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Palawan News April 2013

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Palawan - Archived News

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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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Undergroud River in Palawan
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Underground river in Pureto Princesa, Palawan
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Baracuda Lake, Coron, Palawan
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A Barangay Clearance is NEEDED in order to get a Business License.
So why is the barangay name not in most business addresses?
Ask your Barangay Captain/Chairman to create a Resolution to make it mandatory to put the barangay name in all Business addresses.
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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

Province of Palawan, Philippines


Palawan conducts training on good corn agricultural practices

By Alena Mae S. Flores

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 30 (PNA) -– The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Region IVB and its Bureau of Agricultural Product Standards (BAPS) conducted over the weekend a trainers’ training on Good Agricultural Practices for Corn & Promotion of Corn for Health and Corn Quality Standards in Palawan with the support of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA).

The two-day training was attended by municipal agriculture officers, Agri Pinoy technicians and farmer leaders from different municipalities in the province.

Nenita Tabangay of OPA said the training highlighted the importance of corn or white corn variety to health.

She said the white corn variety is low in the glycemic index which is good for people who have diabetes.

“Corn is also being pushed by the DA as substitute to consuming rice,” she said, adding that in other countries, corn is widely grown for it is also a nutritious vegetable, and serves many functions, such as production of ethanol, fodder and biofuel for heating.

Corn, she said, is also a source of dietary fiber and protein, and provides 17% of the recommended daily value of fiber and 10% of daily value protein.

Tabangay said the training made participants more knowledgeable on corn farming, from tilling the land to harvesting.

She said this knowledge is necessary to avoid the spread of fungus which is bad for human health.

Other topics were the Importance & Status of Corn Quality in the Philippines, Farm Location and Environment; Procedure in Soil Sampling and Corn Seed Selection.

Pangilinan upbeat on Pitkin

By Alena Mae S. Flores

Philex Petroleum Corp., a unit of Philex Mining Corp., is bullish on the prospects of new subsidiary Pitkin Petroleum Plc, a UK-registered upstream oil and gas company.

Philex Mining chairman Manuel Pangilinan told reporters over the weekend Pitkin obtained the Area 5 block contract in northwest Palawan during the latest oil and gas exploration bidding round conducted by the government.

Northwest Palawan is considered one of the richest oil and gas areas around the country. Area 5 covers 424,000 hectares of offshore exploration area in deepwaters of northwest Palawan.

“Pitkin has Area 5, Vietnam concession… [and Philex] now [owns] 51 to 52 percent of Pitkin,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said Pitkin now had more concession areas for oil and gas exploration projects here and abroad.

Philex Petroleum recently acquired a majority stake in Pitkin after increasing its shareholding to 50.28 percent from 18.46 percent.

Philex Petroleum bought an additional interest through a subscription of 10 million new ordinary shares and the purchase of 36.4 million shares from existing shareholders, including 9.6 million shares from a subsidiary of First Pacific Co. Ltd., a shareholder of both Philex Petroleum and Philex Mining.

Philex Mining owns 64.79 percent of Philex Petroleum, which operates service contract 72 (Recto Bank). Exploration in the Recto Bank has been stalled because of conflicting territorial claims between the Philippines and China.

Pitkin Petroleum, meanwhile, has operations in the Philippines, Vietnam, Peru and the US.

Its key assets include a 25- percent interest in Vietnam Block 07/03 with drilling of two exploration and appraisal wells expected to begin in July 2013, and a 25-percent interest in Peru Block Z-38, where a drilling program of up to three exploration wells is expected to begin in the fourth quarter 2013 or the first quarter 2014, depending on rig availability.

Pitkin also holds a 29.14- percent interest in service contract 14 C2 in offshore Northwest Palawan, where the viability of redeveloping the West Linapacan oil field is being evaluated.

Pitkin is scheduled to drill an exploratory well in onshore Mindoro by the second half. Pitkin is operator of service contract 53 in Mindoro with a 35-percent stake.

