Palawan News September 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

Pag-asa mayor pitches eco-tourism to Pinoys in US


MANILA, Philippines -- Mayor Eugenio Bito-Onon of Pag-asa Island, Palawan made a pitch for eco-tourism as a means to give his constituents sustainable livelihood opportunities while preserving the environment of the West Philippine Sea outpost during a forum with members of the Filipino community in New York earlier this month.

The September 19 forum, hosted by Philippine Consul General Mario De Leon Jr., saw Filipino community leaders from Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania affiliated with the US Pinoys for Good Governance and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations voice support for Bito-on's proposal.

Typhoon ‘Jenny’ leaves PH but ‘habagat’ continues to affect Luzon

By Frances Mangosing / RC 6:15 pm

While Typhoon “Jenny” (international name: Dujuan) has left the Philippine area of responsibility, the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat will continue to affect the western section of Luzon, according to the state weather bureau.

“Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will be experienced over the provinces of Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Mindoro, and Palawan,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said on Tuesday afternoon.

In Metro Manila and the rest of the country, there will be partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms.

At 4:23 p.m., Pagasa issued a thunderstorm advisory in Metro Manila (Muntinlupa, Las Piñas), Laguna (Kalayaan, Paete, Alaminos, Alaminos, Kalayaan, Paete), and Rizal (Pililla).

Thunderstorms are expected to hit these areas in the next two hours.

Moderate to strong winds blowing from southwest to south would prevail over the entire country, Pagasa said.

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

Airport construction in 2 Palawan towns completed n early 2016

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) -- Two airports that are currently being constructed in the towns of Agutaya and Cagayancillo will be finished by early 2016, according to the Infrastructure Program Office (IPO) of the Palawan government’s IHELP.

Engineer Saylito Purisima of the Provincial Engineering Office, and head of the IPO, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend that once the airports in the two towns are completed, they will not only provide support for disaster risk reduction management activities but also increase economic opportunities for residents.

Purisima said that as of current, the airport construction in Agutaya has accomplished 20%. Its cost is around PHP12-million and the fund came from the provincial government in close cooperation with the religious organization New Tribes Mission (NTM)

The airport in Cagayancillo, on the other hand, received a funding of PHP5-million from the NTM also in partnership with the provincial government.

For the two airports, PHP50-million are currently being spent to ensure their completion by the first quarter of 2016.

The speed of construction, he explained, is because the provincial and municipal governments now have heavy equipment to use.

“Mabilis ang konstruksyon ng mga paliparan dahil wala ng problema ang provincial government sa heavy equipment (Construction of the airports are fast because the provincial government no longer has problems in availability of heavy equipment),” he said.

Ford arrives in Puerto Princesa

(Philippines Daily Inquirer)

FORD Palawan or Palawan Business Ventures, Inc., a subsidiary of the Autohub Group of Companies headed by WilLy Q. Tee Ten, recently opened its showroom in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Palawan Business Ventures is being represented by Efren and Jackie Chua.

Ford Palawan joins the dealership network in the WQT group, operating alongside Ford Global City, Ford Manila, Ford Davao, Ford Cagayan de Oro, Ford Bohol, Ford General Santos, and Ford Zamboanga.

“I would like to thank Ford Group Philippines headed by Ms. Kay Hart for the support in our vision to give every Filipino a chance to experience the brand that has conquered the world for over a hundred years,” said Willy Tee Ten, president of the Autohub Group.

The dealership is located along North National Highway, San Jose, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, with contact numbers (048) 433-03333 and (0998) 868-6849/(0917) 555-5859.

“I am very proud of this milestone for the Ford PaLawan team, and I am more than honored to bring in the very first North American brand of cars in the city that I’ve called home for the past 39 years. I believe this city is ready for an upgrade,”, said Efren Chua, Ford Palawan stockholder/business partner.

As an introductory treat to Palawenos, Ford Palawan is offering all-in low down payment promos on the Focus, Fiesta, Ecosport, Escape, and Explorer. As new models of the Ranger and the Everest come in, Ford

Palawan is giving special all-in promos to fit their customer’s budget. On top of this, it is giving out limited edition Ford jackets to the first few clients who finalize a purchase in the dealership from Sept. 16 to 30.

For more information, visit or follow Ford Palawan on Facebook for updates on their Latest promos and events.

Wanted: Doctors for Palawan's islands

By Chi Laigo Vallido (

Of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines, 1,700 are in Palawan. The province has many geographically-isolated areas that health workers are unable to reach.

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – The laughter of women and mothers with their children and babies in tow filled the gymnasium of Barangay Alimanguan in San Vicente – a small town of about 34,000 residents in the province of Palawan, and a good 4-hour drive from the capital city Puerto Princesa.

The topic that brought the house down? Myths and misconceptions on various methods of family planning, both natural and artificial. Dr Ronaldo “Jingle” Santos, an obstetrician-gynecologist from the FEU-Nicanor Reyes Memorial Medical Center and Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital, was answering questions as well on reproductive health.

“Ngayon lang yata may pumuntang doktor sa amin para magturo ng family planning,” barangay chairperson Elena Tan said. (I think this is the first time that a doctor has come to our place to teach family planning).

Amid the laughter, however, a 23-year-old woman sat quietly in a corner. She waited until the community seminar was finished so that she could talk to Dr Santos privately. Almost a month after her miscarriage, she was still experiencing bleeding, she said.

Dr Santos wanted to examine her, but the health center just across the street from the gymnasium was closed on a Saturday and the midwife who lives in Puerto Princesa had gone home for the weekend. The nearest hospital was 3 hours away.

So they used the desks at the barangay hall to form a makeshift bed. The clean curtains were used as beddings. During examination, Dr Santos discovered there was a small cyst in the young woman's uterus.

Not enough doctors

The Department of Health (DOH) admits that the country suffers from a shortage of physicians. The ideal doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:1,000. To achieve this, DOH says that the country needs an additional 30,000 doctors.

DOH says that the shortage of doctors is more pronounced in remote areas, where one doctor could be serving 33,000 people. The presence of specialist doctors – cardiologists, ob-gyne, pediatricians, oncologists, for example – is a different need altogether.

Maternal mortality – or the number of mothers dying due to pregnancy and child birth complications – remains high with 14-15 mothers dying every day. Palawan has among the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines, 1,700 are in Palawan. This means that the province has many geographically isolated areas that contribute to the poor reproductive health status of residents.

There are 20 obstetrician-gynecologists in Palawan, but only 5 are government staff or serve in public health institutions or hospitals. Majority of specialists are based in the provincial capital of Puerto Princesa.

Maldistribution of health workers

There is a shortage of health workers overall and not just physicians. Aside from shortage, there is an inequitable distribution of health workers across the regions. Data from the DOH and the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB) show that the National Capital Region (NCR), Region IV-A (Calabarzon), and Region III (Central Luzon) enjoy the highest concentration of government health professionals.

According to DOH data for 2008 and 2009, 22% of all public health physicians are in NCR, while 2.8% are in Region IV-B or Mimaropa, where Palawan is. Next to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanap, Mimaropa has the least number of public health professionals, with 3% of all government midwives and nurses working in the region.

