the country by veering from outdated, business-as-usual thinking and embracing future practices, particularly the use of locally abundant renewable energy resources,” said WWF-Philippines vice chair and chief executive officer Lory Tan.

Iconic place

The campaign, launched on Tuesday at Mendoza Park in Puerto Princesa City, drew more than 500 representatives from the city and the adjacent towns of Aborlan and Narra.

Palawan was chosen one of the campaign’s iconic places because of its exceptional levels of biodiversity and biological productivity, the group said.

But Palawan’s rich resources are being threatened by a plan to construct a coal-fired power plant in Aborlan, WWF-Philippines said.

Caesar Ventura, the provincial economic affairs adviser, said in a statement that Palawan was being rapidly developed and consequently the need for power was rising.

“We’re just waiting for renewable energy investors to approach so we can finally fund local projects,” he said.

Renewable energy projects like mini-hydropower plants have been proposed for Puerto Princesa, Narra and Aborlan since 2010, according to WWF-Philippines.

But these mini-hydro projects have been unable to obtain contracts with the local electric cooperative.

“Despite obtaining all the other requirements, they have been unable to start generating power for the people of Palawan,” WWF-Philippines said.

Cheaper power

Gerthie Mayo-Anda, executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, said the mini-hydro projects would have sold cheaper power than the planned coal plant.

“Why should Palaweños buy expensive, dirty energy when cheaper and cleaner alternatives are already available? The extra expense will not just be incurred by Palaweños but by the rest of the country,” Mayo-Anda said.

Under the rules of the National Power Corp.’s Special Power Utilities Group, nongrid-connected areas like Palawan have portions of their electricity cost subsidized by the national government and consumers at large.


Environmentalists in Palawan are opposed to a plan to construct a coal plant in Aborlan, which was initially proposed in Narra but aborted following protests by residents there.

The proposed site in Narra would have directly impacted the Rasa Wildlife Sanctuary, home of the world’s largest nesting population of the critically endangered Katala, or Philippine cockatoo, WWF-Philippines said.

“The proposed coal plant would have impeded the flight path of hundreds of Philippine cockatoos from Rasa island to the mainland, where they fly each morning to forage,” said the Katala Foundation’s Indira Lacerna-Widmann.

“This would have had grave impact on the Katala’s breeding population, putting years of conservation work to protect this iconic species in peril,” she said.

Palawan hosts two Unesco World Heritage Sites—the Tubbataha Reefs and the Puerto Princesa Underground River. The island was also recently named by the tourism industry as one of the best islands in the world.

Palawan government to pay full amount of tuition fees of educational beneficiaries at WPU


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -– True to its commitment to support the education of students from indigent families in Palawan, the provincial government under IHELP (Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment) has readied over 17 million to pay the Western Philippines University (WPU) in full.

Orphy Ordinario, program manager of the Programang Pang-Edukasyong Para sa mga Palaweño (PPP) said Wednesday that they have readied P17,001,775 for the payment of the tuition fees to the WPU of 4,135 educational grant beneficiaries from all over the province.

He explained that the cheque has been prepared but it can’t be “collected” for the meantime due to the existing ban imposed because of the October 28 barangay election.

“After the election ban, the WPU can already collect it,” Ordinario said, adding they hope the amount can help indigent students begin building a good future for them.

Based on the registry of the PPP, the beneficiaries of the educational grants in the different WPU centers are 2,158 at WPU-Aborlan; 1,090 at WPU-Puerto Princesa City; 218 at WPU-El Nido; 83 at WPU-Busuanga, 51 at WPU-Culion, 371 ay WPU-Quezon, 23 at WPU-Taytay and 141 at WPU-Rio Tuba.

The cheque is for the full payment of their first semesters for 2013 after signing a memorandum of agreement with Alvarez.

Palawan's very special plan enshrined in R.A. 7611 (Feature)

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 23 (PNA) -– “Palawan has a very special plan enshrined in Republic Act 7611 known as the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act. It's unique flora and fauna and the richest biodiversity, and how we manage and balance all of these will be critical to the new kind of sustainable, resilient and adaptive development for Palawan and the country.”

This is how Sec. Nereus O. Acosta, Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection, set the tone and framework for the multi-sectoral consultative forum on Executive Order No. 79, “Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector, Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources” held last October 16 at the Provincial Capitol, in Puerto Princesa City.

Acosta conducted the half-day forum upon the invitation of Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez to provide Palaweños first-hand information on the EO and how it will impact on Palawan’s ecology and economy.

Participants present in the forum include provincial and local government officials, business, mining, academe, religious, non-government organizations and other stakeholders. Also present was DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional director Rolando de Jesus.

In his message, Alvarez asked the participants to listen and participate in the open forum and to give suggestions before the EO becomes final.

At the outset, Acosta stated that the protection of the environment for economic development is a policy of the state.

“The President is very clear on this. We are not compromising jobs. We want jobs; people need jobs. But we make sure that the jobs are not compromised and threatened because there is no more water, there is flood and there are no more ecosystems, “Acosta, who also heads the Laguna Lake Development Authority, said.