Two PH resorts win Tour Awards

By Macon Ramos-Araneta

The Philippines’ winning ways continue in the global tourism stage as two of the most exclusive resorts in Southern Tagalog, The Farm at San Benito in Batangas and El Nido Resorts in Palawan recently reaped the highest international honors from prestigious travel and tourism fairs in Berlin and Abu Dhabi. The El Nido Resorts in Palawan is one of two tourism havens, the other being The Farm in Batangas, that won accolades from travel and tourism groups in Berlin, Germany and Abu Dhabi. COURTESY OF EL NIDO

More Fun...The El Nido Resorts in Palawan is one of two tourism havens, the other being The Farm in Batangas, that won accolades from travel and tourism groups in Berlin, Germany and Abu Dhabi. COURTESY OF EL NIDO

Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. expressed delight “with all the accolades we have been receiving, but being honored for responsible tourism is the ultimate reward as it is a community effort.”

He cited the need to take advantage of the media mileage and “ensure that the fun continues, for tourism to flourish side-by-side with the protection of our environment and community welfare.”

The Farm at San Benito was adjudged the Best Medical Wellness Resort worldwide at the International Tourismus Borse held last March in Berlin, Germany.

For two consecutive years, SENSES Wellness Awards, the most prestigious recognition in the spa industry, has cited The Farm’s commitment to its guests.

The Farm is the only resort in the country that offers natural and holistic health programs focused on cancer care, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

In 2002, its detoxification and cleansing retreats with raw, live cuisine were considered revolutionary.

ITB, on the other hand, is one of the world’s largest tourism fairs in Berlin that gathers influential members of international hotel chains, lifestyle, and wellness industries to promote and support the premium lifestyle and wellness guide.

El Nido Resorts in Palawan received the Community Benefit Award during the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards ceremony held in Abu Dhabi on April 9, 2013.

The eco-resort owned by Ten Knots Development Corporation was one of the four winners selected among 133 applications from 46 countries, according to the Tourism department.

El Nido Resorts was recognized for “demonstrating the power of tourism” as tool for poverty alleviation and improving local livelihood.

Since it started operations more than 30 years ago, El Nido has been employing and training locals from the municipality of El Nido comprising almost 90 percent of its organization.

Through its microfinance support, some of the resorts employees have already started their own recycling facilities, local farm products, boat transfers and excursions, and produce a diversity of fresh, local farm products among other community enterprises.

One of the world’s highest accolades in the travel and tourism industry, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is aimed at recognizing best practices in sustainable tourism within the industry worldwide.

Part of its mission is to raise awareness of travel and tourism as one of the world’s largest industries, supporting 260 million jobs and generating 9 percent of world GDP.

The Farm at San Benito is located at 119 Brgy. Tipakan, Lipa City, Batangas. El Nido Resorts, situated in Bacuit Bay, Palawan, is composed of four eco-resorts in the islands of Miniloc, Lagen, Pangulasian, and Apulit, each offering distinct amenities and attractions.

P350,000 spent to decontaminate Chinese ship

By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) reportedly spent P350,000 to decontaminate the cargo hold of the Chinese fishing vessel F/B Min Long Yu to dispose of the rotting cargo of illegally harvested anteaters.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Palawan District commander Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said the TMO hired the services of MJJ and Albayda Health and Sanitary Services to pull out the carcasses of the anteaters (pangolins) and bury them in Irawan, Palawan.

Evangelista said they are still waiting for the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD)’s laboratory to release the results on the water sample taken from the cargo hold to determine the toxic level in the ship.

He said the results would determine the kind of disinfectant they would use to kill or contain the bacteria that might have already multiplied inside the ship since it ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef last April 8.

Since the Chinese ship’s generator was shut down 18 days ago, the anteaters inside the cargo hold have decomposed and emit a foul odor which could prove to be hazardous to the health of those who would be entering the ship.

