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Province of Palawan - Archived News

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Contents

Palawan weavers featured at the National Museum

(VSM/LBR/PIA4B/Palawan)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan (PIA) – Palawan mat and basket weavers are this week’s feature in the 2015 Weaving Demonstrations of the National Museum of the Philippines, in partnership with Senator Loren Legarda.

Mat and basket weavers from the Pal’awan and Tagbanua indigenous communities will showcase their weaving techniques to be demonstrated by Celita Salunday, Labin Tiblak, Analia Puntas, and Jinky Alsa on August 1 & 2.

"Through these weaving demonstrations, Filipinos would be more aware of our traditions and I hope we could be more proud of our culture. This is also a chance for citizens to interact with local weavers so they would be familiar with our weaving traditions and realize the importance of preserving our cultural heritage," said Sen. LorenLegarda.

The weaving demonstrations can be viewed from 11:00 am to 12:00 nn, 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm, at the Reception Room, 4th Floor, National Museum of Anthropology (formerly Museum of the Filipino People), Old Finance Building, Rizal Park, Manila.

Coast Guard intercepts 1,700 bags of smuggled rice in Palawan

(PNA), JBP/CARF/ATB/PJN

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 1 (PNA) -- Coast guard authorities intercepted Friday morning 1,700 bags of rice from the crewmen of a motor launch attempting to smuggle them in this city.

Initial reports from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the alleged smuggled bags of rice were confiscated from M/L Nathalie within the vicinity of Puerto Princesa.

The PCG report said the cargo came from Mapun, Tawi-Tawi last Wednesday.

The crewmen of M/L Nathalie were unable to show legal shipment papers. What was shown only was barangay clearance issued by a barangay councilor from Mapun, Tawi-Tawi.

The motor launch is currently under the custody of the PCG at the Puerto Princesa City Port (PPCP) while investigation is ongoing.

The PCG in close cooperation with other government agencies remain steadfast in guarding the coast of Palawan against any illegal activity, including rice smuggling.

PHP26.5M worth of tractors for farmers of MIMAROPA region

(PNA), FFC/PR/EDS

MANILA, July 31 (PNA) -- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has recently turned over nine units of Massey Ferguson 90 horse-powered four-wheeled tractors amounting to PHP26.5 million to boost agri-productivity and income of agrarian reform beneficiaries organization (ARBOs) in the provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Palawan.

The recipient organizations were the following: Alacaak Development Cooperative (ALDECO), San Carlos Multipurpose Cooperative (SACAMUCO), Tuban Blessed Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (TUBFARMCO), Purnaga Farmers Association (PFA), Tagumpay ng Curanta Free Farmers Cooperative (TACUFFC) and Mamburao Multipurpose Cooperative (MAMUPCO) in Occidental Mindoro and Lapu-Lapu Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Palawan.

Regional Director Erlinda Pearl V. Armada emphasized the importance of operation and maintenance of the common service facilities and encouraged the members to take the lead in ensuring that the tractors are always in good condition.

“With the provisions of right equipment we can expect a bigger earnings, thus, use it properly to achieve greater result,”,Armada added.

“Our long wait is finally over, the delivery of the tractor is very timely for land preparation” PARPO Luisito A. Jacinto of Occidental Mindoro said.

PARPO Conrado S. Guevarra of Palawan said that the delivery and turnover of tractors is a big push to augment production of the recipient ARBOs. It is part of moving closer to a better quality of life.

Two coral reef sites declared marine sanctuaries in Puerto Princesa

By Keith Fabro (CNN Philippines)

Puerto Princesa (CNN Philippines) — As part of Puerto Princesa’s policy to protect and manage its coastal marine resources, two coral reef sites were recently declared this week as marine sanctuaries.

Adding to the 16 already identified marine sanctuaries in the city are Tangdol Reef in Barangay Bancao-Bancao and Tagkuti Reef in Barangay Simpokan. An ordinances declaring as such were ratified by the City Council in its regular session on Monday (July 27).

Tangdol Reef has a total area of 22.19 hectares, while Tagkuti Reef spans 62.5 hectares.

Currently, Tangdol Reef is under the coral transplantation technology project, a joint initiative among the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Aquatic and Natural Resources Research Development (DOST-PCAARD), Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative, Western Philippines University, AFP-Western Command and the city government.

Once a reef is named a marine sanctuary, any human activities detrimental to the marine lives shall be prohibited, except for approved scientific research purposes.

Coral cover in Palawan has seen a downhill for the last 10 years, making conservation efforts a paramount.

