Palawan News October 2014

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Palawan - Archived News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lacson to lead launching of Sawali Livelihood Center in Coron


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, October 31 (PIA) – Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson will lead the launching of the Community Sawali Livelihood Centre & Showroom on November 4 in Bgy. Guadalupe, Coron which was ravaged by typhoon Yolanda almost a year ago.

The sawali center and showroom is part of the Guadalupe Community Sawali Livelihood Project initiated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) through Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) and the Dept. of Labor & Employment (DOLE) to help the community to rebuild their lives by providing access to sustainable livelihood.

Sec. Lacson will be joined by Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Country Office for the Philippines Country Director. Also invited to grace the event are DOLE Secretary Rosalina Baldoz and TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva.

About 500 individuals in the barangay are already benefitting from the sawali-making production project, which was turned-over to the community by ILO-DOLE last May.

Philippine tourism: Palawan is ‘Top Island in the World’

(Manila Bulletin)

Everything’s coming up roses for the tourism sector. The campaign “Visit Philippines Year 2015” launched by the Department of Tourism after the success of “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” has been bolstered by the accolade “Top Island in the World” awarded to Palawan island-province based on survey of 30 fascinating islands worldwide by New York-based Conde Nast Travel Magazine for its 27th Readers Choice Awards for 2014.

Palawan was followed in the top 10 list by Kiawah Island, South Carolina; Maui, Hawaii; Kauai, Hawaii; Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique; Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, Australia; Santorini and Cyclades, Greece; St. John, US Virgin Islands; Kangaroo Island, Australia; and Big Island, Hawaii.

In the Conde Nast survey, Boracay Island was No. 12. In another category, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa was awarded 11th place among Top 20 Resorts in Asia.

Conde Nast particularly cited Palawan’s most popular tourist destination, the Puerto Princesa Underground River. “Palawan’s natural wonder is one of the longest underground rivers in the world, and longest in Asia, traveling five miles through a subterranean cave system. Boat tours take visitors down a portion of the waterway, where karsts, natural rock formations created by dissolving limestones, loom in every direction.” The underground river was one of New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2012, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Palawan has great locations for snorkeling, swimming, and diving. Coral and rainbow reef walls surround the coasts and coves teeming with marine resources. It has diverse ecosystems – rainforests, mangroves, white-sand beaches, clear blue waters, limestone cliffs, and a variety of fishes such as manta ray and the rare marine mammal dugong.

Favorite destinations for water sports activities are diving sites Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park (also a World Heritage Site), El Nido Marine Reserve, Honda Bay, Coron Island, Irawan Eco Park, Pambato Reef, and Starfish Island. Palawan is among the world’s Best Islands listed by National Geographic; the Best Value Travel Destination by Lonely Planet; and among World’s Best by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Philex Petroleum widens loss on unit's exit from Palawan project

By Euan Paulo C. Añonuevo (

MANILA – Losses at Philex Petroleum Corp nearly doubled in the first nine months of the year.

In disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex Petroleum said it losses hit P376.9 million in the January to September, almost twice the P190.2 million in the same period last year.

"The increase in net loss was mainly due to an impairment loss related to Service Contract (SC) 6A recorded by Pitkin Petroleum Plc," Philex Petroleum said.

The losses shouldered by Pitkin, which is 53 percent owned by Philex Petroleum, arose from its decision not to pursue the development of SC 6A in offshore Northwest Palawan. Had it pursued development of the contract, Pitkin would have secured a 70 percent stake in the project.

As a result of Pitkin's decision to exit SC 6A, the latter recorded an impairment loss of P338 million.

The company targets to reassign its interest in the oil and gas block to its partners by December.

Philex Petroleum is the upstream oil and gas subsidiary of Philex Mining Corp. is the online news portal of TV5, which like Philex is chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Fire engulfs over 100 homes near mine site in Palawan


A major fire completely razed to ground over a hundred homes at Sitio Marabajay, Barangay Rio Tuba near the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) over the week, a report from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said Tuesday.

In local interviews, SFO1 Jomar Nueva said initial investigation they conducted claimed the fire may have started from the faulty electrical wiring in the home of another resident.

The home was reportedly empty with residents but some of its electrical appliances and its lights were switched on and were plugged.

With the number of homes gutted, over a hundred families are now without homes and are staying in temporary evacuation centers from Marabajay near a river. At least 20 million worth of properties were lost, including vehicles and several stores.

Further investigation into the cause of the fire is standard operating procedure (SOP), according to the fire officer.

Incidentally, the homes that were destroyed by the fire used to stand near the river with the same name, which is habitat for saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) that are known lately to attack residents.

With the fire incident, barangay and municipal authorities are now seriously considering the permanent relocation of families with a proposal to build affordable homes for them away from the river.

Barangay Rio Tuba Chairman Gomer Miano said a private company has proposed to the municipal government a low-cost housing project ever since, and the homeless residents of Marabajay can avail of this to have permanent homes away from the danger of being attacked by the saltwater crocodiles.

The same was pronounced by Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Maria Erlinda Quisto, who told local interviews that with the low-cost housing, the residents of Marabajay will have a new chance from the fire incident.

She also said that with it, their homes will no longer stand closely to each other which is really dangerous and prone to fire.

The fire at Marabajay was declared under control around 3 a.m. Sunday with fire truck support from the RTNMC and CBNC, as well as private individuals, who own trucks that transported receptacles filled with water.

DBM to release P8 billion for Yolanda victims' housing units

By Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza / VS (GMA News)

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will release P8 billion to the National Housing Authority (NHA) to complete the funds needed for the construction of over 64,000 housing units for the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

In a statement on, the department said NHA requested P19 billion for the construction of 64,982 housing units in areas in Palawan, Masbate, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Biliran and Leyte.

It released P11 billion in Oct. 20.

"Ultimately, our goal is to restore normalcy in these communities and improve their resiliency to disasters. It will also ensure that the affected families will have quality, permanent housing that will enable them to weather future disasters safely," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

Government aims to build permanent housing for the victims in safer areas, he added.

Upgrade of Palawan facilities to continue

By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Gov. Jose Alvarez vowed to exert more effort in improving Palawan after it was named as the World’s No. 1 island destination by the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Award for 2014.

“We welcome such recognition and we are proud that Palawan has made it to No. 1. But we still have a lot of things to improve on,” Alvarez told The STAR.

The idyllic island of Palawan claimed top spot 88.750 points based on over 76,000 votes. Boracay, on the other hand, placed 12th with 82.683 points.

Alvarez said the provincial government is working on improving the facilities as well as the road network that would make travel across the island easier for tourists to go from one destination to another.

