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Palawan News June 2012

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Palawan Province
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Gov says 100 units of E-trike to ply Puerto Princesa City streets soon

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan- One hundred units of energy-efficient electric tricycles or E-trikes will soon ply the streets of Puerto Princesa to cut down on carbon emissions and improve air quality in the country’s “City in a Forest.”

Mayor Edward Hagedorn confirmed the purchase of 100 E-trike units in a recent forum with the Department of Energy, the project proponent.

Sixty of the 100 units will be deployed to the Puerto Princesa Airport Terminal. The remaining 40 E-trikes will be given to other tricycle operators and drivers associations (TODA) in the city.

An e-trike is a specially designed, highly-efficient tricycle. It runs on a motor powered by a lithium ion battery technology. The E-trike comes in three kWh and six kWh packs, which can be recharged.

Hagedorn said that the e-trike project highly complements the city government’s environmental program putting importance to clean air as the first carbon-neutral city in the country.

The city government plans to gradually phase out the more than 4,000 conventional combustion engine tricycles which emit tons of carbon dioxide to the environment.

Coast Guard: Vessel runs aground off Palawan due to defective GPS

A malfunctioning Global Positioning System (GPS) device caused a wooden-hulled motor launch to run aground in Coron in Palawan province, the Coast Guard said Friday.

The ML Azzrul was heading for Coron from the port of Roxas town in Palawan when its GPS broke down, the Coast Guard said in a report posted on its website Friday afternoon.

"Personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard Coron waited for high tide for them to extract the motor banca from the agrounding position," the report said. Coast Guard personnel spent one day removing the launch boat from the area, it added.

A boarding inspection found several violations, including the lack of a Certificate of Public Conveyance, Certificate of Ownership, Certificate of Vessel Registry, and Certificate of Number.

It also did not have any Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book, Document of Compliance, Minimum Safety Certificate, or Ship Station License.

Inspection showed that the ML Azzrul is owned and operated by Jake Mohammad Abdurahman and skippered by Patron Nastoral Miassan.

Its crew included Alfonso Mahilum, Renato Postrano, Niljun Orig, Arjay Locsin, Jun Palao, Melvin Bartulay, Alexander Medena, Marlon Mabun, Antonio Dolorico, Racardo Asilom, Ruperto Miraflor, Roy Salatamos, Jun Maso, Richmond Ustares and Claudio Madarang.

Big businesses move to avert power shortage

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY- Big business owners in this city have participated in the voluntary load curtailment (VLC) proposed by the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) to avert blackouts.

This move eased the blackouts in the city said Atty. Rohima Sarra, general manager of PALECO in the question and answer (Q&A) portion of the open forum by Sangguniang Panlalawigan last June 26.

VLC involves shifting to generators for one to two hours of participating businesses to make electricity available to more homes and consumers.

Sarra said there will be incentives for those businesses that participate in VLC and funds will be sourced from the power producer that triggered the blackout.

The city and other municipalities connected to the main grid suffered massive power breakdowns last week which lasted five to eight hours. The situation has not yet normalized pending the completion of the repairs of the generating sets of two power plants and the selection of a new power producer to provide an initial 15 MW.

All the power players were invited to appear in the open forum of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to shed light on the power supply situation in the city and the province.

Palawan body seeks temporary closure of Lopez’s eco-tourism project

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is seeking the temporary closure of an “eco-tourism resort” of the ABS-CBN Foundation in the province for its alleged failure to secure the necessary permit for the project.

In a statement, PCSD legal chief Adel Belena said the foundation did not apply for a clearance as required by the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act when it purportedly started “occupying and converting” Sabsaban Falls in Brooke’s Point town into an eco-tourism resort.

Under the law creating the PCSD, all proposals for temporary closures are handled and implemented by the PCSD Adjudication Board, a body within the PCSD.

SEP, or Republic Act 7611, is a special law intended to ensure that the forest areas in the province would be protected through a total commercial logging ban in environmentally critical areas and watersheds.