According to the 2015 State of Palawan Environment report of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSD), Palawan’s live coral cover in “excellent condition” is only at 2.1% as of 2014 - a decline from the 3.7% recorded a decade ago.

AFP: Philippines-Japan naval drills are legal

By Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines - The military insisted on Wednesday said that there is nothing illegal in the naval drills conducted by the Philippines and Japan last month because they were held in international waters.

“We believe that the exercises were conducted with firm basis on our existing policies and laws, which will be clarified thoroughly when we bring this matter up to the Supreme Court,” Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Padilla said while the absence of a defense treaty with Japan prohibit the entry and movement of Japanese troops in the Philippines, port calls and drills in international waters are permitted.

“Port visits are not prevented and the conduct of the exercises was actually done in agreed areas that are international waters,” the military spokesman said.

The Philippine Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force held joint drills off Palawan from June 22 to 24 to improve their interoperability and to enhance their disaster response capabilities.

The joint trainings were held six months after the Philippines and Japan signed the Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges, a deal that aims to strengthen the two countries’ defense ties.

The legality of the agreement, however, has been challenged by the Alliance for Concerned Teachers, (ACT) before the Supreme Court.

In its petition, ACT said the deal violates Article 18 Section 25 of the Constitution, which states that foreign military troops and facilities can enter the country if there is a treaty with concurrence by the Senate.

“The substance of the Memorandum and the Joint Declaration, given that they bring the presence of Japanese military troops in the Philippine territory, require that they be via treaty,” ACT said in its petition.

“Being merely in the form of non-binding agreements, and not having been submitted to the Senate for concurrence and to Congress for deliberation on whether the treaty requires ratification by the people in a national referendum, they should be held unconstitutional, insofar as they are being used as legal bases for the holding of military exercises with the Japanese military,” the teacher’s group added.

When asked whether the military intends to hold another exercise with Japan, Padilla said such activities should be planned carefully.

“We have a strategic relationship with Japan and we continuously improve it. We have a good relationship with them but we have to do it slowly because we have laws to consider,” Padilla said.

“All these activities are governed by policies and other laws that we need to be mindful of before we commit to certain activities that Japan and the Philippines would like pursue in the future so it’s always a slow process,” he added.

Last month, President Benigno Aquino III and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to begin discussions on a visiting forces deal, a move seen as a response to China’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The two countries have also agreed to begin talks on transferring Japanese military hardware and technology to the Philippines, one of the weakest in the region in terms of defense capabilities.

Defense officials, however, admitted that a visiting forces agreement with Japan may not be approved within Aquino’s term because the draft deal has to undergo a long legal process.

3 new species of flowering plant Begonia discovered in Palawan

(PNA), JBP/CARF/KASF/EBP

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- Three new species of the perennial flowering plant Begonia were recently discovered by a group of botanists inside the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) in this city.

These new species, namely Begonia taraw, hughesii and tagbanua, belong to a clade endemic to Palawan and Borneo, according to a research published on July 24 on the Botanical Studies website (http://www.as-botanicalstudies.com/content/56/1/19).

The three, which were described as "narrowly endemic and rare species" were added to 14 known Begonia species already recorded in Palawan.

Begonia is a mega-diverse genus of flowering plants prone to generating micro-endemic species, especially on limestone habitats like the ones in PPSRNP environs.

“The limestone habitats in PPSRNP environs support a unique flora,” concluded the study. "The description of [the] three new species from a small area within the park demonstrates how much remains to be discovered there, and the importance of its continued protection…"

Although the species occur very close to one another at altitudes less than 50 m, the study added they grow in mutually exclusive habitats.

Begonia taraw, named after the local word “taraw” which means karst limestone in indigenous Tagbanua language, is located around the mouth of the underground river, growing tenaciously on the vertical limestone cliffs.

Nearby in karst forest growing in rock crevices is the Begonia hughesii, which was named after Dr. Mark Hughes of the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, who extensively studied Southeast Asian begonias, including Philippine Begonia.

Begonia tagbanua, named after the indigenous people Tagbanua, meanwhile, grows on clay soil banks inside the forest.

“The fact that [the] three new species were found in such close proximity demonstrates how much remains to be discovered in the PPSRNP, and how even small scale forest disturbance could result in extinctions,” stated the study.

The PPSRNP “contains a spectacular karst limestone landscape and eight different forest formations” that “harbor a very rich flora.”

