Palawan News September 2014

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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 bishop slams Aquino for downplaying media killings in PH

By Aries Joseph Hegina (

MANILA, Philippines—“Very irresponsible.”

That was how Puerto Princesa bishop Pedro Arigo described the remark of President Benigno Aquino III stating that not all “media killings” in the country are job related.

“That statement is really very irresponsible. It’s like adding a salt on the top injury, particularly to the family of the victims,” Arigo said over Radio Veritas on Monday.

Arigo added that Aquino is only fabricating “alibis” and “more excuses” on the supposed failure of his administration in solving “media killings”.

In a forum organized by Egmont Institute in Belgium last September 16, Aquino said that not all “media killings” are job-related.

“For instance, in the media killings, some who used to work in media died. Did they die because they were investigative journalists? Were they exercising their profession in a responsible manner, living up to journalistic ethics? Or did they perish because of other reasons?” Aquino said.

During the forum, Aquino admitted that justice is slow in the country and his administration is said to be “trying its best” to resolve human rights violations.

Phl, US troops begin naval exercises

By Julie M. Aurelio (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Naval exercises involving around 4, 700 Filipino and US troops kicked off today in Palawan.

The 12-day training exercise, dubbed as the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX), was formally opened at the headquarters of the Naval Forces West at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon in Puerto Princesa City.

Captain Reyson Talingdan, spokesman of the 3rd Marine Brigade, said two field training activities - amphibious assault vehicle training and boat operations - will be held at the Sulu Sea side of Palawan from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

"This site was identified as a good area for field training. ( The activities) are for training purposes only," said Talingdan.

He said the two sides will also hold table top exercise or Command Post Exercises in Puerto Princesa. Talingdan did not say the scenario in the command post exercise although the US Embassy said this has something to do with territorial defense.

In an earlier statement, the US Embassy said the command post exercise "will increase the Armed Forces of the Philippines' capability to conduct planning and effective execution of bilateral maritime security and territorial defense operations."

"The field training exercises will provide the Philippine and U. S. Marine units multiple opportunities to continue to improve their skills while sharing best practices and enhancing an already high level of cohesion," it added.

Talingdan said, however, that the training activities in Puerto Princesa city have nothing to do with the territorial dispute involving the Philippines, China, China's Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam over Nansha Islands in South China Sea.

The Philippine Navy said other activities under PHIBLEX will be held in the northern Philippine provinces of Zambales, Pampanga and Cavite.

The Americans brought two ships for the exercise - the USS Peleliu, an amphibious assault ship and USS Germantown, an amphibious dock landing ship. The ships arrived in Subic last Saturday.

PHIBLEX, one of the high-profile military exercises conducted by the US and Philippines under the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement, will run through Oct. 10.

Phiblex15 kicks off in Puerto Princesa Monday

By Julie M. Aurelio (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines – Around 4,000 troops from the United States Navy and their local counterparts will join this year’s Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex15) which will begin on Monday (Sept. 29) in Puerto Princesa.

The Phiblex15, a bilateral exercise between troops from the two countries, will formally open at 10 a.m. Monday at the Naval Forces West headquarters in Puerto Princesa City.

According to 1st Lt. Jerber Anthony Belonio, the Marine Corps spokesperson, 3,000 sailors from the US Navy and 1,000 Filipino sailors and Marines will take part in the 12-day exercise.

The bilateral war games will end on October 10 in a closing ceremony at the Philippine Marine Corps headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Belonio said the exercises would be held in different locations. The activity is aimed at improving interoperability of the participating forces and increasing the readiness and ability to respond to natural disasters or other regional contingencies.

From September 30 to October 2, there will be live fire exercises at Crow Valley, Capas, Tarlac, which will be followed by a boat raid exercise at Arrecife Island, Sofronio Espanola, Palawan.

From October 5 to 7, there will be a mechanized assault exercise at the Naval Education Training Center, Zambales, and combined live fire exercise in Crow Valley, Capas, Tarlac on October 7.

The exercise will include a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Engineering Civic Action Program at the Maoyon Elementary School in Puerto Princesa on October 8 and at the Beddieng Elementary School in Zambales the following day.

8 malls to be solar-powered by end of 2014

By Pia Ranada (

More malls using their own renewable energy systems may help avert the impending power crisis in Philippine cities

MANILA, Philippines – At least 8 malls in the Philippines will be partially powered by solar panels by the end of 2014, a local solar power company behind the projects said.

Last September 20, Central Mall Biñan in Laguna was the first of the 8 to be connected to solar power. The 2,514 solar panels spread across 7,000 square meters of the mall's roof make the project the biggest operating solar rooftop plant in the country with a capacity of 700 kilowatts.

Energy from the sun captured by the panels is converted to electricity by 87 inverters, enough to supply 30% of the mall’s energy needs.

Central Mall Biñan’s newly-installed solar panels will be able to save the mall’s management more than P750,000 (US$16,700) on monthly electricity bills.

Leandro Leviste, the 21-year-old founder and president of Solar Philippines, could name only 3 of the remaining 7 malls set for solar panel installation by the end of the year: SM North EDSA in Quezon City, Robinson’s Palawan, and City Mall Roxas.

These 3 malls should have solar panels by December, he told Rappler.

SM North EDSA is set to become the Philippine mall with the biggest solar panel installation spanning 11,511 square meters with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts, the mall management told Rappler.

The malls entered into a special Power Purchase Agreement with Solar Philippines that enables them to have solar panels installed without shelling any payment up front.

The Power Purchase Agreement allows solar panel customers to have solar panel systems installed at zero up front cost.

The customers then commit to pay the solar power vendor for all the electricity generated by the panels at a rate lower than the normal electricity rate in the area.

Central Mall Biñan, for instance, is buying solar-generated electricity at a rate 20% lower than Meralco's commercial rates.

“If it's cloudy? You pay nothing. What if it's sunny? You pay more because you use more. What if [the electricity generated by the panels] is not enough? You buy from Meralco. What if it's too much? You sell to Meralco. How can you lose?” explained Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla during the mall’s launch.

A new deal for solar power

Central Mall Biñan's solar power project is the first to avail of the Power Purchase Agreement.

Petilla said malls that are able to strike such a deal with solar power vendors should consider themselves lucky.

“It's a good business model because the risk is with the vendor. Should [the vendor] get Chinese solar panels? It may not last long. But the risk is not on the user's end,” he said.

He explained that solar power deals that put the risk on the customer is what has doomed renewable energy in the Philippines.

In typical renewable energy deals, the vendor tells the customer they will save a certain amount in monthly electricity bills by availing of the RE technology, but the customer would have to pay for the equipment in monthly installments. (READ: How practical is solar power for PH home owners?)