San Vicente, Palawan, has two doctors from the Municipal Health Office for their 34,000 residents. But San Vicente is luckier than many municipalities of the province since the local government invested in new equipment and improved their Rural Health Unit to be capable of addressing Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care. They also have a standby vehicle to transport patients to Puerto Princesa for complicated medical procedures.

Dr Mary Ann Navarro, officer in charge of the Provincial Health Office, says that there are many remote and isolated areas in Palawan that take hours to reach and are accessible only by foot.

Rural health units and health centers across the country are faced with many reproductive health-related cases. These include pre- and post-natal care, child deliveries, infant child and nutrition (including vaccination), treatment of sexually transmitted infection, childbirth complications, and family planning.

The challenge of devolution

Under the devolved set-up of government, local government units (LGUs) are faced with the challenge to provide basic services to the people, and this means hiring the appropriate number of health workers to serve their constituency.

But not all LGUs are able to hire enough health workers due to their low internal revenue allocation. Apparently, the funds are not enough for some even if LGUs are mandated to spend at least 30% of their IRA on public health care.

A huge window of hope to improve the health system and services is the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RPRH Law), which was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in April 2014.

Under the law, the DOH is mandated to assist LGUs in improving their RH services, including support for the provision of family planning commodities, mobile health clinics which is useful for hard to reach areas, facilities enhancements and health worker complement among others.

But the new law is still at its birthing stage and experiencing complications in implementation. Most recently, the SC issued a temporary restraining order on the provision of implants, a family planning method that gives women up to 3 years of protection from pregnancy and is safe for breastfeeding mothers.

Many LGU heads are also resisting the new law. Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee, for example, issued an executive order declaring her city as pro-life. The effect of the EO on the delivery of RH services is yet to be determined by the DOH.

With the national elections just around the corner, the new administration will inherit the current state of health of the country. While the Aquino government has increased the budget for health by 5 times from the previous administration, many health indicators still show that the next administration should do better.

For starters, the next government should look into the health service human resources of the country.

Severe Tropical Storm “Jenny” intensifies; to exit Monday


TROPICAL Storm “Jenny” with international name “Dujuan” continues to enhance the southwest monsoon or “habagat” that affects Visayas and Mindanao, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said on Friday.

At 4:00pm, the eye of the Typhoon was at 1,010 km East of Basco, Batanes with maximum sustained winds of 120 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

It is forecast to move northwest at 9 kph.

No public storm-warning signal has been raised in any part of the country and “Jenny” is not likely to make landfall in any part of the country. It is expected to exit Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Monday night and head towards Northern Taiwan.

For Saturday forecast, Monsoon rains that may trigger flash floods and landslides will be experienced in Palawan, Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms are expected over CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol region and the rest of Visayas and of Mindanao. Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms will prevail over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.

Moderate to strong winds blowing from the northwest to west will prevail over Luzon and coming from the southwest over Visayas and Mindanao. The coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be moderate to rough.

Southern Luzon, particularly in Bicol region, Northern Samar, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon and Marinduque will be cloudy with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the Northwest to West will prevail, with moderate to rough seas.

Mindanao will experience monsoon rains, which could trigger flash floods. Landslides will be experienced in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The rest of Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms. Moderate to strong winds coming from the southwest and the coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

As of 5pm, strong to gale force winds are expected to affect the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon, of Visayas and Mindanao.

DSWD sets release of delayed 4P’S grant next week in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Palawan is set to release the delayed government financial grant under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to its thousands of beneficiaries in the province starting next week.

Gerald Bediores, officer-in-charge of the 4Ps in the province, said Wednesday that the release is for beneficiaries who have not received their grants last March and April, adding that the May and June financial aid are still being processed.

He said that on September 28, beneficiaries from Busuanga and Coron will receive their assistance, while on September 29 those from Aborlan, Agutaya, Culion, Cuyo, Magsaysay, Narra, Roxas, Linapacan and Puerto Princesa City.

On October 5, beneficiaries from Brooke’s Point, Quezon and Sofronio Española will get their aid, and on October 6 those from Dumaran and Taytay.

On October 13, beneficiaries from Araceli and San Vicente; and October 20 from El Nido.

Bediores said that towns that are not on the list will have to wait for their schedules.

“The delay was caused by the change of conduit by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP),” she said.

Gecko causes hours-long blackout in Palawan

By Chinee Palatino (ABS-CBN News)

PALAWAN - At around 8:55 PM, September 21, 2015, residents of Puerto Princesa City and Southern Palawan municipalities experienced an unscheduled total blackout. Small establishments around the Puerto Princesa Baywalk had to close early due to the power interruption.

The reason for the total blackout was initially unknown.

At around 9:45 PM, the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) started restoring power. But at around 10 PM, one of the generators of PPGI - one of PALECO's independent power provider tripped.

Power was fully restored in Puerto Princesa at around 11:30PM. Power restoration in Southern Municipalities was completed at around 12:30AM of September 22nd.

The Palawan Electric Cooperative, through their Facebook page, announced that according to the National Power Corporation, the reason for the total blackout was a short circuited gecko in the 69KV bus line of NPC in Baranagy Irawan,Puerto Princesa.

This was not the first time that a power interruption in Palawan was caused by a gecko.

Brooke’s Point coconut farmers receive financial aid from PCA

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) -- Coconut farmers in six barangays in the southern Palawan town of Brooke’s Point received incentives from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMA).

According to the Municipal Information Office (MIO), the distribution of checks for the coconut farmers totaled PHP97,600 for 25 families, a few of them belonging to the province's indigenous community.

The fund is from the PCA’s Participatory Coconut Planting Project (PCPP) that gives incentives to farmers of PHP18 per new coconut tree planted and PHP22 per tree, having a total amount of PHP40 per tree.

Brooke’s Point is a coconut center, and the PCA expects the project to expand with the support from the provincial and the municipal governments.

The PCPP is a national coconut planting program that uses open pollinated varieties (OPVs) in identified idle open areas suitable for coconut planting, and in area where senile coconut trees are cut in accordance with the implementation of Republic Act 8048.

Over PHP800 million have been allotted by the PCA to its planting, replanting and fertilization programs which includes the PCPP.

Coron: A dream destination

By Lindy Pellicer

CORON Island has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I’m an island girl myself, as I grew up on the beautiful beaches of Cebu. So, when my editor and friend Tet Andolong assigned me on a mission to cover Coron, my imagination went all over the place and my excitement became uncontainable.

My journey started with a mid-morning flight onboard SkyJet, the Philippines’s first boutique leisure airline that offers speedy jet service to your island dream destinations around the country. SkyJet Airlines takes off from Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4, also known as the Manila Domestic Airport. The airline operates a fleet of 80-seater British Aerospace BAe-146s. These “whispering jets” are equipped with four engines that make them some of the safest aircraft in the world.

