Palawan News October 2015

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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

Palawan’s free PhilHealth membership able to assist over 3,400 patients

By Jesus M. Ustares [(PNA), CTB/CARF/JMU/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- Health and Other Social Services (HOSS), the Palawan provincial government’s free membership Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) program, has already succeeded in helping over 3,400 patients this year.

Maridel Gajardo of the provincial government’s HOSS said the patients were helped in their hospitalization through the provision of free PhilHealth membership even while they were confined in various hospitals in Palawan.

She explained that as soon as they are registered, patients can immediately avail of the discounts entitled a PhilHealth member.

The discounts offered are based on their status. As much as 50% can be availed to almost zero payment when the patient is utterly impoverished to pay for hospital expenses.

Gajardo explained this is what Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez dreams – that every Palaweño has access to health services, and if they do not have enough to pay, their health can still be taken care of.

In 2014, she said the provincial government provided free PhilHealth membership cards to 19,575 residents but only 5,000 actual users were monitored to have availed of them.

This is probably because many are unaware about the advantage of being a PhilHealth member. Information dissemination is now reportedly being done to raise their awareness.

The provision of free PhilHealth membership, she stated, is part of the provincial government’s development agenda IHELP, or Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood, and Protection of the Environment.

The goal is to make every Palaweño self-reliant in their health, and empowerment through membership in PhilHealth.

Palawan first province to accept challenge of ‘Access to Justice Network’ by EU-Philippines

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) -- The EU-Philippines Justice Support Program (EPJUST II) “to promote equitable access to justice and its efficient enforcement for all poor and disadvantage citizens,” turned over Thursday in this city and the province of Palawan the “Access to Justice Network” (AJN) initiative in close partnership with the provincial government and Muslim-Filipino groups.

AJN was launched through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Aug. 8, 2015, as an enterprise to provide Muslim-Filipinos the ability to take up legal issues through access to referral pathways, harmonize justice delivery instruments to guarantee fair dispensing in communities, chiefly to impoverished residents.

Lawyer Jose Ma. Mendoza, senior access to justice expert of the EPJUST-II, said Thursday that Palawan is the first-pilot area in the Philippines for AJN, which will be established initially in 10 barangays, such as Puerto Princesa, Taytay, and Bataraza among others.

The primary beneficiaries of the AJN are the poor or vulnerable – walk-in clients with legal concerns, and women and children, vulnerable groups like farmers and indigenous peoples, elderly, Muslim-Filipinos, and people with disability.

The preparation and training of around 50 facilitators for the purpose is on-going and will conclude within the week, he said, to start the ball rolling on the initiative to gain access to justice for marginalized residents.

“In behalf of the EPJUST Programme, we are thankful to everyone, to our partners because this moment is important since the preparation and training of what we call our AJN facilitators is about to conclude so they can be based in the barangays to be able to deliver the basic right of access to justice of every Filipino,” Mendoza said.

In his presentation, Mendoza said that in 2008, the Social Weather Station (SWS) carried out a survey that came out with the significant result that claimed 48 per cent of respondents said “justice is practically inaccessible for Filipinos.

Twenty six per cent believed it is only a bit accessible; 13 per cent said it is fairly accessible; and 13 per cent said it’s accessible.

“I would think that if there will be an update this 2015, the data will not be that far from the response of 2008,” he said.

"The survey also showed “marginalized individuals, especially the poor and vulnerable members of the society, including those in remote communities, are unaware of their basic human rights and legal rights, and the legal services that are available.”

The finding is significant, he added, because the right to access to justice is in the Constitution of the Philippines, but the marginalized are not aware of them, and it recognizes the fact that there are services in the government that can be availed but not all are acquainted with them.

The AJN, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report is “the ability to seek and obtain remedy through formal and informal institutions of justice in conformity with human rights standards.”

“Let us not forget we have informal methods that are available to obtain justice, like the council of elders or lupon in the barangay, and other approaches to achieve justice that do need to present us to longer court hearings,” Mendoza said.

AJN will work to provide a referral system to concerned agencies; assist in tracking and monitoring cases to prevent them from stagnating due to lack of follow up; provide basic legal assistance or facilitation through affidavit-making or case analysis.

Legal education every once in a while; provide legal information and eventually, centers, where people can access legal services; link with significant security and justice system; and provide facilitators, who are also from the barangays; and cases management.

Mendoza said most cases that do not see solutions in Palawan per their simple surveys are about land, domestic issues, personal loans or business-related, and issues on drugs.

AJN Palawan is the first pilot site in the country, and Mendoza thinks Palaweños should be proud that their province is the chief province to accept the challenge; that it is unique as implementation is province-wide; and an exceptional province since it paved way for focus on Muslim-Filipino communities.

The 10 barangays that were chosen as pilot areas for AJN were because they have significant number of Muslim residents.

Mendoza said eventually, more access centers can be set up to cover all more than 400 barangays in the province.

Despite this, he said it is important for all Palaweños to know that access to justice will be provided to them no matter who they are.

We need to point out that according to the facilitators, and although many of them are Muslims, they also want to serve other people in the barangays, who are non-Muslims,” he added.

The Access to Justice Network (AJN) is an initiative of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme II (EP JUST II), the Province of Palawan and the United Muslim Communities in Palawan for Peace and Progress (UMCPP).

Go firefly-watching at these 3 beautiful places in the Philippines

By Mavic Conde (

It was one of those nights. There were no visible stars – only a solitary beaming moon shining upon the still waters. Our boatman sailed through the sea down to the river by moonlight.

Further up the mouth of the river awaited another of nature's wonders. We didn't know what to expect, but trusted the boatman, as he had been too eager to show us what it was.

As we neared the mangrove forest in Donsol, Sorsogon, we spotted a faint twinkling around the trees. The sparkles intensified as we got closer, beckoning us to watch the tiny rotating lights dancing before our eyes. Oh, fireflies! Hundreds of fireflies twinkling once and together.

How they twinkled like a string of white Christmas lights was beyond our knowledge, until our boatman explained that each twinkles at a different frequency.

Mangroves and fireflies have a significant connection as these trees serve as host to these winged beetles. Mangroves also enrich the river and nearby waters, providing food and a healthy habitat to microorganisms like plankton.

In the Philippines, there are ecotourism destinations for firefly watching. These are usually sustained through continuous community efforts and support from the local government and private organizations.

Donsol, Sorsogon

Its still-healthy rivers serve as the habitat of fireflies, planktons and whale sharks. This is further enhanced with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – Philippines by planting 10,000 mangroves seeding in the area in 2011.

Firefly watching in Donsol and Ogod River can be arranged with the Tourism Center, where registration for butanding encounter also takes place.

Ogod River is farther but is home to more fireflies than in Donsol. For P1250 to P1500, a group of 4 can go firefly watching inclusive of boat and tricycle rental, guide, and registration fee.

Iwahig, Palawan

Once a project of ABS-CBN Foundation, the Iwahig Firefly Watching station eventually became a joint project with the local government of Puerto Princesa.

Like in visiting the Underground River, this tour is very organized. Only 3 persons are allowed for each boat, while others wait in one area with their numbers in hand. Making a reservation can be beneficial since walk-ins will have to give way to those with advance booking, unless they arrive late.

There are 10 boats that leave at a given interval and return after a 35-to-45-minute cruise. Either you or a tour operator can do the reservations through contacting these numbers 0916-780-9118 or 0929-616-5990.