The monthly installments are cheaper than the average electricity bill savings. But these savings are projected averages which depend on the availability of the renewable energy source.

For instance, it will depend on how many sunny days there are in a year. The more sunny days there are, the bigger the savings. But the vendor can never ensure how much exactly the customer will save because they can never be completely sure how much the sun will shine throughout the year.

“But one thing is for sure, the customer has to pay the monthly installment for the equipment. So the customer will say, ‘I’ll think about it.’ In other words, ‘never mind,’” said Petilla.

Why malls?

More malls using electricity generated by their own renewable energy systems may help prevent the predicted 2015 power crisis.

Electricity consumption by malls is huge. It’s no wonder that in such a mall-crazed country like the Philippines, energy demand peaks during the same time malls are open: from 11 am to 7pm.

For this reason, the DOE is even contemplating a circular just to lower the energy consumption of malls.

“In 2015, one of the measures we are putting in place is to ask all mall owners to limit their air conditioning units to 25 degrees [Celsius],” said Petilla.

Malls with solar panels are likely to be exempted from such a circular because they are not drawing anything from the power grid, he added.

Besides having the potential to create a big impact on the impending power crisis, solar-powered malls are also ideal for solar panel systems.

“Malls have a large roof area and solar is all about economies of scale. Malls also consume the most electricity at the time when solar production is at its highest,” Leviste told Rappler.

For this reason, Petilla said the DOE is pushing for more malls and schools (which also tend to have large roof areas) to have their own renewable energy systems installed.

Greenpeace renewable energy campaigner Ben Muni lauded moves to connect malls to renewable energy.

“I think it’s about time that malls put their investments in the right direction. Being one of the country’s in Southeast Asia known for huge malls, the Philippines can take the lead in showcasing how RE and businesses can be combined to address both economic growth and environmental sustainability,” he told Rappler.

Green energy

RE, or “green energy” as it is dubbed by environmentalists, is being promoted as one of the solutions to global warming. (READ: Renewable energy use gaining worldwide – IEA)

Unlike the combustion of conventional fossil fuel sources of energy, the generation of RE does not emit greenhouse gases or emit air pollutants when consumed. (READ: PH Gov't offices told: Use solar panels, reduce P13-B electricity bill)

Greenhouse gases from the power and transportation sector are the main drivers of climate change, a global phenomenon which may cause the Earth to warm past liveable limits.

But the impending climate crisis is not the only reason for more businesses and households to avail of solar power and other RE technologies.

True to his nature as a businessman, Leviste said, “The key is that solar is commercially viable and only in being so does it reach meaningful scale.”

Light rain expected in Palawan, VisMin on Saturday

By Joel Locsin/TJD (GMA News)

Light to moderate rain is expected in Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan on Saturday, state weather agency PAGASA said Friday afternoon.

In its 5 p.m. bulletin, PAGASA also said the Southwest Monsoon is affecting Mindanao.

PAGASA said these areas "will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms."

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

On Friday, heavy rain from a thunderstorm caused floods in parts of Metro Manila.

Also, PAGASA said light to moderate winds from the mortheast to northwest will prevail over Luzon and Visayas and coming from the southwest to west over Mindanao.

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

Palawan wants out of Bangsamoro area

By Christine F. Herrera, Maricel V. Cruz

DELIBERATIONS on the Bangsamoro Basic Law got off to a tumultuous start Wednesday with representatives of Puerto Princesa and Palawan asking the House to exclude them from the proposed Bangsamoro entity, saying 85 percent of their people had already rejected inclusion in an autonomous Muslim region in four plebiscites since the Marcos administration.

At the first hearing of the House special ad hoc committee on the BBL, a heated debate ensued, insults were hurled, and apologies were demanded and given.

“The people of Palawan vehemently oppose the inclusion of their province and the City of Puerto Princesa in the Bangsamoro entity as mentioned in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law,” said Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg, who has filed a resolution to that effect.

Abueg demanded that the three congressmen representing Palawan be counted as members of the ad hoc panel with voting rights since their province was mentioned and will likely be directly affected by the proposed BBL.

“The people of Palawan have consistently resisted the inclusion of the province in the ARMM in four successive plebiscites,” Abueg said. “The negative votes cast were more than 85 percent of the total votes.”

Abueg added that the total population of Palawan including the city of Puerto Princesa as of 2010 was 994,340, with Muslims representing only 7 to 8 percent.

During the session, lawmakers were slighted when one of the resource speakers, Mary Ann Arnaldo of the Mindanao civil society organization Peace Platform, said fiscal autonomy for the Bangsamoro would spare them from having to bring “durian” and “pomelo” to legislators when asking Congress to approve the region’s annual budget.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, a staunch critic of the BBL, demanded that Arnaldo’s “insulting comments” be stricken from the record.

Arnaldo withdrew her comments and apologized to the panel.

Dasmarinas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. wanted to insert a provision that provides “the Bangsamoro will not secede from the Philippines.”

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohager Iqbal declined to comment on the proposal and left it to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles, who said it was unnecessary.

But Anak Mindanao Rep. Sitti Djalia Hataman viewed Barzaga’s suggestion as offensive, prompting him to withdraw the proposal.

Lobregat moved that all the Palace drafts of the BBL submitted to the panel, noting the delays in the submission of the draft law to Congress.

The panel chairman, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, rejected Lobregat’s motion, forcing a vote that Lobregat won 19 to 8.

“I would also like to say we are for peace, just and long lasting peace. We are not anti-peace. We want BBL to be fair, just acceptable, feasible and consistent with the Constitution and existing laws,” Lobregat said.

“If ever and whenever we raise certain issues or concerns or question certain provisions, we want to clarify any and all ambiguities as these will affect not only areas under the Bangsamoro but the entire Mindanao and Philippines as well,” he added.

The House special ad hoc committee was created under HR 1462, authored by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II.

The Rodriguez panel is tasked to review and evaluate the comprehensive peace agreement on the Bangsamoro and propose a basic law for the establishment of a Bangsamoro entity within a time frame of six months.

Among the issues raised by Rodriguez was that of security of tenure for local government employees affected by the reorganization of the bureaucracy in Bangsamoro areas.

Deles assured the panel that all civil service eligibilities would be respected.

“We imagine there will be some reorganization, separation benefits when necessary will follow the law of the land, civil service laws and entitlements will be respected,” Deles said.

Deles also reassured lawmakers that the wording of the draft law abandons Charter change, but maintained nothing prevents anyone in the future from proposing Charter change.

Addressing the panel, Iqbal said: “the Bangsamoro is the sum of our hopes and dreams.”