“Right now we are also working on improving the coastal areas wherein we have to make sure that they are always clean,” the governor said, adding that massive work is now being done to make El Nido and Coron and other leading destinations in the island more attractive to tourists.

Palawan gained international fame when its Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, the longest navigable underground river in the world, was recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2012.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the subterranean river a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Condé Nast Traveler recommends boat tours in the underground river “where karsts, natural rock formations created by dissolving limestone, loom in every direction.”

Boracay, meanwhile, is described in the New York-based magazine as being “as close to the tropical idyll ideal as you’ll find in the Philippines, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets.”

Alvarez also said his administration is working on connecting with international tour groups to make Palawan the choice destination for more tourists.

Bishops call for support for anti-pork barrel signature campaign

By Tina G. Santos (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines urged Filipinos Saturday to participate in a national signature campaign against the pork barrel system.

In a post on the website of Church-run Radio Veritas, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who chairs the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, said the sign-up would be held after the morning masses in various churches nationwide on Sunday.

The signature campaign is part of the effort to institute reforms in the government and against corruption.

Among the churches that will join the national sign-up day led by the group Peoples Initiative Against Pork Barrel include the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Sta. Cruz Church in Manila, Quiapo Church or the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, and the church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

Other churches in the Diocese of Sorsogon, Romblon, Borongan in Eastern Samar, Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, Archdiocese of Cebu, and Diocese of Kidapawan and San Carlos have also expressed their intention to join the activity.

Pabillo said that apart from expressing objection to the pork barrel, it is important for Filipinos to push for a bill that would abolish pork barrel or would prohibit the allocation of lump sum funds that were left to the discretion of members of the Congress, the Department of Budget and Management and the President of the Philippines.

He added that the pork barrel and other lump sum funds would only promote patronage politics and corruption, resulting in the malversation of public funds that should have been allocated for social services.

Pabillo said there should be a law that would prohibit any government official from using government funds for personal as well as his political allies’ interests.

The national movement for the people’s initiative, which was launched in Cebu on August 23, hopes to gather the signatures of at least 6 million registered voters by early next year.

At least 3 percent of voters for each congressional district and at least 10 percent of the total number of voters are needed for a referendum on a new law to be held.

The Commission on Elections will verify the list of signatures submitted to the body.

The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the pork barrel (Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF), and the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The PDAF is allotted to congressmen for their projects, while the DAP has been implemented by the Aquino administration using the savings of agencies to hasten the completion of big-ticket infrastructure projects and urgent antipoverty programs.

US to pay PH P87M for damage to World Heritage Site

By Pia Ranada with a report from Paterno Esmaquel II (

The amount represents the P58M that the Philippines asked the US and the P28M fuel and repair costs incurred by the Coast Guard. It is lower than environmentalists' estimates of P737.8M to P1.2B.

MANILA, Philippines – Almost two years after an American navy vessel damaged coral reefs in a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Palawan, the United States is finally compensating the Philippines.

The US is set to pay the Philippines P87 million (US$1.9 million), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Friday, October 24.

The news came 4 months after the US received a formal request for compensation from the Philippine government on June 13, 2014.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message: "When asked on the status of US payment for Tubbataha, SFA [Albert del Rosario] said we are now in the documentation stage. When asked how much we are asking from US, he replied, '87 million pesos.'"

But Kurt Hoyer, press attaché of the US embassy told Rappler that no amount has been finalized yet. The US embassy is also yet to release a statement on the matter.

"We will have a statement when all is finalized. Hopefully soon," he said via text message.

The USS Guardian obliterated 2,345.67 square meters of coral reef when it crashed into Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, the world-famous marine park and protected area in Palawan province on January 17, 2013.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in June did not release the amount of compensation in Manila's request, but the Philippine government had pegged the cost of the damage at P58 million ($1.3 million).

Environmentalists who had gone to the Supreme Court to force the government to demand compesation from the US had a higher estimate of damage: P737.8 million ($16.8 million) to P1.2 billion ($27 million).

The US Embassy, however, chose to negotiate directly with the Philippine government instead of entertaining petitions from other groups.

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered the "crown jewel of Philippine seas" because of its rich marine life.

Angelique Songco, superintendent of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park told Rappler that the P87 million is the combined amount of payment for the damage of the reefs and costs incurred by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Of the amount, P58 million is to compensate for the damage of the park, while around P28 million will pay for fuel and repair costs incurred by the PCG while assisting the US Navy.

8 flights cancelled due to aircraft situation


At least eight flights were cancelled Thursday morning due to an aircraft situation, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said.

DOTC said in a Twitter post that the flights that were canceled include 5J-907 (Manila-Caticlan), 5J-908 (Caticlan-Manila), 5J-373 (Manila-Roxas), 5J-374 (Roxas-Manila), 5J-447 (Manila-Iloilo), 5J-448 (Iloilo-Manila), 5J-637 (Manila-Puerto Princesa), and 5J-638 (Puerto Princesa-Manila).

DOTC did not say what type of aircraft situation that cancelled the flights which belong to Cebu Pacific.

More areas for hybrid rice eyed in Palawan, Mindanao

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE Philippine-East Asean Growth Area (P-Eaga) is targeting to expand plantation area for hybrid rice in Palawan and Mindanao starting this year, in a bid to increase the production of rice and achieve food sufficiency in these areas.

"The Philippines is the lead country in the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-Eaga implementing the hybrid rice planting as part of the Food Basket Pilar. The province of Palawan and the whole of Mindanao are part of the P-Eaga areas," said Dr. Frisco M. Malabanan, senior technical consultant of SL Agritech Corp. (Slac) in a Status Report on the Hybrid Rice Planting in the P-Eaga Regions, which he presented during the 2nd BIMP-Eaga Agribusiness Cluster Meeting at Grand Regal Hotel on Tuesday.

He said the project is a private-public partnership (PPP) between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and private seed companies headed by Slac, who are spearheading the hybrid rice planting in the P-Eaga areas, which includes Palawan and the whole of Mindanao.

Expansion of the hybrid rice plantations will begin during the 2014-2015 dry season cropping, wherein they are targeting 23,567 hectares (has.), up to 2015 wet season and 2015-2016 dry season cropping , wherein they are targeting 40,782 has.

For the 2014-2015 dry season cropping, 1,454 has. have been targeted for Palawan, 4,186 has. for Zamboanga Peninsula, 2,000 has. for Northern Mindanao, 5,678 has. for Davao Region, 4,200 has. for Socsksargen, 1,493 has. for Caraga, and 4,556 has. for Autonomous Region in Muslin Mindanao (Armm).