“Once the results are released, they would apply the disinfectant and wait for 24 hours curing time before they could start unloading the boxes,” he said.

Each box would be numbered and placed inside an individual bag. The dead pangolins would be placed on the deck of the fishing boat. The cargo would then be loaded on a truck and transported to Irawan, some 30 minutes away from Puerto Princesa City.

The contractor would also take charge of removing the water from the cargo hold and disposing of the liquid after it has been subjected to a treatment facility.

Security ensured in Palawan island town


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- After a long wait, Magsaysay town in southern Palawan has finally organized its Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPATs) with the active coordination of the local police headed by Chief Insp. Arnel Bagona.

The organization of the BPATs, headed by Mayor Rommel dela Torre and the municipal police, is mandated under Department of the Interior and Local Government-Memorandum Circular 2009-145, Bagona said.

“Barangay peacekeeping aims to draw the strong support and active participation of key players and stakeholders in the field of intelligence gathering and some operational aspects of policing. It is firmly anchored on the belief that sound policing germinates in effective and efficient policing at the barangay level,” Bagona told the Philippine News Agency.

Also, Bagona said it is a means to ensure the “effective prevention, control and suppression of crimes and efficient management of disasters and emergencies”.

The Barangay Peacekeeping Operations is a comprehensive, and catch-all anti-crime strategy that seeks to empower all stakeholders to share the responsibility of peacekeeping and order maintenance towards self-policing, he said.

Bagona said the training for BPAT was clustered where each training session was participated in by its 11 barangays with 10 BPAT members per barangay.

Included in the topics discussed were the role of BPAT in relation to the PNP such as on barangay restorative justice system, the duties, responsibilities and conducts of BPAT, basic report writing/investigation, environmental protection, and disaster risk reduction, reliefs and rescue operations.

Bagona said other topics were first responders and crime scenes involving traffic management and arrest technique, gender and sensitivity awareness, as well as violence against women and children, BPAT unarmed patrolling, self defense (arnis pro-baton), first aid, and community organizing and interpersonal communications.

Peacekeeping at the barangay level aims to involve barangay officials, “tanods” or village watchmen, and other force multipliers in crime prevention, control and suppression in partnership with the police.

Barangay Peacekeeping Desks are established at the regional, provincial, municipal and barangay levels, he added.

DOST-MIMAROPA picks regional reps to nat’l inventors contest


MANILA, April 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) - MIMAROPA Regional Office announces the first qualifiers for the national level competitions for researchers and inventors set for 2014, as entries from Romblon, Occidental and Oriental Mindoro emerged as winners of the 2nd Regional Invention Contest and Exhibits (RICE) for MIMAROPA last April 17, 2013 at the FilipinianaHotel in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

RICE-MIMAROPA is a project of DOST thru its attached agency, the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) and DOST-MIMAROPA in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro, Local Government Unit of Calapan City, and Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT).

Copping the top prizes were: Veronica Pasion of Occidental Mindoro State College for her flavored salted egg products as Most Outstanding Utility Model, Engr. OrleyFadriquel of Romblon State University for his versatile Tigergrass Pollen Remover con Woodworking Machine as Most Outstanding Creative Research or LIKHA Award, Aira C. Antonio of Bansud National High School – Regional Science High School for MIMAROPA for her innovative RubBush Pusher with features that are useful for car suspension system maintenance as Most Outstanding Student Creative Research for High School, and ChrisnaAllaAira B. Busto of Occidental Mindoro State College for herentry, Varying Levels of Fermented Nami Extracts as Organic Insecticide on Rice Bugs, as Most Outstanding Student Creative Research for College. The last two student winners fall under the SIBOL Award for both high school and college categories.vThe RICE - MIMAROPA leg, which opened on April 16 in Oriental Mindoro’s capital city,kickstarted the 2013 edition of the competition in various regions of the Philippines – a ramp-up to the national level contest of inventions to be held during the 2014 National Science and Technology Week, a major S&T activity in the country.