“It may mean nothing to you. It’s the whole world to us. It’s what we got. It is what we only have. We implore you then to step lightly on these dreams when you discuss the draft law. Do not trample them. Celebrate them. Welcome them,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal also warned that some people are expected to sow fear instead of hope in the hearts of the Filipino people to frustrate the realization of the Bangsamoro.

“They will use words like dismemberment of the Republic, sellout, violation of the Constitution, surrender, state within a state, and even a ploy for eventual independence,” Iqbal said.

“Be not afraid. Instead of dismemberment of the Republic, the Bangsamoro will further unite our peoples. There shall be no state within a state. The Philippine state shall remain sovereign. We only

ask that we be allowed to govern ourselves. You shall see the Philippine flag and hear the national anthem sung in our schools and offices. Be not afraid of the Constitution. There are enough

flexibilities in it to solve this problem. We only need to look for it,” he said.

“To the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro, be not afraid. Just as we fought for our right to self-determination, so shall we protect yours.

“To the non-Muslims in the Bangsamoro, be not afraid. We shall not impose our beliefs on you. The Sharia will apply only to us Muslims. We will never impose ourselves on communities that prefer not to be part of us,” Iqbal said.

Following Lobregat’s motion, Abueg also requested that a copy of HB 1514 or the BBL be forwarded to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Palawan and the Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Puerto Princesa.

PH, Japanese ships to conduct naval exercises off Palawan

By Bong Lozada (

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine and Japanese ships are set to conduct a naval exercises in the waters off Palawan on Thursday, a Navy official said.

Lieutenant Commander Marineth Domingo, Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office Chief, said Philippine Navy’s flagship BRP Ramon Alcaraz would conduct a passing exercise (Passex) with Japan Defense Ship Hatakaze, a destroyer from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.

Alcaraz and Hatakaze were both participants in Kakadu 2014, an international naval exercise that the Royal Australian Navy hosted on August 25 and until September 12.

Domingo said the two ships would conduct the Passex while en route to their separate ports.

Alcaraz would set for Manila after a quick visit in Zamboanga while her co-participant Hatakaze would set for Japan from Singapore.

“Passex gives us an opportunity to not only practice what we might be called upon to do, but the chance to establish a professional relationship with our allies making us a more capable force working together at sea,” Domingo said.

“A passing exercise is composed of sea drills done between two navies to ensure synchronization of communication and cooperation between the participating navies in combined naval operations.”

She added that the naval exercise is not meant to provoke China, which has been in a territorial struggle with the Philippines.

“It has nothing to do with the South China Sea dispute, this is mainly for training purposes,” Domingo said. “This is still part of the Kakadu exercises.”

Kakadu 2014 is not yet entirely over for Alcaraz and Hatakaze as the two has not yet returned to their respective home ports.

Domingo said that the two ships just happened to pass by the South China Sea.

“This is for training purposes to improve our capacity, our interoperability with the navies protecting our maritime region,” she said.

Philippines courting ExxonMobil, Turkish firm to invest in upstream oil, gas exploration

By Euan Paulo C. Añonuevo (

MANILA - The Department of Energy (DOE) is courting major oil players in the US and Turkey to invest in the Philippines' upstream oil and gas industry.

In a statement, DOE said it held exploratory talks with ExxonMobil Corp and the Turkish Petroleum International Co (TPIC).

US-based ExxonMobil is the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, while TPIC is a subsidiary of Turkish Petroleum Corp, Turkey's national oil company.

ExxonMobil previously held a stake in a petroleum block in the Sulu Sea but withdrew from the contract in 2011 after it deemed resources in the area of "non-commercial quantities."

The DOE touched base with the oil firms during two of its recently concluded international roadshows to promote the upcoming Philippine Energy Contracting Round 5 (PECR 5).

PECR 5 is the government's public bidding round for oil and gas exploration and development projects.

The DOE is offering 11 petroleum blocks to interested investors with the largest located east of Palawan Island covering 576,000 hectares.

The roadshows for PECR 5 were held in the Resource Information Unit's Good Oil Conference in Perth, Australia and the Association of American Petroleum Geologists' International Conference and Exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey.

“This is an opportunity for the country to present to the international community its potentials in energy development and exploration… hopefully through exhibitions we can find prospective developers that can be our partner in achieving energy security in the nation and essentially convert interests to bids,” Energy Undersecretary Zenaida Y. Monsada said.

Birdwatch Palawan joins Borneo Bird Race

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Sept. 22 (PIA) -- A three-member team from Birdwatch Palawan Ornithological Society (Birdwatch-Palawan) is joining the 2nd Borneo Bird Race 2014 that will take participants to five prime birding destinations in Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei Darrusalam.

The Birdwatch-Palawan team is headed by Rommel Cruz who will be assisted by fellow members William Cabanillas and Ariel dela Torre. The race will be participated-in by a three-member team from the same birdwatching club. Birdwatch-Palawan is the country's only participant to the race.

The 2014 Borneo Bird Race, tagged as "the great Borneo birding experience", begins on Sept. 24 with 24 participants coming from eight birdwatching clubs in Hongkong, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The teams will race for 10 days in over 1,000 kilometers route in search of more than 200 species of birds in a wide range of habitats from coastal regions, freshwater swapms, lowland forests to the hills and mountain ranges in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

The team will watch, identify, and record as many bird species as possible with time and place in a prescribed format and governed by certain ground rules. The longest list shall earn the prestigious "Bornean Bristlehead Trophy".

The Borneo Bird Race provides a platform for the meeting of birdwatchers and nature lovers and strengthening the bonds of more than 100,000 Asian Bird Fraternity Network.

The 2nd Borneo Bird Race is sponsored by Sabah Tourism Board, Sarawak Tourism Board, Sandakan Borneo Bird Club, and Brunei Tourism.

Puerto Princesa gathers residents for “Clean-Up the World Weekend”

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 21 (PNA) -- It’s “Clean Up the World Weekend” in this city Saturday as throngs upon throngs of people trooped to major coastal sites to collect debris and other waste materials in a bid to be united with millions of other people in the “global environmental action.”

Mayor Lucilo Bayron, whose city government leadership headed the environment event that started at the People’s Amphitheater at Mendoza Park, said residents of Puerto Princesa want to take part in focusing the awareness of the public on “global community concerns for the environment.”

Living in a city that thrives on sustainable efforts to protect, preserve and conserve the environment, the city mayor said he is proud because residents here continuously serve as model of people showing exceptional care for the marine and coastal environment in order to contribute “to a cleaner and healthier world.”

Students, non-government and government organizations, the business and religious sectors, the academe, and other members of the communities joined Saturday’s coastal clean-up drives in the coastal communities of Tagburos, Bagong Silang, bay area, San Manuel, and others.