Options for firefly watching in Bohol are more diverse. There is the usual group firefly watching tour by boat, fireflies kayaking and a floating restaurant.

Kayakers can go firefly watching along the Abatan River, while the tourists in a 10-seater boat can extend the tour inside the century-old Postan Forest. The 500-peso rate per person is inclusive of tour, entrance fee, and jacket and boat rental. For more than 10 guests, the rate per person is reduced to P400 each.

In Laoay, firefly watchers can dine on board while river cruising. Inquiries for night tours in Bohol can be made with the Municipal Eco-Heritage Tourism, Culture and Arts.

In Siquijor, firefly watching can also be arranged with a private beach resort and in Coron, Palawan with Kingfisher Park, the headquarters of Parrot International's Blue Racquet Tail Parrot/"Kilit" Project. A similar tour is offered in Romblon in Magdiwang, Sibuyan island, among others.

When firefly watching, the darker the surroundings, the easier the fireflies get detected. But river cruising is still worth it even during a starry night. It's also comforting to know that many locals no longer cut mangrove trees now that these sites can be a tourist attraction.

Have you ever been firefly-watching? How was the experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Palawan PNP ready for Undas 2015; police visibility assured

By Leila Bingco-Dagot (PNA), RMA/CARF/LBD/EDS

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) -- The Palawan Provincial Police Office (PPO) here assured Wednesday that there will be increased “police visibility” in 23 municipalities in the province for the annual solemn celebration of the day of the departed.

Palawan PPO Director Sr. Supt. Benjamin Acorda said that all police stations in the province had already prepared their patrol plans as early as last week to ensure a safe and secure celebration of the All Soul’s Day/All Saint’s Day.

The PPO, he added, would set up police assistance desks in all cemeteries in the province, as well as coordinate with all local government units (LGUs), health centers, and other concerned agencies to ensure complete assistance to anyone.

“We will do our best to ensure that the cemeteries are safe for the loved ones of those who had passed on. There will be enough policemen stationed in the areas, hotlines that are accessible to people, who might need assistance,” Acorda said.

Police visibility, he said, would not only be in the cemeteries, but in other public places, such as the markets, terminals, plazas, and parks.

Acorda reminded that every resident should follow police policies that are implemented during the celebration. These are banned entries to cemeteries of any sharp and pointed objects, loud sound systems, liquor, play cards, and fireworks or crackers.

Second Best Island in the World award is 'sweet and challenging' for Palawan

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), JMC/CARF/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 27 (PNA) -- To be chosen for the second time by the US magazine Conde Nast Traveler as 2015 Reader’s Choice Award recipient is both “sweet and challenging” for Palawan province and “requires a lot of dedication not to fail expectations.”

“It is sweet in the feeling and also challenging because, first, the local government and other concerned agencies should work hard more to maintain the award. We need to continuously improve our implementation of policies and regulations regarding the development of Palawan’s tourism industry,” said Maribel Buñi, head of the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO).

Buñi said efforts to further flourish Palawan’s tourism industry should not center on promotion alone, but also in the upgrading of services of other related industries.

“It is beautiful that for the second time we were awarded because investors will take interest on Palawan. Of course, we know that if there are investments, there are also additional jobs for the people,” she added.

She said provincial Governor Jose Alvarez is pleased with the magazine's citation, which served as inspiration to work harder with local governments to ensure that the tourism industry works for everyone’s best interest.

The provincial government is now pondering on the possibility of creating a task force that would further ensure the safety and security of tourists who visit various destinations in Palawan and to also help locate other possible tourism destinations, Buñi said.

Home to the world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), the picturesque El Nido and Coron towns, Conde Nast Traveler said Palawan bested 19 other popular island destinations in the world.

These includes Bora Bora and Moorea in the French Polynesia that are famous for snorkelers around the world.

The others that made it include Waiheke Island in New Zealand; Australia’s Great Barrier Reef; Santorini in Greece; and Bali, Indonesia.

The survey this year was reportedly joined by 128,000 travelers.

Nido drilling new Galoc well

By Alena Mae S. Flores

Nido Petroleum Ltd. of Australia and its joint venture partners plan to drill a new exploratory well in Galoc oil field northwest off Palawan to confirm the commercial potential of a phase three development.

Nido said in its quarterly report the joint venture continued to progress on the relevant sub-phase and preliminary engineering studies.

Nido managing director Mike Fisher said the appraisal would confirm the commerciality of the phase three development. The company is the operator of service contract 14C1 of the Galoc oil field, holding a 55.88-percent stake.

“Nido is well positioned to capitalize on opportunities in this current low environment and we are looking forward to meeting the challenges ahead as we strive to build a significant regional upstream E & P business,” Fisher said.

Nido and joint venture partners unveiled the plan to develop the mid-Galoc area northwest off Palawan to increase production of the country’s largest oil field as early as July.

Nido said the mid-Galoc area was being considered a potential development project using horizontal drilling and sub-sea completion technology. Galoc Production Company WLL, which owns a 33-percent stake, is the service contract operator.

The preliminary development plans for mid-Galoc are based on drilling two horizontal, subsea development wells tied back to the Galoc field floating production storage and offloading facilities.

Crude oil will be sold by ship-to-ship transfer from the FPSO to the shuttle tanker.

Gaffney Cline and Associates had recently completed an independent contingent resources assessment of the mid-Galoc area of the Galoc oil field.

GSA said the mid-Galoc area was estimated to contain resources of 6.2 million to 14.6 million stock tank barrels.

Nido earlier said oil production from the new field was expected to start on Jan. 1, 2018, with uncertainty range in initial per well oil rate between 2,500 barrels a day and 3,000 a day, attributable to variable reservoir performance.

It said production decline rates in the range of 19 percent to 23 percent per year were applied, consistent with the well performance observed in the Galoc 1 phase development wells.

Nido executive chairman William Bloking earlier said the independent assessment of the mid-Galoc area “represents a significant step-forward in the further development of the Galoc oil field.”

The Galoc oil field is estimated to continue production beyond 2020. The Galoc oil field was earlier estimated to contain 25 million barrels of oil. The Galoc field first produced oil in 2008.

Brooke’s Point signs deal with Malaysian group

By Victor V. Saulon

BROOKE’S POINT is set to sign today a deal with a Malaysian federal territory that will make the southernmost municipality in Palawan province a producer and exporter of farm, animal and marine products.

The memorandum of understanding, which will be sealed in time for the opening of the 41st Philippine Business Conference and Expo, will be between Brooke’s Point Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. of Palawan and the Labuan Chamber of Malay Entrepreneurs of Malaysia.

Brooke’s Point will also be tapped as a source of workers for Labuan, a group of islands off the coast of Malaysian state of Sabah whose capital is also known as an offshore financial center.

The municipality’s business chamber is led by Jamie Jane Lee, who is also behind Agribio Philippines and e-Telligent Solutions, Inc. It represents the business sector of Brooke’s Point in “enhancing relationships with international business groups,” a statement from Agribio said.

Ms. Lee is also leading exploratory talks with other business chambers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it said.

The partnership with the Labuan chamber is hoped to help Brooke’s Point become a gateway for the of Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area and a Halal hub that will make Palawan-based products and services accessible to the Muslim communities in the region.