It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

The researchers include Rosario Rivera Rubite, Llogene De Layola and Arthur Gregory Virata of Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Manila; Mark Hughes, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Patrick Blane, CNRS, France; Kuo-Fang Chung, School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University; Hsun-An Yang, Yoshiko Kono and Ching-I Peng of Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica in Taiwan; and Grecebio Alejandro, College of Science and Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Santo Tomas.

Red Emperor Receives Palawan Basin Farm-In Approval

(E&P)

Red Emperor Resources NL’s working interest in Block SC55 in the Palawan Basin was approved by the Philippines’ department of energy, the company said July 24. Red Emperor has a 15% farm-in interest in the block offshore Borneo.

The approval from the Philippines’ department of energy was the final condition for the farm-in agreement with Otto Energy Ltd. The agreement is now complete, Australia-based Red Emperor added.

Block SC55 covers 9,880 sq km in the southwest Palawan Basin, in a proven regional oil and gas fairway.

Otto told Red Emperor that the Maersk Venturer drillship is scheduled to arrive at the Hawkeye-1 well location at the end of July, and that drilling will begin soon after.

The Hawkeye prospect was identified on 2-D seismic in 2007 and further defined with a 600 sq km, 3-D seismic acquisition in late 2009. Hawkeye could contain about 480MMbbl of oil in a best estimate. Total gross prospective resources could be of 112MMbbl.

Coast Guard rescues 3 fishermen from capsized banca off Palawan

By Joel Locsin / JDS (GMA News)

Three fishermen were rescued last Wednesday after their motor banca capsized off Palawan, the Philippine Coast Guard said Sunday.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Coast Guard said the fishermen were aboard the fishing banca "Johnrex."

Rescued were Allan Ochaena, 34; Arieston Soria, 32; and Joven Onico, 23.

The Coast Guard said a search-and-rescue team also towed the "Johnrex" to Roxas Pier.

The fishermen said their banca encountered strong winds and big waves and capsized.

US, Puerto Princesa to sign CDI agreement

By BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

The United States and the Puerto Princesa City government are set to sign an agreement under the Cities Development Initiative (CDI), which seeks to develop a resilient and environmentally sustainable economy.

The Memorandum of Understanding, which will help transform the city into “an engine of growth” under the CDI, will be signed on Tuesday, a statement from the US Embassy in Manila said.

The CDI is part of the US-Philippines Partnership for Growth, and seeks “to advance the development of second-tier cities as engines of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient.”

“This is achieved through mutual responsibility and collaboration in the areas of economic growth and investment promotion, health, education, and the environment,” the embassy added.

US Ambassador Philip Gold-berg, US Embassy in Manila’s United States Agency for International Development Mission Director Gloria Steele, Gov. Jose Chavez Alvarez of Palawan and Mayor Lucilo Bayron of Puerto Princesa are expected to grace the event.

Kalayaan residents in West Philippines Sea receive basic needs, facilities

By Archie T. Barone [(PNA), LAM/CARF/ATB/RSM]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 24 (PNA) -- Residents of the Kalayaan island town in the disputed West Philippines Sea received Thursday basic needs facilities from different government and non-government organizations for potable drinking water production.

Donated to the residents were 10 pieces of bacteria-free water tanks, canned goods, and two solar water desalination units.

Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon, who joined the military sortie to the West Philippines Sea, expressed gratitude for the donations that would help 130 residents, or around 20 households.

He said that one of the problems on Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan is potable water, electricity, and agricultural products since residents are very far from the mainland.

Being surrounded by water also makes it hard for them to find safe drinking water.

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Palawan assured that it is doing everything to ensure that development projects would also reach Kalayaan.

Plans are now underway for the possibility of constructing a rural health unit (RHU) that would take care of the well-being of the residents, as well as provide basic medical intervention, Bito-onon said.

He said the RHU is very much needed on the island because just like everyone, residents are also susceptible to ailments.

Bito-onon furthered that his administration is now checking out transportation proposals as plans of opening Pag-asa Island to tourism gains ground.

However, the mayor did not detail their tourism outlook for Kalayaan yet.

DepEd, LGU Coron team up to build high schools in remote areas

(VSM/LBR/PIA4b-Palawan)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan (PIA) -- The Department of Education and the local government of Coron will team up to build three high schools giving access to secondary education in remote island communities.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) sealed the partnership which would establish the Bulalacao National School of Fisheries, Tara National School of Fisheries and Tagumpay (Sitio Tagum) School of Fisheries. These schools will be annexes of the Coron School of Fisheries.

