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Province of Palawan - Archived News

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Contents

Puerto Princesa seeks probe on power crisis

(Philippines News Agency)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY - The city council here is seeking the help of the National Power Corporation (NPC) in providing a power barge to ease the power crisis that also affects the whole province, and is calling on the House of Representatives to conduct a “congressional inquiry” on why the problem continues to persist.

According to Councilor Gregorio Austria, chairman of the Committee on Energy, Power Utilities, and Facilities, the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) does not seem to be doing anything to ease the problem.

“Ginawa na ng komite ang lahat subalit walang namang ginagawa ang Paleco (The committee has done everything, but the Paleco is not doing its part),” Austria said Thursday.

He said the city council has also requested through the City Legal Office (CLO) for the conduct of an investigation on the possibility of suing Paleco and other independent power producers (IPPs) on their failure to provide electricity to members-consumers.

“Since Paleco entered into agreements with the members-consumers, they should provide what is their right based on the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers, and it is here where Paleco and the IPPs made the violation,” he said.

Austria said he has also asked President Benigno Aquino III to intervene and help Palawan’s power woes.

For the meantime, Paleco issued a new rotational brownout schedule from July 6 to 12, each lasting almost four hours, or half a day.


Large mining corp faces expansion problems in Palawan

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro (Philippines News Agency)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC) managed to skip bars positioned by environmental groups years ago over its proposed nickel-mining expansion project in Bataraza, Palawan’s protected Mount Bulanjao Range, which is said to be “one of the best conserved biodiversity hot spots located in the southernmost portion of Palawan.”

But the resistance is far from over.

After learning in late June that the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) had already issued a strategic environmental plan (SEP) clearance on December 11, 2014, longtime oppositionist Palawan Nongovenment Organization Network Inc. (PNNI) lodged a complaint.

“How then can a resolution granting a SEP clearance be issued?” PNNI Executive Director lawyer Robert Chan wrote the PCSD on June 23, regarding the grant for “Renewal and Conversion of Mining Lease Contracts into Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) Denominated as AMA-IVB-144A.”

Chan argued that, from their records of the 215th and 216th minutes of PCSD meeting, “The issue of grant for RTN[MC] to expand its operation was not entertained primarily because the same cannot be allowed with the current Environmentally Critical Areas Network [ECAN] map of Bataraza classifying significant portions of Mount Bulanjao as restricted and core zones and, therefore, off limits to mining.”

“The past minutes of the meeting of the council is bereft of any motion to endorse much less approve the issuance of any SEP clearance to RTNMC, most especially to the expansion to Mount Bulanjao, which at the present ECAN map is not allowed. Neither was there any indication of public hearing, consensus or division of the house for voting, considering there is a pending opposition from the representative from civil society,” a dismayed Chan said.

RoRo ramp in Kudat to be operational next year; Palawan prepares for bilateral trade sea linkage

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 2 (PNA) -- An independent online news website in East Malaysia reported Wednesday that Kudat is preparing to become “a hub for bilateral trade between the district and Palawan” because the “Roll On, Roll Off” (RoRo) ferry services will be operational by early next year.

The Daily Express quoted Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang, saying that “the Federal Government has allocated RM8.84 million to construct facilities in preparation for the RoRo ferry services in Kudat.”

Teo said the state government of Kota Kinabalu is grateful for the funding that will fulfill the important ramp project to launch sea linkages between Kudat and Palawan “to boost economic growth for Sabah and Philippines and the Bimp-Eaga region.”

He added that a consultant has been appointed and he was “made to understand that the design of the project is at the final stage and the physical construction work will begin in a month or two.”

The Daily News stated Teo said this in a speech delivered at the launching and signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the formation of Sabah Palawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SPCCI) Tuesday.

In this ceremony, Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez was present “to witness the signing and formation of the SPCCI by companies from Sabah, the local based Total Total Megalink Sdn Bhd and Oil Right Holding Sdn Bhd, while the province was represented by four companies –E-Power Technologies Corporation, Maynilad and Philphos Trading Inc.”