Coron, Palawan tourist guides undergo safety, rescue training

(CNN Philippines Staff)

(CNN Philippines) — Last August, 25-year-old tourist Miguel Ruiz passed away in Coron, Palawan after allegedly stepping on an undetermined poisonous sea creature. His partner, Travis Millard, alleged that nobody among the tour personnel knew how to perform basic CPR.

Palawan was recently named as the best island in the world by prestigious travel magazine Conde Nast.

It is only fitting that tour guides in Coron, Palawan undergo training to ensure they can provide first-aid care to travelers.

Tour guides in Coron, Palawan underwent Water, Safety, and Rescue (WASAR) training, conducted by the Department of Health (DOH)–MIMAROPA (Oriental/Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Department of Tourism of Palawan.

Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo noted the importance of personnel and staff of travel organizations and agencies to be skilled in WASAR.

“It is very important they are equipped to provide first-aid procedures in any accidents that may occur during island tours and deep sea diving. They are the ones who will be the first line of defense in saving lives at risk in the event of an emergency,” he said.

WASAR is the first part of a series of trainings that will lead to the certification for a full-fledged lifeguard.

Palawan to launch ‘Bantay Turista' in November


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 23 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Palawan will launch in November a special program that would ensure the security and safety of both local and foreign tourists and at the same time protect the province's natural environment.

Called “Bantay Turista,” the program will be spearheaded by Gilbert Baaco, head of Rescue 165 and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).

Baaco said part of the program is getting the involvement and commitment of a Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) to ensure its success.

CAFGU is Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit, which is an irregular auxiliary force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Under the program, regular forest, coastal and sea patrolling and monitoring activities will be conducted as preventive measures against any illegal activities.

He further said the Bantay Turista program also plans to involve tourists in greening activities such as planting of trees and others.

He also said through this program, they will coordinate and assist the provincial government in discovering new potential tourist spots.

The launching of Bantay Turista is part of Governor Jose Alvarez’ dream to attract 3.5 million tourists in Palawan in 10 years.

Palawan named world's best island second year in a row


MANILA, Oct. 22 (PNA) -- For the second year in a row, the island of Palawan was recognized as Best Island in the World by leading US travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler in its Readers’ Choice Awards 2015.

Boracay and Cebu also made it to the list’s top 30 Best Islands in the World, finishing 15th and 19th, respectively. Boracay received a readers’ overall rating of 80.856 while Cebu received an overall rating of 80.404.

The results came out last October 19 and was later shared by the Department of Tourism (DOT) on its official Twitter account.

DOT Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato Jr., in a text message to the Philippines News Agency said that the department was delighted about the recognition given to Palawan by Conde Nast.

“The DOT is continuously focused on developing destinations in the country together with all stakeholders: NGAs, LGUs, private sector, and all our much-valued markets; to exceed expectations in many fronts,” Boncato said.

“…Accolades such as this always comes as a pleasant surprise. And a great push to continue working for the industry and the country,” he added.

Palawan received the highest readers’ overall rating of 85.937 for it being “home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, 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,” Conde Nast pointed out.

“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.

The magazine meanwhile took note of Boracay being “as close to the tropical idyll as you’ll find in Southeast Asia, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets.”

It also mentioned Boracay’s “thriving nightlife scene”, and its White Beach, which was described as “Boracay’s main draw with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.”

Conde Nast also gave credit to Cebu for being famous for its beaches and for being “more personal, with plenty of up-and-coming restaurants and shopping.”

It further said that Cebu was the best island “to get a true taste of island life.”

The top 20 Best Islands in the World according to Conde Nast’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2015 are:

20. Hvar & Dalmatian Islands, Croatia

19. Cebu, Philippines

18. Sta. Lucia

17. Orkney Islands, Scotland

16. Maldives

15. Boracay, Philippines

14. Mykonos, Greece

13. St. John, USVI

12. British Virgin Islands

11. Cook Islands

10. Tasmania, Australia

9. Santorini, Greece

8. Bali, Indonesia

7. Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

6. Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, Australia

5. Bermuda

4. Waiheke Island, New Zealand

3. Moorea, French Polynesia

2. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

1. Palawan, Philippines

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey started in 1988 while the magazine itself began traveling the globe tracking down journeys since 1987.

Its website, also allows readers to tap into a living global archive of the very best hotels, restaurants, shops, itineraries, beaches, villages, and villas.

(Feature) Two large mining companies to help Palawan in potablewater project for 10,000 households

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), RMA/LOR/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 21 (PNA) -- Two large scale mineral development corporations in the southern Palawan town of Bataraza are partnering with the municipal and provincial governments to provide a Php140-million potable water system project for 10,000 households in 13 barangays.

Nickel Asia Corp.'s (NAC) Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CBNC) located in Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza signed Wednesday a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with town Mayor Katrina Ibba and Governor Jose Alvarez for the implementation of a Level-2 Water System Project to flow drinkable water to the specified number of homes.

The barangay beneficiaries in Bataraza are Bono-Bono, Bulalacao, Malihud, Tarusan, Buliluyan, Puring, Sarong, Sapa, Sumbiling, Tagnato, Taratak, Tabud, and Tagolango. The municipality has 22 barangays in total.

The Level-2 water project will install an intake dam, distribution tanks, about 80 kilometers of main pipeline from the intake dam to the tanks, and more than 40 kms of distribution pipeline from the tanks to the household clusters in the 13 barangays.

Under the MOA for what Alvarez calls the “Bataraza 13 Barangays Water Supply Project,” the Php140-million will be shared among the signing partners: RTNMC and CBNC will share Php70-million, Bataraza LGU will provide a counterpart of Php30-million, and the provincial government will “take charge of the provision of technical design and feasibility study, various brand new heavy equipment needed for construction, and management and supervision of construction amounting to Php40-million.”

In the MOA signing ceremony, Ibba in her speech said the water system project was probably the biggest milestone of her leadership in Bataraza.

“I and the local government unit of Bataraza are utterly thankful for this project because it is a huge help to our people in the barangay, especially those who live in the distant barangays,” the lady mayor said.

NAC President and Chief Executive Officer Gerard Brimo, who was in Puerto Princesa to sign the MOA on behalf of RTNMC and CBNC, said they were “delighted and very happy to be able to participate in the public-private partnership (PPP) for the provision of accessible drinking water.”

“There is one big difference, by the way, in what we are doing here, and the classic public-private partnership, and that big difference is under the classic PPP, the private sector makes money out of the project, and after so many years it transfers the project to the government, he said.

But in this particular water project, Brimo said RTNMC and CBNC will not take money out it, “it is purely a voluntary contribution;” a modified PPP that they are delighted to do.

“When this is finished, many barangays in Bataraza will have Level-2 water,” he said, proving further that based on a census in the year 2000, only 27 out of every 100 in the Philippines had access to potable water through community water systems.

Alvarez, on the other hand, said the MOA signing is a “most happy occasion” as it is the dream of many residents of Bataraza “to finally have access to clean, potable, and directly drinkable water.”

“The initiative of putting up the water project in the southernmost part of the mining companies (RTNMC and CBNC) is an acknowledgment that not only the nearest impacted barangays are being helped,” he said.

The 13 barangays that the project would help, he said, are located in the southernmost, or distant to the two large scale mining corporations, that have no access to potable water.

Engineer Michelle Cardenas of the provincial government, who will be in charge of the Level-2 water project, said it is now for bidding, and as soon as awarded, will already begin construction before the February election ban.