"This way, we can promote quality education by decongesting the number of enrollees in our secondary institutions in the town center" said Coron Mayor Clara “Fems” Reyes.

Under the agreement, the municipal government shall provide funds to support the operation and maintenance of the three secondary schools for a period of 5 years or until such time they are incorporated in the national budget.

Mayor Reyes said that the LGU will provide funds for the teaching personnel whose salary will be at par with those at the DepEd.

The construction of the new school buildings and its facilities will also be funded by the local government unit.

The DepEd shall contribute instructional materials to enhance the learning capacity of students. It shall also help in the assignment of teachers.

The MOA has been forwarded for approval to the municipal legislative body or the Sangguniang Bayan (SB).

"We hope the SB members will act on it with urgency for the benefit of our students and parents," Reyes said.

‘Coal plants to kill 50,000 in 25 years’

By Marvyn N. Benaning (Correspondent)

FORMER Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn has warned that the untrammeled operation of coal-fired power plants will kill 50,000 Filipinos in 25 years.

This death toll, he and fellow environmentalist Gina Lopez said, is more than that of Typhoon Yolanda, or the possible 7.2-magnitude earthquake that may rattle the West Valley Fault in Luzon.

Hagedorn assailed the Aquino administration for not taking a well-studied approach to power generation and noted that it has been opting for the easy way out in addressing the country’s power needs.

In media briefing sponsored by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Power for People Campaign Network (P4P), Hagedorn and Lopez asserted that coal will continue to kill more and more people unless the country shifts to sustainable renewable energy (RE).

They vowed to secure one million signatures against coal-powered plants by November 10 and submit the same to the government to stop the proliferation of such power plants.

The Department of Energy (DOE) continues to encourage investment on coal-fired power plants although the US and other European countries are now shutting down coal-fired power plants.

Many international institutions have also called on countries to veer away from coal power and fossil fuel, like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Even Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, has weighed in on the issue and sought an end to the use of dirty and non-RE sources.

According to the Clean Air Task Force, an estimate of 13,200 premature deaths, 9,700 additional hospitalizations and 20,000 heart attacks in US were predicted yearly owing to existing coal-power plants.

The total value of all of these health effects amounts to more than $100 billion per year.

On the other hand, the 2015 Coal Atlas, published by Germany’s Heinrich Böll Foundation, stated that in Europe, more than 18,000 people die every year owing to air pollution caused by coal production and coal power plants.

This is why US and Europe are currently phasing out their coal power plants, Lopez said.

“But, instead of doing the same, the DOE is going against its mission of securing sustainable energy sources and is still approving coal operating contracts and building new coal power plants. To date, under the Aquino administration, a total of 59 new coal plants have been approved for construction and 118 coal mining permits have been given. Another 15 more coal-power projects are in the pipeline for approval,” Hagedorn added.

“The effects are no longer invisible. Recently, nine miners died as a coal mine operated by the Semirara Mining Corp. in Caluya, Antique, collapsed. Two years ago, a similar incident occurred involving the same corporation and five miners were killed. To add insult to injury, just months after the 2013 blast, Semirara began the expansion of its coal plant in Batangas,” the PMCJ said.

Residents near coal power plants, such as these also run the risk of other health effects, such as coronary heart disease stroke and even loss of intellectual capacity due to ingestion of mercury, according to a report from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“The government can no longer turn a blind eye to these accidents. To play ignorant would be an insult to the Filipino people seeking justice and accountability from these exploitative corporations. Filipinos shouldn’t have to pay the price for corporate greed, not with their money and certainly not with their lives. It is time to reject the construction of new coal plants, start decommissioning old ones, and shift toward more sustainable and renewable forms of energy,” the PMCJ said in a statement.

“The 1 million signature campaign concretizes our unyielding stand against coal investment and coal projects. We enjoin everyone to be a part of this campaign, which we intend to submit on November 10, and be part of a growing movement. The Filipino people deserve better. No more lives should be sacrificed for the sake of dirty energy,” Hagedorn also said.

House to probe DMCI's coal-fired power plant in Palawan

(Philippine News Agency)

MANILA, Philippines -- Lawmakers have called for a congressional inquiry into the controversial coal-fired power plant DM Consunji Holdings Inc. intends to build in Narra, Palawan.

In House Resolution 2164, Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela questioned the decision of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development to grant a permit to DMCI to operate a 15-megawatt coal–fired power plant in the town allegedly without considering social acceptability, environmental, health and safety risks to Palawan’s communities and ecosystems.