With the theme “Inventions and Innovations for a Smarter Philippines,” RICE aims to generate appreciation of local inventions especially those for practical use in daily living and thus have the potential for commercialization. On a larger scale, the event also seeks to discover world-class inventions which the Philippines can be proud of and can penetrate the international market.

“(The) government is here to assist you, but you have to come up with world-class products which can be winners and compete on the global stage,” said DOST Assistant Secretary and concurrently Science and Technology Information Institute (STII) Director RaymundLiboroduring the opening ceremony.Asst. Secretary Liboro exhorted the participants to adopt a forward-thinking approach as researchers and inventors in order to produce high-impact inventions good enough for the global market. STII is DOST’s information and communication arm.

Dir. Liboro stressed that DOST is presently moving toward fresh directions which other sectors haven’t explored. In particular, the Department is now focusing its efforts on innovating for the poor such as tapping biodiversity to foster technological innovations for health initiatives such as lagundi-based medicines.

He emphasized, however, that government cannot do this alone. Instead, the innovation ecosystem, composed of the government, the private sector, and the academe, should join hands to assist and direct this innovation process – from the idea phase to the market phase of the product.

TAPI Invention Development Division Chief Dr. George M. Colorado echoed Dir. Liboro’s statementsas he emphasized the need to intensify the country’s science and technology activities. “Technology is one single input which does not depreciate, no matter where you use it, whether in agriculture or any other sector. And this is what DOST is emphasizing,” Dr. Colorado remarked.

The winners, who received cash prizes among others, bested entries from other schools and universities in the MIMAROPA region which is composed of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan. They will represent MIMAROPA in the national championship in 2014.

PCG mulls charges against skipper of pangolin carrying ship


MANILA, April 24 (PNA) - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is looking at the possibility of filling charges against the captain of the Manila-bound cargo vessel where 23 pangolins (scaly anteaters) were recovered over the weekend.

Coast Guard Palawan head Commodore Enrico Evangelista was not satisfied with the claim of M/V Maria Lydia captain, Menandro Fabul, that he did not know who left the anteaters on the ship.

The above-mentioned vessel was docked off Coron, Palawan when a Coast Guard team discovered the anteaters aboard it last Saturday.

The PCG team found the anteaters after receiving a tip from a concerned citizen that the cargo vessel was taking them to Pier 2 in Manila's North Harbor.

As of Wednesday, however, one of the 23 pangolins had died.

Evangelista stated he has ordered the Coast Guard in Coron to dig deeper to see who is behind the illegal trade of endangered species such as pangolins, pawikan (turtles) and mynah birds.

He also said the Coast Guard has trained its K-9 units to sniff out endangered species.

The discovery of the pangolins came days after 400 boxes of frozen pangolins were found aboard a Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground at Tubbataha Reef last April 8.

The 12 Chinese aboard the vessel were arrested and are now detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail after being charged for poaching and attempting to bribe park rangers.

On the other hand, the April 8 incident came three months after the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardian at Tubbataha Reef, a world heritage site.

3rd Indigenous People’s Visual Art Exhibition held in Puerto Princesa


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 23 (PNA) -- Forty indigenous peoples’(IPs) masterpieces that used different art media can now be viewed until Friday at the Palawan Provincial Capitol Complex in this city as part of the 3rd Indigenous Peoples’ Visual Art Exhibition.

Organized by Kalinawa Art Foundation (KAF) in cooperation with the Collective Artists for the Environment (CAFÉ) and the Provincial Culture and Arts Office (PCAO), 13 IPs who are pure Tagbanua, Palaw’an and Cuyunon from the town of Aborlan and Puerto Princesa participated in the art exhibit, according to the Provincial Information Office (PIO).

Some of the artworks were done using mixed media, acrylic and charcoal, while the others were carved on a canvas that is made of rubber.