The water project will be sourced from Kapangyan Falls and Kennedy Falls that have the capacity to provide 3,000 m3/day each.

The Kapangyan Water System will flow water to barangays Bono-Bono, Malihud, Bulalacao, and Tarusan, and the remaining nine will be provided by the Kennedy Water System.

To ensure sustainability, tree planting projects will be done in the surrounding areas of the watersheds, Cardenas added.

The project is aligned with the RTNMC’s and CBNC’s policy of inclusive growth for the mining community and the neighboring areas through their CSR. It is the third CSR water project for both mining corporations in Bataraza.

Philippines-Korea air talks to focus on Palawan

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The scheduled air talks between the Philippines and Korea next month hopes to showcase the potential of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan to the Korean market.

“The objective is to showcase the huge potential of Puerto Princesa and the surrounding areas to the Korean market, as well as to highlight secondary destinations to encourage carriers to mount more flights,” Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said on the sidelines of the DOT Christmas Countdown event.

Last month, Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said air talks between the two countries are set in November in Puerto Princesa. Furthermore, he confirmed in a text message that direct flights from Incheon and Busan to Puerto Princesa are being considered.

Koreans remain the top tourist market for the Philippines, registering 901, 749 arrivals for in the eight-months to August 2015 or a 25.12 percent share of total inbound traffic.

“Korea is our No. 1 market and it’s very important for us to always look at the capacity situation so when either side feel that there is a need to increase flight frequency then we go back to the negotiating table,” Bengzon said.

DOT has not set targets for tourist arrivals in Palawan as these figures will depend on the number of flights and type of aircraft to be used once the air talks commence. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Bengzon said infrastructure in Puerto Princesa can support possible increase in tourist inflow as the airport is being upgraded and accommodation facilities range from upscale to budget-type hotels and resorts.

Meanwhile, Bengzon noted majority of previous and current air talks the country enters into are involving source markets for the Philippines which is good for the tourism sector, such as talks with Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Middle East and Turkey.

“The percentage share of air talks involving our major markets has been growing and increasing and this is a very clear indication that the talks are taken into a more strategic approach. As the demand grows, then it is necessary that we increase more flights and disperse the traffic into wider areas,” he added.

On the other hand, the entry of low cost carrier (LCC) V Air from Taiwan early next year is expected to further increase tourism in the country, as growth of air travel has been propelled by various LCCs.

“LCCs have become a very attractive option for travelers. Every time you get LCCs flying to the Philippines, you can expect an increase in the volume of inbound tourists,” Bengzon said.

Environment watchdogs rescue 979 critically-endangered pond turtles in Palawan

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), FPV/CARF/KASF/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 19 (PNA) -- Environment authorities in Palawan rescued over the weekend a large number of rare and critically endangered turtles that were supposed to be sold in the Chinese black market.

The turtles, numbering 979, were confiscated from the possession of suspected wildlife traffickers Joel Sulayaw, Gerald Favila and Benjie Dimasupil at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, October 18, in Barangay Old Guinlo, northern town of Taytay.

The rescued critically endangered turtles were comprised of Southeast Asian box turtles, Asian leaf turtles, and the Philippine pond turtles, which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as "vulnerable, lower risk or near threatened, and critically endangered."

The Philippine Pond turtle, also known as Siebenrockiella leytensis, is only endemic to the Philippines and is native to the northern part of Palawan. It faces very high risk of extinction. Locally, folks call it “bakoko.”

The raiding team, composed of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) enforcers and members of the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force (PLETF), brought the turtles to Puerto Princesa early Monday morning for inventory and proper disposition.

As of this posting, inquest proceedings are being prepared against the suspects for illegally possessing the threatened wildlife species in violation of the Philippine Wildlife Act, or Republic Act No. 9147.

Wildlife trafficking is not new in Palawan. In June this year, about 4,000 Philippine pond turtles were rescued inside the warehouse of a Chinese trader in the southern town of Bataraza in what is considered to be 2015’s largest poaching case in the country.

Wildlife trade in China's black market is a lucrative criminal activity. The rate per head ranges between Php8,000 to Php12,000, environmental authorities estimate.

In the province, illegal wildlife traders are said to be previously buying them from the locals for Php60 to Php70 per kilo. However, because of "sinking population" through the years due to poaching, the price per kilo has gone up from Php250 to Php300 a kilo.

Senate bill seeks to develop tourism in Spratlys

By Charissa Luci

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara wants Pag-asa island cluster in the municipality of Kalayaan, Palawan declared as an ecotourism destination and protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

In filing Senate Bill 2938, he said there is a need to promote a sustainable ecotourism industry to attract local and foreign tourists in a move to secure the country’s share in the world tourism market and to make it an avenue for generation of employment, while ensuring the environmental protection and preservation of the area.

“The bill seeks to declare the Pag-asa isaland and its adjoining islands of Parola, Kota and Panata, collectively referred to as the Pag-asa Island Cluster in the municipality of Kalayaan, in the province of Palawan, which sit well within the territory of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) as a special ecological tourism zone to promote and develop the area as a tourist destination for domestic and international tourists whole protecting the natural resources and diverse flora and fauna species,” Angara said.

The measure also declares the islands of Parola, Kota and Panata as protected area under the NIPAS, he added.

The Pag-asa island, located 480 kilometers off southwestern Palawan is the second largest island in the whole of Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys) in the West Philippine Sea.

Angara said his measure is in response to Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr.’s wish to turn the Pag-asa Island Cluster to a tourist destination and fisheries zone.

‘Malampaya project helps maintain steady power supply to Luzon grid’

By Lenie Lectura

THE new offshore platform recently installed for the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power project is meant to maintain the level of gas production to fire up three gas plants in Luzon.

SPEX Managing Director Sebastian Quiniones said a continuous supply of gas would enable the Malampaya consortium to fulfill its commitments under existing gas-sales agreements, thus, ensuring the steady supply of natural gas to power the Luzon electricity grid.

“The new platform is not for the extension of life. Rather, it is to enable us to make sure we satisfy the contracts we have in place until 2024 when our contracts expire,” Quiniones said. The Luzon grid is dependent on Malampaya, which fuels three power plants: Santa Rita, 1,000 megawatts (MW); San Lorenzo, 500 MW; and Ilijan, 1,200 MW. The Santa Rita and San Lorenzo power plants are owned by Lopez-led First Gen Corp., while Ilijan is owned by Kepco Philippines. The consortium-SPEX, Chevron Malampaya Llc., and the Philippine National Oil Co.- Exploration Corp. sells the gas to the power producers. It is committed to sell the gas to them for a number of years.

The members of the consortium recently led a ceremony to inaugurate the new platform and mark the start of gas production.

The new offshore platform—a depletion compression platform (DCP)—is adjacent to the existing Malampaya shallow water platform, located some 50 kilometers offshore from Palawan in western Philippines.

Combined with the successful drilling of two new production wells, completed in 2013, the recent event also commemorates the 25th anniversary of Service Contract (SC) 38, which laid the foundation for the Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power Project. The late President Corazon C. Aquino signed SC 38 on behalf of the government in December 1990.

“This latest phase in Malampaya is a continuation of the Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power Project’s positive legacy to the Philippines by providing the country a safe, reliable, and cleaner energy resource,” Quiniones said. “The project also promotes inclusive growth by elevating the capability of the Filipinos to world-class standards.”