Elaborating on the aspect of environment protection, Sec. Acosta said that the purpose of the EO is to set the policy framework, set the direction for responsible mining policy, strengthen environmental mining standards and clarify the most fair revenue generation or the benefits that will accrue to the country and to the future generation of Filipinos.

Acosta explained that the inputs in the EO is the effort of four technical working groups namely Environmental Protection and Legislation headed by him, Economic Concern, Small Scale Mining and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives. Mandated to sift through, filter, collate and strengthen the inputs of EO 79 is the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) which is headed by the Environment and Natural Resources and Finance Departments. He clarified that the EO is still a work in progress. Nothing is final yet until it has reached Congress and signed by the President.

In the area of environmental protection, Acosta presented Sec. 16 of the EO which refers to the Integrated Mapping System to include the Mining Map.

He explained that in determining the go and no go zones in the regions or provinces that have mineral potentials, his technical working group gathered all the maps relating to protected areas, ancestral domains, agriculture and fishery zones, tourism sites and tourism development areas, watersheds, watershed reserves, comprehensive agrarian reform program areas, mining tenements, geo-hazard maps and other relevant maps covered by Republic Acts.

This map, he stressed, is a tool for decision-making and for determining the go and no go zones and for the protection and maintenance of ecosystems as well as for defining mining areas.

This is how we treat and understand these maps as a way of aiding legislation for new mining, Acosta added.

During the open forum, Board Member Marivic Roxas, representing the first district of the province, asked if there is a provision in the EO that states that no new mining applications in Palawan will be accepted.

Acosta clarified that in the beginning, Palawan was given a special treatment in the EO 79 but from the legal standpoint, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) was advised to take it out as it would lead to requests from other provinces for exemptions.

He also reminded the body that the EO aims to institutionalize and implement reforms in the Philippine Mining Act 7942. Nonetheless, he pointed out, that it remains clear to the MICC that Palawan is special given the SEP law, the numerous protected areas, tourism sites and many more.

He added: “any ecologist in the world would say how special Palawan is.”

Puerto Princesa hosts Palawan net tourney

(MST Sports)

Action in the Palawan Pawnshop-Palawan Express Pera Padala regional age-group tennis tournament shifts to Puerto Princesa City this week with the country’s leading and rising junior players vying for top honors in various divisions.

Entries from Pampanga, Iriga, Naga, Lucena, Sultan Kudarat, Marbel, Malita, Bacolod, Iloilo, Aklan and the National Capital Region have confirmed participation in the Group 2 tournament firing off Oct. 26.

Host Palawan Pawnshop, headed by COO Bobby Castro, will provide free accommodation to all participants to encourage more players to join the event plus a free tour of the world famous Underground River.

Titles to be disputed in the event, sanctioned by Philta and sponsored by Babolat through Technosports president Guillermo Nocom, are the 10-unisex, 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-and-under for boys and girls.

For details, contact Philta referee Bobby Mangunay at 0915-4046464.

“This event is part of a series of nation-wide tournaments launched to address the need for a national program for our junior netters,” said Castro. “It provides a venue where these players can hone their skills and talent and gain the much-needed exposure.”

“Palawan Pawnshop and Babolat have been in the forefront of tennis development for years and we will continue providing our youth top-notch tournaments like this,” said Philta president and Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez. “This tournament will surely inspire our young players to achieve a higher level of play.”

The nationwide age-group circuit also serves as the regional tournament program for children staged to address the need for a grassroots tennis centered on values formation, said Nocom.

Military information officers participate in Palawan Press Club's journalism workshop


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 21(PNA) -- "Pen is mightier than the sword," so goes an old cliche.

To enhance their skills in writing, military public affairs officers participated in a one-day comprehensive journalism enhancement seminar organized by the Alyansa ng Palawenyong Mamamahayag Inc. (APAMAI) and Focolare Movement at the Victoriano J. Rodriguez Hall, Capitol Complex, Puerto Princesa City.

Apamai is the media organization Palawan Press Club while Focolare is an international organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood.

The seminar-workshop covered advanced story writing and caption-writing skills discussed by Jose Aranas, editor in chief of New City Magazine.

Aranas shared best practices in media coverage and taught new, more efficient ways to write responsible journalism.

"We are glad military PAOs were also in this event that was designed for media practitioners. They were very attentive, very eager, and very professional," Aranas said, referring to the soldiers attending the workshop.

"I was incredibly impressed with them. I learned that they were exposed to similar training through their various programs, but the interaction between the soldiers and the local media is always nice to have."

Apamai president Ed Javarez, concurrent program director of RGMA Super Radyo Palawan, said the seminar was concluded with mutual respect and a bond that exists in the people connected to the multi-media.

Topics included interviewing, news writing, photojournalism, public relations, and multimedia. It aimed to teach creative and efficient ways to communicate through press releases, newspapers, magazines, and broadcasts, Javarez said.

BFAR eyes tuna fishing ban in Palawan

By Alladin S. Diega (Correspondent)

To improve the dwindling population of tuna, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said it is planning to issue a temporary ban on fishing in Palawan early next year.

“In the past, regulation has been concentrated on small fish and the conservation of the larger species of commercially viable fish was neglected,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said during the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of fish conservation.