Our 35-minute flight to Busuanga (Coron) was smooth and very relaxing. We landed in the same manner that a 777 would touchdown…no bumps. It was like landing on clouds. The sun was shining bright but not scorching. We were met by the locals rhythmically beating drums, as if communicating their welcome with their musical instruments and smiles. The short trip to Asia Grand View Hotel took us to a hotel by the road. It was easy to find and simply a breeze to get there.

As we alighted from the vehicle, we were greeted with an acoustic ensemble of Jimi and Maria Ormita, who were joined by the hotel’s very dynamic, friendly and talented staff, headed by their feisty and fun-to-be-with Resort Manager Rhoanne Rose Bolohabo, who proudly said that “Asia Grand View Hotel is the only hotel in Coron that promotes environmental conservation and supports efforts to conserve natural resources.”

Five minutes away from the Coron town center, Asia Grand View Hotel is on Governor’s Avenue, Jolo, Barangay 5, Coron, Palawan, Philippines. It has the most ideal of amenities, whether you’re a tourist, diver or local. The hotel is inspired by contemporary Asian art, crafts and the enchanting underwater world of Palawan. The room was so cozy that it felt like my home away from home, thanks to the strong, 24/7 Wi-Fi connection, soft and fluffy pillows, warm blankets, as well as a hot and cold shower. Sunsets on Coron Bay are mesmerizingly romantic from the view deck. For me, it was one of the best parts of the hotel. Next to the spa, of course.

Our cool group of lifestyle journalists and renowned bloggers, headed by PR King Pete Dacuycuy, was treated like royalty to lavish buffets at the Bay View Bar & Restaurant, spa treatments, drinks by the pool, and the daily dose of island hopping, shopping and snorkeling.

Kayangan Lake is one of seven fascinating lakes around Coron. It is also the most photographed spot on the island. Getting there required a half-hour boat ride, which took us to a hillside cave that overlooks the cove, where the pump boats were docked. We climb toward the iconic lake, which is 40-percent freshwater and 60-percent saltwater. Kayangan Lake, which is one of the cleanest bodies of water in the Philippines, is considered a sacred place by the Tagbanua tribe of Coron. It felt a little eerie swimming there, since marine life was scarce and we saw only those black shell-like creatures that were so tiny and stuck to the moonlike rocks underwater. We even entered a cave where we took selfies—safe and so far away from any abominable sea organisms. It was heaven on water!

Maquinit Hot Springs was a place that I had never heard of until we got there. I was pleasantly surprised and pretty excited about what to expect. The sun was setting when we arrived, and we dropped our bags in the nearest nipa hut before taking a dip in one of the 39- to 40-degree pools. Located along the southern coast of Busuanga Island, Maquinit is one of the very few saltwater hot springs in the world, the only known saltwater hot spring in the Philippines and probably the only one in Asia. The hot water comes from a volcano underneath the two pools. A little warning, though: Don’t dive into the pools, as the water can scald you. If you do it slowly, however, you will enjoy their relaxing and healing elements.

Snorkeling was a major part of our trip, as the waters of Coron were bright, crystal-clear and teeming with marine life with coral gardens everywhere. One, in particular, Bintuan Coral Gardens in Lusong Island, was where we bravely jumped from the boat, despite an impending rain squall and fresh winds. While we were swimming toward the famous sunken Lusong Gunboat with its stern sticking out of water, we saw a trio of scuba divers ascend from the wreck. I am a scuba diver myself, and wreck diving is not one of my favorites. I am claustrophobic, and I don’t relish the thought of hyperventilating in 12 meters of water. Just seeing the 70-year-old underwater hulk got my imagination reeling, so we quickly took a selfie with our underwater camera and swam out of there as quickly as we got in.

It is worth mentioning that Coron is not only a marine sanctuary in every sense of the phrase. It is also graveyard of about a dozen or more World War II shipwrecks that make the place a diver’s haven.

Culion Island has a total land area of 150 square miles and is located 200 miles southwest of Manila. It is part of the Calamian Group of Islands in the province of Palawan. This is where one of the biggest, well-equipped and organized leprosariums in the world is situated. On May 27, 1906, the first contingent of 370 patients from Cebu arrived and was met by the medical team composed of American Dr. Charles F. de May, four French sisters of the Order of Saint Paul de Chartres and Spanish Priest Rev. Fr. Manuel Valles, SJ. It was the beginning of a long struggle, for both patients and medical science, in the pursuit of a cure for leprosy. Culion was literally named “Paradise Lost” and also known as the Island of the Living Dead. With the advent of new and potent drugs, however, Culion has conquered the disease and has brought hope to its people, making it once more a Community of Man and a “Paradise Regained.”

Culion is now and has been for many years a favorite tourist destination. One can visit the Culion Museum and Archives to see how the locals battled leprosy and came out victorious through pictures, dioramas, past equipment and medicines, and an audiovisual presentation. One can also visit the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital, and the very old La Inmaculada Concepcion Church, which is perched on a cliff and whose walls were taken from the old fortress built in 1740.

The base and surrounding walls are hewn from live coral, although concrete has been poured in some areas. In 1933 the church underwent reconstruction under the supervision of Fr. Hugh McNulty, SJ. In 1978 Ben Amores, a patient, painted the ceiling with the design of Fr. Javier Olazabal, SJ, while on the left side of the church overlooking the vast West Philippine Sea, a cannon from past wars guard the fortress that not even leprosy could defeat.

Light rains for Palawan, VisMin on Sunday


An intertropical convergence zone is still affecting Palawan, Visayas, and Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – Skies will be cloudy over Palawan, Visayas, and Mindanao on Sunday, September 20, according to state weather bureau PAGASA. In its 5 pm bulletin on Saturday, September 19, PAGASA said the 3 areas will experience light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms in the next 24 hours:

An intertropical convergence zone is still affecting Palawan, Visayas, and Mindanao. Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be slight to moderate as light to moderate winds blow from the northeast to northwest over Luzon and Visayas, and from the southwest over Mindanao.

US, PH Marines set sea drill off Palawan


US and Philippine Marine forces will be conducting joint naval war exercises starting Monday off the coast of Palawan near the contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

At least 650 US Marines and sailors of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3d MEB), the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based in Okinawa, Japan, and 740 officers and enlisted personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be participating in the 31st iteration of the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) 2016 from September 21 to October 9.

Officials said the exercises seek to continue to enhance the inter-operability between the US Marine air-ground task force and the AFP with the goal of improving bilateral response to regional issues and maritime security crises within Asia-Pacific.

The combined US and Filipino troops will be working side-by-side to conduct a command post exercise, field training exercises, amphibious operations, combined arms training, civil-military operations and humanitarian and civic assistance projects.

The command post exercise in Palawan aims to increase the AFP’s capability to conduct planning for and execution of bilateral maritime operations.

The field training exercises in the vicinity of Angeles-Clark in Pampanga, include small arms and artillery live-fire training.

They will provide the two forces multiple opportunities to maintain and improve their unit skill sets while sharing best practices and enhancing an already high level of inter-operability.

Phiblex will also involve humanitarian and civic assistance projects in Palawan, such as engineering civic action projects to improve local infrastructure and cooperative health engagements.