For the 2015 wet season and 2015-2016 dry season cropping, 2,456 has. have been targeted for Palawan, 8,372 has. for Zamboanga Peninsula, 4,000 has. for Northern Mindanao, 11,356 has. for Davao Region, 2,500 has. for Socsksargen, 2,986 has. for Caraga, and 9,112 has. for Autonomous Region in Muslin Mindanao (Armm).

In 2013, the hybrid rice plantations in the P-Eaga is at 36,982 has., located in Zamboanga Peninsula at 9,325 has. Malabanan said based on their internal study, they have observed an increase in the average yield of the farmers who used the Slac hybrid rice variety.

"The average yield of SL Agritech hybrid rice variety was 6.6 metric tons per hectare in the P-Eaga compared to only 4.4 metric tons per hectare for inbred [rice]. This data showed a 50% yield advantage of hybrid rice compared to inbred [rice]," he said.

Malabanan said they are hoping to replicate this in other areas in the BIMP-Eaga like in some provinces in Malaysia.

Palawan voted 'top island in the world'


MANILA - Palawan, which is home to one of the world's newest natural wonders, was hailed as the best island in the world by the readers of an award-winning US travel magazine.

On Monday, Conde Nast Traveler released the results of its 27th annual Readers' Choice Awards on its website.

Palawan was named the "Top Island in the World" based on over 76,600 votes. The island destination scored a rating of 88.750, mainly because of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.

"Palawan's natural wonder is one of the longest underground rivers in the world, traveling five miles through a subterranean cave system," the magazine wrote.

"Guided boat tours take visitors down a portion of the waterway, where karsts, natural rock formations created by dissolving limestone, loom in every direction," it added.

Palawan beat out the likes of Kiawah Island in South Carolina, Maui in Hawaii, Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique, the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands in Australia, and Santorini in Greece.

Meanwhile, Boracay Island also placed in the list at No. 12. The island received a rating of 82.683 from readers of the magazine.

"This itty-bitty island in the Western Philippines is as close to the tropical idyll ideal as you’ll find in the Philippines, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets. Add in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region," Conde Nast Traveler wrote.

"The aptly named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling," it added.

Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa also received acclaim, ranking 11th in the list of "Top 20 Resorts in Asia."

"Providing 'a great resort experience that everyone should enjoy, this property on 30 acres debuted in 2009. The main building is an open pavilion with a pitched roof and an exterior of local coral stone," the magazine wrote.

"Public areas create a sense of place with ten-foot-high tribal drums, carved wooden sculptures, and local art. Room interiors showcase handwoven textiles, sconces made of local capiz shells, and oars framed as art," it added.

CA allows De Lima to resolve review plea of Gerry Ortega kin


The Court of Appeals has allowed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to resolve the petition filed by the family of slain environmentalist Gerry Ortega against the junking of complaint against the suspects, which include former Palawan governor Joel Reyes.

In a 19-page decision, the CA's Special First Division denied Reyes' plea seeking to bar the Office of the Secretary of Justice (OSJ) from conducting further proceedings related to the 2011 killing.

Reyes had earlier filed a petition with the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking De Lima to inhibit from resolving the petition for review following her statement alleging that the suspects employed "foul tactics and illicit means" to get a favorable decision from the CA.

In junking Reyes petition, the CA ruled that it was still premature to rule on the matter considering that De Lima has yet to rule on his motion for inhibition pending before the DOJ.

Saying Reyes failed to cite valid grounds to justify De Lima's inhibition, the CA said her public statements were not tantamount to a denial of his pending motion for inhibition.

"Granting, for the sake of argument, that the SOJ had been less than impartial because of her public statements in connection with the Ortega murder case, this does not necessarily make the entire OSJ or the DOJ also partial," the CA ruled.

"The SOJ is not the DOJ. Should the SOJ voluntarily inhibit from the case, the petition for review of Patria Gloria Ortega would still be resolved by the assigned undersecretary pursuant to Department Circular No. 66," it added.

The CA said it recognized the power of the SOJ to review, revise, reverse, or modify the resolutions of her prosecutors who conducted preliminary investigations.

"For the Court to curtail the exercise by the SOJ of her primary jurisdiction to review and supervise preliminary investigations, the petitioner will have to plead much more and not simply rely on his fears, apprehensions and suppositions," the CA said.

The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. Concurring with it were Associate Justices Amny Lazaro-Javier and Samuel Gaerlan.

De Lima had earlier said she was merely exercising her right to free expression in airing her frustration after the CA, in March 2013, clearing Reyes of murder charges in the killing of Ortega due to the supposed procedural lapses on the part of the DOJ in investigating the case.

De Lima had hinted that she knew about "something that happened" that led to the favorable decision on Reyes. She, however, refused to elaborate, saying she has no solid proof to back her claim.

The decision clearing Reyes, who is still in hiding and believed to be outside the country, came some four months after another CA division junked similar charges against the former governor's co-accused and brother, Mayor Mario Reyes of Coron town.

A DOJ panel headed by State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog had already cleared Reyes and his brother Mario and four other suspects for insufficiency of evidence in a June 8, 2011 resolution. The Ortega camp filed a petition for review.

Instead of resolving the review plea, De Lima on September 7, 2012 formed a new panel and re-opened the case through Department Order 710, which modified the first panel's resolution and implicated the Reyes brothers in the killing.


In a March 2013 ruling that reinstated the findings of the first DOJ panel, the CA said De Lima's creation of the second panel, as well as its findings that ran contrary to those of the first panel, caused disorder in what should have been an orderly procdure.

"Since at this precise moment this finding by the first panel of prosecutors has not yet been reversed, affirmed or modified by the Public Respondent Secretary of Justice, such finding is still valid. For all legal intents and purposes therefore, petitioner should not have been indicted for the crime of murder," the CA division had said.

The CA said instead of forming a second panel of investigators, De Lima should have resolved the Ortega camp's petition for review and reviewed the case herself, something which she did not do in violation of the rules of procedure.

In her defense, De Lima insisted that she was authorized to appoint a prosecutor to conduct a re-investigation, and that the second panel was formed even before any of the parties filed a petition for review.

She said the second panel also has “de facto authority” to conduct investigation, which makes its results valid even if DO 710 is deemed null and void.

However, the CA said there was no need to create a second panel at the time since neither party was deprived of their constitutional rights during the preliminary investigation by the first panel.

The Reyes brothers, who have repeatedly denied the accusation and said their political opponents were behind the charges, went into hiding when the second panel came out with its findings.

The victim, who was also a broadcaster, was a known staunch critic of the Reyeses and was known to make hard-hitting commentaries against the local government at that time.

El Nido wins sustainability award

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Ten Knots’ El Nido Resorts has received another international award, the 2014 Sustainable Hotel Award in the Sustainable Communities category, from the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP).