“The PCSD seems to forget its mandate to protect the province’s environment, towards the establishment of measures for regulating pollutive industries to ensure environmental protection and the well-being of the people,” Zarate said.

“Coal power is considered to be one of the dirtiest source of fossil fuel energy and is identified as a major source of global carbon emission, accounting for 44 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2012,” he added.

Zarate said Palawan has a power reserve of 16.7 MW or 45 percent, more than the capacity of the coal-fired power plant owned by DMCI, “making the establishment of a coal-fired plant in the province unnecessary.”

He also said DMCI’s coal-fired plant might even worsen the power crisis in Palawan due to its incompatibility with the existing infrastructure.

“The price of electricity the coal plant will generate is pegged at PHP9.38 kWh and with value added tax (VAT) of PHP10.51, which is higher than PHP6.59 kWh electricity rate expected to be produced by a hydroelectric project being proposed in the province,” the Bayan Muna lawmaker said.

He also pointed out that Narra opposed the coal-fired plant and when DMCI attempted to relocate its plant the town of Aborlan, the people there also rejected the project.

DOH-Mimaropa urges public to help gov’t keep Phl MERSCoV-free

[PIA-MIMAROPA (LP/PIA4B)]

QUEZON CITY, July 20 (PIA) — The Department of Health (DOH) is urging the public to continue helping government in keeping the country free from MERSCoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus).

In Mimaropa, DOH Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said they have requested authorities in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan to report MERSCoV cases immediately.

Palawan has a direct flight from South Korea, one of the countries that have confirmed MERSCoV cases.

DOH reported on Friday that the 36-years old foreigner is now free of the virus after two negative tests result.

However, the 32-year old female close contact of the said foreigner will remain at the hospital and complete the 14-day quarantine period.

DOH also disclosed that 112 contacts that were possibly exposed to the said foreigner were already traced.

They are now being monitored daily by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit until they complete the 14-day observation period. Those under observation, Director Janairo said, were told to report to RITM in case they showed MERSCoV symptoms.

For her part, Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin renewed calls to kababayans and balikbayans who have returned from countries with confirmed MERSCoV cases to report to the nearest hospital if they are experiencing flu, fever with cough, cold, sneezing, or even diarrhea.

Filling-out the health declaration checklist completely and with utmost honesty, the Secretary said, is very important.

The hotlines for MERSCOV are (02) 711-1001; (02)711-1002; 0922-884-1564; 0920-949-8419 and 0915-772-5621.

Fil-Aussie consortium to drill under West Philippine Sea

(ABS-CBNnews.com)

MANILA – Amid a territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea, an Australian-Filipino consortium is set to drill a new deepwater exploratory well there, in the hopes of unlocking a commercially viable oil reservoir.

The consortium, composed of Australia’s Otto Energy Investments Ltd., Red Emperor Resources NL, and Palawan 55 Exploration and Production Corp., will spud the Hawkeye exploratory well on August 1, after the super deepwater drillship Maersk Venturer arrives on July 31.

The consortium operates Service Contract (SC) 55, a deepwater block in the southwest Palawan Basin that covers an area of 988 hectares.

SC 55 is not situated in the contested territory in the West Philippine Sea.

It can be recalled that in March, Forum Energy Plc, the operator of another petroleum exploration concession in the West Philippine Sea, suspended its operations. This is because it falls within the disputed area that is now the subject of a United Nations arbitration process between the Philippines and China.

In a statement released Sunday, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) Partylist Representative Arnel Ty said: “This new drilling underscores the strategic economic value of the West Philippine Sea, which is the source of most of the country’s productive offshore oil and gas fields.”

Ty also noted that the drilling is believed to hoard stacks of hydrocarbon that could enable the Philippines to become self-sufficient in its future energy needs once harnessed.

Otto Energy said the Hawkeye well is expected to take around 23 days to drill from the Maersk Venturer’s arrival until release.

Otto also said Hawkeye could possibly contain a “best estimate” of 112 million barrels of oil.

Palawan 55 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Trans-Asia Petroleum Corp., a Philippine Stock Exchange-listed entity controlled by businessman Ramon R. del Rosario Jr.

Palawan 55 has a 6.82% interest in the project. Otto Energy is the operator with a 78.18% interest in the project, while Red Emperor has a 15% stake.

Tourist arrivals outnumber residents 7-to-1 in Palawan

(Philippine News Agency)

It looks as though Palawan should start catching up on its population growth.