Accordingly, the Clean-Up the World “encourages participants to organize an activity on or around the weekend of September to celebrate environmental successes achieved throughout the year.”

“Activities can either include clean-ups, tree plantings, or environmental awareness raising.”

4,000 troops join PH-US war games

By Julie M. Aurelio (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines—About 4,000 troops from the United States Navy and the Philippine Navy will take part in a bilateral air-ground and amphibious training in Palawan province by the end of the month.

Called the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex 15), the event will open at 10 a.m. on Sept. 29 at the Naval Forces West headquarters in Barangay San Miguel, Puerto Princesa City.

More than 3,000 US personnel will join 1,000 Filipino troops from the Philippine Navy and Marines in the 12-day training exercise, according to a statement from the Naval Public Affairs Office.

The bilateral exercise is set from Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 and is aimed at improving the interoperability, readiness and response to natural disasters or other regional contingencies of the participating troops.

1st Lt. Jerber Antonio Belonio, the head of the Philippine Marines public affairs office, said the training will include a command post exercise; field training exercises with small arms and artillery live-fire training; amphibious operations; ship-to-shore movement; combined arms training; and civil-military operations.

Earlier, Lt. Cmdr. Marideth Domingo, chief of the Philippine Navy public affairs office, said the exercises will be conducted in various locations in Luzon such as Palawan, the Naval Education Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales province, Subic Bay and the Philippine Marines Base in Ternate, Cavite province.

PHIBLEX 2015 to take place in Luzon


MANILA, Sept. 19 (PNA) -- Luzon, including the province of Palawan will be the focus of this year's Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX).

The annual exercise between Filipino and US Marines will take place between Sept. 29 to Oct. 10.

PHIBLEX increases the teamwork between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Marine air-ground task force, and improves the bilateral response to regional issues, humanitarian disasters and maritime-security needs within the Asia-Pacific region, a US Embassy in Manila statement said Friday.

Philippine Navy (PN) and Marine Corps alongside US Marines and sailors of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Commander, Task Force 76 will participate in this 31st iteration of PHIBLEX.

It will focus on the enhancement of the Philippine Navy and Marine Corps’ amphibious operations capacity.

US Marines and sailors arrived Friday to begin preparations for follow-on forces and the civil-military operations they will conduct to benefit the Filipino people living near the training areas.

These benefits include providing free medical and dental treatment to local citizens while completing engineering and construction projects that will provide additional classrooms and necessities to the community.

Approximately 3,500 US service members based in Okinawa, Japan, and the United States, as well as 1,200 Philippine sailors and Marines, will work shoulder-to-shoulder conducting a command post exercise; field training exercises, which include small arms and artillery live-fire training; amphibious operations; ship-to-shore movement; combined arms training; civil-military operations; and humanitarian and civic assistance projects.

The focus of the command post exercise being conducted during PHIBLEX this year will increase the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capability to conduct planning and effective execution of bilateral maritime security and territorial defense operations.

The field training exercises will provide the Philippine and US Marine units multiple opportunities to continue to improve their skills while sharing best practices and enhancing an already high level of cohesion.

Additionally, Philippine and US forces will conduct a series of humanitarian and civic assistance projects, including engineering civic action projects that will improve local infrastructure, and cooperative health engagements to share medical best practices and assist the local Filipino medical community with treating patients.

Bilateral Philippine-US military training opportunities such as PHIBLEX 15 fortify the strong foundation of interoperability and enrich the relationship we have across a range of military operations — from disaster relief, to complex expeditionary maneuvers.

NCCA to make 'Culture of Treasures' docu about Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 18 (PNA) -– Representatives of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) are in Palawan to make a documentary that is called “Culture of Treasures.”

In a press statement from the Provincial Information Office (PIO) Wednesday, it said Governor Jose Alvarez’ chief of staff Ceasar Sammy Magbanua welcomed to Palawan the NCCA representatives upon their arrival on September 15.

Magbanua was quoted by the PIO in saying that the arrival of NCCA representatives headed by Rene Sanchez Napeñas is timely since Palawan wants to strengthen its promotion of its culture and arts.

As example, the provincial government has reportedly discussed with some experts in culture and arts the possibility of conducting an assessment of historical and cultural sites in Palawan for the possibility of rehabilitating them to contribute to the tourism industry.

Two of these are the old Governor’s Mansion near the Puerto Princesa City Port (PPCP) and the Plaza Cuartel, “the restored ruins of an old garrison where Japanese soldiers allegedly torched 143 American prisoners of war (POWs) inside a tunnel and stands as a grim reminder of World War II.”

On the part of the NCCA, Napeñas was said to have lauded Palawan for its potentials as “Culture of Treasures” due to its abundant history, and culture and traditions.

DOE, DND weigh Forum Energy’s options in Recto Bank

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)

ISTANBUL, Turkey – The Department of Energy (DOE) is coordinating with the Department of National Defense to evaluate Forum Energy’s options in drilling at the disputed Recto Bank.

On the sidelines of the DOE’s international roadshow here for the Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) 5, Rino Abad, director of the DOE’s Energy Resource Development Bureau, said his group would be coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command Group in Palawan to assess the situation.

“We will be talking to the WestCom in Palawan to see if the consortium can proceed with the drilling,” he said.

“We want to know first hand if drilling can proceed,” he added.

He said once the Western Command Group gives the go-signal, the DOE would inform the consortium that it could proceed with the drilling.

“We hope to materialize that coordination this month,” Abad said.

Forum energy wants to start drilling one well as its work program has already been delayed, Abad said.

Last July, the energy department granted Forum Energy’s request for an extension of its work program in the disputed Recto Bank as it needs more time to drill the area due to geopolitical tensions with China.

Forum Energy is a company majority owned by the group of Manuel V. Pangilinan. It won Service Contract 72, which is in Recto Bank.

Abad said the DOE has granted a two-year extension of the work program.

With the extension, the company may be able to drill by 2016.

The company has not been able to drill in the oil and gas-rich Recto Bank in offshore Palawan because of geopolitical tensions with China.

Philex Mining, a company also chaired by Pangilinan, owns 64.45 percent of Forum Energy through its interests in FEC Resources Inc. and Philex Petroleum Corp.

This would be the second extension to Forum Energy after the DOE extended to 2015 the original 2013 deadline.

The company sought an extension of the government-mandated work program because of delays in their drilling activities, dragged largely by the geopolitical issues between the Philippines and China.

Pangilinan earlier said the earliest they can drill is from March to May of 2016.

In August 2012, the DOE issued a moratorium on all exploration and drilling works in the area due to ongoing territorial dispute with China.

