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Province of Palawan - Archived News

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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


Otto eyes new SC55 partner by mid-2014

By Riza T. Olchondra (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Australia’s Otto Energy Ltd., which has taken control of the oil and gas venture in Service Contract 55 (SC 55) off Palawan, hopes to find a new exploration partner by mid-year.

The former operator of SC 55 BHP Billiton Petroleum (Philippines) Corp. left the venture last year, citing difficulties in securing permits at the local government level.

Otto Energy wants a partner with deepwater experience to drill the Hawkeye-1 exploration well in SC 55, the Australian company said in a regulatory filing.

“Several suitable companies with Southeast Asia operations have commenced technical due diligence reviews of the available data. Completion of the farm-out process is anticipated to be completed and a new partner secured by mid-2014,” Otto said in its report.

As operator of the service contract, Otto has lodged its budget and Sub-Phase 4 work program, which includes the drilling of the Hawkeye-1 well, with the Department of Energy (DOE).

Otto said it started drill planning preparations, including well design and procurement reviews.

“Otto has also invited expressions of interest from rig owners … to ensure Hawkeye-1 is drilled within the required timeframe,” the company said.

Meanwhile, production continued throughout the first quarter following the successful completion of Galoc Phase II commissioning in December 2013. There were four cargo liftings for the quarter, all sold to South Korean refineries, Otto said.

Earlier, the DOE approved the reassignment of 60-percent equity in SC 55 from BHP Billiton to Otto Energy, bringing Otto Energy’s interest in the service contract to 93.18 percent.

Last Jan. 21, Otto Energy announced that it had executed agreements with BHPB to terminate the farm-out agreement for SC 55. Under the agreements, BHP Billiton would have to pay $3 million to Otto Energy following the DOE’s approval.

BHP Billiton will also need to settle another $24.5 million to Otto Energy upon drilling the first exploration well in SC 55, which is touted to be the country’s next Malampaya field.

LPA to bring rains to Bicol, parts of central, southern PH


MANILA -- The low pressure area (LPA) spotted east of the Philippines is forecast to bring rains over parts of Bicol region, Visayas and Mindanao in the next couple of days, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

As of 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, the LPA was estimated at 80 kilometers southeast of Surigao City.

Visayas will have cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Bicol Region, MIMAROPA, Zamboanga peninsula and Northern Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with scattered light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

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

The LPA, which is expected to have already crossed the landmass of Visayas, will be in the vicinity of Palawan by Thursday (April 17). Gradual improvement of the weather is expected over Eastern and Central Visayas.

However, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, MIMAROPA, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Aurora, Quezon and Metro Manila will be cloudy with scattered light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

The rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

From April 18 to 20, Palawan will continue to experience cloudy skies with scattered light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

The rest of the country is also expected to have partly cloudy to cloudy skies mostly in the afternoon or evening with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

The LPA is expected to dissipate after crossing the Palawan area.

However, the general public is still advised to monitor for the weather advisories and daily weather forecast issued by PAGASA.

Island Hopping in Honda Bay

By Gael Hilotin (Pinay Solo Backpacker)

Puerto Princesa has long been a magnet of sun-worshippers and pleasure seekers. Gratefully, despite the crowd it brings, it has managed to preserve its splendor over the years.

Resting on the eastern coast of the green city is Honday Bay, where outriggers boats used for tours mingle. Its sun-sparkled threads of turquoise and emerald waters exude affordable water activities. A visit to this region will not be complete without island hopping and basking in its cerulean beaches.

To get to Honday Bay from the city center, you can charter a tourism-accredited tricycle to Honday Bay for around Php 600 (one tricycle good for 4 pax). Alternatively, you may also charter a van. Our Honday Bay island hopping tour was arranged by Go Hotels Palawan, you can also inquire from your hotel, local tour companies or head to the tourism office.

Tour packages would usually include van transport from the city to the wharf, boat and guide for island hopping, environmental fees, entrance fees to the islands and lunch. Snorkeling and free diving gears can be rented from the shops near the port or you may stop over at one of the shops along the highway. If you are on a DIY tour, you can pay for the fees and boat rental at Sta,Lourdes Wharf in Honda Bay. Each boat can accommodate a maximum of 10 passengers.

First stop is Pambato Reef, known for its floating cottage crowned by a pawikan-inspired roof. This structure contains information about the reef and the staggering variety of marine life inhabiting the area. It is an interesting spot for snorkeling where you can spot rainbow-hued fishes, colors and other marine animals.

Like a lovely gem emerging out of the sea when the tide gets low, Luli Island is another interesting stop during the Honday Bay Island hopping. The place is riddled nice-looking mangroves and open cottages, a good spot to feast on your packed meals. Take a dip in its clear azure waters or go kayaking within the area marked with colorful flags.

Arguably, the best place for picnic is Cowrie Island, with clear turquoise water and powdery whit sands, just wear footwear when swimming because some sea urchins dwell here. The island fringed by coconut trees and the portion that is open to public has been developed for the convenience of tourists. Soothe your tired muscles and relax at the massage area. Cool down at the bar and restaurant that offers refreshments, try their best-seller buko halo-halo. Enjoy your lunch at the open pavilion or the cabanas dappled near the shore.

Undoubtedly, Honday Bay is just one of the many reasons to visit Puerto Princesa. The green city exudes with gorgeous beaches, natural wonders, and thrilling adventures for travelers.