A team of more than 1,400 Filipino workers took about two years to build the platform at the Keppel Shipyard in Subic, Zambales. The self-installing technology of the platform was a first of its kind for operator Shell and enabled the platform to be installed without the need for large specialized installation vessels. The platform was built to float and was towed from Subic to the Malampaya location, offshore Palawan.

The inbuilt jacking system enabled the 80-meter legs to be jacked down and lift the platform from the water into its final position. Both the existing shallow water platform and the new DCP are designed to withstand the typhoons and earthquakes which the Philippines experiences. “Malampaya is a symbol of the country’s continuous journey toward energy self-sufficiency. The commissioning and start-up of its latest phase is a testament to what the Filipino work force can achieve to fuel the country’s growth and progress,” Quiniones said.

Mimaropa region explores cruise tourism

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Mimaropa region is exploring an alternative way to attract more tourists through cruise tourism amid air connectivity issues.

Cruise tourism is starting to progress in the region with Romblon as the target area aside from the more popular destinations of Coron and Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

Department of Tourism Region IV-B director Minerva Morada said they are focusing more on diversifying the region’s products, souvenir item offerings and culinary aspect, rather than the accommodation establishments.

“It’s important that you are able to establish an identity. We have to be more creative and artistic in creating ways to attract more tourists,” she added.

Around 20 cruises have already navigated the area with a minimum of 400 tourists per cruise as of September this year. The region aims to partner with tour operators from other regions to enhance and establish connectivity and involve the local communities.

“We don’t have to wait until the connectivity issue is addressed. If you do that, you fail in your mandate to promote and improve tourism. Tourism is really the way forward. The challenge is very strong but it can be done with the help of the private and the public sectors,” she said.

Morada noted the region is in talks with the Philippine Port Authority and several shipping lines such as 2Go in determining the readiness of Mimaropa to further venture in this new kind of tourism.

“Our objective is not just increasing tourist arrivals but more importantly, it’s the tourist receipts and the revenues generated from tourism,” she said.

The region targets a five percent increase in domestic and foreign tourists by year-end. In 2014, Mimaropa posted 1.2 million arrivals and generated approximately P13 billion in receipts.

Palawan's bastion of privacy

By Noel Iligan

DERIVED from the Sanskrit word for peace (Aman) and the Filipino word for island (Pulo), Amanpulo, on the northwest of Palawan Island off the Cuyo Archipelago, is literally and figuratively a heaven on earth.

Situated just outside the typhoon belt in this monsoon-drenched part of the world, it enjoys less rainfall than the rest of the Philippines—making it even prime heavenly property among the world’s topnotch tropical resorts.

Quiet and fiercely private, and set against the backdrop of year-round cerulean skies and warm turquoise waters, the private resort ranks among the most exclusive patches of divine destinations sought after by the sophisticated elite with discriminating tastes.

After a private plane ride from Manila and landing on its own private air strip, guests are whisked away to their very own private casita where privacy reigns supreme. No wonder the world’s A-listers surreptitiously sneak in where they can let their hair loose and bask in its exclusivity far from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.

Our casita had access to the azure beach beyond bleach white powdery sands blinded by the sun. The interiors of the casita were exquisite. Employing local craftsmen and materials, the furniture, layout and design of the casita proudly scream home- grown Filipino artistry, charm and ingenuity.

The intricate rendering of the hammock alone could easily be a conversation piece and could possibly demand a magazine article in itself.

Tennis courts and yoga sessions are available for the guests. Dive excursions are readily on call where one is greeted by excellent and extremely attentive diving masters and instructors armed with brand new diving equipment.

There are a few restaurants around the resort but the main clubhouse serves what probably are the most delectable dishes I have ever tasted. Our party gorged on the most delicious wagyu beef and lobster I have ever tasted. The potato pancake with molten chocolate was divinely out-of-this-world. We were served wine from South Africa which was simply amazing.

I have been to countless tropical resorts and the experiences I have had almost always sing a familiar tune. Clear blue skies, warm tropical waters and swaying palm trees. A number of these resorts have propped up like mushrooms in our neck of the woods and I am sure owners and developers always think of how they can get two steps ahead of what has become an extremely competitive market.

Some may make it past the initial brouhaha and be able to sustain the business, others will probably fold up. But for Amanpulo, which had been in the resort business way before the rest caught up with the frenzy, reputation is king. A reputation solely based on extremely fierce privacy, world-class cuisine and service from the minute your private plane takes off until it touches down…and beyond.

A part of the worldwide Aman resorts, it is very noteworthy to take notice that Amanpulo is the only one of its kind. It is the only Filipino-themed resort in the Aman menu of destinations.

While Amangiri, Amanyara and Amankila celebrate Utah, Turks and Caicos and Indonesia respectively, among others, Amanpulo is a veritable snapshot of what and how a Filipino resort destination should be – a major stakeholder in the resort business worldwide.

Palaweños welcome Fortune Life Palawan building


PUERTO Princesa Vice Mayor Luis D. Marcaida III hailed the formal blessing and inauguration of Fortune Life Palawan building in Puerto Princesa on October 9, as a promise of an improved economy for the city and the province as a whole.

“We expect that the expanded presence here of Fortune Life and its sister companies, through their branch offices in Fortune Life Palawan building, will lead to increased income for the city’s coffers,” Marcaida said in his brief remarks following a Thanksgiving Mass at the roof deck of the three-story building.

At present, he explained, the city government depends heavily on its internal revenue allotment, or the share of local government units from the national government. The city also gets its income from ecotourism, as the city and the province are famed for their tourist destinations.

The Fortune Life Palawan building is in Lot 9 Fernandez Saint, Barangay Tanglaw, overlooking the Palawan Provincial Capitol from its three-story height and a roof deck that in its fourth floor. The roof deck is designed to be the venue for important social and corporate occasions.

The building, easily the most beautiful modern structure in the place with its all-glass front walls and steel-and-concrete construction, also houses the Palawan branch offices of Fortune General Insurance Co., Fortune Medicare Inc., (FortuneCare), Health Protect Medical Clinic and Eternal Plans.

Besides these four companies, two other sister companies are the luxurious Citystate Asturias Hotel and radio station dwIZ 94.3 Palawan, operated by Aliw Broadcasting Corp., with studios at the rear of the hotel.

The six companies are part of the ALC Group of Companies headed by Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, founder and chairman emeritus.

According to Marcaida, the city government expects to earn income from the taxes and the fees for permits and licenses that Fortune Life and its sister companies will be paying for their business operations in the city. “That means a substantial amount of revenues for City Hall,” he said.

Mayor Mary Jean D. Feliciano of Brooke’s Point, a first-class municipality in the southeastern section of Palawan island, also expected an economic boost for her town from the business operations of Fortune Life and its sister companies.

300 coop members attend 2nd Southern Palawan Cooperative Congress

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 13 (PNA) -- Around 300 members of different cooperatives in Palawan attended the 2nd Southern Palawan Cooperative Congress held recently in the southern town of Narra organized in cooperation with the Provincial Cooperative Development Council (PCDC).

A press statement from the Provincial Information Office (PIO) Monday said the congress which was held October 8-9 in Narra for cooperative members in the province with the theme “Kooperatiba: Ika-100 Taong Pagpupugay, Tulay sa Maunlad na Buhay.”