The indigenous artists portrayed in their artworks their cultural and traditional ways of life in fishing, farming, hunting, as well as their dances and rituals. There are also still life artworks of flowers and butterflies, those they see in their environment.

The Cuyunon artists showed in their masterpieces their life in the modern world, as well as mothers who work hard for the family to bring food to their tables.

Also on display are traditional baskets, sleeping mats, and other ornaments they made.

Executive director Raquel Palma Gil of Kalinawa said the exhibit is aimed at promoting, enriching, and patronizing the skills and virtuosity in visual arts, and crafts-making of the indigenous people of Palawan that may be lost due to threats that fast modern living poses.

“We wish to thank everyone who helped us bring this exhibit together to preserve the cultural and traditional works of the IPs in Palawan,” she said.

Charina Carmen Cabading, head of the PCAO, on the other hand, thanked Kalinawa for its effort in bringing to the consciousness of the art viewers the ways of life of the indigenous people of Palawan.

She said more visual presentations and exhibitions of what they traditionally do should be exposed to the public in a bid to help preserve, conserve and protect them from abolition because of rapid modernity.

The CAFÉ is headed by Palawan artist Jonathan Benitez, who conceptualized the exhibit and who acted as curator.

He said all artworks will also compete for major and minor prizes in the 3rd Indigenous Peoples’ Visual Art Exhibition, and the award will be made also on Friday.

The KAF was established in 2006, and has been organizing indigenous visual arts exhibits since then in different provinces all over the country. This year, they have held displays in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, and Palawan.

Environment authorities to unload pangolins from Chinese fishing vessel in Puerto Princesa


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 22 (PNA) -– Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said environment authorities here will unload Monday afternoon the 400 boxes of pangolins from F/V Min Long Yu, the Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on the NorthAtoll of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) but is now at the Puerto Princesa City Port (PPCP).

Evangelista told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the unloading will be facilitated by the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), which will conduct an inventory and accounting of the pangolin carcasses before they are immediately disposed due to the foul smellthey are now emitting.

The TMO and the PCSDS staff were supposed to board the foreign fishing vessel after it was brought by tugboat Limay of the Malayan Stowage at the PPCP, but it did not push through due to the absence of a court order.

Apparently, since F/V Min Long Yu is considered an evidence, a court order is needed before anyone is allowed to board to unload its cargoes and conduct inspection and investigation.

“Mamaya i-u-unload ang mga pangolins with TMO and PCSDSrepresentatives from the fishing vessel. (Later they will unload the pangolins from the fishing vessel with the TMO and the PCSDS). It will be brought to the Palawan Wildlife and Rescue Conservation Center (PWRCC) for disposal after accounting and inventory,” Evangelista disclosed to the PNA.

Even military and coast guard authorities who are supposed to board and search the fishing vessel were not allowed because of lack of a court order, and the foul smell of the pangolins that is reportedly “unbearable and might harm human health.”

He said during the unloading, the captain of the vessel will also be called to witness the activity, including the inspection that will be conducted for “security purposes.”

The Sino fishing vessel was successfully pulled to the port of this city Saturday by tugboat Limay of the Malayan Stowage after it was removed from the North Atoll before the weekend.

Inventory of Chinese boat’s cargo slated

By Philip C. Tubeza With a report from AP (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines—The Chinese fishing vessel found carrying thousands of kilos of scaly anteater meat that has been removed from the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan where it ran aground two weeks ago is now in the provincial capital of Puerto Princesa City where the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will conduct an inventory of its cargo.

PCG Palawan district chief Commodore Enrico Evangelista said the fishing boat Ming Long Yu arrived in Puerto Princesa at around 8:30 a.m. yesterday after it was towed from the reef by the MT Limay.

Evangelista told the Inquirer that the boat was generally “in good condition.” He said they would summon the vessel’s captain and chief engineer so they could be present when the PCG inspects the vessel.