It will be a way of sharing medical best practices to meet the medical needs of the people.

All portions of Phiblex will also play a major role in preparation for the large-scale war exercises Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder), which will take place next year.

“Bilateral Philippine-US military training opportunities such as Phiblex 16 sustain our strong foundation of inter-operability and strengthen our working relationships across the range of military operations–from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Flawed valuation prevented mining benefits to reach Palawan, Samar

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

TWO studies conducted by the government in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program-United Nations Environment Program (UNDP-UNEP) overlooked the values and full benefits of minerals development in two mineral-rich areas in Palawan and Samar.

The studies in Mount Matalingahan in Palawan and Samar Island prompted the exclusion of the two areas from mining, the potential of which could have helped boost socioeconomic development without compromising environment, Dr. Corinthia Naz of the Asian Institute of Management said.

The areas have since been declared as Protected Areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act and are among the 240 PAs in the country, which covers a total of more than 5 million hectares.

PAs are “off limits” to mining because of its highly extractive nature. Environmental groups said that mining, particularly large scale mining, causes serious damage to the environment.

Naz was among the resource person during the second day of the Mining Philippines 2015 Conference and Exhibition in Manila, where she presented on Wednesday her observation about the two studies.

Naz said the full benefits of mining were not presented in the Mount Mantalinghan Palawan Landscape study (MMPL) and the Ecosystem Valuation and Sustainable Management Options of the Samar Island Natural Park (SMOPINP) conducted by the government and the UNDP-UNEP.

The studies, separately conducted, sought to estimate the total economic values of the two areas.

Also a consultant for the Philippine Poverty and Environment Initiative (PPEI), Naz said the MMPL study gives poor actual-value estimates to a specific mining project due to high uncertainty about future benefits and costs, as well as potential of double-counting, such as direct versus indirect use of timber, forecasting and valuation errors due to unanticipated price changes.

More important, she said the potential benefits were omitted in the study such as the direct use values of, or rents for sand, gravel and nickel deposits; the mining projects’ Social Development and Management Programs, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programs, fiscal benefits, infrastructure and other advantages, such as reforestation and biodiversity offsets.

Mount Mantalinghan was declared a protected landscape in 2009 following the results of the MMPL study.

Puerto Princesa prepares for arrival of more cruise ships in 2016


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 16 (PNA) -- The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the City Tourism Department (CTD) here are already preparing for the arrival of more cruise ships on Palawan shores in 2016.

This after PPA Acting Port Manager Jose Cesario Bautista announced Tuesday to the local media that from January to October in 2016, 10 large cruise ships are going to drop anchors at the city port to bring cruise ship guests.

He said these number is addition to five cruise ships that will sail to Puerto Princesa before 2015 ends.

Based on data provided by the CTD, this year 12 major cruise ships had visited Puerto Princesa and brought over 6,000 foreign cruise travelers from different countries in Europe, Asia, and other continents.

City Tourism Officer Aileen Amurao, on the other hand, said the expected arrival of 10 cruise ships is a manifestation that cruise ship tourism in Puerto Princesa is flourishing, and brings positive results not only to the city government, but to locals who own tourism-related businesses.

Among the favorite destination of cruise ship guests, she said, is the Puerto Princesa Underground River and Honda Bay Islands, where they are treated to scenes of natural wonders and pristine island getaways.

Palawan gains DILG ‘Seal of Good Local Governance’

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 15 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Palawan recently gained the “Seal of Good Local Governance” (SGLG) from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in recognition of its honesty and efficiency in local governance.

According to a release by the Provincial Information Office (PIO), with the recognition comes a PHP7-million cash prize that is intended for infrastructure projects of the Palawan government.

The SGLG is a big challenge by the DILG for local government units to further improve local governance, continue good performance in the use and management of funds, prepare in the face of calamities, show sensitivity in responding to the needs of people in the society, and take care of the integrity of the environment, protect the people against life threatening situations, and security of all communities.

The PIO said the recognition was given to Palawan based on Disaster Preparedness, Social Protection and Good Financial Housekeeping; qualifying in any of the essential assessment areas of Business-friendliness and Competitiveness, Peace and Order, and Environmental Management; or the desire to use financial resources in correct manner, excellent delivery of basic services, and honesty and integrity in serving the people.

The information office added that for Governor Jose Alvarez, the SGLG is a recognition that he offers to all Palaweños, who want the development of the province to benefit them.

He is thankful for the support of the department heads and employees of the provincial government in delivering the honest kind of service to the people.

The PIO said the award was received for Palawan by Provincial Administrator Atty. Joshua U. Bolusa from DILG- Regional Director for MIMAROPA James Fadrilan, Congressman 5th District of Quezon City Alfredo D. Vargas III, Director Manuel Gote of the Bureau of Local Government Supervision and DILG Assistant Secretary Josefina Costilla on September 7 in Manila.

DOH-MIMAROPA conducts first WASAR in Palawan with coast guard

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 15 (PNA) -- The water search and rescue (WASAR) training for the first batch of 40 participants started here early Monday in the hope of building a strong and capable team that shall respond to unexpected events in the beach, water park, rivers, or during calamities.

Sponsored by the Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA in close partnership with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the city government, the training hopes to have certified lifeguards that shall supervise the safety and rescue of people, who love engaging in water activities, according to health regional director Dr. Eduardo Janairo.

Janairo said the WASAR is being done as the DOH-MIMAROPA and its partners want Puerto Princesa to be the “center of excellence” when it comes to water safety and security.

The training came in the wake of information that only one lifeguard is certified in the whole city and province to provide water rescue support.

The regional health director said the presence of lifeguards in water pool areas and beaches make visitors feel safe and secure. Their safety, he added, is a paramount interest in the tourism industry in the city.

The WASAR training involves defining hazards and conduct risk assessments, understanding standard operating procedures in water rescue, the proper administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), water safety courses, and others.

Commodore George Ursabia Jr. of the PCG in Palawan said that with the DOH-MIMAROPA and the city government, they are serious in ensuring the safety and security of everyone, not only the tourists, who come here for the beaches, but especially during times of calamities.

Some Palawan towns are prone to flooding and nobody knows when the need for water rescue will come. But with the WASAR training, water rescue problems can be minimized since there will be certified lifeguards, who will provide the need, he said.

Ursabia encouraged participants to be faithful in the training as their responsibilities are no joke; they involve peoples’ lives.

Dr. Janairo said there will be other batches for the WASAR training since the province needs at least around 500 lifeguards to assure the safety of its tourists.

Filipinos urged to reject coal mining in Palawan

By Nelson S. Badilla

A government official, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee, academicians, bishops and environmental activists were among those who are calling on the public in various parts of the world to sign an online petition urging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to stop construction of a 15 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Barangay Bato-bato, Narra in Palawan by DMCI Power Corp. (DPC).

DPC is a sister company of Semirara Mining and Power Corp. owned and controlled by the family of David Consunji.

Last July, Semirara’s coal mining operation in Caluya, Antique, was suspended by the Department of Energy (DOE) after nine of the company’s workers died in their shift during bad weather.