The Recto Bank area is estimated to contain prospective resources of as much as 16.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 416 million barrels of oil.

Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc. holds the remaining 30 percent stake in the service contract.

SC: No to US payment for damages in Tubbataha Reef accident

By Tetch Torres-Tupas (

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea by environmental groups to require the USS Guardian to pay for damages when it ran aground and damaged the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Martin Villarama, the high court said damages should be made in a separate civil suit as provided under the writ of kalikasan.

The high court’s ruling is contained in its unanimous ruling with 13-0-2 vote dismissing the petition for writ of kalikasan filed by the following:

Bishop Pedro D. Arigo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Bishop-Emeritus Of Caloocan, Frances Q. Quimpo, Clemente G. Bautista, Jr. of Kalikasan-Pne, Maria Carolina P. Araullo and Renato M. Reyes Jr. of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN);

Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna Party-List, Roland G. Simbulan, Ph.D., Junk VFA Movement, , Teresita R. Perez, Ph.D., Rep. Raymond V. Palatino, Kabataan Party-List, Peter SJ. Gonzales of Pamalakaya;

Giovanni A. Tapang, Ph.D., Agham, Elmer C. Labog, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Joan May E. Salvador, Gabriela, diver Jose Enrique A. Africa, Theresa A. Concepcion, Mary Joan A. Guan, Nestor T. Baguinon, Ph.D., and public interest lawyer Edsel F. Tupaz.

Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza is on sick leave while Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza inhibited from the case.

Petitioners wanted the high court to issue a temporary environmental protection order and to require US officials and their representatives to place a deposit to the Tubbataha Reefs National Park (TRNP) Trust Fund as a gesture towards full reparations for P58.37million.

They pointed out that under international and domestic laws, such as the Polluter Pay Principles, Rio and Stockholm Declarations, the United States government is legally bound to pay for environmental damages brought about by its military forces and assets in other countries.

But the high court in its ruling said “the Court declined to grant damages which have allegedly resulted from the violation of environmental laws because the rules on environmental protection and the writ of kalikasan expressly provide that the recovery of damages, including the collection of administrative fines under Republic Act 10067 (An act establishing the Tubbataha Reef) are to be made in a separate civil suit or that one deemed instituted with any criminal action.”

Petitioners also asked the high court to require the rehabilitation of the areas affected by the grounding of the USS Guardian.

“The conduct of foreign relations of the government is committed by the Constitution to the political departments of the government and the propriety of what may be done in the exercise of this political power is not subject to judiciary inquiry or decision,” the high court said.

The high court added that while the country has no jurisdiction over respondents Scott H. Swift, Commander Of The U.S. 7th Fleet; Mark A. Rice, Commanding Officer Of The USS Guardian and , Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, the US’ action can be brought before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

“The US’ non membership in the Unclos does not mean that the US will disregard the rights of the Philippines as a Coastal State over its internal waters and territorial sea,” the high court said “the US is expected to bear ‘international responsibility’ under Article 31 in connection with the grounding of the USS Guardian which adversely affected the Tubbataha reefs.

At the same time, the high court refused to review the Visiting Forces Agreement and to nullify certain portions citing that the writ of kalikasan is not the proper remedy to question the constitutionality and its provisions.

Another Malampaya possible – DOE

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)

ISTANBUL, Turkey – The Philippines has the potential to discover another natural gas field similar to the landmark $4.5-billion Malampaya deep-water-to-gas project in offshore Palawan under its current petroleum exploration round, a ranking Energy official told The STAR.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Department of Energy’s international roadshow here for its so-called Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR 5), Energy Undersecretary Zenaida Monsada said there are areas offered under PECR 5 that have the potential of becoming another Malampaya project.

“There is the potential of discovering a new Malampaya. We’re really hoping to have new finds,” she said.

She said that several areas offered under the current exploration round have resource potential that can exceed Malampaya’s reserves if the exploration becomes successful.

The Malampaya, discovered in 2002, has reserves of 3.2 trillion cubic feet.

On the other hand, there are areas offered under PECR 5 that have resource potential of 3.5 trillion cubic feet.

Monsada heads a team from the Energy department composed of lawyers, geologists and ranking officials for the Philippines’ participation in this year’s American Association of Petroleum Geologists International Conference Exhibition held here at the city’s Istanbul Congress Center.

The exhibition is the third leg of the Energy department’s international roadshow to entice global investors to bid for petroleum areas offered under PECR 5.

The PECR is a regular activity held by the DOE. It is a transparent and competitive system for awarding system contracts.

The goal is to showcase the petroleum exploration opportunities and to attract energy investors to develop the country’s indigenous oil and gas resources.

The PECR 5 offers 11 areas for petroleum exploration mostly located in Luzon and 15 areas for coal exploration, largely concentrated in Mindanao.

Areas offered for petroleum exploration are in Southeast Luzon, Masbate-Iloilo, Northeast Palawan, Southeast Palawan, West Palawan, West Luzon while areas offered for coal exploration are in Surigao, Agusan-Davao, Zamboanga and Cotabato-Sarangani.

As head of delegation, Monsada is optimistic that the current exploration round would attract more investors because the data provided to potential bidders are now digitized.

She said this would make it easier for investors to study the seismic data so that they can prepare their bids and work program better.

The Philippines partnered with UK-based Zebra Data, a third party data services company to provide 2D and 3D seismic data on the respective areas offered to investors.

“The data is now digitized,” said Ismael Ocampo, assistant director at the department’s Energy Resource Development Bureau.

In contrast, interested investors before had to go through photocopied sets of voluminous data.

“The digitized data is useful for companies that want to explore,” he said.

Rino Abad, director of the bureau, said this partnership is at no cost to the government.

“This is at no cost to the government and Zebra can also recover their expenses,” he said.

Monsada said the government is optimistic that the current round would generate strong interest among international investors as she highlighted the importance of discovering indigenous sources of energy.

City mayor denies tourism industry in Puerto Princesa is declining

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 14 (PNA) -- Mayor Lucilo Bayron of this city denied that Puerto Princesa’s tourism industry is in a quandary because daily flights from over 20 airport of origin have been downgraded to about seven.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Saturday at the groundbreaking ceremony of SM City-Puerto Princesa, Bayron said the reason is not because his leadership is not doing anything to promote the tourism industry but because it is now the period of the “lean months.”

“It is just the lean months. One of the bases we can check to verify this is the booking that the Underground River receives… in the underground river, as of current, the bookings do not go down below 400 per day,” Bayron told the PNA, saying this could be checked with Elizabeth Maclang, the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) head.

He said the tourism industry in the city cannot be merely based on the number of flights that come in daily.