In that case, whatever would be found on the boat would be known to have come from the vessel, he said.

Evangelista said the Coast Guard would also coordinate with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development on how to dispose of the ship’s cargo.

“We need to have an inventory to find out what’s inside. Everything should be in proper legal order,” he added.

Lt. Commander Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said the boat would be held in custody by the Coast Guard and will be checked again for any hidden compartments.

Authorities found no fish or any contraband on board during an initial inspection when they boarded the boat for the first time a day after it struck the reef on April 8.

During closer inspection days later, Coast Guard officers discovered 400 boxes, each containing 25-30 kilograms (55-66 pounds) of frozen pangolins, or scaly anteaters, with their scales already removed.

Wildlife officials are still trying to determine which of the four Asian pangolin species the meat comes from. The International Union of Conservation of Nature lists two species as endangered—the Sunda, or Malayan, pangolin, and the Chinese pangolin. Two others, including the Philippine pangolin endemic to Palawan, are classified as near threatened.

The animals are protected in many Asian nations. Despite an international trade ban in effect since 2002, their trade continues illicitly. The meat and scales of the pangolin are believed to cure various ailments.

Balilo said the Tubbataha Management Office, which oversees the marine park, will examine the extent of reef damage to determine the amount of fines to be imposed on the Chinese boat owners.

The 12 Chinese nationals on the fishing vessel are now detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail after being charged with poaching and trying to bribe park officials. They entered a plea of not guilty to the poaching charge.

Palawan hires 300 students for SPES

By Clarinda I. Catimpo [(PNA), LAM/CARF/CIC/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 20 (PNA) -- Around 300 “poor but deserving “ students are getting summer jobs courtesy of the provincial government of Palawan and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here.

Provincial Public Employment Service Officer (PESO) Richard Rebote said the provincial government has allotted for the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) the 60 percent LGU share of the P270 daily wage of the SPES beneficiary. The remaining 40 percent will be paid by the DOLE.

Rebote said that 305 of the student employees will be assigned to different departments of the provincial government center and various municipal governments. Each SPES beneficiary, he said, will be working for 20 days where they could earn P5,400.

SPES is a program being implemented by the DOLE in partnership with LGUs and other government agencies as well as interested private institutions, businesses and organizations to help poor and deserving get a short-term job from which they could earn income that they could spend for their studies.

It is open to students and out-of –school youths ages 15 to 25, whose average weighted grade from the last school year attended was 80 percent or better and without failing grade.

Specifically for applicants considered for the SPES program were students whose parents earn a combined annual income of not more than P86,000.

Meanwhile, DOLE in cooperation with the Provincial PESO organized a Training on Project Proposal Development Appraisal and Evaluation from April 17 to 19 here. It was attended by employees of the Provincial PESO, City PESO, Municipal PESO Managers along with representatives of associations from different towns in the province and DOLE employees.

Participants were trained on making project proposals which is a primary requirement for associations to acquire financial grants.

Chinese ship hauled off Tubbataha


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines - A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on one of the Philippines' most famous coral reefs more than a week ago was removed on Friday, April 19, the coast guard said.

The 48-meter ship was hauled by a tugboat from Tubbataha, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed coral reef near the western island of Palawan where its crew are facing serious charges, a spokeswoman said.

"The hull of the vessel is still okay so according to (the salvage team), it is safe to tow the vessel," Lt Greanata Jude told AFP.

The ship will be taken to the Palawan capital of Puerto Princesa where its 12 Chinese crewmen were arraigned on Friday, she said.

They were arrested for alleged poaching in the marine reserve and anger mounted after hundreds of dead pangolins or scaly anteaters -- a protected species -- were later discovered in their ship.

At a hearing in Puerto Princesa, the men entered a plea of not guilty to the poaching charge, while their lawyer Alex Jagmiz asked for more time to prepare his case.

"We don't have enough interpreters," he told reporters.