The BFAR, an attached agency of the Department of Agricutlure (DA), has been planning to declare a closed season for sardines and roundscad (galunggong) as a way to conserve these fish species and to ensure a steady supply of food for tuna.

Alcala said, however, that consultations among DA agencies would have to be undertaken prior to the issuance of the ban.

“The closed season is important both to conserve and ensure the steady supply of certain species of fish,” BFAR Regional Director Medardo L. Jamiro Jr. said.

A senior aquaculturist, Jamiro said some 100 metric tons (MT) of skipjack, or white tuna (katsuwonus pelamis), and yellowfin tuna (thunnus albacares) are exported annually to the European Union (EU).

“Skipjack and yellowfin are two of the most commercially important species caught in the wild and are always in demand abroad,” Jamiro said.

To date, there are only six canning factories in the country which passed the strict regulation from the EU, which include 11 frozen fish establishments and four cold storage plant facilities, the BFAR said.

The Philippines produces close to 400,000 MT of tuna and herring-like species every year, with the majority of the catch being canned and the remaining sold in wet markets.

Linapacan Island, Palawan has world's clearest water to swim in – News site

(Vida Cruz / KDM, GMA News)

It is no secret that the Philippines has some of the world's best beaches, islands, and diving spots. This year though, in particular, the world seems to be sitting up and taking notice.

American news site Daily News Dig recently came up with a list of “35 Clearest Waters in the World to Swim in Before You Die”, and in a list dominated by European and South Pacific bodies of water, Palawan's Linapacan Island sat squarely in the top spot.

“This island is in a remote province and home to many beaches with super clear water. The island has a population of just 14,180 people,” read the short caption below a snapshot by Scott Sporleder of the breath-takingly clear water by the tiny island.

This comes a few months after Siargao being named as one of the world's best surf spots, and El Nido resort making the cover of top travel magazine "Travel+Leisure" last July.

In sharp contrast, flooding from typhoons have made virtual new bodies of water in the country's population centers, especially Metro Manila – which are still among the most polluted on the planet.

DTI-Palawan celebrates Consumer Welfare Month this October


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 18 (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) along with other government agencies implementing Republic Act 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, is celebrating Consumer Welfare Month this October with the theme “Health Products’ Quality, Efficacy, Safety and Transparency is Everybody’s Concern.”

This year’s celebration will be spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH), alongside other partner implementing agencies such as the DTI, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, local government units and the business industry sector.

This year, DTI-Palawan will celebrate the Consumer Welfare Month in the municipalities of Narra, Dumaran and Roxas by bringing various DTI services in the areas.

“We will have a forum for the consumers and the businessmen on the Consumers Act being implemented by the DTI to avoid violations. We will also have a business name registration campaign, and we will monitor stores on their compliances to the laws to get baseline data),” Rosenda G. Fortunado, provincial director of DTI-Palawan, said in Filipino.

Alongside the celebration of Consumer’s Month, Fortunado announced that there will also be a ceremonial destruction of confiscated products without Philippine Standard (PS) or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) markings from establishments in El Nido town and Puerto Princesa City.

“Kapuna-puna ang pagtaas ng kamalayan ng Palawan consumers sa kanilang karapatan bilang mamimili (We notices that there has been an increase in the awareness of Palawan consumers of their rights),” Fortunado noted.

In 2013, she said there had been 61 complaints filed at the DTI-Palawan office and 57 of these, or 93% had been resolved.

“Karamihan sa mga ito ay reklamo patungkol sa mapanlinlang at di makatarungang gawain sa pagnenegosyo at ang no return no exchange policy (Most of the complaints are about deception and unfair business practice, and also the no return, no exchange policy),” Fortunado said.

More than half a million pesos worth of products had been refunded, repaired or replaced to consumer-complainants.

Palawan's Tubbataha reefs among Top 10 Philippine Gems


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) --Palawan's Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) has been included in the Top 10 Philippine Gems, a project undertaken by Isla Lipana & Co. to entice more tourists and encourage possible investments.

The only tourist destination in MIMAROPA that vied for the search, Tubbataha is located at the heart of the Coral Triangle and plays an important role in the larger ecosystems.

The Coral Triangle refers to a triangular area encompassing portions of the tropical marine waters of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. With 500 or more coral species present in each eco-region, the area is recognized as the geographic center of global marine biodiversity and an international priority for conservation

Since divers discovered Tubbataha in the late 1970s, it has been recognized as one of the most remarkable coral reefs on our planet. The CNN travel website,, ranks it among the top eight dive sites in the world.

Tubbataha is known for its extraordinary biodiversity, abundant marine life and breathtaking drop-offs into the open ocean.

The search was launched to highlight the 91st anniversary celebration of Isla Lipana & Co. It also forms part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) project.

According to Allan M. Cao, assurance director of Isla Lipana & Co. the company started with a list of 175 destinations gathered from their employees and online travel bloggers and trimmed down to 50.

The screening committee agreed on a shortlist of 25 destinations, which were opened to online voting until middle of September.

Also included in the Top Ten Philippine Gems are Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte; Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; Caramoan Island, Camarines Sur; Biri Islands Rock Formation; Mt. Kanlaon, Negros; Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental; Panglao Island, Bohol; Apo Island, Negros Oriental and Batanes.