Smear drive vs Hagedorn

By Paul M. Gutierrez

THE return of gambling through “jueteng” and the Small Town Lottery (STL) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is allegedly the reason behind the “smear job” against former city mayor Edward Hagedorn by his long-time nemesis, retired police general, Eduardo Matillano.

This, according to Sandra Cam, the “whistleblower” in the “jueteng payola” scandal that rocked the country in 2005 and where she revealed the alleged involvement of the family of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a talk with this reporter, Cam alleged that another “GL” (gambling lord) informed her that a meeting took place “two weeks ago” in Manila between Matillano, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron and one “Nora de Leon Co,” to discuss the return of gambling in the city through the STL.

“You can quote me because my source is ‘very reliable’ as he is also a gambling lord,” Cam said, adding she is not “afraid” to be sued by Bayron or Matillano.

It was Hagedorn, during his term, who eliminated all forms of illegal gambling in Puerto Princesa.

“Nora,” Cam added, is also known as the “Queen of the STL” who is “personally very close” to Matillano.

She said Nora’s “closeness” to Matillano dates back to his days as director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), one of whose mandates is the elimination of illegal gambling.

In the same period covered by the alleged meeting, Matillano, using a 3-year old report by the Commission on Audit (CoA), filed a graft and corruption case against Hagedorn at the Ombudsman.

Right after Matillano filed the case against him, the still popular former mayor expressed confidence the Ombudsman would dismiss the case for lack of merit.

Cam quoted Hagedorn as saying that “there is nothing” he can do with the proposed return of gambling in Puerto Princesa allegedly under the “sponsorship” of Bayron.

Hagedorn, however, said that he would stop its operation once he gets elected back into office.

Bayron is facing a recall election approved by the Commission on Elections en banc last April 1 under Comelec Resolution 9864. The recall process however is temporarily on hold pending the issue of funding.

The proponents, led by businessman Al Babao, told the Comelec that they have “lost” their “trust and confidence” in Bayron for alleged graft and corruption, mismanagement, rising criminality, especially the use and trafficking of illegal drugs and, a drop in tourists arrival, which is the city’s main source of income.

They noted that most tourists now visiting Puerto Princesa find it worth their while to proceed to El Nido and other destinations instead of deciding to spend their time in the city, which was the case during the term of Hagedorn.

“Hindi na nagtatagal ang mga turista sa Puerto Princesa,” they lamented.

“Dumadaan na lang sila dito dahil sa narito ang airport pero ang karamihan diretso na sa ibang lugar katulad ng El Nido”.

Johnny Depp wants to visit El Nido, Palawan

By Janet Nepales

Los Angeles – Three-time Academy Award Best Actor nominee Johnny Depp expressed his desire to visit El Nido in Palawan after we showed him a travel magazine photo of the vacation resort when we interviewed him recently for the sci-fi action movie “Transcendence.”

The 50-year-old, who owns the 45-acre Little Hall’s Pond Cay Island in the Bahamas he renamed Lilly Rose Beach after his daughter, is an outdoorsy kind of guy who loves spending his free time on the beach with his family. JOHNNY DEPP

JOHNNY DEPP and (inset) his engagement ring (Photo by Ruben Nepales)

The actor openly talked about his love for actress Amber Heard to whom he has been engaged since Christmas Eve last year. The two have been dating since 2012, after meeting on the set of “The Rum Diary.” Johnny announced his separation from Vanessa Paradis, the mother of his two children (Lily-Rose Melody and John Christopher III), in June 2012.

Johnny disclosed the reason he has decided to marry Amber. “Well, I think that every day, every year that you get a little older, you get a little wiser. You have an easier and a better look at what’s going on in life.”

It wasn’t easy as “she’s everything that I wouldn’t want to be with, ’cause actors and actresses, it’s not an easy deal,” he said.

“But she has a very good perspective on her career and one of the first times I sat down with her, just talking after we met, I was astonished at how smart she is, and she is very, very smart. There’s a real strong brilliant woman in there that has a lot to say. And she has the ability to bring up the names of old blues guys, like Slim Harpo or Tampa Red or any of these somewhat obscure blues guys, and she has a great knowledge of that and country music. There was no way around it.

“It’s an interesting thing when you realize that you are at a point in your life where you are able to dedicate your life to one person. To love that person as you do your children. So, yeah, I guess it’s a little combination of everything, but she’s a wonderful girl and I am very lucky.”

Then Johnny showed us the engagement ring. “I picked the ring,” he confessed. “That’s why I am wearing it. I don’t want to give it to her. I kept this one. She got the good one. I got the subtle one.”

Who knows, Johnny and Amber may consider spending their honeymoon at El Nido, Palawan.

• • •

Johnny is not the only one who loves El Nido, Palawan.

Both Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner, who filmed “The Bourne Legacy” at El Nido Resorts’ Lagen Island in Palawan, could not stop talking about the place.

Rachel said, “Palawan is like a paradise island. It is more like the Emerald City. It is like a fantasy. Maybe it’s real to you, but to me, it looked like a fantasy place. I definitely would love to go back to Palawan.”

Jeremy, for his part, said, “It seems spawned from the heavens. It is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. It’s gorgeous!”

“The Bourne Legacy’s” award-winning producer Frank Marshall who earned five Oscar best picture nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Color Purple” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” also loved Palawan.