It was held in celebration of October as “Cooperative Month,” and in a bid to discuss with coop members the challenges and prospects that face them.

Former Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) administrator Dr. Soc Anthony del Rosario was guest speaker, along with CLIMBS Agency Roy Miclat and House Rep. Ponciano Payuyo.

All three discussed topics cooperative challenges and prospects, health and insurance program for cooperatives and call for strong cooperative movement in the Philippines.

Success stories were also shared during the two-day coop congress by the Narra Irrigators and Advocates Multi-Purpose Cooperative (NIAMCO) and First Community Credit Cooperative (FICO) that provided inspiration to cooperatives to continue the development of livelihood opportunities for members.

Listahanan photo contest in MiMaRoPa now open to public


MALATE, Manila, Oct. 12 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in MiMaRoPa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan provinces) is calling on photographers to join its first Listahanan at Work photo contest this October.

The contest aims to promote transparency on the process of identifying poor families regionwide. This would also help raise public awareness and persuade community participation as Listahanan validation of initial results continues in MiMaRoPa.

“Entry photo must depict the theme of the contest, Listahanan at work: identifying families in need of social protection”, said Ernie H. Jarabejo, Listahanan Field Coordinator.

All photography enthusiasts are qualified to join the contest by submitting to the DSWD Field Office the scanned email copy of the accomplished application form and at least three (3) sample photos taken in digital format. Application form can be downloaded in the DSWD Mimaropa website:

Entries should not include watermarks, signatures, names, or any markings on the photo, Jarabejo added.

Digital manipulation is not allowed. Enhancements must be limited to basic post-processing such as adjustments of contrast, minimal color-balancing, sharpening, cropping and dodging and burning.

Winners will receive cash prizes in the amount of P10,000 for the grand prize; P7,000 for the first runner-up; and P5,000 for the second runner-up.

Acceptance of application form and the sample photos will end on November 6, 2015.

Listahanan is a government mechanism of identifying who and where the poor are nationwide.

Exploitation of Palawan ‘protected areas’ opposed

By Ferdinand F. Castro

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan – Environmentalist groups have put up a united front to oppose business groups out to exploit the country’s “protected areas,” especially in Palawan, as a congressional bill that aims to replace, expand, and strengthen the 23-year-old “National Integrated Protected Areas System” or NIPAS (under Republic Act 7586) is expected to be enacted into law by the present Congress.

Former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, who led the environmentalists, declared their “united and unequivocal support” for the early passage of the “original” House Bill (HB) 6141 approved by the Committee on Natural Resources.

Sen. Loren Legarda, a known pro-environment legislator, has been urging the committee headed by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas to fast-track the approval of the House’s counterpart version of the new NIPAS.

The consideration of HB 6141 for plenary approval, however, was snagged when Rep. Douglas Hagedorn discovered and disputed the exclusion of Palawan’s protected areas. Hagedorn said that the deletion is anomalous, coming as it did after the committee’s approval of the bill.

In requesting the exclusion, Governor Jose Alvarez and Rep. Franz Alvarez allegedly asserted that Palawan does not need to be in the NIPAS, as the province already has its own Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) under Republic Act (RA) 7611.

But the environmentalists disagree. “Palawan’s inclusion is beneficial to Palawan. The New NIPAS is a double-protection for the province’s ecologically critical sites. It will support the SEP, while preventing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development from the danger of falling into a ‘regulatory capture’ by vested interests,” Hagedorn said.

“We believe that the NIPAS law complements the SEP of Palawan (RA 7611) because both laws recognize the need to conserve biodiversity. We, therefore, urge the House of Representatives to pass HB 6141, including all of Palawan’s protected areas in the NIPAS, without further delay,” they said in their statement, which was signed by Hagedorn and other pro-environment advocates from the academe, religious groups, and other concerned sectors. They were joined by environmental lawyer Tony Oposa, Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN, Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth, Gerthie Anda of Environment Legal Assistance Center, Gerry Arances of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Dante Lagman of Sanlakas, Isagani Serrano of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Voltaire Alferez of Philippines Earth Day Network, Cynthia Sumagaysay of Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy, Jhunette Buenviaje of Greenpeace, Anne Larracas of Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives, Thony Dizon of Ecowaste Coalition, and many others.

In an interview, Hagedorn said they were alarmed to learn from his brother, Rep. Douglas Hagedorn, that “vested interests” and members of Congress with close ties to Palawan Gov. Alvarez managed to remove five of Palawan’s protected areas from the original list of the new NIPAS bill.

“Sa halip na madagdagan ang ‘protected areas’ ng Palawan, gusto pang bawasan ng lima,” Hagedorn bewailed. Palawan has 17 “key biodiversity areas” consisting of terrestrial and marine areas.

Alvarez was already under fire from environmentalists for pushing the construction of a coal-fired power plant in the province by DM Consunji.

Environmentalists lament the effort of the provincial government to trim down Palawan’s protected areas, even as the Puerto Princesa City Council passed an ordinance in July, declaring two coral reef sites, the Tangdol Reef in Barangay Bancao-Bancao and the Tagkuti Reef in Barangay Simpokan as “marine sanctuaries” – where any human activity, except approved scientific research, is prohibited.

But for the vigilance of Rep.Hagedorn, the House Committee on Natural Resources would have succeeded in getting Palawan out of HB 6141, and passed in favor of coal and non-renewable energy and mining business interests.

He added that he will request Matugas to hold an executive meeting of the committee at the earliest time, first, to restore Palawan’s protected sites, and, second, to include a clear statement in the bill that would ensure that the SEP of Palawan is modified or harmonized with the proposed new NIPAS law.

PHIBLEX 2015 Marine builds bonds while raising buildings

By Lance Cpl. Robert D. Williams Jr.

PUERTA PRINCESSA, PALAWAN, Philippines– The Marines of 9th Engineer Support Battalion have been working on the Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects at the Concepcion and Binduyan elementary schools since they arrived in the Philippines. The Marines built pathways, laid cement and built overhangs at the project sites, but will walk away with so much more.

While working on the HCA projects, many of the Marines have been bonding with the children by sharing their food and interacting with them.

“This one boy here, named Rakeem, calls me Momma Pak,” said Lance Cpl. Jessica Pak, a metal worker with 9th ESB, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Ever since I’ve been here I’ve treated him like he’s my little brother. I give him my Meal-Ready-to-Eat for lunch. He always follows me around and holds my hand.”

The HCA project at Binduyan Elementary School is complete, according to Pak. Throughout the time of the Marines and children being together, the kids have learned new skills for the future.

“They’ve noticed what we’ve been doing,” said Pak, graduate of Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, New Jersey. “They took the rock and sand and made their own cement. They’ve even started making their own projects.”

Pak grew up in the blue-collar town of Garwood, New Jersey, according to Pak. Her dad was a welder and her mom had various jobs to support her and her two brothers.

“My father would leave for months at a time to go to various states to have a welding job,” said Pak. “We really didn’t have a lot.”

She was getting ready to do an on-camera interview about her working on the HCA project, when Rakeem signaled her that his home was nearby, according to Pak.

“Rakeem took me to his house. When I walked over his mom and his dad were outside sleeping,” said Pak. “They had dirt floors and one hammock to sleep in when I realized that they had nothing.”

That day she decided to make a difference in the life of Rakeem’s family, according to Pak.