It is also aimed at protecting indigenous groups and their culture, and the endangered species and their habitats in Palawan.

Belena accused the foundation, through its advocacy arm Bantay Kalikasan, of violating Administrative Order No. 6 when it “occupied the falls” located in the forest area of Brookes’ Point.

“The order requires an SEP clearance for all projects affecting the environment and natural resources of Palawan, including government projects,” Belena said.

“The (ABS-CBN Foundation) should have secured an individual SEP clearance for occupation of Sabsaban Falls, development of the place, cutting of trees, construction of cottages and others,” he added.

The PCSD official stressed that the council was not opposing the foundation’s project, but only “the absence of SEP clearance for each of the activities undertaken by the (foundation).”

In view of the supposed violation, Teodoro Baltazar, head of the PCSD Enforcement Unit, filed a complaint in the PCSD Adjudication Board against ABS-CBN Foundation executive director Gina Lopez and 18 local government officials who purportedly allowed the project without requiring an SEP clearance.

Baltazar petitioned the adjudication board to issue a cease and desist order against Lopez’s group “until it has secured an SEP clearance from the PCSD.”

Last February, environment groups led by Lopez asked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to look into PCSD’s mining-related actions and decisions, which reportedly led to the destruction of the province’s forests and watersheds.

In a letter-complaint, the environment groups moved for the filing of appropriate cases against the PCSD officials for their supposed failure to implement the rules and policies spelled out in SEP to protect Palawan from destructive human activities such as mining.

They said the PCSD officials issued SEP clearances for mining operations located in natural forests, noting that nine mining firms had secured clearances for their operations that “covered and endangered natural forests.”

“The issuance of SEP clearances paved the way for the conduct of mining operations in natural old growth and residual forests,” the environment groups said.

Palawan power firm told green energy deal questionable

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The Department of Energy (DOE) has intervened in the selection by the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) of a new supplier that would provide the cooperative an additional source of power in the face of a rapidly increasing demand for electricity in mainland Palawan.

Meeting with Paleco officials last Monday to help fast-track the bidding process delayed by a lawsuit filed by a prospective company bidder, the DOE advised the cooperative against entertaining proposals from power companies offering renewable energy technology that have no valid operating contracts from the department.

“They need to be aware of (renewable energy) speculators who will not be able to deliver if they have no operating contract with us,” said DOE counsel Marissa Cerrezo who made the disclosure to the Inquirer following a closed-door meeting with the Paleco board of directors.

The DOE has required companies offering renewable energy technology to first secure an operating contract.

Private firm Power One Corp. earlier sued Paleco, claiming that its bidding process was disadvantageous to renewable energy producers.

A Regional Trial Court held the bidding in abeyance for over two months while hearing the case, further delaying Paleco’s search for a new supplier.

Paleco sources claimed that some officers of the cooperative are inclined to award the contract to Power One Corp.

Power One, which reportedly plans to set up a biomass-fired power plant, recently welcomed the changes in composition of the Paleco board and said it would participate in the bidding.

“Power One’s hope is that the recent changes in the Paleco board would lead to holding a fair and more competitive bidding and with urgency so that Paleco’s future (power) requirements can be met,” the company said in an e-mail to the Inquirer.

The company also denied accusations it was manipulating the cooperative to secure a power supply contract and accused some Paleco officials of “manipulating the bid to favor coal power … which is bad for the environment of Palawan.”

“They are scaring the officials and people of Palawan to make Power One look bad,” the company added.

Cerrezo, however, said Power One has no operating contract with the DOE to qualify as a legitimate supplier of renewable energy.

“It’s Paleco’s call if they will award a contract to a company that does not have an operating contract with us. But without that contract, they cannot operate,” Cerrezo said.

PAGASA: Mindanao could have rain brought by new low pressure area

A new potential cyclone, a shallow low-pressure area (SLPA), may bring rain to Mindanao on Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

PAGASA forecaster Meno Mendoza said rainy weather may also be expected over Palawan, even as other parts of the country can expect relatively good weather, with isolated rain.