The following month, DOE lifted its suspension order as it found that Semirara had no fault on the death of its workers.

The Consunji family controls about 92 percent of coal mining business in the Philippines.

The company also exports coal to many countries.

The latest project of Consunji’s coal-mining business is the DPC’s 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Palawan.

It was approved by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) on May 28, 2015.

PCSD issued a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance, which, according to DENR, is a requirement before it will give an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the Consunji-owned firm.

The Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) immediately strongly lambasted the PCSD.

PACE pointed out, in a statement, “The manner by which the PCSD issued a SEP clearance to the project demonstrated this body’s brazen disregard of its core mandate to protect Palawan’s environment.”

“The PCSD as a permanent regulatory agency surrendered itself to machinations of local politics, kowtowing to the provincial governor’s personal dictates,” it added.

Environmental activists and concerned individuals expressed active support to the residents of Palawan by creating an online petition against DPC coal mining project in the province.

The petitioners posted a letter entitled “Protect Palawan’s Pristine Environment” in strongly urging the public to “[h]elp us deliver a message to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.”

Among the leading petitioners were Commissioner NaderevYeb Sano of Climate Change Commission; Dr. Antonio La Vina, Dean of Ateneo School of Government; Ma. Regina Paz Lopez, managing director ABS-CBN LingkodKapamilyaFoundation; Enriquez Nunez, country executive director, Conservation International—Philippines; Dr. Elsa Manarpaac, president of Western Philippines University; Lolita Carbon, singer/songwriter of Asin; Bishop Pedro Arigo, Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa City; Bishop Edgardo Juanich, Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Palawan; and lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr., a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee.

They contended that by “[p]lacing a coal plant in Palawan, the last remaining paradise in the Philippines, in the face of Typhoon Haiyan and climate change is unacceptable!”

In a sidebar letter, the petitioners also emphasized to Mr.Paje that “[a]s the DENR Secretary, you must be very aware of the importance of Palawan, an environmentally critical area and the last ecological frontier of the Philippines.”

“Palawan’s pristine environment, the top reason why many visitors come, is being threatened by the construction of DMCI’s 15 MW coal-fired power plant in Barangay Bato-bato, Narra,” they continued.

At the same time, the petitioners at pointed out that the residents of Palawan have asserted that the local government of the province must instead tap the run-of-the-river hydro power plant since it is “cheaper and cleaner energy sources” than the coal plant.

The petitioners has reminded Paje about the DENR’s job of putting an end to environmental degradation in the country that the “DENR should turn down the DMCI’s coal plant project in Palawan which will destroy its precious ecosystem.”

They said carbon emissions from coal plants are verified as the primary cause of global warming and Typhoon Haiyan had made climate change more real to Filipinos.

“Please disapprove the DMCI coal plant in Palawan because it is the right thing to do,” the petitioners asked the Environment secretary.

Palawan hospital pushes healthy food campaign

By Francis T. Wakefield

Puerto Princesa, Palawan — Patients of the Adventist Hospital Palawan are not only assured of quality medical service, but are also assured that the food being served to them are healthy and nutritious.

Adventist Hospital Palawan health products was started a decade ago as part of the program of the dietary department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church hospitals to serve healthy products to the patients and the watchers.

While it was conceptualized not as a business, it grew to become an advocacy initially making whole wheat bread then expanded by producing soya milk and tofu.

Today, their products include meat alternatives (Gluten), whole wheat pandesal, whole wheat loaf, whole wheat cinnamon loaf, whole wheat raisin loaf, whole wheat buns, soy coffee and purified drinking water.

To further improve their products, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Palawan has come into the picture and granted P801,000 worth of equipment – Automated Soya Milk Processing worth P736,000, meat grinder for veggie meat worth P40,000 and stainless table worth P 25,000.

The aid is under the department’s Science and Technology innovations for MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium enterprises) or Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) which aims to stimulate investments in urban, sub-urban and rural areas.

Aside from technology, the program also provides MSME’s competencies, efficiency and productivity for techno-based industries and stake holders by providing them knowledge and updates on Technology acquisition and upgrading, product packaging and labeling including networks and linkages for raw material sourcing, market, training, financing, equipment design and fabrication.

Elen Velasco, department supervisor, said the hospital is a non-profit institution and the income derived from the sale of the products support the hospital’s operation.

The products are being pushed to students in Puerto Princesa which is in keeping with the Department of Education’s advocacy healthy food intake.

“We are trying to promote the product to Grade School and High School students to eat healthy product because DepEd (Department of Education) officials are discouraging them to drink synthetic juices,” she said.

Renewable energy company enters Palawan as game changer


Environmental groups in Palawan province are celebrating. The signing of a power supply agreement between Langogan Power Corp. (LPC) and Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) last week has been hailed as a milestone in Palawan’s socially charged quest for reliable power supply.

Paleco finally gave LPC, the fledgling renewable energy (RE) company, a 20-megawatt deal after years of trying to get a contract to generate electricity from three major river systems in the mainland. The decision drew praises from consumers and environmentalists lobbying for a stop to the planned construction of a coal-fired facility by the Consunji-led DMCI Power Corp.

“This is a win for consumers and the people of Palawan. Renewable energy is the way to go,” says Cynthia Sumagaysay-del Rosario, a lead campaigner of Palawan’s No To Coal Movement.

LPC joined two other diesel and bunker oil-based independent companies as suppliers of Paleco, along with DMCI, as the province anticipates a leap in power demand due to an expected surge of investments in tourism and agro-industrial projects.

Energy policy clash

The proposed coal plant, an oxymoron considering the many factors why Palawan is tagged the country’s last environmental frontier, has pitted conservation nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and local communities against the provincial government in a heated, often emotional, policy clash.

The local government firmly believes that Palawan has to embrace coal for lack of a better choice to meet its growing demand for electricity. At least, that has been Gov. Jose Alvarez’s known stand on the issue. His strong personality and leadership style have petrified the entire government bureaucracy into adopting this position without question.

When DMCI faced angry residents and officials of Western Philippine University (WPU) in Aborlan town, its first choice of a plant site, Capitol’s political machinery was mobilized to support the Consunji firm. It was not enough to stop the rallies and protests.

The debate sparked an intense policy conflict between the local government and civil society, which came to a head when Alvarez angrily withdrew support from WPU and canceled the scholarship of some 2,000 students for simply signing an anticoal petition.

Paleco has also become a battle arena for coal. Recent elections in the board of directors of the cooperative were marred by allegations of manipulation by Capitol as it vied to gain control over the private group’s policymaking body.


For the longest time until the signing of the Langogan power contract, Paleco has been giving LPC the runaround as Capitol tried to portray the group as lacking in financial capacity. In the end, the Paleco board decided that LPC, an RE company certified by the Department of Energy, has the capacity to just do the job.

The Manila-based LPC, on its website, describes itself as “a small British, North American and Filipino group of energy development professionals who all live in the Philippines and who have partnered with a major European national electricity utility and a large national Asian energy company.