He said, “It was the most beautiful place I had ever been to. It is just staggeringly beautiful. Unfortunately, I was in Palawan for only two days. I wish we had spent six weeks there.”

Palawan is home to the exquisite El Nido Resorts’ Lagen Island that has water cottages and gives visitors the opportunity to engage in all kinds of water sports activities. Other breathtaking El Nido Resorts developments there are located at Miniloc, Pangulasian and Apulit. The resorts there were not affected by typhoon “Haiyan.”

Lawmakers asked to probe construction of US bases in Palawan


MANILA, Philippines – Palawan fishermen identified with the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday appealed to lawmakers to conduct an investigation on the alleged construction of a mini-naval base in Oyster Bay in Palawan.

In particular, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) put to task members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on National Defense, and the upper house counter part committees at the House of Representatives to undertake separate probes on the alleged plan of the US government and the Aquino administration to transform Oyster Bay in Palawan into a mini-naval base for visiting American forces.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France asserted that if the report is true on the construction of mini-naval base, then it will constitute a joint Washington-Manila crime against national sovereignty and wholesale destruction of natural resources and marine environment in the name of US war of aggression in East Asia and the Pacific.

“The Senate and the House of Representatives should be compelled to act in accordance with the collective interest of the people and must do their constitutional and moral duty duty to uphold and protect the country’s sovereignty and national patrimony from American aggressors,” the Pamalakaya leader noted.

In October 2013, Pamalakaya’s France noted that Commodore Joseph Rostum Peña, commander of the Philippines’ western navy, confirmed that the plan would be a mini-Subic Naval Base, where a future port here would extend the reach of the navy’s two frigates, both former US Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, which is about 160 kilometers from the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Pamalakaya said the plan to convert Oyster Bay into a mini-Subic Naval Base was revived under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in response to Washington’s gesture to donation of frigates in 2011 and 2012. “We will contest this grand mockery of Philippine sovereignty in the parliament of the streets, in any appropriate court or forum and in the court of public opinion. US President Barack Obama and the puppet president in Manila should be held accountable for this grandslam crime against national sovereignty and patrimony,” Pamalakaya’s France said.

The Pamalakaya official said the construction of mini-naval base in Oyster Bay for US military pivot and terror activities in Asia and the Pacific is grossly unconstitutional and would put extreme danger to the lives and livelihood of the people and their environment. France argued that the purpose of the mini-naval base in Oyster base is not only to check China and the long-running tension in West Philippine Sea but also to maintain the military hegemony of Washington all over the region.

“The US appears like building another Pearl Harbor in preparation for more wars and more crimes of wars of aggression and terrorist campaigns against people struggling for justice and liberation. This mini-launching pad for imperialist war, colonialization and neo-colonialization must be exposed and opposed to the highest order,” said France.

Pamalakaya called the attention of Philippine senators and congressmen to be extra vigilant on the plan to build a mini-Subic Naval Base in Oyster Bay, hinting that the construction is in preparation for the signing of framework agreement between the United States and executive officials of the Aquino administration regarding the “increased rotational presence” of American forces, that would allow the latter access to local military bases and even construction of new US military facilities.

“The Philippine Senate –the ratifying authority of any PH-US military agreement in the country is completely ignored here and the new military pact between the master and the puppet is secretly being finalized by Washington military chiefs and their grand slaves in Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya. 
Pamalakaya said the Senate and the House of Representatives with their respective committees should investigate the Oyster Bay project and summon officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense ( DND), compel them to report on the current status of the US naval base plan and the outcome of the talks between Malacanang and the US government and score a giant kill against the Oyster naval base plan and the new US-PH military basing pact. 

Last year, Foreign Affairs undersecretary Carlos Sorreta said the Aquino government sees no problem with the construction of US military facilities as long as it would be approved by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and that ownership would be turned over after every joint military exercises.

Usec. Sorreta admitted that the possibility of construction of US military bases is there, only if we approved it and only on a temporary basis. At the end of the exercise these will be either removed or transferred to us either through an existing process granted by the US Congress in terms of transferring equipment or through our Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) mechanism.
Pamalakaya asserted that planned relocation of AFP air force and navy camps inside the former American Naval Base in Subic, Zambales is also part of the grand design that would justify Washington’s unlimited access to Philippine bases, which the group said, was previously announced by local military officials is part of new basing agreement between PH and the US.
” It’s the game plan with the puppet government of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the puppet reactionary officials of the AFP performing the front act for the grand reversal of the September 16, 1991 reversal of the military bases agreement by the Philippine Senate and the grand return of US occupational forces in the country. The current AFP leadership under Chief of Staff Voltaire Gazmin is rewriting and revising the historic victory against the US bases by putting these US bases back at Subic Bay for unlimited edition,” said Pamalakaya.

Philippine military officials argued the transfer of air force and navy in Subic will allow local troops to gain faster access to waters being contested by China in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) according to AFP. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin announced that as soon as relocation funds, the AFP will transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay.

Pamalakaya theorized that instead of utilizing the Sangley Naval Base in Cavite, a formerUS military bases, the US military command prefer the former Subic Naval Base, which Washington said can accommodate more warships compared to Sangley.