“Magkakaroon ng maulap na kalangitan na may ulan sa Palawan at Mindanao (We can expect cloudy skies with rain over Palawan and Mindanao),” he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He said the SLPA is different from the low-pressure area (LPA) spotted 280 km east-northeast of Hinatuan City in Surigao del Sur as of Friday afternoon. The LPA had dissolved, he said.

As of 2 a.m., Mendoza said the SLPA was estimated at 180 km east of Mindanao.

On the other hand, he said Metro Manila and other parts of the country can expect partly cloudy skies with isolated rain showers and thunderstorms.

Also, PAGASA's 5 a.m. bulletin said moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest to west with slight to moderate seas.

PAGASA also said the southwest monsoon has weakened but moderate to rough sea conditions are expected over the northern and western seaboards of Northern Luzon.

“Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are still alerted against the moderate to rough seas,” it said through its Twitter account.

Sea turtles rescued in southern Palawan

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan- The Philippine National Police (PNP)-Maritime Special Boat Unit (SBU) recently rescued 17 sea turtles in a hidden swamp in Ameril Island, Barangay Rio Tuba in Bataraza, Palawan.

There were 13 hawksbill and four green turtle species recorded with the biggest measuring 59 cm and 46 cm width carapace. All are classified as critically endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list.

Acting on validated information from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) and the local community, PNP-Maritime SBU led by Major Rodolfo Gonzales conducted surveillance of the island which resulted in the discovery of the hidden swamp used as stocking area of sea turtles by illegal poachers. No one was watching over the turtles when the operatives conducted the rescue.

Maj. Gonzales said that based on intelligence reports, a Chinese national has always been seen in the island, enticing local residents to catch turtles and transport these to a Chinese vessel located near the boundary of Malaysia and Balabac.

The PNP‐Maritime SBU is presently perfecting documentary requirements for submission to PCSDS for filing of cases in violation of Wildlife Act and the Fishery Code of the Philippines against respondents.

The Narrazid family owns the 17-hectare Ameril Island, home to about 50 fishing families. The 17 sea turtles were released back to the open seas by representatives of the PCSDS and DENR after being measured, weighed, and tagged.

Palawan, Philhealth target 23,000 poor families

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan- The provincial government of Palawan and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) target 23,000 poor families for free health insurance under Philhealth’s sponsored component program.

Recently, Palawan Governor Baham Mitra signed the Memorandum of Agreement with Philhealth Regional Vice-President Paulo Johann C. Perez for a two-year lock-in period for the coverage of less privileged families not included in the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

“The signing of the MOA is advantageous for the provincial government because the premium to be paid per beneficiary is only P1,200 per annum and not the new premium of P2,400,” said Mr. Wilfred Hernandez, Chief of Philhealth in Palawan.

He said that apart from the 50 percent price-off, the beneficiaries will also be assured of health insurance for two years unlike in the previous years which provided only one year coverage.

In response to President Aquino’s universal health insurance coverage, the provincial government undertook the Philhealth para sa Masa program which has already provided one-year free insurance to about 40,000 marginalized families.

Beneficiaries of the Philhealth para sa Masa program of the provincial government can avail of primary care benefit package in their respective rural health units which would include primary preventive services, diagnostic examinations, free drugs and medicines.

A Philhealth ID holder can also avail of special benefit package in public hospitals and other accredited hospitals, birthing homes, and lying-in clinics.

Swiss national nabbed for selling marijuana in Palawan

A Swiss national was arrested after he was caught last Monday on the act of illegally selling marijuana leaves by operatives of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan province.

In a report from the PDEA Regional Office based in this city, the suspect was identified as Roberto Vensinco Rusenique, a foreign tourist from Switzerland.

According to Palawan-PDEA Agent Rocky Austria, Rusenique was caught selling the leaves in Brgy. Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa City by a joint operating team composed of PDEA Palawan, the PNP-Princesa City and its Special Operations Group (SOG).