Total Megalink Sdn Bhd was represented by its Chairman Datuk Amir Kahar Tun Mustapha, its Chief Executive Officer Dato' Freddie Sua and Executive Director of Oil Right Holding Sdn Bhd Tay Teck Tuan while the Archipelago Philippines Ferries Corporation was represented by its managing partner Dennise C.Trajano, Chairman of E-Power Technologies Corporation Edwin L. Gardiola, Senior Vice-President of Maynilad Patrick C. Gregario and Philphos Trading Inc, Vice Chairman Bienvenido S. Santos, according to the independent news website.

Teo reportedly said that SPCCI will specifically focus on bilateral trade between two regions in different countries. The new initiative, he added, “requires new players who are willing to explore and take that extra risk of finding a new horizon in terms of doing business.”

Teo, who called the event a “historical day for the relationship between Sabah and Palawan,” said it will accord “mutual economic benefits and boost economic catalysts both areas.”

The online news website furthered that the SPPCI shall aid the business sector in Sabah and Palawan “in the joint economic development and prosperity of both areas.”

Governor Alvarez was also quoted in saying “that President Benigno Aquino III is very supportive of the sea linkages between Sabah via Kudat and Brooke's Point in Southern Palawan that will boost mutual economic benefits.”

“We are looking up on the RoRo ferry services to be completed in Kudat that will create sea connectivity between Palawan and Sabah via Kudat. In fact, we have high-speed catamaran ferries in Palawan which can accommodate 35 cars, between 15 and 20 heavy motor vehicles, and about 300 passengers. Therefore, we plan to have a trial run for the sea linkage between Kudat and Palawan tentatively in August this year,” the online website quoted the Palawan governor.

For air connectivity, Alvarez said he “is acquiring small aircrafts to create such connectivity between Kudat and Palawan. He expects this to be provided with single engine 10-seater aircraft before end of this year.”

Furthermore, Alvarez told the The Daily News that he also “hopes to boost tourist arrivals to Palawan which has attracted 2.6 million tourists a year.”

China rushing reclamation of Subi, Fiery Cross reefs due to oil and gas-rich Reed Bank -- WESCOM chief

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 1 (PNA) -- China is rushing reclamation developments particularly on Subi and Fiery Cross reefs in the West Philippines Sea because it is eyeing the oil and gas-rich Reed Bank in the northeast quadrant of Kalayaan town in Palawan.

Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez Jr., commander of the Western Command (WESCOM) in Palawan, articulated this Tuesday at the Multi-Sectoral Forum on the West Philippines Sea Issue jointly organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) at a hotel here.

Speaking to attendees of the multi-sectoral forum, Lopez expressed his belief that China is hastening its reclamation of the two reefs to easily get to the Reed Bank, a large tablemount with an area of 8,866 km².

“They are rushing the completion of Subi and Fiery Cross reefs because I think they are eyeing Reed Bank which is 20,000 times larger than what the Malampaya has,” Lopez said, adding the airstrips mean support to China’s air assets.

Recent seismic surveys done on the said bank indicate that oil and gas deposits are available in the area in very large quantities. However, it is said they remain only partly tapped due to the Philippines’ claim that is disputed by China.

As of June this year, images produced by satellites demonstrate that China has magnified its landfill activities on Subi Reef by around 70% in nearly two months. Lopez said the landfill can accommodate an air strip.

Development of the Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef into an artificial island, he supplied, is vital because the airstrip can be used for the operation of military aircrafts as because of a service station for gas.

China’s ongoing reclamation activities in the West Philippines Sea are also on Michief, Gaven, Hughes, Cuarteron and Johnson South reefs.

2 M passengers a year seen with new Palawan airport

By Delon Porcalla With Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Tourist arrivals in Palawan are expected to increase with the newly renovated Puerto Princesa International Airport in Palawan, an official said yesterday.

“The new airport is designed to accommodate two million passengers per annum with a peak passenger flow of 690 passengers per hour,” Undersecretary Julianito Bucayan of the Department of Transportation and Communications told President Aquino at a briefing.

Palawan is home to the Tubbataha Reefs marine reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Underground River, recently voted among the New7Wonders of Nature.

Bucayan said the target completion date of the $102-million project, which was started in August 2014, is January 2017. He assured the President they are doing everything to finish it “much earlier,” or before Aquino steps down in June 2016.