Tourist arrivals in the province outnumber its residents 7-to-1. Recent data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that the province acquired more than 900,000 visitor arrivals in 2014 while its population size was only more or less a million residents.

The provincial government of Palawan plans to acquire 1.4 million visitor arrivals by the end of the year and 3.5 million in 10 years.

Alvarez said that although this was only minor setback, the priority now is to improve tourism infrastructure, connectivity, livelihood, water, electricity and the like to serve the increasing tourist arrivals.

At present, roughly P2.07-billion has been earmarked by the provincial government of Palawan for tourism development, according to DOT Region IV-B director Minerva Morada.

Morada said this amount will be used for over 30 convergence projects.

USD 250-M fruit plantation to create 8k jobs in Palawan-- Guv Alvarez

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, July 17 (PNA) -- Around 8, 000 jobs will be created with the development of a fruit plantation project in Palawan, according to Palawan Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez.

Alvarez told reporters in a recent press conference that Del Monte-Arabia is investing a USD 250-million to develop a banana and pineapple plantation in Palawan that would cover at least 6,000 hectares of land.

He was referring to Del Monte Arabia, which is a separate entity from Cagayan de Oro’s Del Monte Pacific Ltd. owned by the Campos group.

With the development of this fruit plantation, Alvarez said that Del Monte-Arabia aims to export produce from the province to North Asia and the Middle East.

He further said that upon meeting with Del Monte-Arabia’s top officials to see the province, they agreed that Palawan would be an ideal agricultural place to produce fresh pineapples and bananas for export.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the project between the provincial government and Del Monte Arabia is expected to be signed on July 28, Alvarez said.

Expected to sign the agreement are Del Monte Arabia President Hani El-Naffy and Chairman Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh. (PNA) CTB/ANP

4,000 Palawan turtles rescued from extinction

(Agence France-Presse)

Thousands of rare forest turtles have been rescued from horrifying conditions of captivity in Palawan, saving the critically endangered animals from possible extinction, wildlife experts said Wednesday.

More than 4,000 live freshwater turtles and 90 dead ones were found in a pond inside a remote warehouse in Palawan four weeks ago in one of the country’s biggest wildlife rescues, they said.

They included 3,831 Palawan forest turtles, a critically endangered species found only on the north of Palawan, as well as 160 Asian leaf turtles and 25 Southeast Asian box turtles.

Terrible conditions

“The turtles were in terrible conditions,” said Sabine Schoppe, director of the Philippine Freshwater Turtle Conservation Program.

The reptiles had apparently been stored without food and water for up to six months, and veterinarians worked round the clock to save the animals, she said in a statement.

The turtles were apparently destined for pet and food markets in Hong Kong and China, the statement said.

“This number equalled the estimated remaining population of Palawan forest turtle in the wild, hence bringing the species to the brink of extinction,” it added.

Many of the rescued turtles suffered from a variety of ailments and injuries, and some 360 others have since died.

About 230 are still being treated, while the rest were released back into the wild, Schoppe said.

Warehouse raid

Wildlife officials raided the warehouse on June 17 in the town of Bataraza, near the southern end of Palawan.

The warehouse caretaker was questioned by police but not detained, said Jennifer Lyn Yap, member of the regulation and enforcement division of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, a government body tasked with protecting the island’s rich wildlife.

The owner remains at large, she added.

The turtles were transferred by truck to a rescue center for critically endangered Philippine crocodiles in the provincial capital, Puerto Princesa City, the only location on the island capable of housing such large numbers of rescued animals.

Bound for China

Trapping or trading in Palawan forest turtles is punishable by jail terms and huge fines.

Wildlife authorities suspect northern Palawan poachers had sold the turtles to a trader who transported them to the other end of the island.

“Our assumption is they would have ended in the Chinese markets, where they are sought after as food or pets,” Yap said.

The rescued leaf turtles are considered “near threatened” by the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Southeast Asian box turtles are deemed “vulnerable” by the same organization.

Puerto Princesa gov’t launches fish cage with floating cottages as tourism attraction

(PNA), LAP/RCK/CARF/PJN

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 15 (PNA) -- A fish cage with floating cottages as a new eco-tourism attraction was introduced and launched in this city Monday as part of its community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) efforts to help generate livelihood for residents in Barangay Tiniguiban.

Attended by various tourism and community stakeholders, the launching was led by Mayor Lucilo Bayron with City Tourism Department (CTD) chief Aileen Amurao, and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) representative Luigi Evangelista at Purok Sandiwa in the said barangay.