Austria said the Swiss national, who has been staying in Puerto Princesa City for the last six months, has long been suspected of peddling or selling illegal drugs.

A case of violation of Republic Act No. 9165 is being readied against the suspect, who is now detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Puerto Princesa.

The PDEA-Palawan said it is also conducting surveillance on other foreigners staying in the city who are also being suspected of illegal drugs trade.

Palawan Red Cross opens new building

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN- The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Palawan Chapter opened last week its new building to house a provincial blood center as a post-celebration of World Blood Donor’s Day.

PRC Chairman Richard Gordon led the inauguration of the building, which is already be equipped with machines. The provincial blood center is equipped with blood refrigerator, refrigerated centrifuge, rotator, and apheresis machines that can now split blood into its separate components namely, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma.

In his speech, Gordon said that with the new equipment and facilities of the Red Cross, it will be no longer necessary to get blood from Cebu and Manila for requirements of specific diseases, particularly dengue.

Gordon lauded Palawan Red Cross and its board of directors led by its Chairman Ofelia Sta. Maria for their dynamic development and active services in the realization of a provincial blood center.

The Department of Health and the German Red Cross donated about P5 million to improve the equipment and facilities of the blood center and the construction of the building.

Earlier in the day, Red Cross 143 volunteers from the province were inducted and later joined the mass blood donation at the activity center of a new mall.

Divers only saw clothes, wreckage of ship in Palawan

Search operations continued on Sunday for three missing passengers of the M/V Josille II, which sank in El Nido, Palawan on Tuesday because of bad weather.

Authorities set sail again today to continue with their search. It has been put on hold on Friday due to bad weather.

The weather in Palawan is kinder today compared to the last couple of days. Thick fogs, strong waves and rain have prevented the operations from continuing.

The Philippine Navy also sent divers to do an underwater search, but they said the only thing that they saw underwater were clothes and wreckage of the ship.

Authorities are planning to continue their search operations until Monday.

Meanwhile, there are still a few families in the town of Taytay, Palawan who are waiting for any news on their loved ones, who are already feared dead.

Commodore Alexander Lopez, head of Task Force Malampaya, said they may cancel search operations this week.

Lopez said that as the days pass by, chances of finding the missing passengers are getting slimmer.

7 dead in El Nido sea tragedy

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan- Seven passengers, including an eight-month old child, died after an inter-island ferry M/V Josille II sank off the vicinity of Pagauanen Point in El Nido, Palawan during the height of bad weather Tuesday night.

As of this writing, 56 survivors have already been accounted for, eight of whom were brought to the Taytay District Hospital. Search and rescue operation for four missing passengers is still on-going led by the Joint Task Force (JTF) Malampaya of the Western Command.

"In spite of the bad weather, there is no let up in the search and rescue operation for the four missing passengers by the JTF Malampaya and the other SAR members of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office,” said Lt. Col Neil Anthony Estrella, PIO of Western Command who was on board the Phil. Navy ship.

He said the Western Command is working closely with the El Nido Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, which was mobilized yesterday along with other agencies and community volunteers particularly those in the coastal areas.

He lauded the local fishermen who helped in the rescue and recovery of the victims. He said that more volunteers are needed to bury the carcasses of carabaos that would be washed ashore.

The manifest of the ill-fated ship listed 34 passengers, but the actual number of survivors and the dead bodies do not tally with the manifest. There were also 65 carabaos on the ship.

M/V Josille II regularly plied the route Manila-Coron-El Nido-Liminangcong, Taytay, and vice-versa. It is owned by Atienza Shipping Lines.

MARINA suspends operator of passenger-cargo vessel in Palawan mishap

Maritime authorities have suspended the operations of a shipping firm that owned a passenger-cargo vessel that sank off Palawan before midnight Tuesday, killing at least five people.

The Maritime Industry Authority suspended the franchise of Atienza Shipping over the incident involving the Jocille II, radio dzBB reported early Thursday.