They have 60 years of combined experience in energy project development in remote locations, with in-depth hydrology and engineering expertise, and in-depth knowledge of the Philippines’ energy sector, 10 years of energy project investment appraisal; and 12 years of energy project work with NGOs.

Mike Wooten, the British manager of LPC, told the Inquirer following the contract signing that the company would begin work on access roads to prospective river sources in the next two weeks, starting with Batang-Batang River in Narra. Plant construction is expected by January 2016.

Anticoal campaigners are hoping the LPC contract to augment supply to the grid will convince the provincial government and Paleco to set aside altogether the DMCI coal plant despite the company having signed already its own separate contract two years ago.

Permanent source

“There is enough time for Palawan to go renewable as its permanent source of power. We hope the provincial government will realize this, and adopt a new policy approach toward renewable energy. The provincial energy development master plan even prescribes it,” says environmental lawyer Jansen Jontilla of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center.

LPC’s contract has taken the wind off the sails of the coal plant project which, even with a strong push from the provincial government and most local officials, continues to face civil society opposition and legal challenges. Since signing its own contract to supply 25 MW to Paleco two years ago, DMCI has not delivered on what it is legally bound to deliver.

Paleco has faced increasing pressure from consumers to junk DMCI for breach of contract. In fact, it did issue a notice of default in June which the company simply brushed aside.

Public pressure against the DMCI plant has built up since the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development granted last month a Strategic Environmental Plan clearance to the project amid protests from civil society and even from Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, who sent a memorandum to President Aquino seeking Palace intervention to stop the project.

LPC has now been given the stage to prove that RE technology can work in Palawan, but its road to success isn’t necessarily easy. While the technology of run-of-the-river power generation looks fairly solid, experts have continuously doubted its ability to perform during dry seasons when the rivers dry up.

Favored status

Because of its favored status as an RE company, LPC enjoys being first dispatch in the Paleco grid. This means that whatever power it generates is immediately used as base load, as well as increased pressure on the company not to leave the end users in the dark.

LPC’s mini-hydro project shifts the continuing debate on coal in Palawan in many respects. It already debunked the claim that no RE company is interested in Palawan; hence, the only option is coal. Already, Paleco is reportedly entertaining unsolicited proposals from other RE firms interested in its northern Palawan’s franchise area.

LPC’s success is considered a game changer in this debate and could force DMCI to adopt or be steamrolled over as it faces the prospect of redundancy and a string of legal compliance issues.

Even a 6-MW initial addition that it will deliver from its first planned series of three plants along the riverbanks should stabilize the supply enough for Paleco and provincial policymakers to shift to strategic thinking on how to deal with energy challenges.

To begin with, Palawan’s energy master plan—a result of a long-term vision and a healthy dose of expert inputs—has already adjudged coal expensive and inefficient. What keeps DMCI ticking though is its adamant stance to hold on to its contract and the accommodation it enjoys from the local government.

Coron pushes for specially-designed, highly efficient ‘e-trikes’

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 10 (PNA) -- The tourist town of Coron in northern Palawan is pushing for the future use of noiseless and environmentally-friendly electronic tricycles or “e-trikes” as a major mode of transportation for residents and tourists.

Based on information disclosed to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) by Jonathan Dabuit, chief of staff of Coron Vice Mayor Jim Gerald Pe, three prototypes of e-trikes are currently being tested in their town that cost PHP420,000 each.

He said if the use of the environment-friendly e-trikes will prove economical, they will shove possibilities that all tricycles in Coron be turned to e-trikes.

Currently, Dabuit said there are 742 tricycles that ply regular routes in Coron, one of the famous tourist destination sites in Palawan.

The dry run of the e-trikes was started by Tojo Motors Corporation (TMC) in Coron on August 13. It will end on September 13.

Dabuit added that the e-trikes are going to be helpful in maintaining the clean air quality in Coron if the use will indeed, be pushed through with the number of gasoline-powered tricycles increasing.

Electronic tricycles are highly efficient tricycles that run on batteries charged by electricity. They produce no noise, and have no tailpipe emissions.

Accordingly, in the Philippines, “there are over three million conventional combustion engine tricycles contributing to millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the environment every year.”

“The Asian Development Bank, with the Philippine government and the Department of Energy, hopes to transform the public transportation sector by widely adopting electric tricycles throughout the Philippines.”

3rd BIMP-EAGA transport cluster meeting opens in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 9 (PNA) -- The Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) third transport cluster meeting opened here Wednesday.

The Provincial Information Office (PIO) said initially that the meeting will center on issues, concerns and accomplishments of the transport cluster, particularly those on air, sea, and land transport linkages.

The information office said representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will stress on the Think Sub-Regional, Link National to respond to the challenges that the member countries will face that have connection to the transportation sector and to achieve the goal of full connectivity that will be the way to speed up exchanges in commerce and trade.

The meeting is attended by more than a hundred delegates from the four member-countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as representatives from the ADB and the BIMP-EAGA Business Council.

After the meeting, the PIO said over 40 members of the Palawan BIM-EAGA Business Council will embark on a trade mission on September 14 to 19.

Jose Steward Sapalo, member of the Palawan BIMP-EAGA Business Council Board of Directors, said the trade mission was the product of a three-day Training on Trade Faciliation on EAGA Region last August 26-28 that has something to do with the import/export industry in the Philippines and Malaysia.

Included in the itinerary are business matching, Malaysia Day Holiday, and site visits in Sandakan, Kudat and Tawau.

These are sites of commercial industries in Malaysia, where potential business partners can come from.

DOH-MIMAROPA completes training for first batch of paramedics

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA),SCS/BNB/LSJ]

MANILA, Sept. 8 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA led on Tuesday evening the graduation ceremonies for the first batch of paramedics who will be deployed in the said region.

The paramedics were trained to provide immediate response to emergency situations among the people/visitors in the MIMAROPA provinces as part of the efforts to deliver better health services to the people.

MIMAROPA refers to the island provinces of Mindoro Occidental and Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

According to DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo, a total of 12 paramedics were trained to take the responsibility of performing first-aid for injured persons and those who are suffering from stroke.

The first set of graduates was a result of the partnership signed last May between DOH-MIMAROPA and Roland A. Fernando (RAF) School of Healthcare Technology in Pasay City.

RAF is the first institute to offer specialty courses in paramedics and home health care in the Philippines.

The training started last June. The board and lodging expenses of the trainees were shouldered by DOH-MIMAROPA.

Those who qualified for the training course are well-screened registered nurses, some of them coming from the MIMAROPA provinces.

They are Kamille Besa (DOH-Health Emergency Management Bureau); John Amielle T. Pila, (DOH-MIMAROPA); Edsel Padilla and Maristella Garing from Oriental Mindoro; Reynaldo Tan Jr. and Jasper Beryl Coching from Romblon; Josephine Morales (Marinduque); Joi Anne M. Padua (National Children’s Hospital); and Krisanto Idolito Calugay (Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center); Stacey Marie Bedia (Iloilo); Ernest Serranzana (Bicol); and Eric Tagle (Homehealth CA, USA).