“What if the airplane coming in is small; then you’ll have 100 flights in the city?” he asked. If the flights coming in are by big airplanes, 10 flights a day is sufficient since it would be bringing a larger bulk of visitors and guests, and even those who are just returning home.

He added that naysayers of his administration should conduct a research about the number of passengers each flight carry before they make a conclusion about the city’s tourism industry.

Otherwise, he said it will all just be “because of politics.” “It would be better if they do their research also, and check on the load of passengers that each flight carries to Puerto Princesa,” he added.

Another factor to consider, he said, is about the airline companies operating. “There used to be a lot of airline companies, but now, some of them have merged with larger airline companies,” Bayron added, referring to Tiger Air’s recent partnership with Cebu Pacific.

As sample, he mentioned that Airline A and B are running 30% of capacity, or 60%-70% vacant; if they merge and fly, the airline would be bringing the said percentage of capacity.

“This does not mean that if the number of flights is low, the arrival is also low. This can’t be the entire basis alone. But it is also true that we’re now in the lean months, and we’re just entering the peak months,” he said.

Last year, he said, the arrivals Puerto Princesa received were more than what they projected compared to 2013. What is going on; all the issues about the tourism industry, is nothing but “politics” from his alleged detractors.

SM Supermalls breaks ground in Puerto Princesa; to hire 4,600 in construction, operation phases

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 13 (PNA) -– The SM Supermalls owned by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI), a chain of shopping retail malls in the Philippines by business tycoon Henry Sy, finally broke ground in this city Saturday morning for the SM City-Puerto Princesa that is expected to bring employment to over 4,600 residents.

With Palawan Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida, members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the Palawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), department officials of the city government, and executives of SMPHI, Mayor Lucilo Bayron and SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia broke ground and laid the time capsule at the site of the planned city mall along Malvar, H. Mendoza and Lacao streets.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Garcia said SM City-Puerto Princesa is going to be a 3-storey building that will be built on a 68,000-square meter property formerly owned by the Typocos.

“Roughly about more than 50%... about 60% to about 70% of that will be retail,” Garcia said, adding it will have a supermarket, department store, two director’s club, four cinemas, cyber zones, environment safety nets like a sewage treatment plants, and others “for the people of Puerto Princesa and Palawan to look forward to.”

She added that the SM Supermalls wants to bring to residents of the city not only a mall, but a place that would have everything they need, and where they can spend quality family time.

Garcia could not say how much the SMPHI is investing in the construction of the mall, but she said it will surely help generate local jobs because in the construction phase alone, more than a thousand construction workers need to be hired to complete the project in 18 months.

“This is a 3-storey building, and we also do site development. It’s not just the building, there’s also the road network, among others. We’re going to be having a lot of people employed because the mall is going to operate for 11 hours, morning and night shifts, it has to have people,” she said.

Garcia said that when the SM Supermalls speaks about job generation, it speaks about the people that SM hires, the people that the tenants hire, the department store and the supermarket, and the jobs generated by “promodizers,” or the ones who promote the products, and the messengers, security personnel, drivers for delivery trucks, and others.

Asked about returns on investment (ROI), Garcia said SM does not go to areas where it would lose.

“We will do our very best to make sure that every business we have is a good venture. It’s feasible, and it will succeed. We will do everything for it to succeed. We studied the market, we tried to understand where the population is coming from… in fact, where the night-time population is coming from… and all these data we harness so we can make sure to service them,” she said.

The mall will adhere to 100% local hiring, Garcia furthered, because the people here know each other, and they need people who, in fact, live near the mall since it makes good business sense.

The 3-storey building will have a unique design just like all other malls of SM Supermalls, and will be done by Jose Siao Ling and Associates, the designer of SM City Baguio.

Garcia assured that the SM City-Puerto Princesa will be benefiting as they will be selling merchandizes at the same price in other SM malls. They will also not bring old stocks to sell in the city.

”We don’t look at our province' malls as somewhere, where we can bring old stocks. This is something good because even the movies are up-to-date, not two, three days late,” she said.

The SM Foundation will be involved in communities in the city through its corporate social responsibility department. Garcia hinted at building schools in indigent communities, scholarship grants, medical missions; and advocacies of SM Cares, such as breastfeeding workshops, and for people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Bayron said the SM City-Puerto Princesa would be a welcome addition to the city landscape as it will be a large contributor to the upgrading of the living standards of many residents because of job generation, and the real property and business taxes it will pay.

”We welcome them to the city, and we thank them in advance for the jobs they will create for our people,” he said.

The mall will begin construction as soon as possible on a large property block just a stone’s throw away from the Old City Public Market, along busy Miguel Malvar, H. Mendoza and Lacao streets.

It can be recalled that in December last year, it was the mayor that announced SM Supermalls’ plan to put a “mall” instead of a hypermarket in Puerto Princesa.

Frontier to start oil drilling in Palawan

By Alena Mae S. Flores

Frontier Oil Corp. said it will hire a drilling rig from UMW Oil and Gas Corp. Berhad of Malaysia to develop the Calauit oil field northwest off Palawan province.

Frontier Oil said it was set to formalize a lease agreement with UMW on Monday.

The company previously held a 100-percent stake in Service Contract 50, which covers Calauit oil field, but farmed out its 10-percent stake to Trans-Asia Petroleum Corp., a subsidiary of Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. recently.

Frontier Oil completed a geotechnical survey at the intended drilling location for the Calauit oil field. Core samples taken during the four-day operation will determine the integrity of the surface formation ahead of the arrival of a jack-up rig by the first quarter 2015.

SC 50 is estimated to contain 10 million to 13.2 million barrels of oil. The company expects to start commercial production from Calauit oil field by April 2015.

Frontier was supposed to conduct an initial public offering last year to raise P2.2 billion to fund exploration projects but decided to withdraw its plan.

The company is presently negotiating for funding sources, including funding opportunities from Canada and the US and other markets to finance its oil and gas projects in the Philippines.

Funds will also be used to develop the Nassipping 2 gas discovery under SC 52 in Luzon.

4th Malampaya fund contractor charged

By Virgil B. Lopez (Sunnex)

A BUSINESSWOMAN was charged with tax evasion on Thursday at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for understating income from projects funded by proceeds from the Malampaya natural gas operation off Palawan.

Rebecca Tiotangco, owner of Puerto Princesa-based Anilos Trading and Construction, allegedly failed to pay P82.36 million in taxes (inclusive of surcharges and interests) for years 2008 and 2010, according to the complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Tiotangco's accountant, Edencio Cervantes, is also facing charges for certifying her alleged fraudulent financial statements.

Being in the business of construction and sale of construction supplies, Anilos was engaged by the Provincial Government of Palawan to construct several infrastructure projects from 2008 to 2010.