He said the airport’s capacity had to be expanded to address the growing air traffic in Palawan. The airport was designed to enhance the quality of service and comply with international civil aviation organization safety standards.

“Included in the air navigation system is one of the newest in the Asia-Pacific region. We have the first one in Laguindingan (Cagayan de Oro) and we will be implementing a full Internet protocol, a full digital communications system for this airport,” Bucayan said. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

He said the airport could now accommodate four A320s and two A330s passenger planes, adding that the airport capacity is in sync with the passenger terminal capacity.

He said the airport also has a 200-car parking facility.

The passenger terminal building has a floor area of 13,000 square meters, much bigger than the existing 3,000 square meters.

The Export-Import Bank of Korea,under the operation and management of the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of Korea,financed the project. Mactan-Cebu international airport

Meanwhile, Aquino yesterday led the inauguration of the new Mactan-Cebu International Airport terminal building.

The project, which costs P17.5 billion, was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority in 2013. It is being carried out through public-private partnership (PPP) to increase the airport’s passenger handling capacity from 4.5 million to 15 million per year. It is expected to be completed by June 2019.

The President said there would be 20 additional aircraft parking stands with respective aerobridges, 13 bus parking stands for vehicles that shuttle passengers to and from the airport and more than 550 private vehicle parking stands.

He said a link-bridge to connect domestic and international terminals would be built, aside from 100 domestic and international flight check-in counters from the current 49.

There will be bigger spaces and the flow of operations will be smoother, Aquino said, adding that all the improvements were part of their goal to build quality airport and facilities to serve the passengers.

“We always say this: Under the straight path, our objective is inclusive growth,” the President said.

He said better airports could help boost tourism, which credited as one of the areas responsible for the country’s economic growth.

The President said every tourist could bring in $1,000 to the economy and provide jobs or livelihood opportunities, with the need for more restaurants, souvenir shops, drivers and tour guides.

Quoting his celebrity sister Kris Aquino, the President said tourism could be of help “now” and not tomorrow.

Aquino said flights would be increased along with passengers that could be accommodated.

Pryce seeks 10% stake in Palawan oil prospect

By Alena Mae S. Flores

Listed Pryce Corp., through unit Pryce Gases Inc., plans to acquire a 10-percent stake in service contract 55 off southern Palawan from Otto Energy Ltd. of Australia.

Pryce Gases made a firm offer to acquire from Otto a 10-percent participating interest in SC 55 through the Energy Department for the exploration, development and exploitation of petroleum resources.

“The offer is essentially subject to the condition that PGI is to receive 20 percent of the Filipino Participation Incentive Allowance under the service contract and will be entitled to 10 percent of the cost recovery pool,” the company said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday.

Pryce said the offer had not yet been accepted and might “still be subject to amendments and counterproposals.”

“There is likewise no certainty or assurance that any agreement will be reached relative to PGI’s offer,” it said.

Pryce, formerly Pryce Properties Corp., is a property holding and real estate company incorporated in 1989.

Its lone subsidiary Pyrce Gases produces and sells industrial gases and engages in the importation and distribution of liquefied petroleum gas under the Pryce Gas brand name,

Otto, meanwhile, owns 73.18 percent of SC 55, Palawan55 Exploration & Production Co. holds 6.82 percent while Red Emperor Resources NL of Australia has 15 percent.

Red Emperor is raising funds of about A$5.76 million (P199 million) to finance the drilling of Hawkeye-1 prospect in SC 55 scheduled in late July.

Red Emperor disclosed to the Australian Securities Exchange the issuance of 72 million new ordinary shares at 4 pence (A$0.08) per share was oversubscribed and raised £2.88 million (A$5.76m) before expenses.

“Proceeds from the raise and existing cash resources will principally be used to fund the upcoming drilling and potential appraisal activities in the Philippines, where the company has a 15 percent interest in Block SC55 in the southwest Palawan Basin,” it said.

SC 55 is a deep-water block in the middle of a proven regional oil and gas fairway that extends from the productive offshore Borneo region in the southwest to the offshore northwest Palawan.