The award was presented to El Nido Resorts for their efforts in “embracing the wisdom of partnering with local communities and investing in environmental protection.” Ten Knots Group’s president Laurent Lamasuta received the award at the presentation ceremony of the 25th annual HICAP in Hong Kong last Friday.

Lamasuta explains, “Our resorts employ 90 percent locals, whom we train and equip with the skills and knowledge to be at par with international standards. They also act as our champions for the environment, educating guests on the biodiversity of El Nido, at the same time making sure that it is protected.”

“Furthermore, we make sure that as much as possible, we source our ingredients locally, in turn reducing our food miles and creating more sustainable menus which our guests appreciate,” he adds.

The 2014 Sustainable Hotel Award marks another global recognition and affirmation that the Ten Knots Group is fully committed to responsible tourism, green practices and community development.

The Ten Knots Group, which after changes in ownership is now part of the AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Corp. (AHRC), operates four luxury eco-resorts, namely, Miniloc Island, Lagen Island, Apulit Island and Pangulasian Island, all within the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area in Northern Palawan. An international panel of experts evaluated the resorts’ sustainable efforts and programs that benefit the local community.

According to the archives of the El Nido municipality, the place was “discovered” by a group of tourists in the late ‘70s on board dive boat M/V Via Mare. The group was just passing through Bacuit Bay when a fishing line disabled the boat’s propeller in the middle of the night and the crew dropped anchor. The next morning, the tourists woke up to an amazing scenery of brooding limestone cliffs, white sand beaches, clear blue waters. The scenery so impressed the travelers that in 1982 they founded a Filipino-Japanese joint venture company that set up Miniloc as a divers’ resort.

In the next decades, other resorts were added to the collection. As more travelers were impressed by the pristine environment of Bacuit Bay, the government took steps to keep it untouched through a number of laws and administrative orders. In 1998, Bacuit Bay and part of Taytay was declared a protected area.

“Miniloc and the rest of the El Nido Resorts collection are a showcase of the Philippines’ geological and biological diversity,” says Lamasuta. Sustaining the natural and cultural beauty of the islands of the El Nido Resorts collection has been a goal of its shareholders since its founding in 1982.

He adds that they have adopted the sustainable planning principles of the Ayala Land group to which it belongs and has applied these to all its properties, including its resorts.

Preserving the original ambience of the El Nido Resorts reminds visitors and shareholders alike of its original mission to “promote harmony between nature and local communities.”

HICAP is Asia’s biggest and longest-running hotel investment conference and is attended by leading industry professionals. The Sustainable Hotel Awards were launched in 2007 to recognize hotels in the Asia Pacific region demonstrating exemplary sustainable practices and to inspire industry-wide commitment to sustainable development and operations.

Palawan govt to assist farmers interested in cacao farming


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: The provincial government of Palawan is ready and willing to provide technical support, seeds, fertilizer and financial assistance to Palaweños, who would be interested to farm the high-value crop cacao.

Dr. Myrna Ordinario-Lacanilao, provincial livelihood sector chief, said Gov. Jose Alvarez is willing to provide all to any potential cacao farmer.

Lacanilao said each hectare of land that will be devoted to cacao farming will entail an expense of P85,000.

She said the provincial government is willing to lend the amount, and borrowers will be given three years before they start their payments. The idea, she furthered, is so that they have already done their preliminaries in cacao farming.

Each hectare, she said, can earn a cacao farmer an income of up to P149,000 from the cacao beans.

The amount that can be taken as loan, she added, can also be paid earlier than three years for the farmer to be able to sell his harvested “cacao beans” directly to the market.

Lacanilao said the provincial government is targeting to farm cacao in 1,000-hectare of land at present; 5,000 hectares in 2015; and 6,000 hectares in 2016.

The program is centered on the municipalities in southern Palawan except for the town of Narra, where the provincial government would like to concentrate on rice farming, and in Balabac, where the focus would be on seaweeds farming.

“It is Governor Alvarez’s aim to uplift the standards of living of Palaweños that is why his administration is working hard on the livelihood sector under IHELP… for effective implementation of cacao farming in Palawan,” said Lacanilao.

She assured that the supplier the provincial government will get for the project will be the one to also provide technical help, seeds and fertilizer, and also labor.

Lacanila said Alvarez’s administration will work hard to find a market for the cacao beans that will be harvested by the farmers.

“The governor wants to make sure that there will be a sure buyer of the cacao in Palawan,” Lacanilao said, adding she also once farmed cacao but it was not successful for lack of market.

She said that based on research, the demands for cacao that cannot be delivered in the domestic and international markets are 126,000 metric tons, which means the demand is high but the supplies are not enough.

Palawan students represent Phl in water rocket tilt

By Patricia Lourdes Viray (

MANILA, Philippines - Students from Palawan State University (PSU) Laboratory High School will represent the Philippines in the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) Water Rocket Competition in Japan in December.

Hitting the target's center and bringing home P10,000 cash prize, Nur Alan Pavlo Barte, Reniel Rosaceña with coach McArthur Maravilla bested 19 other teams from Cebu, Iloilo, Palawan and Pampanga.

Quezon National High School and Sta. Teresita National High School got the second and third place, respectively.

“The whole experience is awesome. We didn’t expect to win and we didn’t expect that we’ll be going to Tokyo to represent the country,” Barte and Rosaceña said.

Science Education Institute (SEI) Director Dr. Josette Biyo noted that the duo recorded the first ever bull's eye hit in the competition which guaranteed them the spot to represent the country in the APRSAF.

The Water Rocket Competition was part of the celebration of the 2014 World Space Week (WSW) organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) under the SEI. In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 4 to 10 of every year as WSW to promote space science technology and its benefits among students and educators.

According to astrophysicist and Philippine Space Science Education Program Focal Person Dr. Rogel Mari Sese, Puerto Princesa, Palawan is one of the best sites fro space observation in the Philippines which is why the WSW was held there this year.

“There is also a cultural aspect in bringing space education to Palawan. Early Palawenos utilized the stars to navigate the seas and for agriculture. Thus, it is very apt that we brought the World Space Week Celebration this 2014 to Palawan,” Sese said.

Biyo further noted that they want to expose students to space science in able to entice them to pursue a career in the field. The DOST is considering to establish a space agency in the future.

DOH-MIMAROPA reports 94% coverage for mass immunization campaign

By Joel Locsin/RSJ (Department of Health, Official Gazette)

The Department of Health (DOH) – MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) today reported a total of 94% coverage for the recently concluded measles, rubella and oral polio vaccine mass immunization (MR-OPV) campaign for 2014 held from September 1 to October 10, 2014.