“The Philippine Gems steers awareness and appreciation for the country’s pristine and natural sites, even the underdeveloped ones. In our modest way, we aim for these places to gain local and international attention, and in due course, greater economic activity,” Cao said.

The project was made possible with the help of the Philippine Tourism and Promotion Board of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the University of the Philippines-Asia Institute of Tourism.

The screening committee is composed of the Management Association of the Philippines and Fleishman Hillard Manila, travel blogger James Betia and media personalities Love Añover, Jing Lejano and ace director, Jose Javier Reyes.

Batak Cultural Revival and Development Forum held in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 16 (PNA) -– In a bid to celebrate the distinct cultural identity of Palawan’s Batak indigenous community, as well as the Agta, Aeta, and Ati people of Luzon with whom they share a cultural bond, the 1st Batak Cultural Revival and Development Forum was held recently in the northern provincial town of Roxas.

The development forum dubbed “Kaambengan nga Buaten Ka Batak” was convened at the municipal gymnasium of Roxas as part of the celebration of the Indigenous People’s Month, said Abi Aguilar of the National Tribal Forum of the Philippines Task Force (NTFP-TF).

“The Indigenous People’s Month event will build on experiences, with a series of hugely successful festivals.

In fact, Batak leaders who attended the 2012 Tebewen Festival afterwards expressed their wish to have another festival/forum take place on their home island Palawan. "Now, it already happened,” Aguilar said.

She added that the different IPs with a hunter-gatherer background, collectively referred to as “Negritos,” represent the most ancient civilization in the Philippines, with uninterrupted presence going back more than 40,000 years in time.

"The ethnic groups – among which the Batak of Palawan, share a strong relationship with the natural environment in which they live and many cultural traits reflect this relationship, while relevant knowledge and skills are unsurpassed," she said.

However, the distinctive culture and forest oriented way of life of the Batak and other Negritos have long been under pressure and is as yet little understood in much of mainstream society, Aguilar added.

That is why, and a good thing, too, Aguilar said, that Batak leaders themselves called for the first Batak Cultural Revival & Development Forum, which aims to: Celebrate the distinct cultural identity of the participants; Encourage cooperation among communities and create a platform for sharing their aspirations and concerns in relation to the development agenda; and have a productive dialogue with, and provide grass root inputs to LGUs and national government branches.

The Batak forum was hosted by the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan (NATRIPAL) in collaboration with NTFP-TF, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the local government units of Roxas and Puerto Princesa.

Taipei Economic & Cultural Office expresses interest to establish cultural, tourism links in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 15 (PNA) –-The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) on Monday expressed interest to establish cultural and tourism links in Palawan.

The expression of interest was made known to Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez by Ambassador Raymond L. S. Wang.

Wang and other TECO representatives arrived in Puerto Princesa on October 14 to do a three-day visit of the city’s prime tourist spots, one of which is the subterranean river national park at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.

Wang said the purpose of the visit is to be able to institute cultural and tourism links in Palawan to increase opportunities for investment and employment that can be mutually beneficial.

Alvarez personally received Wang and other TECO representatives in his office, where they discussed various cultural and tourism prospects.

The governor said the visit promises fruitful endeavors in the near future for many Palaweños since the province is among the areas in the Philippines, where highly skilled employees can be sourced to serve what Taipei needs in its workforce.

Palawan also has top tourism sights that can serve Taipei residents’ needs for much-needed rest and relaxation, such as El Nido, Coron, and others.

Wang was with his wife Jenny Shyu Wang, and adviser to overseas community affairs Kelly Sia.

He invited Alvarez to visit Taipei to see what opportunities Palawan and Taiwan's capital can work on in terms of cultural and tourism exchanges.

Alvarez, on the other hand, was assisted in welcoming them by representatives from the Provincial Economic Enterprise Development Officer, Provincial Tourism Office, Provincial Legal Office and representatives from the City Tourism Office.

Palawan celebrates Fish Conservation Week

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Oct. 14 (PIA) -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Palawan celebrates the 50th Fish Conservation Week starting today until October 19 renewing support and collaboration among national and local government agencies and other stakeholders.

Under the theme “Pangisdaang Pinagyaman Ngayon, Henerasyong Sagana sa Panghabang Panahon”, the BFAR family in Palawan has lined up various activities to highlight the importance of conserving and protecting fishery resources in the province.

The BFAR family, composed of Regional Fisheries Training Center (RFTC), Inland Sea Ranching Service (ISRS) and the provincial office of BFAR, conducted a motorcade around the major city streets this morning to kick-off the week-long activities.

Projects and activities for the week include open water stocking and dispersal of bangus, tilapia and seabass fry and fingerlings; open house of projects at the RFTC and ISRS; fora/symposia at selected secondary schools; and technical trainings on post harvest and seaweeds farming by the RFTC.

A Fisherfolk Day has been scheduled on October 18 in the city where BFAR would award livelihood projects and give away gillnets and hook & line to fisherfolk-beneficiaries.

Winds associated with Typhoon Santi affect northern Luzon, Palawan seaboards

(Rie Takumi/BM, GMA News)

Strong to gale force winds associated with Typhoon Santi continue to affect several parts of the country, despite Santi's leaving the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) Sunday morning.