The group said the US military command wants Subic because its’ location will cut reaction time by fighter aircraft to contested West Philippine Sea by more than three minutes compared with flying from Clark airfield where some air force planes are based. 
A confidential report says Subic will provide the armed forces of the Philippines strategic location, direct and shorter access to support West Philippine Sea theater of operations,” the document said.

The report said the cost of repairs and improvements for an air force base in Subic would be at least 5.1 billion pesos (about $119 million). It said that compares with an estimated 11 billion pesos ($256 million) that it would cost to build a new air force base, because the vast Subic complex about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Manila already has a world-class runway and aviation facilities.

Relocating about 250 air force officers and men to Subic, along with “increased rotational presence of foreign visiting forces” would bolster business and trade at the port, the military document said.

The Philippines plans to grant visiting US forces, ships and aircraft temporary access to more of its military camps to allow for a larger number of joint military exercises than are currently staged each year.

Coast Guard rescues 48 from boat grounded off Coron

(Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News)

At least 48 passengers were rescued after their vessel ran aground off Coron in Palawan last Wednesday, the Philippine Coast Guard said Friday.

The Coast Guard said the MB Princess Emilei, carrying the 48 passengers and six members of the crew, accidentally ran aground about 2km west of Coron Pier.

It said a Coast Guard team sent to the area reached the passengers and transferred them to the MB Bunso 2A, which brought them to Coron.

MB Princess Emilei was removed from its grounding position on Thursday, the Coast Guard said. An underwater inspection showed the MB Princess Emilei had no hull damage.

Citing MB Princess Emilei's records, the Coast Guard said the vessel weighed 36.09 gross tons, and is owned and operated by Jayvee de Vera and skippered by Romy Mazo.

SEAIR-I to open Palawan, Caticlan routes


MANILA, April 10 (PNA) -- South East Asian Airlines International (SEAIR-I), the country's premier leisure airline, is about to open new domestic routes from Clark to Boracay via Caticlan, and Caticlan to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan starting April 16.

SEAIR-I will focus on its original operations that made it the second longest running airline in the country. The airline company will concentrate on niche destinations and charters which plans to include charter flights in Taiwan upon the approval by the Civil Aviation Board.

Commemorating the airline's 19 years of operations, SEAIR-I returns to its Palawan and Boracay destinations under its new airline code XO and with the use of Dornier 328 aircraft.

SEAIR-I is the only carrier for the aforementioned routes offering promo fares as low as P2,805.

"We expect demand and traffic on these routes to increase up to 300% to 400% over this initial offering and we are ready to expand our capacity accordingly," said SEAIR-I president Avelino Zapanta.

The company has pioneered chartered flights to corporate clients in Balesin, Palawan, Boracay, and Vigan since 2012. Other regional destinations are being considered as well in due time.

SEAIR-I has been continuing to expand inline agreements with its daily cargo operations with fellow Clark locators such as Qatar Airways and Emirates. They operate daily using B737-200 making SEAIR-I the only airline in the country with a dedicated freighter jet aircraft.

The airline company will negotiate traffic feeds to and from Qatar Airways, Asiana Airline, Jin Air, and Dragonair in Clark.

"We are looking to expand interline agreements with other airlines that are interested in expanding reach through Clark. We will be capitalizing on our many years of experience in the industry, our brand recall and our network of loyal customers and travel agents," Zapanta shared.

Being the first airline locator in Clark, SEAIR-I offers international operators in Clark to carry their inbound traffic onwards to domestic destinations rather than completely compete with airlines on established routes.

SEAIR-I plans to develop more holiday routes that would greatly benefit the tourism market by flying at tourist hotspots where no other carrier was interested.

SEAIR-I remains as the corporate air of Tigerair Philippines which already became a part of the Cebu Pacific brand. Zapanta supports this endeavor made by Cebu Pacific.

"We believe that Tigerair Philippines has a bright future with the support of Cebu Pacific and wish them all the success in their endeavors. A component of the spirit of the original SEAIR resides with them there through the excellent team we left behind, including a strong flight operations team and a company with one of the best safety records in the country," Zapanta added.

MPDC, CBMS focal persons train on use of CBMS Apps in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 9 (PNA) -- Representatives from 19 municipalities, including this city, are currently undergoing a 5-day training on the use of the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) App Module 1.

To end on April 11, 50 participants took part in the CBMS App Module 1 training organized and facilitated by the provincial government’s Research, Statistics and Evaluation Division (RSED) of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Region IV.

They are composed of municipal planning and development coordinators, CBMS focal point persons, and key employees of the municipal and city governments.

Frank Paduga, officer-in-charge of the PPDO, said the importance of the CBMS for gathering accurate data and information is related to the present-day status of households, barangays, municipalities and the province.

“We need to provide trusted information on the current status of the people, the services we’re giving them where they are, and to correct information that we’ve overlooked to be able to properly plan how we can help them for development. The CBMS App can help us measure the level of poverty, in making a poverty map so that we know who to help, and what causes poverty,” Paduga said.

He added the collected data and information will become the basis in formulating the Annual Investment Plan and other plans for development in consonance with the Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment (IHELP) development agenda of Governor Jose Alvarez’ leadership.

On the first day of training, Jacqueline Manalon, Local Government Operations Officer (LGOO) V, explained that the CBMS App (Accelerated Poverty Profiling) and the CBMS Portal is a web-based platform, where the CBMS database will be placed.