“We will continue to provide MR-OPV to children aged 0-5 years old even after the campaign to ensure that all eligible children will be immunized and protected from measles, rubella and polio. We will visit the farthest island areas and provide health services not only to children but to everyone needing medical assistance,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo stated.

“Due to the geographical location of the islands and the inclement weather conditions that the delivery of health services in remote island municipalities and barangays were decelerated but still we will endeavor to reach all target children in the region,” Janairo assured.

The province with 100% MR vaccine immunization coverage is Occidental Mindoro with 55,897 (100%) followed by Palawan with 97,282 (99%); Oriental Mindoro with 77,473 (96%); Puerto Princesa City with 26,071 (89%); Calapan City with 13,010 (86%); Marinduque with 22,306 (84%) and Romblon with 27,941 (83%).

Palawan province has the highest OPV coverage with 114,435 (99%), Occidental Mindoro with 64,133 (98%); Oriental Mindoro with 87,274 (92%); Puerto Princesa City 30,404 (89%); Calapan City with 14,786 (83%); Romblon with 32,048 (81%); and Marinduque 25,438 (81%).

Director Janairo continues to visit remote island barangays together with local executives and health officials to conduct rapid coverage assessment on MR-OPV to provide further assistance in reaching eligible children for immunization, including the IPs or indigenous people.

“No children should be left behind. Each one must be reached and immunized and be protected against these diseases that can cause death if not properly treated. Measles, rubella and polio can be prevented only through proper vaccination. Children are our future, let us protect them,” Janairo concluded.

Coast Guard: 5 stranded passengers rescued off Palawan

By Joel Locsin/RSJ (GMA News)

Five passengers, including two teachers, were rescued after their motor boat got marooned off Coron in Palawan last weekend, the Philippine Coast Guard said late Monday.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said its Special Operations Group and K-9 personnel rescued the passengers of the motor banca "Princess Larah" three nautical miles west off Banol Beach in Coron.

After receiving a tip about the vessel, the Coast Guard conducted a search and rescue operation and rescued the passengers:

• Ruel Martirez, 27 (boat operator)
• Jeric Ladao, 23, crew
• Rowel Liado, 34, elementary teacher
• Reymond Agnir, 33, elementary teacher
• Sheilla Gabinete, 13

Investigation showed the vessel was heading from Barangay San Miguel in Linapacan to Coron when it stalled.

The passengers were in good physical condition.

ITCZ to bring light rains over Luzon


The Intertropical Convergenze Zone (ITCZ) continues to be the dominant weather system affecting the country, according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Monday.

PAGASA weather forecaster Samuel Duran said the ITCZ is now directly affecting Southern Luzon.

ITCZ, which is the thick clouds coming from the south of Asia, is considered a breeding ground for low-pressure areas (LPAs) or potential cyclones.

For Monday forecast, Duran said due to ITCZ it will bring cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms over Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan).

He added the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

In its advisory, PAGASA said moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast to northwest will prevail over Luzon and coming from the southwest over the rest of the country.

The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be moderate to rough.

The weather bureau also issued a gale warning as the strong to gale force wind due to northeasterly windflow is affecting the northern and eastern seaboards of Northern Luzon.

“Fisherfolks and those using small seacrafts are advised not to venture out over the said seaboards,” PAGASA warned.

Group urges Ombudsman to suspend Puerto Pincesa mayor over graft charges

By Efren B. Chavez

An anti-graft group yesterday called on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to preventively suspend Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron who was charged for alleged four counts of administrative charges and three criminal acts last year.

Leaders of the Movement Against Graft and Abuse of Power (MAGAP) claimed that Morales must enforce her mandate by imposing preventive suspension against Bayron as the crime merits for that action; and stop him from his continued grip of power that may influence bias in his favor on the graft case that — at worst — will impact to extremely prejudice the interests of the city citizenry.

Jonathan Siniel, spokesman of MAGAP, said that a public office is a public trust that Morales should, at all times, protect public interests by imposing measures and penalties against erring official/s as provided in anti-graft laws specifically Republic Act (RA) 6770, RA 6713 and RA 3019.

“Our call to Morales to suspend Bayron is a strong re-echo of the call of a lone graft complainant against the mayor to preventively suspend him; moreover, as a part of our patriotic bid to further bolster his public cause to punish erring public officials and stop abuses and corrupt acts in public offices by public officials and employees in that world-renowned Western Philippine City,” Siniel said.

As per Ombudsman record, Bayron was charged on Nov. 20, 2013 administratively for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service, and conduct unbecoming of a public officer; and criminally for nepotism, violation of Section 3(e), RA 3019, and falsification of public documents.

Charged along with Bayron was Karl Bayron, incumbent project manager, Bantay Puerto-VIP Security Task Force of Puerto Princesa City Hall, Palawan.

Graft complainant Aldrin Madreo, of 533 Jade Lane, Cristimar Village, Antipolo City, Metro Manila, claimed that on July 1, 2013, Bayron entered into a contract of services dated July 1, 2013 and notarized on Aug. 12, 2013 to hire Karl Bayron on the context of implementing and executing programs/projects under the approved 2013 Annual Investment Plan and 2013 Annual Budget with a monthly rate of P18,000 for the period of July 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2013.

Madreo also averred that in the said contract, both Mayor Bayron and Karl Bayron expressly stated under oath that they are not related within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity (with the hiring authority) that is totally contradicted by a copy of a certificate of live birth of the latter issued by the National Statistics Office citing that the former (Mayor Bayron) is his first degree biological father.

With the alleged corrupt act, Madreo said, the city government of Puerto Princesa and the people of the Philippines, as a whole, likewise suffered undue injury in the amount of P16,000 monthly from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013 or an aggregate amount of P96,000 which is punishable under Section 3(e) of RA 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, due to such irregular and contrary to the laws engagement of respondent son by the respondent father-city mayor.

He also charged that Mayor Bayron and his son, Karl, are liable for violation of Article 171, Paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code on falsification of public document when respondents made untruthful statements in the narration of facts — when they made it appear under oath that they are not related to each other within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity, when in truth and in fact, they are first degree relatives by consanguinity, respondent Karl Bayron, being the biological son of respondent, City Mayor Lucilo Bayron.

Madreo had asked the Ombudsman to find Mayor Bayron and his son, Karl, administratively guilty; preventively suspended from office pending investigation; and find a probable cause for the filing of criminal cases against the respondents before the Sandiganbayan.