PAGASA reported wave heights of 3.4 to 4.5 meters, with a wind force of 52-63 kph or 28-34 knots.

The northern seaboard of northern Luzon and the seaboards of Palawan will be affected by the winds. Operators of small seacraft were advised not to go out to sea because of very rough conditions.

Meanwhile, the eye of Typhoon Wipha was located 1,340 km east of northern Luzon, with maximum sustained winds of 150 kph and gustiness of up to 185 kph. It is predicted to move north-northwest at 15 kph.

The weather bureau has earlier predicted that Wipha is unlikely to make landfall on any part of the country. If it enters the PAR on Monday, it will be codenamed Tino.

Palawan's environment watchdog rescues 7 Hawksbill turtles in Dumaran town


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) -- The Bantay Palawan environment program of the provincial government successfully rescued seven live Hawksbill turtles in the northern town of Dumaran.

Randy Suelo, program manager of Bantay Palawan, said Friday that there were actually nine Hawksbills found at Sitio Pantalan, Barangay Magsaysay in Dumaran after tip offs from residents, but only seven were rescued alive from still unidentified suspects on October 8.

During the rescue operation, Suelo said they also discovered one drum of a liquid substance that seems to be formalin inside an abandoned home in the said barangay. This makes them believe that the Hawksbills are being prepared to be stuffed by unidentified suspects.

As of this writing, investigation is ongoing in Dumaran to determine the identities and whereabouts of the suspects, since residents who have been interviewed do not know who they are, or where they came from.

The Bantay Palawan warned that catching, peddling and transporting Hawksbills are serious violations of the Wildlife Act, and that they will not have second thoughts arresting those who will be caught perpetrating them.

The Hawksbill is a critically endangered marine turtle that belongs to the family Cheloniidae. It is said to be the only extant species in its genus.

In Palawan, particularly in El Nido, it is one of only two species of marine turtles commonly seen. The other one is the green sea turtle. It's called Hawksbill because of its "tapered jaw that looks like a hawk's beak.

DOTC awards contract for Puerto Princesa airport terminal


MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications has awarded the contract for the semi-permanent airport terminal project at Puerto Princesa Airport to D.G. Sarmenta Construction.

In a statement, the DOTC said D.G. Sarmenta submitted a bid of P21.49 million, lower than the bid ceiling of P22.68 million.

"This will improve passenger convenience by allowing the airport to meet increasing tourist arrivals in the meantime that long-term upgrades are being done," said DOTC Spokesperson Migs Sagcal.

Sagcal said the semi-permanent terminal is expected to be open by next summer, in time for the busy tourist season. Palawan has become an increasingly popular tourist destination.

The DOTC also awarded improvement contracts for three other airports.

The Dipolog Airport Development Project was awarded to V.T. Lao Construction, which bid P26.69 million, much lower than the ceiling set at P34.25 million. The project involves the construction of river protection and runway strip grade correction.

The Zamboanga Airport Development Project was awarded to Advance Tech Construction & Trading Corporation, which bid P5.73 million. The ceiling was set at P6.01 million.

The Catarman Airport Development Project was awarded to Vesa Engineering and Construction, which bid P7.5 million. The project involves asphalt overlay of the runway and construction of the perimeter fence at the airport.

850 reasons to visit El Nido, Palawan

(Vida Cruz/BM, GMA News)

El Nido Resorts in Northern Palawan is famous for several reasons: it has won awards for community development and its environmental custodianship. It was recently listed as one of Asia's top eco resorts by Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia's 2012 Green issue. Its tall limestone formations made a cameo at the end of the movie “The Bourne Legacy.” And its four eco resorts of Miniloc, Lagen, Pangulisan, and Apulit are located at the cusp of one of the hottest of the world's biodiversity hotspots.

With the recent economic boom, word got around about the incredible bounty of marine life around ENR, particularly the high coral fish diversity index—as many as 850 species, numbers matched by very few other locations in the world.

That's 850 reasons to try snorkeling at El Nido.

Coral Triangle rarities

The Philippines is just one part of the Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. Though countries and islands such as Raja Ampat, Komodo, the Solomon Islands and Palau-Micronesia also boast of staggering numbers of species, their habitats tend to be spread out.

“In other areas in the Coral Triangle, you have to travel so far by sea just to experience another kind of habitat and see other kinds of marine life. In Solomon Islands, you have to take an eight-hour boat ride just to go from one habitat to the next,” said biologist Lee Goldman, who also conducts Palawan's ecotours.

It seems as though one will not find the same set of sea creatures twice within El Nido’s reef flats, lagoons, marine lakes, channels, coral thickets, sea grass beds, sand flat channels. Indeed, one cannot find many of the fascinating sea creatures elsewhere in the world.

Nabat Island along Taytay Bay, also one of the world’s best snorkeling sites, has the most table corals, according to Goldman. “They look like 100 colored papers thrown all over,” he said, although the healthiest coral communities are found in Bacuit Bay.

Another rarity is Hookfin Cardinal fish, which can only be found in El Nido.