Fatima Santiago, LGOO IV, also discussed about the CBMS Scan, the software that will be used to collect and process the data that will be collected from the households and the barangays.

On the use of the CBMS App, there is a need to have tablets for the municipalities, especially the persons that will act as administrators of the CBMS account and the portal.

The participants were also taught the procedure in registering in the CBMS Portal and the opening the CBMS Scan. Tablets were also registered for each municipality in the portal for the province.

This was followed by the installation of the CBMS scan in the tablet device of each municipality.

On the other hand, Josephine Escaño, chief of the RSED, explained that with the CBMS App, they expect a speedier collection and processing of data.

It will protect too, the security and confidentiality of the information from the barangays, municipalities and the province since only registered CBMS Portal users can open their accounts.

In using the new technology, the CBMS Network believes that using the tablets is more efficient than paper-based since missing data can be avoided, which usually happens in the traditional collection.

In the tablet, the user can be alerted if a data is missing. Manalon added that validation can be easier instead of manually getting the data using pen and paper.

In the new system, focus can be given to examine data and information by the field editor because he or she will no longer worry if something is missing in the material that was entered by the field enumerators.

Each municipality will have to establish its own field coordinator, field editor and enumerator aside from the official of the LGU, who will also have access in the LGU account and work group.

The system administrator of the province will come from the Research, Statistics and Evaluation Division ng PPDO.

The CBMS was tried first in 1999, and also Palawan was the first province that was able to publish its Human Development Report base on the CBMS.

Comelec suspends recall petition vs. Puerto Princesa mayor due to lack of funds

(KBK, GMA News)

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the process of the recall petition filed against a mayor in Palawan province due to lack of funds.

This, despite the fact that the poll body found the petition against Mayor Lucilo Bayron of Puerto Princesa City sufficient in form.

In Resolution No. 9864, the Comelec en banc affirmed the recommendation of the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations (ODEDO) certifying to the sufficiency in form of the petition.

"The Comelec, in Resolution No. 9864 promulgated April 1, 2014, resolved to affirm the recommendation of the ODEDO as to the sufficiency of the recall petition…” said the resolution.

However, the poll body ordered the suspension of the process due to lack of funds.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said this means they cannot proceed with the next steps, such as verifying the signatures and the holding of the recall elections.

“The resolution stated that all further activities relating to this is suspended including verification because of the funding issue," he said on Tuesday.

Jimenez, however, could not say how much is needed to continue with the process.

“I don't know the figures, it would depend on the area that will be having the election,” Jimenez said. “It was not stated in the ruling regarding the funding requirement.”

The petition was filed by Al Roben Goh, former City Information Officer, last month. It was signed by about 40,000 registered voters in Puerto Princesa City, exceeding the required 15 percent of the voting population under Republic Act No. 9244.

Loss of trust and confidence was cited as reason for the petition.

Nido, Coal Asia's tieup for oil, gas projects in Palawan falls through

By Euan Paulo C. Añonuevo (

MANILA - The tie up between Nido Petroleum Ltd and a subsidiary of Coal Asia Holdings Inc for oil and gas blocks in offshore Palawan has fallen through.

In an announcement, Nido told the Australian Securities Exchange that the sale and purchase agreements (SPA) it signed with Colossal Petroleum Corp did not prosper.

"[The SPAs] have been terminated due to the failure of the parties to secure relevant joint venture and government approvals," the Australian company said.

The SPAs cover Nido's interests in Service Contract (SC) 54A, as well as Blocks A, B, B Retention and D Retention of SC 14.

"Nido will therefore retain its interests in these [SCs] and will provide further updates to the market if there are any material developments," Nido said.

Nido and Colossal Petroleum inked the SPAs in 2013, under which the latter would pay $2.75 million in exchange for the former's share in oil producing wells, infrastructure and oil field platforms as well as liabilities in the said SCs.

Colossal Petroleum is the oil and gas arm of Coal Asia, whose combined mining concessions in Mindanao have one of the largest proven coal reserves in the country.

PLDT sets up P1B Domestic Fiber Optic Network in Palawan

By Jade Dela Cruz Miguel [(PNA), CTB/JDM]

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, April 6 (PNA) -- The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), the country's leading telecommunications provider, recently launched its newest innovation, the Domestic Fiber Optic Network (DFON) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

The P1 billion DFON project links the island to the most extensive fiber optic network in the country as it has coordinated with the Palawan Local Government Unit (LGU) to boost its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for local tourism.

The DFON operations in Palawan anticipates a great surge in the province's business communities especially with the influx of demand for voice and data traffic in both mobile and fixed services.

The 620-kilometer inland and submarine fiber optic cable runs from La Paz, Iloilo to Taytay, Palawan to Puerto Princesa. DFON opens the bandwidth superhighway for Palawan.

The establishment of DFON does not only cater to businesses but also to the tourism sector as it is expected to cater to the entry of both local and foreign tourists who frequently visit Palawan's top vacation spots having an estimated number of 800,000 visitors last year.

“We in PLDT are excited for Palawan in this newest milestone for the company. Our fiber optic network roll out in Puerto Princesa is only the first in our efforts for the region’s local businesses to benefit from faster and stronger connectivity that we have continuously invested in,” said PLDT EVP and Head of Enterprise International, and Carrier Business Eric R. Alberto.