“As paramedics who have received the training, they will be the primary health care responders to emergency situations… Meaning to say, they will be the ones that are expected to be the first to arrive on the scene (via ambulance), they will be the ones that will take control and provide immediate care to ensure that the patient makes it to the hospital,” Dr. Janairo said during the commencement ceremony held at the Manila Diamond Hotel in Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

Janairo added that another task of the said paramedics is to attend to emergencies, including minor injuries, sudden illness, and casualties arising from road and rail accidents, criminal violence, fires and other incidents in their places of assignment.

The group of paramedics consists of nurses who were trained basically in assessing the condition of patients who are injured or suddenly taken ill.

As nurses who acquired many of the basic knowledge in their nursing course, the DOH believes that they are the ones most fitted for the job of resuscitating and stabilizing patients in the most critical hours of transporting the patients to the hospital.

Through the trainings, the paramedics were further given expertise in the use of defibrillator; applying splints to limbs, dressing wounds, administering pain relief, oxygen, drips and fluids; taking ECG, carrying out certain surgical procedures when necessary, such as intubation (insertion of a breathing tube); monitoring the patient's condition and working closely with doctors and nurses in hospital accident and emergency departments, briefing them as their patient arrives at hospital; and producing case notes and reporting the patient's history, condition and treatment to relevant hospital staff.

The paramedics will be deployed in the provinces of MIMAROPA as a two-person team.

In line with this, they will be using an emergency motorcycle ambulance designed to transport them in the area of need with their equipment and medical supplies.

Janairo said that two units of motorcycle ambulance will initially be provided to the paramedics that will be used in transporting medical supplies.

The ambulances will be equipped with an oxygen tank, an ECG machine, defibrillator and a state-of-the art CENA 10C communication system with blue tooth capability, intercom, smartphone combined with an HD 1080P resolution action camera and recording.

It is also installed with early warning traffic devices such as a siren, LED flashers and built-in tractor grip tires for rocky roads and slippery muddy highway.

The bike is customized for the paramedic rider complete with helmet, jacket, pants, boots, gloves and a backpack containing first aid medicines.

Director Janairo clarified that the said paramedics are not a replacement for nurses.

“But they will augment the critical care capacity of the intensive care unit and the emergency unit of hospitals,” he said.

He added that while the specialty area of the said paramedics are emergencies that occur outside of hospitals, their task is not limited to such situations alone.

“They can also be asked to provide occasional assistance when called upon during shortage of health workers in the hospital,” he said.

Palawan PDRRMO allocates PHP10-million for ‘El Niño’phenomenon

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA) -– The Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) has allocated PHP10-million to prepare for what may possibly be an early onslaught of the “El Niño” phenomenon in the province next month.

The allocation of the said amount was announced over the weekend following a PDRRMO meeting on September 4 led by its head, Gilbert Baaco, and Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez.

The amount was said to have been allocated for the purchase of rice for residents of Palawan who might be affected when the dry spell comes.

Baaco said he estimates that around 80,000 families in Palawan might experience the effects of El Niño, and the allocated amount can help tide them over until the safe planting season.

Sonny Pajarilla of the state weather bureau PAGASA in Palawan, who was also invited, explained to the governor and the PDRRMO that the El Niño is expected to bring down effects in October until the first quarter of 2016.

The first who will be affected are the farmers, he said, and then the residents as there might be a shortage in rice supply.

Alvarez directed that the allocation should be used for the purchase of rice supply immediately before El Niño strikes.

Aside from the phenomenon, the PDRRMO meeting also centered on other topics, such as the construction of airports in the towns of Rizal, Quezon, Aborlan, Agutaya and Cagayancillo to make fast responses in times of calamities.

The construction of the said airports has a fund of around PHP40-million, and Baaco said they can help make disaster response quick if roads prove impassable.

There is also a plan to create a Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) that shall help provide response in times of calamities, and to support the maintenance of peace and order in Palawan.

Around PHP15-million was also allocated for the repair and rehabilitation of evacuation centers, as well as the construction of a few more in several municipalities that were not named.

The PDRRMO meeting also discussed the purchase of additional 20 ambulances, speed boats, 4x4 pickup trucks, motorcycles, boats and accident insurance for their volunteers.

All in all, PHP141.3-million was identified as the needed fund in preparation for calamities that might strike the province.

Firm to tap 3 Palawan rivers for power supply

( 5:23 am

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—Palawan’s electric distribution franchise has taken its first step to ward embracing renewable energy, finally allowing an upstart company after two years of negotiations to supply the island’s main grid using electricity generated from the province’s river system.

The Langogan Power Corp. (LPC), a Department of Energy-accredited renewable energy company, signed a 20-megawatt power supply contract with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) on Friday.

LPC’s plan entails tapping into three rivers on the mainland using run-of-river mini hydro technology.

The company said it had so far invested over $9 million (roughly P420 million) to develop the project and is set to pour in another P56 million to set up and operate its power facilities.

This development came in the wake of difficulties faced by DMCI Power Inc. which had earlier bagged a 25-MW supply contract from Paleco to construct a coal-fired power plant that would be fueled by DMCI’s coal mine on Semirara Island in Antique.

DMCI faced stiff opposition from local communities and conservation groups and faced rejection and legal challenges from nongovernment organizations at several of its prospective plant sites despite support from local officials.

DMCI was recently awarded a clearance by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development but is set to face opposition from environmental groups in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate.

LPC executive Mike Wooton told the Inquirer they planned to start construction of the mini hydro power plant in January as soon as they finish access roads to the site.

The company is planning to tap into the Langogan River in Puerto Princesa City, the Batang Batang River in Narra town and the Talakaigan River in Aborlan town.

“We hope to start work on the access roads in two or three weeks and have full mobilization to the site by January,” Wooton said.

He, however, said that their contract would still need the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

The LPC tariff was pegged at P6.59 per kilowatt hour.

“This is a landmark even for Palawan. It will provide the lowest cost source of energy on the Palawan grid and it represents the first major renewable energy technology in Paleco’s generation portfolio,” Bart Duff of the Palawan Chamber of Commerce said.

Mimaropa seeks strong climate deal in Paris


PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Sept. 5 (PNA) -- During its 52nd full council meeting, Regional Development Council of MIMAROPA Region adapted a resolution calling on world leaders, especially of countries historically responsible for spewing large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, to come up with a strong climate change agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

Unanimously recommended by the Social Development Committee, Regional Director Romeo Escandor Jr. of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said the council's move was to globalize resolve of the archipelagic region to address ill-effects of climate change during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France this December.

“We aim to build disaster-resilient communities and push economic growth under principles of the sustainable development goals but our dreams and aspirations for the future generation needs global collective action,” he said.

The resolution's main message calls on world leaders to "sign a strong agreement to reduce emissions, formulate and implement mechanisms on climate finance in the context of loss and damage and adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity-building for countries vulnerable to climate change.”

Such resolution also supports the climate campaign 'Road to Paris' initiated by Climate Reality Project (CRP), a global movement founded by Nobel laureate and former US Vice-President Al Gore.