Environmental duties

The ENR Dive Crew and Environment Department is doing the best it can to preserve the pristine ecosystem, from replanting endangered giant clams along other reefs to get them away from poachers to maintaining mooring buoys in 21 sites around Bacuit Bay that direct ships away from areas abundant in coral reefs.

The resort also takes pride in being the second in the world to install artificial reefs in Tres Marias, a dive site damaged by coral bleaching, illegal fishing, and weathering.

In addition to El Nido’s over 800 marine species, it also offers 400 kinds of corals and 500 marine vertebrae within an area of 200 square kilometers. Moreover, a panorama of marine life is accessible within a few meters of water, a condition perfect for snorkeling.

It is no wonder that earlier this year The Wall Street Journal Magazine, CNN and The New York Times have also cited El Nido’s unmatched natural beauty.

PCG: No oil spill from cargo vessel's grounding off Palawan

(LBG, GMA News)

The Philippine Coast Guard on Wednesday allayed fears of an oil spill from a cargo vessel that ran aground off Palawan last Sunday.

In a post on its website early Wednesday, the Coast Guard said the wooden-hulled ML Angelica Romasanta was grounded some 400 yards east of Mataya Reef in Palawan.

ML Angelica Romasanta, weighing 68.13 gross tons and owned by Allan Romasanta, had 10 crewmembers at the time it ran aground.

The Coast Guard in Coron learned of the incident from one Reynaldo Burdoy of Barangay 6, Coron. It then sent personnel to the site.

An initial investigation showed early efforts to extract and tow the vessel failed because of the low tide.

The Coast Guard team also found the vessel was listing five degrees to starboard. It had a crack on its starboard side, about 10 inches wide and 15 inches long.

Crew members transferred the cargo to another motor boat to lighten the weight on the grounded ML Angelica Romasanta.

The Coast Guard advised boat captain Fred Cullantes to have the vessel repaired and secure a certificate of seaworthiness from the Maritime Industry Authority, and file a marine protest detailing what happened.

Eco-Academy goes to Sabsaban Falls in southern Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 8 (PNA) -– Two weeks after his installation, the new commander of the 12th Marine Battalion Landing Team, Maj. Rodel G. Martires, hit the road to join his troops Monday in turning over the operations of Eco-academy in Brooke’s Point town in southern Palawan.

MBLT-12, the southern Palawan-based Marine unit, participated in the conduct of the turnover of the Eco-Academy Management Operations project of the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.

According to Lt. Rosevy Buenaventura, spokesperson of MBLT-12, the satellite office, including its facilities located near Sabsaban Falls, Barangay Mainit, Brooke’s Point, were gladly accepted by the local government unit headed by its chief executive, Atty. Mary Jean Feliciano.

“Our troops are very active in community projects such as these so as to let the Palawenyos know that we are more than combatants. More than defending our nation and ensuring peace and security in the province, especially southern Palawan, your Marines are working for the benefit of the people,” Buenaventura said.

The Eco-Academy was developed by ABS-CBN Foundation to spread environmental awareness, guided by its learning philosophy of "Let Nature Be Your Teacher". The Eco-academy piloted its program in the La Mesa Eco Park, where it was utilized as a natural venue for conducting hands-on environmental learning activities, advocating environmental issues, and developing an ecological consciousness amongst its thousands of visitors and guests.

Other Eco-Academy sites were developed, and ABS-CBN Foundation aims to duplicate La Mesa Eco Park’s success in Sabsaban Falls, significantly contributing to the long-term preservation and protection of the environment.

Environment watchdog in Palawan to strengthen 'Balik Chainsaw' program


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 7 (PNA) -– The Bantay Palawan (BP) environment protector of the provincial government is offering individuals who have no permits for their chainsaws to surrender them in a bid to prevent the illegal cutting of trees and denuding of vital forest areas.

Randy Suelo, program manager of the BP, said over the weekend that the offer is to give them opportunities to renew their lives away from the perpetration of illegal cutting and logging of trees before they get to them since they are bent on slowing it down in the province.

The call was made by Suelo following the surrender of 17 chainsaws by their individual owners Saturday in Barangay Aramaywan, Narra to him, Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, town Mayor Lucena Demaala, and other municipal government officials.

Per investigation, the chainsaws have no permits from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD). Their serial numbers have also been tampered with, which means there was no desire to use them legally.

"We are open to negotiation. For example, the owner of the chainsaw wants to surrender it to stop his illegal activity so that we will no longer chase each other in the mountain forest, then it's much better for both of us," he said.

The provincial government under Alvarez' leadership, he added, is serious on the protection of Palawan's environment stressed in the program agenda IHELP, or Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment.

Suelo vowed that the Bantay Palawan will do its best to fulfill its mandate in the province for the protection of the environment, which plays a vital role in the lives of its residents.

Navy begins developing Oyster Bay into mini Subic; mum on US pivot

By Redempto D. Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

OYSTER BAY, Palawan, Philippines—At Naval Forces West headquarters here, the wooden planks that are the main platform of the Philippine Navy’s sole naval shipyard facing the West Philippine Sea are breaking apart and starting to surrender to the elements.

The planks have cracks and gaps wide enough to send a full-sized man straight into the clear blue waters below.