The Palawan LGU has been thankful as well for the support of PLDT in upgrading the local ICT facilities in their area. “We are happy and are looking forward to this partnership with PLDT in helping nurture and develop the local ICT facilities of Puerto Princesa City to support its further economic growth,” said Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucil “Cecil” Bayron.

The hi-speed fiber optic technology has a 40 Gigabit bandwidth capacity that is expandable to 100 Gigabit. This would boost local businesses since it would enable faster roll out in service delivery catering to the demand for greater bandwidth for small and medium enterprises within the island.

“Palawan has been a leader in tourism not only in the local sphere but also in the international scene and PLDT is here to enable these thriving businesses advance to the next level,” said PLDT ALPHA Enterprise Head and FVP Jovy Hernandez.

According to PLDT SME Nation Head and FVP Kat Luna-Abelarde, this new innovation prepares the country for the ASEAN integration as it revolutionizes businesses that would help align the small and medium enterprises to the standards of international competitors by providing future-ready and world-class solutions.

PLDT has a 100 percent market share in terms of subscribers in Palawan. It expects a total of 2,000 subscribers in the island by the end of the month and envisions Puerto Princesa to be a wi-fi free city in the near future.

PLDT's fiber optic network expands to over 78,000 kilometers of fiber architecture as of 2013 with DFON capable of carrying up to 4.78 TBPS of data.

Palawan planning, dev't office introduces monitoring system apps for survey


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 5 (PNA) -- The Palawan government’s Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) has developed an application for its Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) Network to speed up the gathering of information and processing data in the province.

Josephine Escaño, head of the Research Statistics and Evaluation Division (RSED) of the PPDO, said the new system can be opened in the Android tablet.

The App is the CBMS portal, which is a web-based platform where databases can be stored. It will serve as an “offsite backup” of the data of local government units (LGUs), and also as a “gateway” for them to have access to their gathered materials.

Escaño explained that in the traditional CBMS, questionnaires printed on papers are used to gather data. This was changed with the CBMS Scan software that can be opened in Android tablets.

“If our enumerators did it slow, and hard way before to get data and information, now what they will use are tablets to enter them into the CBMS Scan,” she said, adding the new system is faster and will save use of paper.

With the App, she said each enumerator can finish 10 household questionnaires in one day, while obtaining data in one barangay can be done in two-three months compared to seven months with the traditional system.

Related to this, Escaño said a 5-day training will be hosted by the PPDO for the LGUs that want to learn the CBMS App Module 1. This will be on April 7-11.

Since the CBMS is already part of the program of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), those who will undergo the training will be further trained to become trainers.

Funding for the training will be shared by the provincial government and the LGUs.

The CBMS “is a bottom up approach of organization which can be facilitated by an upper government or NGO structure but it aims for local stakeholder participation in the planning, research, development, management and policy making for a community as a whole.”

PLDT announces completion of fiber optic link in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 4 (PNA) -– Despite currently being hit by a snag in allegedly two internet fiber lines in the Asia Pacific Cable Network (APCN), The Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT) announced Thursday the completion of its 620-km. fiber optic link development in Palawan to connect to a broad network service set-up.

The announcement was made during a recent launching at a hotel in this city with PLDT president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno and other executives.

Costing over P1 billion to complete, the fiber optic link supports the call for the telecommunications company to upsurge the provision of a faster and reliable internet data services in Palawan as a popular tourism destination in the country.

With Smart Communications, Incorporated (Smart), the new fiber optic cable (FOC) supposedly has a preliminary competence to provide 400 gigabytes to expand the digital radio transmission system (DRTS) that Palawan province is utilizing.

Rolando Peña, who is head of the network and internet protocol systems of both telcos, said the FOC will not only make important progress in voice and text services, but also in giving high-speed mobile internet services in PLDT’s fiber to the home (FTTH) amenity.

The project has earlier been predicted to contribute to the province’s tourism industry, as well as others, like banking, government agency operations, hospital operations, and others, through the provision of a steadfast communications link.

The FOC project, which started during the last quarter of 2013, laid down undersea cables from Iloilo to Palawan, and inland to this city, with the end goal of connecting the province to the long distance company’s domestic fiber optic network.

Peña said the FOC is central to the PLDT’s target to serve advanced communication services that are reliable nationwide by using modern-day technology.

With the newest addition to their capabilities, both telcos are reportedly more prepared to serve the increasing volume of voice calls, short message service (SMS), and mobile Internet services, and others.

San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long

By Redempto D. Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

SAN VICENTE, Palawan—Imagine trekking along 14 kilometers of unspoiled powdery white sand with nothing but the vast expanse of the West Philippine Sea and endless rows of lush forests and old coconut trees on both sides.

If you insist on been-there-done-that bragging rights, Palawan province’s Long Beach should top your list even before the first hotel hove into view and upbeat party music supplanted poignant evenings.

It’s easy to tell this place is going to transform in a big way. A

2-km-runway airport nearby is due for completion this year and promises to dramatically boost tourist traffic. The cementing of the access road from the capital of Puerto Princesa City, or what used to be a decrepit logging road through old growth forest, is just about finished and will effortlessly link the place to the urban hub.

Most notably, the tourism industry’s big guys are already on board. They have figured this place out long before the first backpackers wandered into it. Among them was Anscor, which is into high-end island-resort development. They have locked in the prime locations along Long Beach, pouring in an estimated P1 billion in acquisitions in the last five years, according to local officials.