While the suspension is in effect, the MARINA will inspect the shipping firm's other vessel MV April Rose to see if it is seaworthy, the report quoted MARINA officer-in-charge Nicasio Conti as saying.

Conti said the suspension will be revoked once the MV April Rose is found to be seaworthy.

At least five people were killed while five remained missing after the Jocille II sank off Palawan after encountering big waves before midnight Tuesday.

Initial investigation showed the Jocille II had at least 13 passengers who were not on the manifest.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council identified the fatalities as Jeccamae Estarija, Pamela Anne Clariza, Nita Huyo-A, Severino Eliseo, and John Aldrin Atienza.

Eliseo and Atienza were part of the ship's crew, it said.

Still missing are Juanito Tito, Jolito Buenafe, Mark Angelo Esmeria, Nora Cortez and one Antonia, the NDRRMC added.

Vessel sinks off Palawan; 2 dead, 26 missing

At least two people died and 26 others remain missing after a passenger and cargo vessel sank off Palawan, an official said on Wednesday.

Commodore Enrico Evangelista, Palawan Coast Guard district commander, said M/V Jociel-2, which carried 34 passengers and 16 crew members, sank near Pagawanin Island in El Nido town due to bad weather.

Evangelista said the fatalities were a child and an elderly person.

He said 22 people were already rescued and are staying at the Tent Islands.

As of posting, search and rescue operations were ongoing for the 26 missing passengers.

Evangelista said one of the passengers, identified as Grace Muso Gabatin, was able to call for help from authorities as the vessel sank, prompting the coast guard to send a motor boat in the area.

The passengers had to float in the water for hours before finally being found by the rescuers.

The vessel reportedly left Liminancong Port around Tuesday noon.

Navy joins Brigada Eskwela 2012

Members of the Philippine Navy's Naval Forces West have joined the Department of Education’s (DepEd) “Brigada Eskwela” activity in Palawan.

In a press release, NFW Public Affairs Officer Lt. Karen Ann Abenoja Abulon (PN) reported that the different units under NavForWest—around 50 sailors from LT501 (BRP Laguna) headed by Lt. Julius Reyes and PS35 headed by Lcdr Rommel Marcos—joined the activity in their respective areas of operation.

“I was pleased with the opportunity for our sailors to be able to take part in the nationwide activity that is directed on helping the education sector. It will always be the pleasure of your navy to extend their services in worthwhile activities such as this,” said Lt. Roy Gajo, civil military officer of the Naval Forces WEst.

The activity is in line with Armed Forces of the Philippines’ directive on all military units to join and support DepEd’s Brigada Eskwela.

“Your soldiers are also parents; they would love to make the schools more conducive place for learning, not only because of the call of duty, but also for their children. Helping out with the DepEd’s activity is our way of helping the children secure their future,” Gajo added.

Through the spirit of “bayanihan,” the activity mobilizes parents, teachers, students, civic groups and non-government organizations, soldiers and community residents to take part on the program.

DepEd’s Brigada Eskwela is a week-long program that started last May 21 and ended May 28. It is a series of cleaning, repairing, and repainting activities in different public schools to prepare the school facilities for the opening of classes on June 4.

The emphasis of this year’s Brigada Eskwela is on sanitation and hygiene, concentrating in the cleanliness of restrooms and wash facilities in public schools.

$1-B Shell investment in PHL operations on track

Executives of global energy firm Royal Dutch Shell and Shell Philippines met with President Benigno Aquino III in London to update him on their $1 billion investment program in the Philippines, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima shared via Twitter.

“Pnoy meeting with Shell regarding their plans to invest over $1 billion in various facilities,” Purisima tweeted in his Twitter account (CPV1960).

Among the Shell officials Aquino met were chief financial officer Simon Henry, whose responsibilities include overseeing Shell operations over most of Asia.

Shell Philippines country chairman Edgar Chua had the opportunity to present to Aquino an overview of the investment program that includes the next phases of exploration in the Malampaya natural gas field in northern Palawan.