Aquino visits Palawan

By JOEL M. SY EGCO

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd flies today to Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, the province that is closest to the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. confirmed the planned visit during a radio interview on Sunday but stressed that it has nothing to do with the heightening tension between the Philippines and China.

“The President is scheduled to fly tomorrow (Monday) to inspect the progress of the ongoing (project) to modernize the Puerto Princesa Airport that was approved by the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) last October 17, 2014 which costs P5.23 billion,” the Palace official said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma clarified that the visit is not at all related to the disputes or to the halting of repair works at Pag-asa island, the small town located in the Spratlys.

“The reason why we stopped the repairs (in Pag-asa island) is based on the status quo principle on areas covered by issues on maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea that is related o the rules-based approach strategy where we filed an arbitration case before the UN (UNited Nations) tribunal,” he added.

He said Aquino will also visit the Mactan Cebu International Airport project that was also approved late last year.

With a budget of P17.5 billion, the Mactan project aims to further improve the tourism industry in the region, Cebu being an important international gateway.

Outgoing AFP chief now an adopted son of Palawan

By Jaime Laude With Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - For showing determination in challenging China’s provocations in the West Philippine Sea, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has been named “an adopted illustrious son of Palawan.”

In bestowing on Catapang the honors, the Palawan Provincial Council cited his personally leading a group of local and foreign media last month to Pag-Asa island – seat of the Kalayaan island town in Palawan – to brief them on the real situation and send a message to China that the Philippines is serious about asserting its sovereignty over its territory.

Catapang retires from the service next month upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

“He was declared an adopted illustrious son of Palawan through Provincial Resolution No. 12050 dated May 19, 2015,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez signed the resolution adopted by the provincial council headed by Palawan Vice Gov. Victorino Dennis Santos.

The province, through the council, expressed its appreciation for Catapang’s concern as well as his reassurance of protection for the country’s maritime borders.

While in Pag-Asa, Catapang announced his plan to build a vacation house in Kalayaan after his retirement. He said he plans to rent out the house to tourists occasionally, in line with the tourism program of Kalayaan town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr.

“Gen. Catapang’s initiative in pooling the resources and efforts of the AFP in visiting Pag-Asa Island was also appreciated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” Cabunoc said.

Pag-Asa island is one of the nine areas in the region occupied by Filipino troops. Local help

Meanwhile, Angkla party-list Rep. Jesulito Manalo said yesterday the local maritime industry can help secure the country’s territorial waters by building vessels for the Coast Guard and the Navy.

“With what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea, we can – if we all work together – ourselves build our own ships for the Coast Guard, for the Navy and merchant vessels,” Manalo said.

He added public funds should be invested in building and developing national shipyards instead of acquiring used vessels from foreign powers.

Manalo noted the country’s weak or zero deterrent capability in the face of China’s continued reclamation and military construction activities in the West Philippine Sea, as well as piracy and poaching along the country’s extensive coastline.

“We can actually become a peaceful maritime power in the region, and can provide stability. One day, we’ll be shipping fleet owners. We have the manpower, experience and expertise. Let’s believe in ourselves and have a bigger vision for our country,” he said.

He said the Philippines ranks first in Southeast Asia and fourth in the world in terms of ship building, after China, South Korea and Japan. However, most of the major shipyards in the country are foreign-owned.

A paper from the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives said the construction of a 320,000-deadweight tonnage commercial ship “shows that the Philippines can build world-class ocean-going vessels.”

The CPBRD also said in 2013, a total of 90 international vessels were ordered from the Philippines, almost double the 48 booked orders in the previous year.

According to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), there are 12 licensed shipyards in the country, with eight having facilities for the construction and repair of big ships.

Malampaya consortium seeks 15-year contract extension

By RITCHIE A. HORARIO

THE consortium that operates the Malampaya natural gas project off northwest Palawan is seeking a 15-year extension of its contract, which is set to expire in 2024.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said that the consortium has asked for an extension of its contract due to the likelihood that the gas field still contains enough reserves.

The Malampaya gas field is being operated by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. in joint venture with Chevron Malampaya LLC and PNOC Exploration Corporation (PNOC EC).