The crew of a naval supply ship, which was chanced upon by the Inquirer while visiting the facility on Friday, was loading up for a routine run to the Kalayaan Islands in the disputed Spratlys island chain and knew enough to be careful.

Recently, the Philippine government dusted off old plans to develop Oyster Bay, a picturesque cove nestled in old growth mangrove forests and limestone cliffs in the western flank of Palawan’s central region.

Defense officials are hopeful the decades-old plans to upgrade the naval facility into a major shipyard and naval facility will finally move. The Oyster Bay development plans come as tensions are increasing over China’s aggressive assertion of ownership over the entire South China Sea, including parts of what the country calls the West Philippine Sea.

There has been an initial P500 million released to complete some major infrastructure components, including a 12-kilometer access road from the mainland.

“We call this a capability upgrade,” said Commodore Joseph Rostum Peña, commander of Naval Forces West (Navforwest).

Once completed, the facility would have an extended wharf to accommodate “at least four large naval vessels,” he said.

He cautiously avoided a conversation on the South China Sea conflict.

Peña said part of Navforwest’s capability upgrade would come from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program. This include the installation of high-powered radar systems in strategic areas from north to south of Palawan facing the West Philippine Sea. The radar systems would allow them to closely monitor developments in the disputed areas of the Spratlys.

“The coastal watch program should allow us eventually to monitor our seas in real time,” Peña said.

At least four of these stations that form part of the radar network have already been upgraded, according to Peña.

He said they were hoping to add more radar stations, including one in the Sulu Sea to specifically watch over the Tubbataha Reefs, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)-designated marine protected area.

Armando Lustre, head of Lustre Construction that won a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-administered contract to complete the 12-km road from the village of Macarascas to Oyster Bay, said they had begun the road work and were expecting additional funding for the third and final phase of the road development plan for the area.

Peña likened the Oyster Bay facility to “a mini Subic” once completed. Like the former US naval facility in Zambales, the bay has physical characteristics that can host large warships.

“It is also ideal as a base for our Marines. It has vast jungles suitable for training,” Peña said.

Peña declined to comment on the suitability of Oyster Bay for use by US naval ships under a new bilateral defense agreement that would allow the United States access to Philippine military bases, saying only that their facility would be “suitable for large warships.”

This US return to the country is part of its pivot to the Asia Pacific, a form of temporary basing in nations in the region.

The development of Oyster Bay has encountered resistance from the local community.

Around 10 years ago when the Philippine Navy began developing Oyster Bay and its naval reservation, all the villages around it rejected the facility, expressing this in a referendum conducted by the city government.

But Jane Villarin, a village council representive of Macarascas which hosts the newly transferred Navforwest headquarters believes the objections had been assuaged.

“I don’t think the community will resist the development of the naval base … we are used to them now,” she said.

Palawan’s UN status as eco reserve in peril

By DJ Yap (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines—The country’s last ecological frontier, Palawan, may lose its status as a “Man and Biosphere Reserve” under the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) if a plan to build a coal-fired power plant in one of its towns pushes through, an environmentalist organization warned.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines sounded the alarm earlier this week in response to reports that a coal plant would be built in Aborlan town to help meet the province’s increasing electricity needs.

In a statement, the group warned the construction of the coal plant would threaten Palawan’s natural resources and put at risk its special designation as a Unesco reserve.

In 1990, Unesco declared Palawan as a Man and Biosphere Reserve, classifying the province as a “site of excellence where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated.”

Palawan hosts two Unesco World Heritage Sites: the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Palawan is also one of the country’s most popular tourism hot spots.

On Monday, some 1,500 students at Western Philippines University students marched to Aborlan to protest the plan, said Lita Sopsop, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Sopsop, who has a doctorate in Environmental Science from the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, said a coal plant’s adverse effects on Palawan’s marine ecosystem would be “massive.”

WWF-Philippines said the coal plant was originally supposed to be put up in the town of Narra but it “faced such strong local opposition that the developer was unable to get the local government endorsement it needed to continue with the project.”

It had to transfer the proposed site to the municipality of Aborlan, the group said.

“The question is not whether Palawan should develop. The question is how it should develop,” said WWF-Philippines vice chair and chief executive officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan.

WWF-Philippines said it would be highlighting the plight of Palawan through what it called the “Seize Your Power Campaign.” The campaign calls on financial institutions and government to divest from dirty fossil fuel investments and to invest more in cleaner, renewable energy solutions.”

8th Prov’l Coop Convention to happen in Palawan this month

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) -– The Provincial Cooperative Development Council is all geared up for the holding of the 8th Provincial Cooperative Convention in Palawan which will be on Oct 23-24.

About 200 cooperative members, representatives and officials will participate in the convention that carries the theme, “Kooperatiba: Kaagapay sa Pagbabago Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Mamamayan ng Palawan.”

Vicky Ladica, chief of the Provincial Cooperative Development Office (PCDO) said Governor Jose Alvarez is expected to give a message as honorary chairman of the PCDC and Board Member Eduardo Modesto Rodriguez, the chairman of the Committee on Cooperatives at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The 2-day convention will deal with topics on best cooperative practices, effective cooperative management, cooperative officers and members, and latest issues involving cooperatives, and others.