Some 40 percent to 50 percent of fuel for Luzon’s gas-fired power plants come from Malampaya natural gas, according to the Shell Philippines website.

“In order to maintain the project’s gas production and reliability, the Service Contract 38 consortium is investing an additional US$1.04 billion for Malampaya Phase 2, which will entail drilling of additional wells by 2014,” Shell Philippines said.

By 2015, Shell expects Phase 3 of its Malampaya operations to get underway. This involves the installation of a new platform.

“These developments are expected to maximize the recovery of gas from the reservoir and to maintain the level of gas production as the reservoir pressure drops and as the gas depletes,” the Shell website also said.

Back in January 2012, Shell turned over to Aquino a check representing $1 billion for the government's share of the earnings of the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power project, a joint venture between the Philippine government and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.

From the Malampaya proceeds, the Aquino sourced the funds to finance its Pantawid Pasada program for public utility jeepneys and tricycles, as well as the budget for the acquisition of Philippine Navy patrol ships purchased from the United States Coast Guard.

Shell’s investment commitment is in addition to the $1.030 billion worth of investments pledged earlier when Aquino met the executives of Glencore International Plc and its Philippine partner Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation (PASAR); Cebu Pacific Air, Rolls-Royce, and Royal Aero, GazAsia Ltd., and its Philippine partner the AsiaGas Corporation.

President Aquino also met executives of Nestlé which said it will expand its current operations in the country. Nestlé Philippines employs 3,400 people in its manufacturing operations and 400 more in its backroom operations, which handle employee and financial services.

At 10 Downing Street, Aquino invited UK Prime Minister David Cameron to visit the Philippines.

Aquino also informed Cameron of the Philippines’ invitation for British investors to venture into the public-private partnership program that his administration is rolling out especially in the fields of infrastructure, energy, tourism, business process outsourcing and information technology.

Rare parrots, myna birds seized in Palawan

Authorities have seized various species of endangered birds in Barangay Puntabaja, Sitio Balite, Rial, Palawan.

According to Palawan Maritime Police, several cages containing 180 Philippine green parrots or “pikoy,” 2 hill mynas and 2 horn bills were recovered in separate locations in the forests of Brgy. Puntabaja.

Some of the cages were also found in a hut believed to be owned by a certain Ghaven San Juan.

San Juan was arrested and may face multiple charges for keeping the endangered species.

He said he will cooperate with police in the arrest of other members of the group.

Authorities estimate the confiscated birds to amount to P220,000.

They suspect that the birds were about to be shipped to Batangas when it was discovered.

The birds were turned over to the care of the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.

DPWH allots P1.38-B for infra projects in Palawan

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan- The Department of Public Works and Highways will implement P1.38 billion worth of infrastructure projects this year to further stimulate countryside development and bolster the booming tourism industry in Palawan.

In the DPWH website, there are 53 roads and 15 bridges listed for implementation starting 2012 by the three District Engineering Offices (DEO) in the province and the DPWH Region 4B, which consists of construction, strengthening of bridges and the upgrade, reconstruction and improvement of national roads.

Engr. Art Turillo, Public Information Officer of DPWH-Third DEO said that the projects are part of the department’s regular infrastructure program in support of President Benigno S. Aquino, III’s goal to make national roads 100 percent paved by 2016.

Turillo said that the increase in public infrastructure activity is also expected to sustain economic growth especially in tourist destination areas like Puerto Princesa City, Coron and El Nido.

DPWH Region 4B will be implementing about P892 million worth of road projects, spanning the length of Puerto Princesa South Road, Palawan Circumferential Road and Coron-Busuanga Road. DPWH regional offices only implement projects valued at P50 million and above. Below this amount, the DEOs are given authority to implement.

The first DEO, which covers all of northern Palawan has earmarked about P116 million budget for six on-going projects which include four bridges along the Coron-Busuanga road and the improvement of the San Vicente Long Beach Road and the Langogan-Roxas-Taytay road.