El Nido Resorts wins at World Travel Awards 2014


Plus, the list of winners in the Philippines category

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ El Nido Resorts has won the “Asia’s Responsible Tourism” Award in the 2014 World Travel Awards. The awarding ceremony was held October 10 at The Oberoi in New Delhi, India.

El Nido Resorts bested the following nominees in the category:

Alila Manggis, Indonesia
Andaman Discoveries
Orange County Resorts
Rainforest World Music Festival
Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Spice Village, Thekkady, India

El Nido Resorts, of the Ten Knots Group, has 4 properties in Palawan: Miniloc, Lagen and Pangulasian Islands in El Nido, and Apulit Island in Taytay. According to the press release, “All of these island resorts allow the guests to appreciate the natural beauty of the locations, and are testament to the group’s commitment to sustainable practices.”

According to its website, El Nido Resorts places great importance on sustainability – for example, ensuring that raw sewage water is not discharged into the sea via a sewage treatment plan, strict segregation of wastes, storing of rainwater with use of water-saving devices, and a complete plan for energy conservation.

The website also says that activities that do not wreak havoc on the environment are offered to the guests – for example, motorized equipment and jet skis are not allowed. El Nido Resorts also began using “eco-friendly boat engines” in 2006.

Sustainability is integrated everywhere, even in the kitchen. The resort reports that it no longer purchases grouper, given the dwindlng population, for example, and about 90% of the total kitchen purchases is of locally reared livestock. The resort purchases items made by locals, supplementing the local economy.

El Nido Resorts was previously nominated in the same category in 2013 and is nominated in the World’s Responsible Tourism Award category for 2014.

The full list of winners in Asia can be found here.

in the Philippines category, these were the winners:

Philippines' Leading Business Hotel: Intercontinental Manila
Philippines' Leading Hotel: Fairmore Makati, Philippines
Philippines' Leading Hotel Group: Seda Hotels
Philippines' Leading Hotel Suite: The Peninsula Suite at the Peninsula Manila
Philippines' Leading Resort: Amanpulo
Philippines' Leading Serviced Apartment Brand: Ascott, The Residence
Philippines' Leading Serviced Apartment: Ascott Makati

Winners were determined via voting. According to the World Travel Awards website, "the votes come from qualified executives working within travel and tourism, and the consumer travel buyer.

Votes cast by travel professionals count as two votes while the votes cast by non-industry voters count as one vote. Votes are internally audited to ensure the validity of each individual vote."

Established in 1993, the World Travel Awards celebrates its 21st year this 2014.

This is the latest in travel distinctions for the Philippines. The Philippines recently won "Destination of the Year" at the recent TTG Awards, and the city of Vigan is a finalist in the New 7 Wonders project, with the winner to be announced in December.

Rainy on Friday in several parts of PH–Pagasa

By Frances Mangosing (

MANILA, Philippines–The intertropical convergence zone will bring rains to several parts of the country on Friday, the weather bureau said.

“Visayas, Bicol Region, Zamboanga Peninsula and the province of Palawan will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms,” the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Cagayan Valley will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

Moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast to northwest will prevail over Northern and Central Luzon and coming from the southwest over the rest of the country. The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be moderate to rough.

Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Vongfong), meanwhile, continued to move away from the country and is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility by Saturday morning.

It was last observed 788 kilometers east of Itbayat in Batanes with maximum winds of 185 kph and gusts of up to 220 kph.

It was described as a super typhoon and was dubbed as the world’s strongest cyclone for 2014 but it did not directly affect the Philippines.

It moved north at 13 kph.

El Nido Resorts attract a new crop of travelers

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - On top of the myriad natural attractions of Bacuit Bay, Palawan, where three of the four El Nido Resorts (ENR) are located, the organic gardens, the desalination plant that services the island resorts, community-based projects and other eco-friendly amenities now also figure in the itinerary of a number of guests.

Mostly in their 20s and 30s, they ask to see the lettuce and tomato gardens fertilized by compost from kitchen waste and the plant where fresh water is extracted from seawater. Some do so out of curiosity, according to Joey Bernardino, director of sales and marketing, others to validate the resorts’ claims.

He says, “These types of travelers don’t go for grand lobbies and high-end shopping. They now equate luxury with destinations that allow them to keenly appreciate nature and to highly participate in conservation and environmental projects, as well as to experience and respect local culture.”

Contiki, a popular worldwide touring company that focuses on this niche, enjoins the traveler to “help sustain the natural and cultural beauty of a destination by leaving it untouched and by reducing your use and waste of precious resources such as water, food and energy.”

Established in 1982 by the Ten Knots Group, the first El Nido Resort at Miniloc Island has been for decades a haven for sustainable travelers. Miniloc and the other EL Nido island resorts that followed — namely, Lagen, Apulit and Pangulasian — were envisioned to “promote harmony between nature and local communities.” Because of this very early start, the resorts have collectively become a national model for sustainable tourism, points out Ten Knots president Laurent Lamasuta. By constantly benchmarking itself through the years against the best local and international environmental practices, the resorts evolved a training program nicknamed Be GREEN — to Guard, Respect, and Educate the El Nido community on environmental conservation.

Every El Nido Resort employee goes through the program and regular training in environmentally friendly modules that cover food service, housekeeping and nature guiding. The program has trained bellhops who, on the way to your room, quickly point out a Palawan Hornbill, with its black plumes and white casque. It also has produced maintenance men who figured out that they could replace the Styrofoam component inside the resort kayaks with more eco-friendly used water bottles to keep the boats afloat.

Responsible travelers don’t choose a resort primarily because it is eco-friendly, points out Bernardino. Like most other tourists, they seek out a destination chiefly for its sites, activities and other traditional attractions. But it still works for El Nido Resorts to remain sustainable “because we thrive on our natural attractions that can only be maintained through conservation efforts.”

To remain “outrageously photogenic,” as some guests have described El Nido Resorts, efforts have to be taken to ensure that trash and waste are disposed of consistently and properly so they don’t overwhelm the brilliantly blue waters, ancient limestone cliffs and diverse wildlife of the area. Moreover, the local community needs to share the vision of keeping Bacuit Bay, the base of the resorts, a nature paradise.

Thus, El Nido Resorts’ environmental conservation program has also been rolled out to local elementary and high school students who learn to take pride in the exceptional beauty of their surroundings. Because of the early exposure to Ten Knots’ environmental thrust and the company’s policy of hiring locals whenever possible, many of the students are eventually hired by the resorts.

Currently, 90 percent of El Nido Resorts employees are from the surrounding municipalities. This fact is also significant for today’s new crop of travelers, who are also committed to uphold local culture, says Bernardino.

“It is truly gratifying that eco-resorts like ours are now being actively supported by travelers who understand that it takes extraordinary effort to maintain our unique natural environment. Better yet, they do what they can to keep it that way,” he says.