“There is no doubt that Long Beach is destined to become a world-class tourist destination. With its 14.7-km-long pristine stretch of beach, it is one of the longest, if not the longest, white-sand beach in the Philippines,” San Vicente Mayor Pie Alvarez told the Inquirer.

Alvarez is presiding over a meticulous planning process, which she hopes will ensure that tourism development can take place in Long Beach with optimum benefits to the local economy, “without sacrificing the environment.”

“We wish to learn from the best practices of tourism destinations around the world and create our own unique destination,” Alvarez said.

Natural beauty

Long Beach is a seemingly endless stretch of sand that arches along the western coastline of Palawan. From one’s seat as the plane descends, one can’t miss the glistening strip of sand at the edge of the lush forests of central Palawan. As one stands from one end of the beach, it is hard to see where it ends even on a clear day.

San Vicente’s planners can’t resist the comparison to Boracay Island in Panay that currently draws the bulk of beach hounds in the country. By its sheer size, Long Beach is Boracay magnified four times.

“One of our advantages is we have the opportunity to plan first before we build,” said municipal tourism officer Lucy Panagsagan.

The local government has a good reason to be cautious on how they should go about exploiting the area. Despite being the main hub of a logging operation in the late ’70s, San Vicente remains the most densely forested area of Palawan, with 86 percent of its total land area still covered by trees.

Its marine environment is host to an abundant fisheries resource. The town wants to make sure the fish remain, so they have designated at least six sites as fish sanctuaries or no-take zones.

A large chunk of the forest has been classified as a protected area under the National Integrated Area Protected Program. Nearly all wildlife species in the province can be found in San Vicente, including those considered to be at the brink of extinction such as the Philippine forest turtle (Heosemis leytensis), which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Land prices

Long-term investors from Manila and Cebu started the ball rolling for choice slices of real estate along Long Beach just over five years ago. Locals sold their land for as low as P70 per square meter, recalled Francis Picardal, a local entrepreneur.

Vice Mayor Antonio V. Gonzales recalled that at one time in 2007, he facilitated the acquisition of prime Long Beach properties for five prominent businessmen from Cebu province who shelled out P5 million each.

“In 2007, the landowners were happy to sell at P100 per square meter. These days, the price is between P4,000 to P5,000 per square meter,” Gonzales said.

Except for a handful of families, most of the original owners of the land, including the Agutaynen natives of San Vicente, have sold out to developers from out of town.

“It’s a sad reality that the original landowners were not able to hold on a bit longer to their properties,” Picardal said.

Getting there

Getting to San Vicente these days still requires an attitude most often alien to the soft-heeled. The interior roads from Puerto Princesa City are rough and travel can take as long as four hours.

San Vicente, at the moment, is still a backpacker’s delight. One can hop into an iconic rural bus usually packed to the roof, take a more comfortable shuttle service at P300 per passenger, or hire a van from Puerto Princesa City for somewhere between P6,000 and P7,000 per day.

The town proper is dusty to rustic and the only way to get around if one doesn’t have one’s own vehicle is to ride a habal-habal, a motorcycle with a slightly extended backseat for another passenger (or more, as is often the case).

Tourism master plan

The municipal tourism office lists just about 48 bed accommodations available in the town proper, mostly family-run lodging facilities made of light materials. One German entrepreneur with a Filipino wife built a hotel at the edge of town toward Long Beach that offers more familiar amenities, including a Wi-Fi connection and an infinity pool looking out into the ocean. Lodging rates range from P1,500 to P3,500 per day.

Last week, Palafox planners submitted to the municipality of San Vicente a draft tourism master plan. Among their major recommendations was to set a 50-meter exclusion zone from the high tide line of Long Beach, a distance twice the usually prescribed 25-meter no-build zone for coastal development.

The potential as a nature attraction is huge, according to the planners. Among the activities that could attract investors and visitors are windsurfing, surfboard riding, scuba diving and snorkeling, mangrove tours, rainforest treks, bird watching, island hopping, camping and sightseeing.

Gonzales said they would institutionalize their master plan by legislating their tourism master plan through an ordinance. It is the bible that property developers like Anscor, Big Foot Inc., Discovery Shores and other key tourism players have been waiting for so they can make their move.

For starters, Gonzales said, Tieza, the government’s tourism infrastructure arm, “is helping us in a major way”and has committed to help fund the completion of the town’s drainage plan and other turnkey infrastructure requirements targeting Long Beach.

“That’s what developers are waiting for. Once we have these things in place, development will naturally follow, Francis Picardal, a local lodge owner, said.

San Vicente had also enlisted in the Climate Change Commission’s “Ecotown” program to develop its own preparedness to confront nature-induced calamities brought about by changing weather conditions.

Ecotown consultant Dr. Antonio Carandang said the approach being taken by the municipality should help avoid the problems faced by other places that cater to large volumes of tourists.

“If carefully planned, Long Beach could be less commercial but more orderly and may surpass Boracay in terms of attracting high-end but environmentally aware tourists,”he said.

Mayor Alvarez insists they are not particularly intent on following Boracay’s development model, stating that it is more important for them to brand Long Beach as a unique destination that is world-class.

“Boracay is an already established world-class destination. We do not wish to compete but instead take the best practices and lessons learned from their tourism development methods. We hope we can create a destination that the Philippines can be proud of, always keeping in mind a holistic approach that balances community, development and the environment,”she said.