Authorities have already filed a charge of corruption against the Chinese men for allegedly trying to bribe their way to freedom. Serious charges are also being prepared over possession of the pangolins.

Palawan environmental legal officer Adelina Villena said regardless of whether the animals came from Palawan or elsewhere, the men could still be jailed for between 12 and 20 years for transporting a threatened species through Tubbataha.

The stranding of the vessel on April 8 raised concern over the potential damage to the protected coral reef and the gathering of the rare pangolins.

Pangolins are widely hunted in parts of Asia for their meat, skin and scales -- in China they are considered a delicacy and to have medicinal qualities. In the Philippines, they are found only on Palawan.

The Philippine office of the World Wide Fund for Nature condemned the poaching of the pangolins after the men were caught, saying that growing demand in China was wiping out the animal in Southeast Asia.

Palawan residents urged to help in anteater trade investigation


MANILA, April 18 (PNA) -- The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday urged Palawan residents to help in its ongoing investigation on suspected illegal wildlife trade in the province, following the discovery of frozen anteaters in a Chinese vessel that ran aground at Tubbataha Reef April 8.

Coast Guard Palawan head, Commodore Enrico Evangelista, said residents who provide information can help them protect endangered species like the anteaters.

Evangelista said residents can help much by helping pinpoint the traders, catchers, and middlemen in the possible large-scale trade of the endangered species.

Authorities suspect illegal trade of wildlife following the discovery of 400 boxes of frozen anteaters in the cargo hold of a Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground at Tubbataha Reef.

While anteaters are endangered in the Philippines, they are considered by some Chinese as a delicacy and medicine.

Last April 8, the Chinese vessel ran aground at the reef, three months after the minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground last Jan. 17.

The USS Guardian was eventually cut up and removed from the area, with the salvage work on it being completed only last March 30.

In the April 8 incident, the 12 Chinese aboard the fishing vessel have been charged for poaching and attempting to bribe park rangers. They are detained at the Palawan provincial jail.

SC asked to issue TEPO for Tubbataha reef

By Perfecto Raymundo [(PNA), HBC/PTR]

MANILA, April 17 (PNA) -- Environmentalists, church leaders and militant groups Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary environmental protection order for the Tubbataha reef.

They also asked the SC for the determination of fine 12 times more than the initial estimate of the government of P58 million as well as the prosecution of officers of the USS Guardian.

In the 90-page petition, they also asked the SC to stop the US war games and port calls by US ships in the absent of clear guidelines on environmental protection under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

The petition was filed three months after the grounding of the USS Guardian in the Tubbataha Reef, a protected area known as a United Nations Heritage Site.

Petitioners are Bishop Pedro Arigo, of Puerto Princesa City; Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, Jr., Bishop-Emeritus of Caloocan City; Frances Quimpo; Clemente Bautista, Jr., of Kalikasan-PNE;

Maria Carolina Araullo; and Renato Reyes Jr., of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares; Roland Simbulan; Junk VFA Movement; Teresita Perez;

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino; Peter Gonzales, of Pamalakaya; Giovanni Tapang; Agham; Elmer Labog; Kilusang Mayo Uno; Joan May Salvador; Gabriela; diver Jose Erique Africa;

Theresa Concepcion; Mary Joan Guan; Nestor Baguinon; and public interest lawyer Edsel Tupaz.

Named respondents are Scott Swift, commander of the US 7th Fleet; Mark Rice, commanding officer of the USS Guardian; President Benigno Aquino III for being the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines;

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr.; Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin; Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus Paje; Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano; Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command;

Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, commandant, Philippine Coast Guard; Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, of PCG Palawan; Maj. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, chief of the AFP Western Command;

Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, of the US Marine Corps Forces Pacific and Balikatan 2013 Exercise co-director.

The petitioners said the US Navy cannot invoke immunity under the VFA.

Citing an SC ruling, they said "courts of the Philippines have jurisdiction over crimes committed aboard merchant vessels anchored in our jurisdiction waters."