Bayron said the fish cage with floating cottages project was realized by the city government through the CTD and the City Agriculture Office (CAO) with the help of DOLE.

The city government provided PHP1.8 million in funding that was matched by the DOLE with PHP2 million.

It was Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, who brought DOLE to the city government to help generate livelihood for community fishermen through the “payao” project.

“Bayron said the new eco-tourism attraction is a “convergence project” to further boost Puerto Princesa’s capability to charm more tourists, who will, at the same time, also be helping local residents generate income.

Cage or fish pen farming, Bayron added, is one of the methods of fish culture that has a livelihood advantage for the fishermen of Sandiwa in Tiniguiban as it requires comparatively low capital to set up, uses simple technology, sea water in the Puerto Princesa bay is available, and available for tourism that could earn additional income for them.

He said the city government’s request is for the community in Sandiwa to take care of the CBST project for its benefits to become sustainable for them.

Palawan earmarks Php2.07-B budget for tourism dev’t

By Azer N. Parrocha [(PNA), RMA/ANP]

MANILA, July 14 (PNA) – The provincial government of Palawan has earmarked about Php 2.07 billion for tourism development in the province this year, an official said on Tuesday.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Region IV-B director Atty. Minerva Morada , in a press conference, said the amount would be used for over 30 convergence projects.

Morada said that at present, three road infrastructure projects costing Php 196.75 million had been completed and set to be turned over in the municipalities of Narra, Taytay, and San Vicente.

Meanwhile, five more road infrastructure projects are scheduled for completion in Quezon, San Vicente, and Busuanga while two technical Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) projects are ongoing in Brooke’s Point and San Vicente.

These are only some of the many plans the provincial government has to help the province strengthen the its positioning as a top tourist destination and at the same time boost its investment environment.

Palawan Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez said that the province would soon be spearheading an aggressive campaign, dubbed as Palawan: World’s Best Island Tourism and Investment Expo, to promote investments in the province.

The Tourism and Investment Expo is an event expected to showcase the province’s attractions, business opportunities, and gastronomic delights in three components — the Palawan Investment Forum (July 28), Palawan Food Fair (July 30 to 31), and the Palawan Tourism and Trade Fair (Aug. 7 to 9).

The Expo is a collaboration effort among the provincial government of Palawan, the Palawan Tourism Council, Department of Tourism (DOT), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UAP).

“We believe that the only way for which we can address poverty is by inviting companies to set up businesses in the provinces in order to generate employment and income opportunities for the Palawanos,” Alvarez said.

To date, Alvarez said that from the start of his term in 2013 until June this year, the province has obtained an about Php 2.3 billion in private investments.

However, he said that this was “not enough” and stressed that the province needed to generate more investments to fast-track its economic development.

“In Palawan, we see a very strong support from provincial government and private sector,” Morada said, stressing how the province has transitioned from tourism promotion to pursuing more investments opportunities.

“I see no reason why Palawan cannot fulfill its dream of the governor to see Palawan as the premier destination in the whole country and maintain its enviable status in the international tourism map,” she added.

Civil aviation regulator readies Palawan airport PPP for OK

By Daphne J. Magturo (Reporter)

THE GOVERNMENT is conceptualizing its third airport public-private partnership (PPP) project, consisting of operation and maintenance (O&M) deals for three airports in Palawan, although it remains to be seen if this can secure the President’s approval before he steps down on June 30 next year.

“It is better to bundle the three airports into one: the Puerto Princesa, San Vicente, and the Busuanga-Coron,” Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General William K. Hotchkiss III told BusinessWorld in an interview last week at the agency’s headquarters in Pasay City.

“It’s the board of the CAAP that has the final authority to say what are the terms of reference of the PPP, which airports, et cetera. The board has not yet decided, but within the President’s term we should be able to get the board to approve that.”

A proposed PPP project is submitted for approval to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), whose Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) recommends it to the NEDA Board. President Benigno S.C. Aquino III heads the NEDA Board, which is the last regulatory hurdle before any PPP project is put on the auction block.

In a mobile phone reply yesterday, NEDA Deputy Director General for Investment Planning Rolando G. Tungpalan said: “ICC OK [is] needed before NEDA Board. Whether this will be for this current NEDA Board or next will depend on progress of approval process.”

But in a separate text message, PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao said: “NEDA Board approval could still be within this administration if the business case and the project evaluation forms are submitted.”

Mr. Hotchkiss said the proximity of the airport projects to each other -- as well as their combined scale -- should make it attractive to private investors, although the project cost has yet to be determined.