Shell Philippines leads the consortium as operator and owns a 45-percent stake, while Chevron Malampaya also owns 45 percent and PNOC EC holds the remaining 10 percent.

Sebastian Quiñones, Shell general manager, said the consortium has sought the extension of the contract to operate mainly to explore for new natural gas deposits.

Quiñones said they are still looking for a new gas field near the $2 billion Malampaya platform, but the exploration should have the government’s go-signal.

“We would proceed with more exploration. We have to conduct drilling for us to be able to find first gas. Then we would proceed with development,” Quiñones said.

Petilla said the DOE will look into the request of the consortium, adding that the agency is now exploring alternative power sources, including imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The energy official said the consortium had commissioned a study indicating that the gas field will likely last until 2030. According to the study, Malampaya will last an extra five years if it is operated as a baseload supplier, and can last after 2030 if it is used as mid-merit supplier.

Mid-merit plants supply the gap between baseload and peaking plants, which run during peak hours.

“The life of the Malampaya gas field depends largely on the usage of the power plants,” said Petilla.

The Malampaya gas field under Service Contract 38 fuels three power plants in Batangas with a total capacity of 2,700 megawatts (MW), providing 40 percent to 45 percent of Luzon’s energy needs.

The three Batangas plants are currently running as baseload (or 24 hours a day, seven days a week) except during forced outages and maintenance shutdowns.

To draw more gas from the Malampaya gas field, the consortium has embarked on a $1 billion project to meet its supply commitments to the three power plants.

3,900 endangered turtles seized from Palawan warehouse

By Pia Ranada (Rappler.com)

The seizure is the largest confiscation of the critically-endangered Palawan Forest Turtles to date

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities have seized more than 3,900 critically-endangered freshwater turtles from a warehouse owned by a Chinese national in southern Palawan, a government official said.

The seizure on June 17 was the largest for freshwater turtles in Palawan, Alex Marcaida of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) told Rappler on Thursday, June 25.

International group Traffic says it is the largest confiscation of Palawan Forest Turtles to date.

The confiscated 3,907 Palawan Forest Turtles, listed as critically-endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), were the majority of a total haul of 4,402 freshwater turtles.

The haul included 168 Asian Leaf Turtles and 25 Southeast Asian Box Turtles.

The turtles were confiscated from a warehouse in Bataraza, the southernmost town on mainland Palawan, around 6 hours away by land from Puerto Princesa City, said Marcaida.

The turtles were found in concrete aquariums in the warehouse. Ninety were already dead when they were discovered by Palawan's Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force.

The turtles were in poor condition, crowded in the concrete aquariums with dirty water that appeared not to have been changed for a long time, said Marcaida.

Sixty-nine turtles did not survive the long land travel to Puerto Princesa. Days after, 85 more died bringing the total number of dead turtles to 244.

Recuperating

Law enforcers handed the surviving turtles to PCSD who have turned them over to conservation institutions for rehabilitation.

"As of the moment, they are in rehab centers. We turned over some of them to the Katala Foundation. But since they don't have enough space, some turtles are with the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center," said Marcaida.

Around 1,000 turtles have been released back into the wild, following the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

The rest are under evaluation in the rehabilition centers.

It will take at least a month for these turtles to fully recuperate, said Marcaida. The focus during that time will be to deworm the turtles, and treat them for any infection they may have contracted while in captivity.

But deworming may take much longer because PCSD and the partner institutions don't have enough funds to cover all the turtles, said Marcaida.

'Collecting frenzy'

The PCSD and Palawan's Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force are preparing to file charges against the owner of the warehouse, a Chinese national.

Marcaida said the warehouse had been under surveillance by Palawan authorities for some time. But when confronted, the Chinese owner claimed he had only been renting out the warehouse and was unaware of the illegal activities inside.

Authorities arrested the Filipino caretaker but released him soon after.

The Palawan Forest Turtle, endemic to the province, is locally called "bakoko" and is prized as a Chinese culinary delicacy and pet.

It is the largest and heaviest turtle of its type in the Philippines and for 80 years, its true geographic distribution across the country remained a mystery, according to a 2012 report by the IUCN.