The second DEO has allocated about P256 million for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Puerto Princesa South Road and construction of five permanent bridges along the Palawan Circumferential Road. For the first quarter of this year, four road projects which were carried over from 2011 were completed.

The third DEO covers all of Puerto Princesa City with on-going projects valued at P117.8 million. Presently, it is working on six bridges and the concreting projects of portions of Irawan-Tagburos Road.

Turillo said that all DPWH projects under the present administration is geared towards “right project, right cost, right quality,” and when completed will provide safer, faster and comfortable travel to motorists, commuters and tourists.

Overcrowded classrooms mark first day in provinces too

A lack of teachers and classrooms hounded schools in several provinces on the first day of school year 2012-2013.

In Palawan, dzBB affiliate James Viernes reported as many as 70 students had to cram into one classroom designed to hold 50.

In Cebu, dzBB's provincial affiliate cited information indicating a shortage of 1,056 teachers and 2,000 classrooms for the first day of school.

Students and teachers braved early morning rain to get to the schools on time, the report added.

On the other hand, classes started in Davao relatively smoothly, with security tight.

Police in the provinces kept watch over schools, on the lookout against snatchers and muggers, according to reports by radio dzBB's provincial affiliates.

The reports added police were also on the lookout for gang members who may bully the students, as well as drug rings that may try to get the students to use drugs.

UK driller revisits 3 oil fields

Five foreign companies have signed an agreement to redevelop three oil fields in northwest Palawan basin, including the Tindalo, Yakal and Nido oil discoveries.

TVI Pacific Inc. of Canada said unit TG World Corp. and a joint venture of three exploration companies signed a memorandum of agreement with London-based Viking Energy Holdings 2 Ltd. to develop three oil fields in Service Contract 54A.

The agreement gives Viking a 60-percent equity in SC 54A, in return for operating, developing and bringing the three oil fields to commercial production.

“Viking will finance all required capital expenditure associated with bringing the Yakal, Tindalo, and Nido 1X1 undeveloped oil fields into production. This will include the drilling of one well in each field,” TVI said in a statement.

SC 54A covers 862 square kilometers in northwest Palawan basin. The SC 54 joint venture is composed of Nido Petroleum Philippines Pty. Ltd. and Yilgarn Petroleum Philippines Pty Ltd. of Australia as well as Trafigura Ventures III B.V. of the Netherlands.

The four companies and Viking have also agreed to work in collaboration with Offshore Production Solutions and Thome Oil & Gas on the project.

Offshore Production will provide offshore production facilities under bareboat charter arrangements while Thome Oil will provide operation and maintenance services for the offshore production facilities under an operation and maintenance agreement.

Production in the first field is expected by the third quarter of 2013, subject to relevant approvals from third parties and the Energy Department and the availability of rig and production facilities.

“The signing of this MoA is a key step for TVI to realize cash flow from its interest in SC 54A. Furthermore, this collaboration provides a relatively low-risk approach for TVI to participate in the development of these assets. I am pleased to work together with Viking and the rest of the Joint Venture Participants to advance the opportunity presented in SC 54A,” TVI chief executive Cliff James said.

TVI said Viking anticipated bringing the Yakal and Tindalo discoveries into production first, followed by Nido 1X1 at a later stage.

“The final investment amount will be agreed between Viking and the participants on selection of the most appropriate technical and commercial solution; and Viking will receive a preferential proportion of the net cash flow generated from SC 54A until such time as it has recovered in full its capital expenditure in the project,” TVI Pacific said.

Viking plans to use cost-effective offshore production and storage facilities comprising a mobile offshore production unit and a floating, storage, offloading/storage tanker moored to a Catenary anchor leg mooring buoy to commercialize the three oil fields.

TG World’s stake in SC 54A will increase to 5 percent from 12.50 percent while those of Nido Petroleum will decline to 16.96 percent from 42.4 percent; Yilgarn Petroleum to 12.04 percent from 30.10 percent; and Trafigura Ventures to 6 percent from 15 percent.

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