“When I get a chance this weekend, I’m going to buy them a bunch of supplies,” said Pak. “Then I’m going to give them money so the parents can afford for their children to go to school because they have five kids.”

She is glad she made that decision, according to Pak.

“It makes me feel really great. “Being able to make my own money and helping out another family makes me feel like I did something”

Palawan & Korea’s Jeju Island sign sisterhood relationship for tourism opportunities

By Jesus M. Ustares [(PNA), FPV/CARF/JMU/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 9 (PNA) -- Palawan and the Jeju special self-governing jurisdiction of South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as sister provinces in a bid to promote tourism in both territories.

The signing of the MOU, according to Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. Thursday, happened on October 6 between Governor Jose Alvarez, and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff Executive Director Nelson Devanadera, and representatives of the Jeju Biosphere Reserve, South Korea headed by Nami Kim; Jeju Secretariat Manager Young-Hoan Yung, World Heritage & Mt. Hallasan Research Institute Director Jeong Hwan Jang, and World Heritage & Mt. Hallasan Research Institute BR Manager in Charge Byung Joon Koh.

The sisterhood relationship agreement aims to promote sustainable development in Jeju and Palawan provinces as biosphere reserves.

Alvarez was quoted as saying during the signing of the MOU that the sisterhood will be “a big help to Palawan because the province can adopt the principles that Jeju is employing to promote tourism and vice versa.”

Under the MOU, Jeju of South Korea and Palawan of the Philippines will both work together to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism; exchange knowledge on biosphere reserve management as well as researches and technologies; provide training and education, improve sustainability, promotion and development in tourism, cooperate in networking and other forms of mutual cooperation; and mutual cooperation and support in publishing research and literature on biosphere reserve and other categories of publication to attract more visitors.

The MOU will also pave the way for the development of training and exchange of programs and enhancements of management and operation of biosphere reserves; establishment of a website connection system between two sites.

Devanadera said in addition that the sisterhood is also beneficial to the Philippines as a country.

“Palawan is a biosphere reserve, and there are still a lot of places that can be visited. It’s the same in Jeju Island; we have a lot of similarities that can help raise the number of visitors we both receive, especially here in Palawan,” Devanadera said.

Jeju Island, also known as the "Island of the Gods," is a popular vacation spot for Koreans and many Japanese. It remains one of the top honeymoon destinations for Korean newlyweds.

The island's mixture of volcanic rock, frequent rains, and temperate climate, make it very similar to the Hawaiian Islands in the U.S. The island offers visitors a wide range of activities: hiking on Halla-san (South Korea's highest peak), catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, viewing majestic waterfalls, riding horses, or just lying around on the sandy beaches.

18 rebel returnees receive financial aid from Palawan government

By Jesus M. Ustares [(PNA), JMC/CARF/JMU/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 8 (PNA) -- Around 18 rebel returnees received financial assistance from the Palawan provincial government under the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) this year.

This was confirmed Wednesday by Abigail Ablaña, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) to the Philippine News Agency.

Ablaña said that since 2014 when the LSIP was opened, 16 rebel returnees have benefited with two early in the year.

Before they received PHP25,000 as financial help, she said each of the returnees underwent thorough background investigation by the Western Command to ensure that their intention to return to government fold is sincere, and that they were once members of the leftist movement New People’s Army (NPA).

Ablaña said the LSIP aims to further encouraged members of the leftist movement to rejoin the government fold; to assure them that with the financial help, they can live life with fresh opportunities.

In 2016, she stated that the PSWDO allocated PHP2-million for rebel returnees – a move that is well-supported by Governor Jose Alvarez.

Rainy Thursday for Visayas, parts of Mindanao, Palawan


Affected areas in Mindanao are Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao region, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga, says PAGASA

MANILA, Philippines – Expect light to moderate rains in the entire Visayas, Palawan province, and several parts of Mindanao on Thursday, October 8, says the country's weather bureau.

The parts of Mindanao to be affected by downcast weather are Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao region, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga, says the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Isolated thunderstorms and cloudy skies are also likely in these areas on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the rest of country is in for isolated thunderstorms and partly cloudy to cloudy skies.

Northern Luzon and the eastern section of the country should brace for moderate to strong winds from the northeast and southwest on Thursday. Waters in these areas will thus be moderate to rough.

The rest of the country will experience only light to moderate winds leading to calmer ocean waters.

Environmentalists want House to expand Nipas Act

By Jovee Marie de la Cruz

ENVIRONMENTALISTS on Tuesday urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to pass the measure expanding and strengthening the 23-year-old National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act.

Environmentalists in the province of Palawan, led by former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, said his group is giving its “united and unequivocal support” for the early passage of the “original” House Bill (HB) 6141 approved by the Committee on Natural Resources.

Environmentalist Sen. Loren Legarda also urged the House committee, headed by Liberal Party Rep. Francisco T. Matugas of Surigao del Norte, to fast-track the approval of the House’s counterpart version of the new Nipas.

The consideration of HB 6141 for plenary approval, however, was snagged when Nationalist People’s Coalition Rep. Douglas S. Hagedorn discovered and disputed the exclusion of Palawan’s protected areas.

Hagedorn said the deletion was anomalous, coming as it did after the committee’s approval of the bill.

In requesting the exclusion, Gov. Jose Alvarez and National Unity Party Rep. Franz Alvarez of Palawan asserted that Palawan does not need to be in the Nipas, as the province already has its own Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) under Republic Act (RA) 7611.

Hagedorn said, “Palawan’s inclusion is beneficial to Palawan. The New Nipas is a double-protection for the province’s ecologically critical sites. It will support the SEP, while preventing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development from the danger of falling into a ‘regulatory capture’ by vested interests.”

“We believe that the Nipas law complements the SEP of Palawan [RA 7611], because both laws recognize the need to conserve biodiversity. We, therefore, urge the House of Representatives to pass HB 6141, including all of Palawan’s protected areas in the Nipas, without further delay,” Hagedorn said.

Pro-environment advocates backing the passage of the measure include environmental lawyer Tony Oposa, Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN, Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth, Gerthie Anda of Environment Legal Assistance Center, Gerry Arances of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Dante Lagman of Sanlakas, Isagani Serrano of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Voltaire Alferez of the Philippines Earth Day Network, Cynthia Sumagaysay of Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy, Jhunette Buenviaje of Greenpeace, Anne Larracas of Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives, Thony Dizon of Ecowaste Coalition and many others.

Palawan has 17 “key biodiversity areas” consisting of terrestrial and marine areas.

Hagedorn said the immediate passage of HB 6141 in its original form has become “urgent” and “imperative,” citing the “PCSD [Palawan Council for Sustainable Development] 2015 State of Palawan Environment Report” showing that coral reefs in the province in “excellent condition” has dropped to 2.1 percent compared to 3.7 percent 10 years ago.

Aside from creating “buffer zones” in protected areas and banning mining and all forms of “extractive activities” inside them, the new and expanded Nipas imposes “stiffer penalties” on violators to include imprisonment, the lawmaker added.

“Lastly, the Nipas law reaffirms our country’s international commitment to environmental protection, conservation and development of natural resources,” Hagedorn said.

Malampaya begins gas production for new platform


MANILA, Oct. 5 (PNA) -- The new platform of the Malampaya power station, which costs US$ 1 billion, has started to produce its gas supply to three power plants of the Luzon grid.

In a statement Monday, Shell Philippines Exploration, B.V. said the new locally assembled platform will continue to power a third of homes and businesses in the country.