Scientists and conservationists had thought it came from Leyte, hence its scientific name. It was only recently discovered that the bakoko thrived in the northern part of Palawan, catalyzing a mad rush for the species among poachers.

"The recent discovery of a natural population of S. leytensis on Palawan has already spurred a collecting frenzy among wildlife trappers and traders to supply domestic and international markets for the illegal wildlife trade," reads the report.

The turtles are usually smuggled by Chinese merchants to Hong Kong or China.

The recently seized Palawan Forest Turtles were believed to have been collected over a period of 6 months from their natural habitats in Northern Palawan.

Traffic lauded Philippine law enforcers for the confiscation but said the fight was far from over.

"Traffic urges the authorities to track down and punish the perpetrators behind this heinous crime," said Traffic Southeast Asia Regional Director Chris Shepherd.

DOE approves re-assignment of interest in Palawan oil well from Pitkin Petroleum

(Philippines News Agency)

MANILA - The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved the 70 percent re-assignment of interest for Service Contract 6-Octon Block from Pitkin Petroleum Plc. back to the original farmors.

”We received advice from the SC 6 Block A Operator that the Department of Energy has approved the re-assignment of participating interests to the farmors resulting from the withdrawal of erstwhile farminee, Pitkin Petroleum Plc,” Trans-Asia Petroleum Corporation said in a disclosure from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Wednesday.

Trans-Asia Petroleum noted its participating interest in SC 6 Block A has reverted to 7.78 percent following the DOE’s approval.

Last February, Philex Petroleum Corporation reported impairment losses worth P338.5 million due to its subsidiary Pitkin Petroleum Plc., having exited the project in Service Contract 6A.

Pitkin Petroleum was supposed to develop phase 2 of the project for the 70 percent stake, according to a 2011 farm-in agreement, but decided to back out early this year.

Located in offshore Northwest Palawan, SC 6A covers 1,081 square kilometers, mostly in the shallow waters of north west of the province.

The block is located only 10 kilometers from the Galoc oil field, and 50 kilometers away from the Camago-Malampaya oil and gas field.

Eight wells have been drilled within the SC6A area, with several wells having found oil and gas.

Other companies that have a participating interest in the project are Philodrill Corp, PetroEnergy Resources Corp, Forum Energy Philippines Corp, Anglo Philippine Holdings Corp, and Alcorn Gold Resources Corp.

DOH-MIMAROPA heightens campaign for good health of pregnant women and their children

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

CULION, Palawan, June 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA conducted its regional version of "Buntis Congress" on Tuesday at the island municipality of Culion, Palawan to highlight its campaign in ensuring that pregnant women and those within the reproductive age will get the appropriate services to keep them healthy and away from the verge of death.

A total of 400 reproductive age women were provided with free health services such as pre-natal check-up, vitamins and counseling by DOH health workers and partners.

Among the free health packages provided to pregnant women were blood testing, preventive dental health services, ultrasound testing, and urine screening.

"Buntis or pregnancy kits" and malaria nets were also distributed by personnel of the Population Commission who also shared information about family planning methods that can be used by families who want to plan the number of their children.

According to DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo, the conduct of the "Buntis Congress" has been conceptualized to ensure that all pregnant mothers in the MIMAROPA region who are living in difficult-to-reach areas will be aware of how they can access the available services offered by DOH.

MIMAROPA region consists of the island provinces of Mindoro (Occidental/Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

Director Janairo noted that being aware of the available health services to pregnant mothers can pave the way for sure and safe motherhood while protecting their children afterwards.

"The Buntis Congress aims to increase the knowledge, attitude and skills of pregnant mothers as part of the efforts in giving priority to maternal and child care interventions," said Dr. Janairo.

Through the conduct of the congress, pregnant mothers are given reminders on avoiding pregnancy complications that may put not only their own lives to risk but also their babies.

Among the reminders are having regular check-up, taking care of their oral health and giving birth in a hospital facility.

The DOH is giving a boost on maternal and child care and health as one of its priority programs in line with the goal of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin earlier announced that the conduct of nationwide "Buntis Congress" is included in the DOH's Hi-5 Program or High-Impact Breakthrough Strategies to ensure the attainment of universal health care as envisioned by the Aquino administration’s straight path of good governance.