Location: San Vicente, northern Palawan; southern part of Imuruan Bay, northern part of Pagdanan Bay

Distance from Puerto Princesa City: 186 kilometers

Accessibility: 3 to 4 hours land travel time from Puerto Princesa City; private van rentals from the city at P5,000 to 6,000 one-way

Characteristics: 14 km long

Attractions: Daplac Cove, Capari Cove Coral Reefs, Mangrove Forest, Wilson Head, Double Island, Naparay Coral Reefs, Little Baguio Waterfalls

Accommodations: Capari Resort, Peace and Love Resort, Ditchay Bed and Breakfast, John Eric Lodging, Picardal Lodge, Bahay ni Kuya, Station 5, M&D Resort, Nayarani Vilas

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Recall poll behind case vs Hagedorn

By Paul M. Gutierrez

THE camp of former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn yesterday expressed confidence that the Office of the Ombudsman would end up dismissing the graft complaint filed against him on Monday by his political opponent and “perennial loser” retired police General Eduardo Matillano.

Alroben Goh, former PPC public information officer, noted that the claim of Matillano and the other complainants, Marlene Jagmis and Lorna Cayanan, are motivated “more by fear rather than actual facts.”

Based on the complaint, Matillano accused Hagedorn of illegally spending a total of P13 million to purchase 33 electric-powered vehicles and a Ford (Expedition) SUV, with all the transactions purportedly found to be questionable and illegal by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its audit report in 2011.

“The 33 electric-powered vehicles are among the city assets turned-over to the administration of Mayor Lucilo Bayron after the 2013 elections and which are being used by the tourism office to fetch tourists and visitors in line with the PPC campaign of being the first “carbon-neutral city” started by Mayor Hagedorn.

“On the other hand, Matillano should have first asked Mayor Bayron about the Ford Expedition because this is now his service vehicle,” Goh said.

“Ang mga umano’y nawawalang mga sasakyan ay nasa ‘tungki’ lang ng kanilang mga ilong kaya hindi ito mahirap hanapin,” Goh added.

For his part, Hagedorn averred that the looming recall election for city mayor initiated by PPC residents, is “behind” the Ombudsman case filed by Matillano.

“It seems that this fear of my possibly running in the recall election is what prompted all my political enemies to join hands in a concerted campaign to destroy my name before the people of Puerto Princesa in particular and the rest of our people in general,” the popular mayor said.

He also chided Matillano for being “obsessed” in seeing his name and reputation destroyed “by intrigues and false accusations.”

“The record would instead show that the complainant is the one facing serious criminal cases to include murder and attempted murder mainly caused by his failed political ambitions.”

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is already evaluating the merits of the recall petition, Hagedorn noted further.

Should it push thru, it would be the second time in the city’s history that a recall election is held since 2002.

Hagedorn added that when he was invited early last year in the Senate probe on the scandal involving the disbursement of the multi-billion Malampaya fund and its link to the murder of PPC broadcast journalist, Gerardo ‘Doc Gerry’ Ortega, he had a chance to explain all the allegations against him and his administration before the COA representatives who were also present during the hearing.

“Matagal ko nang naipaliwanag ang lahat ng ito, sa Senado pa at sa harap ng mga COA auditor,” Hagedorn noted.

He expressed confidence that Ombudsman Conchita Morales-Carpio and her investigators would immediately see thru the “political” and “malicious” nature of the complaint, noting further that it was based on a 3-year old audit report of the COA.

DILG reminds on reconstitution of Provincial Council for Protection of Children in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 1 (PNA) -- The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the province reminded authorities in Palawan on the need to convene and reconstitute the Provincial Council for the Protection of Children (PCPC) based on an executive order issued by Governor Jose Alvarez.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta said Tuesday that the reminder was one of the topics discussed during the 1st Quarter Meeting of the Early Childhood Care and Development-Technical Working Group (ECCD-TWG) held on March 28.

The ECCD-TWG is composed of representatives from different departments of the provincial and the national governments that are directly related to children issues, particularly those between the ages 0-6 years old.

The TWG is headed by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) with Apolonia David as provincial ECCD officer.

According to Acosta, the executive order signed by Alvarez states the importance of reconstituting the council to ensure the implementation of policies, programs and projects for children in the province.

The PCPC is headed by Alvarez as chairperson. He is set to appoint his co-chair from the members of the council, which includes the Committee on Women and Family of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the DILG Provincial Director, PSWDO, Department of Education, Palawan, Provincial Planning & Development Office, Provincial Budget Office, Provincial Health Office, Provincial Nutrition Office, Provincial Treasurer, Provincial PNP, AFP Provincial Commander, Provincial Labor and Employment Office, League of Municipalities President, Child Representative and other non-government organizations.

Acosta explained that first and foremost, the PCPC's role is to create plans, programs, and projects for children; establish an Annual Work and Financial Plan for them with recommendations to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for funding; set up coordinative linkages with other agencies and institutions; set up and maintain database for children in Palawan; monitor implemented programs; submit reports to the Regional Committee for the Welfare of Children, and other responsibilities related to ECCD and the children.

He said the PSWDO responded positively on this, and as secretariat, will do its best to convene the PCPC for immediate response on issues involving the children in Palawan.

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