The platform will enhance the capability of the consortium to continue on supplying the three natural gas fired power plants of the country until 2024, namely Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan.

The new depletion compression platform is adjacent to the existing Malampaya Shallow Water Platform, located some 50km offshore from Palawan in western Philippines. It was installed by 1,400 Filipino workers in two years at the Keppel Shipyard in Subic, Zambales.

The self installing platform is a first of its kind in the country.

Energy officer-in-charge (OIC) secretary Zenaida Monsada said in a speech Monday during the platform inauguration held at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel that "the power station contributes about 2,700 megawatts (MW) of power to the Luzon grid."

She added the government had bagged PhP219 billion as part of the government's share in the consortium.

Aside from the platform inauguration, the Malampaya consortium is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Service Contract 38, where the Malampaya well was discovered. It was signed during the term of former President Corazon Aquino on December 1990.

SPEX B.V. managing director Sebastian Quiniones said “Malampaya is a symbol of the country’s continuous journey towards energy self-sufficiency. The commissioning and startup of its latest phase is a testament to what the Filipino workforce can achieve to fuel the country’s growth and progress."

The Malampaya consortium is composed of SPEX B.V., Chevron Philippines Inc. (CPI) and Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC).

Residents in Bataraza, Palawan experienced low-intensity seismic activity


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) -- Residents of the town of Bataraza in southern Palawan swore over the weekend that they experienced the earth below them shake for three to five seconds, and caused them to run out of their homes and offices.

No one was reported hurt, according to Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) Chief Marlene Gamo, but the earthquake-like movement of the ground made residents fearful to go back to their homes immediately.

Gamo said residents of Barangay Marangas, Bataraza were shocked by what they felt, unbelieving that an earthquake was taking place.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-MIMAROPA’s municipal roving officer Marcial Deloso of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), who was at his office in Marangas, swore too, that the ground shook under his feet and he got scared.

He narrated that on Friday, at around 5 p.m., while everyone was busy, the ground shook for about five seconds. People came out running of their homes and offices, and returned only after a while.

Former Bataraza mayor, and now Board Member Abraham Ibba, also attested that he too, felt the ground shaking for three to five seconds at his home.

Table glasses, appliances, and other objects at his home, also shook during the brief shaking.

Employees at the municipal government office also had to rush out for fear that there was indeed an earthquake.

He said someone, who is an expert on earthquake incidents might be able to explain to them what happened since he doesn’t know of any underwater volcano in Bataraza.

Bataraza is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan. It was named after Datu Bataraza Narrazid, a locally influential Muslim chieftain and father of the town's first mayor and former mayor of Brooke's Point.

According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 63,644 people. Main industries of Bataraza includes farming, fishing, and nickel mining and processing.

DENR to hold forums on Southern Palawan's ecological wealth


MANILA, Oct. 3 (PNA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in collaboration with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), World Bank, and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) will hold consultation forums with stakeholders to discuss the ecological wealth of Southern Palawan on October 5 and 6, 2015.

The consultation forums are activities under the Philippine Wealth Accounting for the Valuation of Ecosystems Services (WAVES) or Phil-WAVES program, a global partnership that promotes sustainable development through the implementation of comprehensive wealth accounting and ecosystem accounting.

Southern Palawan was chosen as Phil-WAVES pilot site due to competing demands on its natural capital, which includes minerals, biodiversity, rich fishing grounds, and extensive coastal and marine ecosystem. It is also home to indigenous tribes and three large protected areas.

According to the DENR, the findings of the ecosystem accounts would enable both policy-makers and stakeholders to come up with informed policies and decisions based on generated data regarding the monetary values of natural capital and ecosystem services.

The program and initial key findings would be disseminated in two separate forums, one each for the provincial and municipal levels.

The provincial forum will be held on Monday, October 5, at the Provincial Capitol in Puerto Princesa City. It will be attended by officials of the provincial government and six adjacent local government units, DENR field officers and representatives from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).

Stakeholder representatives from different sectors, such as resort owners, mining industries, religious, academe and the media are also expected to attend.

A similar forum will be held at the municipality of Sofronio Española in Southern Palawan on Tuesday, October 6. The participants include town and barangay officials, peoples and non-government organizations, the academe and media.

Technical experts from the DENR and its attached agencies, the PCSD and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority or NAMRIA, will join World Bank experts in discussing key findings of various ecosystems studies conducted in the area.

These include status of the forest cover and potentials as carbon sink; importance of water supply to crop production, and the coral reef extent and condition.

The Philippines is one of the eight countries under the World Bank WAVES program, which focuses on the value of natural capital and integration of ecosystem accounting in more conventional development planning analysis. Aside from the Philippines, WAVES is also being implemented in Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar and Rwanda.

Fortune Life pushes growth prospects in Palawan


FORTUNE Life Insurance Co. is aggressively pushing its growth and expansion plans in Palawan through the inauguration and blessing of its new branch building at Lot 9, Fernandez Street, Barangay Tanglaw, Puerto Princesa City, on October 9.

The inaugural program includes a Thanksgiving Mass, ribbon cutting and blessing of Fortune Life branch building. It will be followed by a motorcade around Puerto Princesa City and reception will be at the Citystate Asturias Hotel.

Some important personalities from the government, business and other private sectors are expected to grace the inaugural event.

Under its growth plans, D. Arnold A. Cabangon, the company president, said Fortune Life will provide Palawan and its various islands, attractive and affordable insurance products for the benefit of the Palawan islanders.

The Makati-based Fortune Life Insurance Co., a major player in the country’s insurance industry, is dedicated to helping Filipinos achieve their financial goals through various comprehensive and innovative solutions. To date, it has 1,750 agents and branches along 42 key areas throughout the Philippines.

For over 30 years, Fortune Life continues to stand by its commitment of “Securing Your Tomorrow Today.”

Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, heads the company board of directors as chairman emeritus and founder. D. Alfred A. Cabangon, chairman of the board; D. Arnold A. Cabangon, vice chairman and president; J. Antonio A. Cabangon Jr., treasurer; Dr. Roberto B. Abat, lawyer Socrates M. Arevalo, Evelyn T. Carada, Juan P. Dayang, Francisco V. Enrile II, Loretta C. Galang, Gen. Thomas P. Manlongat, Benjamin V. Ramos, Dr. Ramon L. Sin, Rowena May R. Sullano and Gerardo M. Teruel, board members.

DOE grants Force Majeure for Service Contract 75

By Juzel L. Danganan [(PNA), LGI/BNB/JLD/EDS]

MANILA, Oct. 1 (PNA) -- The Department of Energy (DOE) has granted the Force Majeure for Service Contract 75, which is located in the northwestern Palawan Basin.

In a disclosure from the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday, Philex Petroleum said "all exploration work at SC75 shall be immediately suspended effective from the end of its first sub-phase on Dec. 27, 2015 until the date the DOE notifies the company to resume petroleum-related activities."

The company added the second sub-phase of SC75 will be put on hold until further notice. It will extend the term of sub-phase 2.

No reason was provided, but the certain service contract is near the other service contracts that are also under force majeure due to the territorial dispute with China. It includes SC 58 and 72.

Philex Petroleum has the majority interest in the field at 50 percent, while the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) has a 35-percent stake and PetroEnergy Resources Corp. (PERC) has a 15-percent.