The strategies consist of reduction of infant mortality rate by 20 percent; lowering under-five mortality rate by 22 percent; reducing maternal mortality rate by 57 percent; halting Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) by 40 percent; and increasing the service delivery networks in poor communities.

The Hi-5 Program aims to ensure that the Aquino administration will fulfill its promise of better health care services under its universal health care agenda.

With the conduct of the "Buntis Congress," DOH officials want to achieve the target of reducing maternal and child mortality rates. In doing so, they have engaged the participation of local government units (LGUs) in the region of MIMAROPA as active partners.

According to Dr. Faith Felipe Alberto, DOH-MIMAROPA Assistant Regional Director, there were 12 maternal deaths in Palawan from January to June of this year.

Such deaths were due to various contributing factors such as internal hemorrhage or bleeding suffered by mothers while being transported to the hospital facility, especially those from the far islands.

Dr. Alberto said they discourage women from giving birth through "hilot" or traditional midwives as there are some functions that cannot be performed by them, especially if there are birth complexities.

Japanese patrol plane in Palawan for drills with Philippines

(Kyodo News)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY - A P3-C patrol aircraft of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on Sunday landed in Puerto Princesa City, in Palawan to take part in a training exercise with the Philippine military, marking the first time for an SDF unit to enter the island.

The exercise is seen as an opportunity to display the strength of Japan's cooperation with the Philippines, with an eye to China's controversial land reclamation on the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

About 20 members belonging to the first aircraft group of MSDF Kanoya Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture arrived on the P3-C. From Tuesday, personnel of the Philippine military are to board the plane for a scheduled flight over international waters of the South China Sea.

The exercise is humanitarian in nature, focused on improving joint efforts in conducting maritime search and rescue during a disaster.

Adm. Tomohisa Takei, commander of the MSDF who visited the island in February during an official visit to the Philippines, said warning and surveillance activity "is not envisioned."

At a summit meeting held in Tokyo on June 4, Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to begin negotiations on an accord for the transfer of defense equipment and technology in the fields of disaster relief and maritime security, as their nations bolster security ties due to tensions sparked by the pace and extent of China's reclamation work.

Although details have yet to be worked out, Japanese government sources have said P3-C patrol aircraft and radar-related equipment are seen as potential export items.

Separately from the drill with the MSDF, the Philippines is scheduled to hold regular naval exercises with the United States east of Palawan from Monday.

Japan and the Philippines, which mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties next year, have increasingly stepped up their cooperation in the face of China's increasing assertiveness in the contested waters.

China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, which is a vital shipping lane and believed to have rich fishing grounds. Rival claimants in the dispute are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines, which is one of the most vocal in opposing China's push for overlapping territorial claims.

While Japan is not directly linked to the South China Sea dispute, it fears Beijing's expanding influence in the sea. The United States, an ally of Japan and the Philippines, does not take a stand in the territorial issues but has expressed concern over unilateral attempts to change the status quo at sea by force.

19 Pinoy youths sent to SEACamp earth campaign

By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Nineteen Filipino youths from all over the country were awarded grants by the US embassy to implement marine conservation projects at the Sea and Earth Advocates (SEA) Camp held recently in Coron, Palawan.

SEACamp is a US embassy project, in partnership with Save Philippine Seas (SPS), focused on empowering young Filipinos to become leaders in marine conservation.

The grant winners were selected from 90 participants of the regional SEACamps held between April to May in Batangas, Negros Oriental and Tawi-Tawi.

Grant winners were selected by a panel from SPS, USAID’s ECOFISH project, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines and Lighthouse Studio based on feasibility, impact and innovation.

One winning proposal from Luzon, KaliKLASRUM, will engage urban children in environmental and conservation issues.

In the Visayas, the project Scarus will assist fishermen in painting and coding their boats.

The Garbage to Garden Project in Mindanao will provide training on proper waste management and vermicomposting techniques.

SEACamp, one of the many activities of the US embassy in support of its ongoing earth campaign, is also supported by Bobble, CP Kelco, Havaianas, Human Nature, Lagu, Ni-pa Foods, and Smart Communications, Inc.

Palawan Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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