Asked on the status of each airport, Mr. Hotchkiss replied: “Construction of the runway at the San Vicente Airport is already finished and it will soon be opened... for general aviation: small planes at first, then turboprops.”

“Once we have set the instrument landing system and the night flying facilities, probably we can open it to real airline operations.”

Construction is ongoing for the Busuanga-Coron airport, formally known as Francisco B. Reyes Airport.

“Traffic flow is coming in fast and the terminal is a bit small, so it might be expanded. The runway would also need realignment and lengthening,” Mr. Hotkiss said.

“For Puerto Princesa, there is ongoing construction so it might need only O&M.”

The O&M deal for the Puerto Princesa International Airport was initially planned to be included in a separate airport PPP deal and was assigned a project cost of P5.81 billion.

But it was eventually excluded from the first regional airport PPP package in order to support a plan to maximize Palawan’s tourism potential.

“Boracay is starting to get congested and part of the tourism flow is going to Bohol and Cebu. The value of Palawan is that it has white beaches and I think the next tourism flow is going to that province,” Mr. Hotchkiss said.

The Transportation department on June 18 finalized the exclusion of the Puerto Princesa International Airport from the second airport PPP deal worth P108.19 billion. That consists of two bundles: the first composed of the Bacolod-Silay (P20.26 billion) and Iloilo (P30.40 billion) airports and the second made up of the Davao (P40.57 billion), Laguindingan (P14.62 billion), and New Bohol (Panglao) (P2.34 billion) airports. The government hopes to award project contracts by March 2016. Concession period will run for 30 years.

The first airport PPP project -- the P17.52-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building project in Lapu-Lapu City -- was awarded in April last year to the consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure Ltd. This project broke ground last June 29 and is expected to be completed in three years.

The Mactan-Cebu airport is one of the 10 PPP deals cumulatively worth P189 billion that have been awarded since the program began in 2010. The rest are the P64.9-billion LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension and O&M, P55.51-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway, P16.43-billion first phase of the PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP), P15.86-billion second phase of the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Expressway Project, P8.69-billion modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center, PSIP’s P3.86-billion second phase, P2.5-billion Southwest Terminal of the Integrated Transport System, P2.01-billion Daang Hari-SLEx (South Luzon Expressway) Link Road, and P1.72-billion Automatic Fare Collection System.

Monsoon rains, cloudy skies for parts of Luzon on Monday

(Rappler)

The southwest monsoon is affecting Luzon, bringing rains over several provinces

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila and the rest of the Philippines will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms on Monday, July 13, state weather agency PAGASA said.

The southwest monsoon is affecting Luzon, bringing occasional rains over the provinces of Ilocos, La Union, Benguet, Zambales, Bataan, Mindoro and Palawan, the weather bureau said in its 5 pm bulletin on Sunday, July 12.

Monsoon rains which may trigger flashfloods and landslides will also be experienced over Pangasinan.

Meanwhile, moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over the entire archipelago, with moderate to rough seas.

Palawan town bans sale of fuel in bottles

(Philippine News Agency)

CORON, Palawan – The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in this picturesque town north of Palawan will be banning the selling of gasoline and other fuel products in bottles, locally known as bote-bote, to avoid any untoward incident.

The BFP in the island town will start prohibiting the illegal trade of petroleum products in Coron on July 12, said SFO2 Rene Francis Ayayo, following a visit to the office of Mayor Clara Reyes on July 1 to seek her help on convincing individuals involved.

Reyes said the action is based on a Department of Energy circular that governs the business of retailing liquid petroleum products.

“If we continue to allow this [practice], local officials could be held liable in case any untoward incident happens,” Reyes explained.

The BFP chief in Coron said small-time gasoline sellers were given extension for three times already.

“Siguro naman sa tagal ng palugit ubos na ang sinasabi n’yong stock na pinauuubos n’yo na lang para hindi kayo malugi. (Maybe after the lengthy period of time we gave you on your request to just sell your remaining supplies, you’ll no longer lose income),” Ayayo said.

Early this year, a big fire erupted in Barangay Tagumpay aggravated by a bote-bote store in the area.

A composite team was already formed by Reyes from the Business Permits and Licensing Office, Municipal Treasurer’s Office, Bantay-Coron, PNP and BFP to conduct inspection on July 13, 2015.

Gasoline stocks within the area will be confiscated, permit cancelled, business establishments closed, and corresponding cases in court will be filed against owners, who will ignore the ban.

Palawan Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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