“To resolve this biggest ecological crisis, development paradigm is to be rethought and what the council did is commendable while integrating climate action and disaster risk reduction in regional development agenda,” said Rodne Galicha, CRP country manager who's also a voting member of the council as private sector representative.

Galicha explained that CRP’s initiative aims to mobilize grassroots communities from all over the world, urging UNFCCC parties to finalize a bold climate agreement which promotes planet-wide shift to renewable energy and addresses adaptation needs of climate-vulnerable countries.

“MIMAROPA region has been endowed with beautiful islands which the global community admires - naturally, a destination of choice - but our sustainable tourism industry and lives of our people are greatly threatened by extreme weather conditions,” said Eleuterio Raza, Jr., Marinduque province's provincial planning and development officer.

He said the region hosted the famous Verde Island Passage and its island-provinces were known for pristine beaches, marine and terrestrial biodiversity and colorful festivals and traditions of different cultural communities.

“Our main thrust for development has been environmentally and culturally sensitive. We may have an iota of carbon emission compared to others but we need to seek climate justice and walk the talk,” he said.

The resolution will be handed over to Climate Change Commission and sent to the secretariat of UNFCCC-COP21.

D.O.H., D.O.T. to train lifeguards to ensure tourists’ safety

By Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco

To ensure the safety of the tourists in the province, the Department of Health (DOH)–MIMAROPA (Oriental/Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) together with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Tourism (DOT), has joined together for a mutual objective of providing orientation, training and the most important—certification for lifeguards working in various resorts in Palawan that will begin from September 14 to 18.

“We have the best and the most prestigious leisure beaches in the country, especially in MIMAROPA, but we are still short of skilled and accredited lifeguards to man these coastlines,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said, noting that the continued life-threatening incidents, like drowning and the most recent death in Coron, Palawan, has again raised the question of safety and readiness in these areas.

“These accidents in beaches and even in pools, not only in our region, can be avoided if we have the necessary staff, trained and accredited in first aid and basic lifesaving skills. The lifeguard is the basic and most important body, and all beach resorts are required to provide the services of one,” he added.

Republic Act 9993, known as The Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009, states that operators and owners of resorts who fail to hire lifeguards will be penalized with fines, ranging from P1,000 to P5,000, or face jail terms of 45 days, or both fine and imprisonment.

According to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), a lifeguard must be physically fit and medically healthy, a strong swimmer and must be able to use the safety equipment comfortably and confidently; must successfully completed the following Philippine Red Cross Training or any PCG accredited equivalent training courses like, First Aid Course; Basic-Life Support-Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Course; water safety course; and water search and rescue course.

Upon completion of the required training courses, the PCG will require lifeguards to undergo various water tests and practical exam prior certification and issuance of PCG Lifeguard Certificate to qualified lifeguards. Every two years, lifeguards shall undertake refresher-training course to revalidate lifeguarding skills and renewal of PCG Lifeguard Certificate.

Janairo also reminded participants to undergo healthy lifestyle practices by maintaining strong physique and refraining from smoking and drinking alcoholic drinks, which can affect the perception and awareness while on duty.

“Do not disregard this training because you will not only save lives, but you will also provide yourself with the opportunity to make your lives better because you’re a recipient of an essential training where you can be provided with high sustainable revenue in the future.”

The training course for Palawan lifeguards will be shouldered by DOH-MIMAROPA under the Health in Tourism Program launched on March 24. The PCG will handle the training courses, together with the DOT Palawan.

The regional office will also provide lifeguard rescue equipment, such as rescue and first aid kits to trainees who will successfully complete the training course.

PhilHealth reiterates call to Palaweño employers to enroll employees in their services

By Archie T. Barone [(PNA), FFC/BNB/RCK/CARF/ATB]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in Palawan continues to encourage employers to enroll their workers in the health insurance corporation's coverage for them to be able to avail of its benefits.

Wilfred Hernandez, PhilHealth Palawan head made the statement in response to the information stating that some companies and establishments in the province are still not complying with the National Health Insurance Act (NHIA) which aims to provide health protection to employees.

Hernandez said based on their monitoring in the city and provincial licensing offices, there are still businesses with employees which aren't enrolled yet in PhilHealth.

Formal communications or notices of compliance have already been sent to them to remind them of their responsibilities as employers.

He said if they do not comply with the particular deadline stated in the notices of compliance, penalties maybe imposed upon them under the law.

Hernandez emphasized that having their employees covered by PhilHealth's services means caring for their well-being as they won’t be afraid to go to hospitals and seek help for them to remain healthy to work.

In January, PhilHealth increased its monthly contribution for the purpose of expanding its services. Premium has become PHP200 for those who are earning PHP8,000 below.

For salaries higher than the said amount, the premium contribution is PHP500 per month.

Contribution for self-employed individuals also increased to PHP200 from PHP150.

For the whole province, the PhilHealth said the membership has already reached 93 percent. They also remain hopeful to cover the remaining percentage.

2,810 fishermen in Palawan benefit from seaweed farming project


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 2 (PNA) -- Around 2,810 marginalized fishermen in Palawan have now benefited from the seaweeds dispersal project of the Palawan government under the Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood, and Protection of the Environment (IHELP) development agenda.

According to Dr. Myrna Lacanilao, the head of the livelihood component of the said development agenda, the program remains serious in bringing progress to Palaweños, particularly those living in distant fishing communities,

Lacanilao said under orders of Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez, the seaweeds project will try to make sure that all marginalized fishermen will benefit for them to have sources of extra income.

“Our seaweeds dispersal continues because the provincial government under IHELP is resolute in helping provide beneficial sources of livelihood to our fishermen,” she said.

She reminded however, that before one can benefit, he/she needs to undergo a training-seminar to know how to properly farm seaweeds which will result to better outcomes and incomes.

Also, Lacanilao said it is important for beneficiaries to be properly trained so as not to waste the seaweeds seedlings which will be given to them.

She also disclosed that the current provincial government is considering a plan to put up a seaweed nursery, where seedlings can be grown to be dispersed to more fishermen later.

New Malampaya platform installed

By Eoin O'Cinneide

Contractor Arup has completed installation of the depletion compression platform for Shell’s Malampaya Phase 3 gas field project off the Philippines.

The platform sits in shallow water in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Palawan.

Arup was also the designer of the existing platform on the field and was hired by the Anglo-Dutch supermajor in 2010 to provide engineering support services for fabrication and installation of what is a self-installing substructure.

The new substructure is 7750 tonnes, with 3300-tonne topsides and two Siemens compressors.

The new platform is linked by 43-metre bridge, also designed by Arup, to the original Malampaya platform.

Keppel Subic Shipyard fabricated the entire platform in its facility in Subic Bay, Philippines. This required a significant upgrade to the shipyard, including the construction of a 1500-tonne gantry crane, one of the tallest in South-East Asia.

The substructure is an adaptation of the Arup Concept Elevating platform, which uses a pre-installed jacking system to lower the platform’s 80-metre legs to the seabed and then lift the topsides clear of the water and into its final position. Boskalis was responsible for seabed preparation, towing and installation of the platform, with Mammoet contracted to provide jacking capability.