BIR investigation showed that Tiotangco declared in her income tax returns (ITR) a gross income amounting to P16.49 million in 2008 and P20.05 million in 2010.

However, the BIR got a certification from the Provincial Government that Tiotangco received income payments of P76.19 million in 2008 and P31.63 million in 2010.

A comparison of Tiotangco's gross income declaration in her ITRs as against income payments she received from the Provincial Government would show that she substantially underdeclared her correct taxable income by P59.70 million or by 362 percent in 2008 and by P11.58 million or by 57 percent in 2010.

Tiotangco is the fourth Malampaya contractor to face tax fraud raps at the DOJ after Ulysses Consebido (deficiency tax: nearly P94 million), Lorenzo Leoncio (P78.65 million) and Bella Tiotangco (P277.2 million).

PCSDS leads in holding of consultation for sustainable development plan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 10 (PNA) -- The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) recently led the holding in the province of the Provincial Stakeholders Consultation for Palawan Sustainable Development Strategy and Action Plan (PSDSAP) in a bid to make early responses to potential problems in the environment.

PCSDS Executive Director Nelson Devanadera said Wednesday that the PSDSAP is imperative as it will help generate what responses should the province come up with to address problems in the environment and the possibility of losing livelihood for the people, such as fishing, where fish stocks are seriously dwindling.

Declared as a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO, Devanadera said that in recognition of the province’s unique environment, such as thick forest growth, inimitable bodies of water, diverse and endemic flora and fauna, there should be a bigger role in Palawan that would ensure their sustainable preservation and protection for future generations.

He added that it is only important to implement development plans that would do so at the local level based on Republic Act 7611, otherwise known as the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP Law) that laid down the sustainable development framework for Palawan.

The offshoots of the PSDSAP, Devanadera said, will be consolidated with the help of the tourism sector, the agriculture, the fishing, infrastructure, social services, indigenous peoples, and coastal and marine biodiversity sectors before they are submitted to the provincial government for approval and implementation.

As an example, Devanadera mentioned that there is a possibility that Palawan will have problems with its food security since agricultural lands are fast turning into industrial lands, or are made into housing communities and subdivisions.

He said there is a need to address this, or the province would have bigger problems to resolve when time comes.

Handog Titulo Program touches base with northern town residents in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 8 (PNA) -– Over 300 residents of the northern town of Roxas in Palawan received their own lot titles, or free patents and homesteads from the Handog Titulo Program (HTP) in a bid to give them access to land.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta said Monday that due to efforts by the leadership of Governor Jose Alvarez, in cooperation with the Register of Deeds (RoD)-Palawan, Mayor Maria Angela Sabando, Vice Mayor Alfredo Enojas Jr. and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the said number of residents received their own homestead and free patent titles in a simple HTP ceremony on August 28.

He said the distribution of lot titles were headed by Sabando and Atty. Maricar O. Misa-Tan.

Meanwhile, Tan said the distributed lot titles are what are called free patents and homesteads, which calls for beneficiaries to pay their own real property taxes and other appropriate land taxes.

After years of waiting, she said the said number of families will no longer worry about owning their lands because the HTP has awarded them. The only responsibility they have now is to pay the dues of the land when the time comes.

For her part, Sabando thanked the provincial government, the RoD and the DENR, for the blessing that has come upon residents of Roxas, who have been taking care of the lands that they cannot call their own before.

She said that after years of tilling and nurturing the properties, where their homes stand, they now own the land and can consider them their

She advised them to take care of their properties by paying their real property taxes on time to avoid penalties.

Myriam Saclet, a resident of Purok Bagong Silang, Barangay Magara, and who is a recipient of the HTP, said that for 40 years, her family has been maintaining the land where they are currently living.

Now, she is at peace that it is now their own, and commits to paying land dues on time as a responsibility of being a beneficiary under the program.

”Governor Alvarez believes that through the HTP, people will be able to upgrade their living standards,” Acosta said, adding that he believes the number of beneficiaries can now focus on other concerns to get their families out of poverty.

”Governor Alvarez believes that through the HTP, people will be able to upgrade their living standards,” Acosta said, adding that he believes the number of beneficiaries can now focus on other concerns to get their families out of poverty.

Philex Petroleum unit exits Palawan oil and gas project

By Roderick L. Abad

LISTED Philex Petroleum Corp.’s subsidiary is making an exit in the middle part of an oil and gas project in Northwest Palawan.

The company said in a regulatory filing that its 53-percent owned unit—United Kingdom-based Pitkin Petroleum Plc.—has voted not to enter Phase 2 of a farm-in agreement to acquire a 70-percent interest in Service Contract (SC) 6A (Octon Block).

“Pitkin will be reassigning its participating interest back to the farm-out partners after completion of the Phase 1 work program on December 31, 2014,” Philex Petroleum said.

It noted that the reassignment still needs approval of the Department of Energy before it becomes free from any further obligation and liability under the farm-in agreement it signed with block partners in 2011.

Apart from Philex Mining Corp.’s upstream oil and gas arm, other parties involved in the consortium are Alcorn Gold Resources Corp.; Anglo-Philippine Holdings Corp.; Forum Energy Philippines Corp.; PetroEnergy Resources Corp.; Philex Petroleum Corp.; Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp.; and Philodrill Corp.

As per the deal, Pitkin will fund the three-phase work program, with the option to exit at the end of each phase, to earn the controlling stake of the project.

It already shouldered Phase 1 cost for acquiring 500 square kilometers (sq km) of 3D seismic data worth $5 million.

The second stage of the project would have involved the drilling of up to two exploration wells in the contract area also at its own expense.

Octon was discovered in 1991. The block covers a 1,081-sq- km area in mostly shallow waters offshore Northwest Palawan.

It has up to about 3 million barrels of oil reserves and more than 34 billion cubic feet of natural gas—3 billion of which is recoverable.

Philex Petroleum reported that consolidated operating revenues reached P198.2 million for the second half ending June 30 compared to P96.3 million during the same period last year.

Trap for monitor lizard catches 11-footer Croc in Brooke’s Point, Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 5 (PNA) -– A trap that was laid by residents of two barangays in the southern Palawan town of Brooke’s Point in an adjoining swamp area to catch monitor lizards that prey on their fowls caught instead an 11-footer saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).

SPO3 Jose Lumilay of the Municipal Police Office (MPO) of Brooke’s Point told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the large crocodile was discovered around five in the morning when it got trapped to the surprise of the residents of barangays Mambalot and Maasin.

”The residents are already wondering why they would be missing their domesticated animals, and they think large monitor lizards are responsible. But when they checked the trapped they made, they were surprised that it was a crocodile,” Lumilay said.