Yellow rainfall warning up over parts of Luzon, Visayas

By Niña P. Calleja (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Some areas of Visayas and southern Luzon may have flooding and landslides due to heavy rain, state weather agency PAGASA said Wednesday afternoon.

PAGASA issued a 2:40 p.m. heavy rainfall warning over parts of the Visayas, saying this was due partly to the Southwest Monsoon.

Covered by the yellow rainfall alert are Iloilo, Antique, Guimaras, Aklan, Siquijor, southern part of Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Palawan.

PAGASA said flooding is possible in low-lying areas, and landslides in mountainous areas. airports in the country, except the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which is managed by the Manila International Airport Authority, a separate agency also under the Department of Transportation and Communications.

The Caap head noted that some airport equipment like overnight parking lights and a transportable control tower to direct air traffic could be powered by solar energy.

“We will be the one producing the solar power for our own consumption,” Hotchkiss said, noting that other international airports have likewise begun using solar energy to reduce electricity consumption.

Hotchkiss also revealed another plan of Caap to put thousands of hectares of its idle lands within the perimeter of the airports into lease for solar installations of private companies.

“We are still assessing how many lands can be used for solar energy productions. Eventually we will come up with terms of reference for this project,” he said.

According to Caap, private firms in a leasing contract with the Caap could only use the lands solely for the solar power project and nothing else.

The solar power to be produced could be sold to the national grid, which would help reduce the power shortage by 2015, Hotchkiss said.

The Caap official chief expressed hope that some airports would begin to implement the solar power project by 2015.

12 Chinese poachers start serving jail term

By Juancho Mahusay (The Philippine Star)

CALAPAN CITY, Philippines – Twelve Chinese fishermen found guilty of illegally fishing in Philippine waters have started serving time in Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan.

In its website, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park said Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court Branch 51 had found the fishermen guilty of violating Republic Act 10067, the Tubbataha Act of 2009, last Aug. 5.

The Chinese skipper was sentenced to 12 years in prison and the 11 Chinese crewmen were each sentenced to 10 years.

Each of them was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine to the government.

Filipino authorities caught the Chinese in April 2013 after their boat ran aground on Tubbataha Reef.

The fishermen were found carrying a cargo of pangolins, an endangered mammal similar to an anteater.

PH won't abandon Pagasa Island

With a report by Agence France-Presse (

MANILA - The Philippine government may have stopped rehabilitation of the airstrip in Pagasa Island but this does not mean that the country has abandoned the disputed area.

Speaking to reporters, Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the halt in planned improvements on a military airstrip in the disputed South China Sea will have no effect on supply runs to the island.

"Practically, there is no effect. As of now, we can continue our resupply operations, the logistics run, including the transport of troops for rotation," Cabunoc said.

A spokeswoman of President Aquino said the government had suspended long-planned upgrade work on a military runway in the disputed Spratly islands to boost chances of a favorable ruling at the UN against Beijing over the tense territorial row.

"We wanted to maintain the moral high ground in light of the case we filed at the (UN) arbitration tribunal regarding the West Philippine Sea," Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said, using the Filipino name for the area.

"We ease tensions and avoid any incident that may be construed as ramping up tensions or trying to provoke any of the claimant countries," Valte said over government radio on Saturday.

Pagasa is one of 9 areas in the disputed Spratly Islands occupied by Filipino troops. Hundreds of civilians are living on Pagasa Island which serves as the seat of government of Palawan’s Kalayaan town.

The runway is used mainly by military aircraft to resupply the Filipino troops guarding the island and nearby rocks, as well as a small community of Filipino civilians living on Pagasa.

The upgrade plans were suspended by Aquino "sometime in the middle of 2014," Valte said.

The airstrip project, as well as acquisitions of Navy vessels, were part of Aquino's efforts to upgrade the capability of the Philippine military, one of the most poorly equipped in the region.

China has refused to take part in UN arbitration with the Philippines, and warned Manila that bilateral ties will suffer.

The two countries have been involved in several tense confrontations in the South China Sea in recent months.

Department of National Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said the decision was also meant to ease the tension in the region, even as China continue to reclaim its occupied reefs which may be turned into military bases.

DFA Spokesperson travels to Puerto Princesa City for 2nd Special Kapihan ng Mamamayan on the West Philippine Sea


Manila, (DWDD) —The Spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Charles C. Jose gave a briefing at the 2nd Special Kapihan ng Mamamayan on the West Philippine Sea Issue held yesterday at The Legend Hotel in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

The DFA, together with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) through its regional office in Palawan, organized the Special Kapihan. Almost 30 members of the local media in Palawan as well as local government representatives were present at the briefing.

This event is the second in a series of Special Kapihans that will be held throughout the rest of the year and in 2015 to complement the DFA’s nationwide campaign to raise the level of awareness and understanding of ordinary Filipinos of the West Philippine Sea Issue. The DFA hopes that increasing the public’s awareness will translate to greater support for the Philippine Government’s policies on the issue. The first Special Kapihan was held in Olongapo City on September 12.

The DFA Spokesperson was also a guest at DZIP Radyo Palawenyo, and DYSP-GMA Super Radyo, where he discussed updates on the West Philippine Sea. He likewise made a guest appearance for the program “Boses ng Mamamayan” hosted by Mr. Jay Zabanal at ABS-CBN Palawan. He was also interviewed by several members of the local media after his briefing.

Throughout his media engagements, the DFA Spokesperson stressed the importance of the intensifying the people’s awareness and understanding of the West Philippine Sea since the Philippine Government is counting on them to “defend what is ours”. He acknowledged the vital role of public information officers and the media in disseminating information regarding the West Philippine Sea and in rallying the public for support.

He also assured them of the Philippine Government’s unwavering commitment to defend the interest of the country and to push for peaceful solutions to the West Philippine Sea issue through the rule of law.

“Gusto po naming sabihin sa ating mga kababayan natin dito sa Palawan na nasa frontline ng issue sa West Philippine Sea, alam namin na damang-dama ninyo ang tension na nangyayari po diyan. Gusto po namin kayong i-assure na ang pamahalaan ay ginagawa ang lahat ng makakaya para po bigyang resolusyon itong dispute sa West Philippine Sea sa mapayapang pamamaraan,” the Spokesperson stated.

The DFA Spokesperson acknowledged the contributions of the local government units of Palawan in exercising the country’s sovereign rights, while assuring them of the DFA’s continued support. Palawan is one of the “frontline” provinces in the country’s maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

The DFA Spokesperson also took the opportunity to visit the DFA’s new mall-based Regional Consular Office (RCO) in Puerto Princesa City, where he received a warm welcome from the Officer-in-Charge Liza Jane V. Estalilla and the RCO Palawan staff. The RCO Palawan is the 12th regional consular office to relocate to the mall under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program of the Philippine Government. It recently inaugurated its new location on September 12.