Ladica said the convention will be a boost to the current administration’s development agenda Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment, or IHELP, as one of its targets in the provision of livelihood to many Palaweños.

The annual convention in Palawan aims to strengthen efforts in the management of cooperatives, and to give them a leverage to seek solutions to issues and problems that beset them.

Postcard-perfect Phl isle symbolizes US pivot

(The Philippine Star)

OYSTER BAY, Palawan, Philippines – Its mangrove-fringed coral reefs support an abundant fish population. Its deep, blue waters are unmuddied by the monsoons that batter the western Philippine coastline.

Oyster Bay is a postcard-perfect cove in Palawan that the Philippines expects to transform into a port for its naval frigates and eventually for American warships – all overlooking the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Developing this remote island paradise into a military facility could exacerbate tensions with China, whose sovereignty claims over the vast, mineral-rich South China Sea, one of the world’s most important waterways, set it directly against US allies Vietnam and the Philippines.

Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the sea.

Rebuilding ties with the Philippines, including helping to upgrade its ill-equipped military, has been an important part of a US rebalancing of its strategic focus toward Asia that is seen as a bid to check China’s growing power.

President Aquino has launched a $1.8-billion modernization program and revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, the largest US military installation in Southeast Asia before it was shuttered in 1992. Homepage ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Also in the cards is the development of Oyster Bay, which lies about 550 km southwest of Manila.

“It will be a mini-Subic,” Commodore Joseph Rostum Peña, commander of the Philippines’ western navy, said in the first public comments about converting Oyster Bay into a major naval base.

A future port here would extend the reach of the navy’s two frigates, both former US Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, he said in an interview from his office overlooking the mouth of the bay.

Long-held plans to develop the port were resurrected by Aquino after the US donated the frigates, now the Philippine Navy’s largest ships, in 2011 and 2012.

Oyster Bay is about 160 km from the Spratlys.

“In Manila, the leaders must move behind rhetorical blandishments about a new spirit of partnership and start to detail specific actions that will strengthen Philippine defense capabilities,” said Patrick Cronin, an Asia-Pacific security expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

Mt. Mantalingahan award recognizes importance of protected area conservation

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 2 (PNA) -- The Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) bagged the Best Protected Area (PA) and the Civil Society Partnership Category at the first Protected Area Awards and Recognition by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) on Monday.

According to Enrique Nunez Wednesday, Conservation International Philippines’s Country Executive Director, they are honored to receive the award on behalf of all of the those that have worked so hard to implement Mt. Mantalingahan as a protected area.

"These awards bring attention to the great achievements of protected area management in the Philippines and their importance. Such initiatives are essential to conserve ecosystem services, such as fresh water and food security, for the wellbeing of our people," Nunez told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

He said the DENR created the Protected Area Awards and Recognition to nationally highlight the key players and their innovative practices and initiatives in the field of protected area management. The award was presented by Ramon Paje, the Secretary of the DENR and Theresa Mondita Lim, the Director of Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, and was witnessed by ASEAN country representatives at the 4th ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference underway in Tagaytay City.

Since 1992, when the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law was passed, the DENR, with support from its partners, has implemented significant milestones in conserving biological diversity and promoting sustainable development in the Philippines, Nunez shared.

"There is much is yet to be done to protect our natural environment from pressing direct challenges such as deforestation, watershed loss, growing populations and global climate change. This public support of our work to mitigate these threats gives us even greater confidence in our cause. We hope that our work inspires other such projects in the Philippines, and in the long-term contributes to a society that seeks out green development solutions that contribute to a healthy sustainable society," he said.

Of the nine protected areas in Palawan, the MMPL and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), a 25-year old marine protected area, were nominated. Several other nominees from the more than 200 protected areas in the country were also part of the selection process. A third party team of evaluators/reviewers identified the finalists based on the documentation and evidences of accomplishments. Award categories included: engagement with local communities, partnership with local government units, partnership with private sector, functional institutional organization, maintenance of various ecosystems and law enforcement.

Through CI’s support, the MMPL was declared a protected area in June 2009 through Presidential Proclamation 1815. With an area of 120,457 hectares, it remains the largest terrestrial protected area in Palawan. The MMPL is within the territorial jurisdiction of the municipalities of Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, Rizal and Sofronio Espanola, Nunez said.

He added that CI is a member of the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) of both the MMPL and TRNP. With CI’s strong and ongoing support the MMPL is now one of the few PAs in the Philippines to successfully complete 11 of the 12 official steps required to formally declare a national-level protected area under NIPAS. The MMPL is emerging as one of the top models of protected area management, with its focus on sustainable financing to ensure its long-term implementation.

Alvarez recognizes role of military, police in maintaining peace and order in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 1 (PNA) -– Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez admits the military and the police play an important role in maintaining peace and order in the province for sustainable growth and development.

During a recent meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, Alvarez appealed to the Western Command and the Provincial Police Office to support the provincial government.

He said incidents that may jeopardize Palawan's potentials, particularly in tourism, be contained.

“There should be no incidents in Palawan for tourists to continue coming,” 3rd Marine Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Andrei Costales quoted Alvarez as saying.