Lumilay added it got trapped within the vicinity of Sitio Tagdidili, Maasin, Brooke’s Point.

The residents now reportedly think that it was never monitor lizards that preyed on their domesticated animals but the large saltwater crocodile.

”They immediately sought our help so, we went there, and then we made our report to concerned government agencies,” Lumilay said.

They reported to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Brooke’s Point.

It was reportedly the only incident where a large crocodile was seen in the two barangays.

Palawan prov'l gov't execs, other LGU officials go on Lakbay Aral in Bukidnon


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 4 (PNA) -– A delegation of provincial and municipal government officials, who recently went on a Lakbay Aral to Bukidnon, all agree that their trip was something that gave them experiences in local governance they can apply in their respective localities.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta, who was part of the Lakbay Aral group, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Thursday that on August 29, they left for Bukidnon in a bid to strengthen relationship and cooperation with provinces that are part of the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

On their return on September 1, he said, municipal mayors who joined the educational tour, never stopped discussing what they witnessed in Bukidnon, where they were welcomed by Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri, Jr.

The delegation was composed of 12 board members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, 17 municipal mayors, 1 vice mayor, 1 city councilor, 6 from the local government units, 2 businessmen and eight members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the provincial government.

Also the designated focal person in the BIMP-EAGA, Acosta said the delegation personally witnessed how the residents of Bukidnon celebrated its 100 Civil Government Anniversary through the Kaamulan Festival.

”Kaamulan is from the language Binukid ‘amul’ that means ‘to gather’ or ‘get together.’ The event is the gathering of seven indigenous groups of people from the hinterlands of Bukidnon for one common goal – either to give thanks for good harvest, there is a wedding, a birthday celebration, or a funeral,” he said.

This year, the Lakbay Aral delegation saw the ethnic dances, music, street dancing competition participated in by 20 municipalities and two cities, and more.

He added that part of their educational tour was a visit to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center (BPMC) in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

”They were all surprised to see the facilities and services that are being given by the hospital to the residents; that it’s like a private hospital,” he said.

The hospital is well-known for providing free medical services to the residents of Bukidnon, and the provincial government is paying for the bills that come from payment of affluent residents.

They also visited the Mapawa Nature Park in Cagayan de Oro City, a protected park that is 2,500 hectares wide, a water reservoir, and a tourism destination in the said area.

”Governor (Jose) Alvarez wanted the members of the delegation to really observe and see what they can apply in their own municipalities,” he said.

Palawan continues to strengthen Philippines membership in BIMP-EAGA

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 3 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Palawan will be actively joining the soon-to-be-held 2nd Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) & IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference, which will be held in October this year.

With a theme “Realizing the Opportunities of ASEAN Integration,” the said trade fair and business leader’s conference will be held on October 22-28 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier–Davao City.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta said Tuesday that the conference is the joining of two sub-economic cooperation group of the BIMP-EAGA and the Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand-Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).

Acosta’s information came following his personal coordination as focal person for the province with officials of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the agency tasked under Republic Act 9996 to manage the widening of relations among agencies that can provide social development to Palawan and other regions in Mindanao.

R.A. 9996 is an act that created the MinDA, defining its powers and functions.

Acosta said his coordination with MinDA Executive Director Janet M. Lopoz and MinDA Chief of International Relations Division Jonathan Miral happened on August 28 in Davao.

The aim of the conference, he said, is to upgrade the business capabilities and investment opportunities for member countries through exchanges in their diverse products and services.

The trade fair is expected to be attended by over 200 exhibitors from the public-private sectors of member countries, while the business leader’s conference is expecting around 700 delegates.

The information officer also related that Palawan will be joining too, the Sabah International EXPO (SIE) 2014 which will be held in Sutera Harbour Resort–Kota Kinabalu on September 18-21, 2014, where the province will boast its tourism and agriculture sectors.

The expo is expecting 20 countries to participate from seven continents in the world, he said.

It aims to provide exhibitors a venue for their business platforms to invite investors, and to introduce their products and services, which may be the response that the BIMP-EAGA and ASEAN markets need.

Palawan will also be sending delegates, or a sports team to the 8th BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games on December 6-10, 2014 in Labuan, Malaysia.

BPI’s BanKO mobile banking reaches Culion, Palawan

By Amanda Fernandez/BM (GMA News)

A new mobile-based banking method has been made available to residents of Culion town in Palawan.

In a statement released on Tuesday, BPI said at least three local businesses within the island have become BanKO partner outlets.

BPI also claimed that BanKO is the country’s first and only mobile-based bank.

The statement also said that prior to the arrival of BanKO, resident had to take two-hour boat rides to reach the nearest bank located in Coron island.

Over 500 BanKO accounts were opened in the first two weeks, it added.

"BanKO’s efforts toward financial inclusion take on a greater meaning as we establish our presence in Culion, a place that has been isolated and avoided for so long," said BanKO president John Rubio in the statement. "We are constantly reaching out to underserved communities, especially in rural areas."

For his part, Culion Mayor Emiliano Marasigan welcomed the arrival of BanKO in their community.

Palawan starts month-long vaccination vs measles, rubella and polio


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 1 (PNA) -- A province-wide vaccination against measles, rubella, and polio was started Monday by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) that will be conducted until end of September.

Expanded Program for Immunization Program Manager Meyrick Garces, and Dr. Ma. Vina Crisostomo, Medical Officer V of the PHO, said Monday that the province-wide health activity was the product of a meeting last August 27 based on a memorandum by Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Enrique Ona.

Crisostomo said the conduct of the province-wide vaccination was due to the measles outbreak in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, and other parts of the country, including Palawan in 2013.

Beginning Monday, she said they expect that around 115,000 children will be vaccinated against the measles and rubella, and 145,000 against polio.

For measles and rubella, children who will receive the vaccines are between the ages of 9-59 months old, and 0-50 months for oral polio vaccine.

Crisostomo said children in these age ranges should be vaccinated even if they had undergone the same procedure in the past. Their parents should bring them in their barangays when the schedule is announced.

Measles is an infection of the respiratory system, immune system and skin caused by a virus known as paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Symptoms usually develop 7–14 days (average 10–12) after exposure to an infected person and the initial symptoms usually include a high fever, Koplik's spots (spots in the mouth, these usually appear 1–2 days prior to the rash and last 3–5 days), malaise, loss of appetite, hacking cough, runny nose and red eyes.

Rubella, on the other hand, is also known as German measles or three-day measles. It is a disease caused by the rubella virus. This disease is often mild and attacks often pass unnoticed.

Polio, meanwhile, is often called infantile paralysis. It is an acute, viral, infectious disease spread from person-to-person, primarily via the fecal-oral route.