The DFA Spokesperson met with the new commander of the Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Rear Admiral Alexander S. Lopez inside the WESCOM headquarters located at Camp General Artemio G. Ricarte, Puerto Princesa City. During the meeting, both officials apprised each other on the latest developments on the West Philippine Sea issue and discussed ways to disseminate the information to the public. The AFP’s Western Commmand is known as the protector of the West Philippine Sea.

Space Week 2014 set in Palawan

(S&T Media Service, BusinessMirror)

Palaweños will get a plenty dose of space science treats this October.

The Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) is set to engage schools from Palawan and some schools from Metro Manila and Cebu to the 2014 World Space Week (WSW) celebrations to be held from October 8 to 10 at The Legend Palawan Hotel and the Palawan State University. The WSW is commemorated annually to provide a venue for students and educators to learn more about space science and its benefits to humankind as declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. In the Philippines, the WSW is being celebrated under DOST-SEI’s Philippine Space Science Education Program.

This year’s Space Week is marked with the theme “Space: Guiding Your Way” and will feature the benefits of satellite navigation to society.

It will be participated in by schools from Palawan and from four campuses of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) System, namely, PSHS Central Luzon, PSHS Western Visayas, PSHS Central Visayas and PSHS Main Campus. SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo said this year’s theme is very timely as this generation is largely reaping the benefits of satellite technology applications such as Global Positioning System in computers and smartphones, online traffic monitoring, road map navigation and others.

“Space science plays a major role in making us understand the things we see and the things we do not see,” Biyo said. “It helps us prepare against catastrophes, especially in this era headlined by climate change, making us minimize the damage these happenings do to life.”

The 2014 WSW will be highlighted by activities, such as lectures on Space Technology Applications and Global Navigation Satellite System, star-telescoping and viewing of the total lunar eclipse on the night of October 8, training on water-rocket making, poster making contest, Astronomy for Educators’ Training, and the annual National Water Rocket Competition.

The winning team in the water rocket plum will represent the country in the Water Rocket Launching event at the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum in December in Tokyo, Japan. “In the past years, we have effectively increased awareness and appreciation of students and teachers in space science and we hope to continue building on that impact by being one with other nations in celebrating the largest space event in the world,” Biyo said.

Globe upgrading Puerto Princesa mobile network

(Business World Online)

GLOBE TELECOM, Inc. has started building new cell sites in Puerto Princesa City in a bid to boost mobile coverage in one of the country’s top tourist destinations.

In a statement, the Ayala-controlled telecommunications company said that it recently broke ground to construct a cell site at the AFP Western Command camp in Puerto Princesa. “The cell site will be equipped with 3G and 4G HSPA+ mobile technologies in step with the company’s network modernization initiative.”

“Building new sites in different parts of the country is in support of our initiative to continuously expand our network presence, providing a robust and reliable network, which in turn, will further enhance service performance,” Joel Agustin, Globe senior vice-president and head of Services Management Division and Network Technical Group, said in the statement.

Globe Telecom said that it has completed the roll out of HSPA+ technology, which further strengthened the company’s capability to provide its growing 45 million customers faster data connectivity.

“All the network upgrades we have done in Palawan are in support of the government’s initiative to boost tourism in the country. Our efforts to boost network capacity and enhance reliability in the province will also provide support for data requirements of business establishments in Palawan,” Mr. Agustin added.

A 400-kilometer undersea cable system serves as the channel for telecommunication services between the province and Luzon.

The Palawan cable system provides high-speed internet connection and a more dependable network, Globe said.

SM holds groundbreaking for Puerto Princesa mall

(Manila Bulletin)

Palawan Vice Governor Victorino Socrates and Puetro Princesa Mayor Lucilo Byron recently led the groundbreaking ceremonies of SM City Puerto Princesa together with SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia and SM Prime Vice President for Vismin Marissa Fernan.

Also joining them were Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III and Barangay Captain Margil Avancena as well as SM Land’s Ron Tumao and SM Supermalls SVP for Marketing Jon Jon Agustin.

Palawan Vice Gov. Victorino Socrates and Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron, recently led the groundbreaking ceremony of SM City Puerto Princesa together with SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia and SM Prime Holdings Vice President for Vismin Marissa Fernan, Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, Barangay Captain Margil Avanceña, SM Supermalls SVP for Marketing Joaquin Agustin and SM VP for Operations for Vizmin Joy Veloso.[/caption]

This leads the way for construction of SM’s first mall in Palawan, which is scheduled to open in 2016. Located on a five-hectare property along Malvar Road, the mall will bring SM’s shopping, leisure, and entertainment excitement to this tropical paradise with a bustling business center. It will have the SM Store and Supermarket as anchors, as well as mainstays like Ace Hardware and SM Appliance Center, retail stores, restaurants, and four SM Cinemas.

In his welcome remarks, Mayor Bayron said that with the groundbreaking, “SM is finally here and we are excited about this project because this will generate income for Puerto Princesa and will give employment to many people especially when construction starts.”

He also mentioned that SM City Puerto Princesa will be an attraction in the city along with tourist spots like the Underground River, lush rain forests, and white sand beaches.

SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia, on the other hand, said that SM “was looking forward to bringing the SM brand of service to Puerto Princesa and to Palawan.” She added that SM was happy to “carry out our various initiatives for the community” through employment, business opportunities, and working with the local government.

The highlight of the program was the capsule-laying ceremony, in which a national and local daily of that day, the mall’s floor plan, and the photos of the site were imbedded for future generations.

Local firm to develop 15 hydro projects in Palawan and Lanao del Sur

By Euan Paulo C. Anonuevo (

MANILA - A local renewable energy firm has bagged contracts from the government to put up a number of hydro projects in Palawan and Lanao del Sur.

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently signed 15 renewable energy service contracts with AQA Global Power Inc.

The contracts entail the development of hydro power projects in the said provinces with a total power generating capacity of 288 megawatts (MW).

"[Two] of the largest projects are located in Lanao del Sur, namely the 50 MW Lake Dapao and the 50 MW Maitling River," the department said.

Since the passage of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, the DOE has awarded 649 renewable energy projects with a potential capacity 10,683.096 MW. Most of the awarded projects are hydro-based with a potential capacity of 6,158 MW.

Under the National Renewable Energy Plan, the government targets to triple the country's renewable energy generating capacity of 5,438 MW to 15,304 MW by 2030.