Among the violations committed by the US Navy, according to the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board, include unauthorized entry, non-payment of conservation fees, obstruction of law enforcement officer, damages to the reef, destroying, and disturbing resources.

The petitioners are demanding a fine for the US that is 12 times the initial estimate of the Philippine government.

Comparing valuations in the 2009 grounding of the USS Port Royal in Hawaii, the petitioners pegged the just and reasonable compensation for the damage to Tubbataha between US$ 16.8 million to US$ 27 million, a far cry from the US$ 1.4 million government estimate.

Four years ago under similar circumstances, the US Navy paid the state of Hawaii a total of US$ 15 million for restoration and settlement, for damage to an Oahu reef; which while larger than Tubbataha, has not been identified as a World Heritage Site.

The petitioners cited Tubbataha's biodiversity concentration is 2.3 times more than that of the Hawaii reef.

They argued not only the grounding but the salvaging and post salvage operations of the USS Guardian caused environmental damage even to nearby provinces such as Palawan, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Puerto Princesa artists hold 3rd Indigenous Peoples’ Visual Art Exhibition


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 16 (PNA) –- In a life-long commitment to support the preservation, conservation, and sustainable protection of the cultures and traditional arts of indigenous peoples in this city and Palawan, an art foundation and a group of artists in cooperation with the Palawan Heritage Center (PHC) will open on April 20 the 3rd Indigenous Peoples’ Visual Art Exhibition.

Jonathan Benitez, a popular artist in Puerto Princesa, said the Kalinawa Art Foundation (KAF) and the Collective Artists for the Environment (CAFÉ) will be presenting the visual art exhibition at the Legislative Building, Capitol Compound with the support of the PHC.

He said, the exhibition will be designed to support and promote indigenous artists from the IP communities in Palawan like the Tagbanua, Batak, Tau’t Batu, Molbog, Jama Mapun, Cuyunon, Agutaynon and Cagayanen.

Artists who wish for their artworks to be included and displayed in the visual art exhibition can just walk in and submit on April 18-19 for the April 20-26 event.

As rich as its history, Benitez said, Puerto Princesa and Palawan are homes to indigenous peoples whose love for the arts and bringing them to life are exceptional and matchless.

“What we always want to achieve with the visual art exhibition is to promote IP artists because they have concepts and ideas that need to be shown to other people for appreciation for culture and the art to grow continuously,” Benitez said.

Palawan students educated on environmental protection, climate change

By Clarinda I. Catimpo [(PNA), LAP/CARF/CIC/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 15 (PNA) -- Hundreds of students from all over the province are now more aware of sustainable development, environmental protection, and climate change.

Raising environmental awareness and educating the students on sustainable development, the special laws being implemented in the province of Palawan and the impacts of Climate Change are the main topics of the recently concluded Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Information Caravan conducted by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development’s (PCSD) implementing arm.

The Environmental Critical Areas Network (ECAN) Environmental Education Division of the PCSDS headed by Alex Marcaida, visited a total of 14 annex campuses of the Palawan State University (PSU) and of the Western Philippines University (WPU) in 12 municipalities in the province.

The municipalities covered were Aborlan, Araceli, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Dumaran, El Nido, Liminangcong, Narra, Quezon, Roxas, Sofronio Espanola, and Taytay.

“The information caravan was well received by the students, and it was very encouraging. Most of them have heard of the PCSD but they have limited idea what sustainable development is all about. Through the information education campaign, we were able to provide them salient information about the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan and the other special laws being enforced here. To a certain extent, we were also able to increase their knowledge on Climate Change,” Marcaida said.

The division is planning to conduct another IEC in the near future for the island municipalities of Palawan. This province-wide IEC is being conducted by PCSDS every five years.

“If there is enough budget, we hope to do this more often and we wish to reach not just the students but the other sectors of society as well,” Marcaida added.

Another purpose of the IEC was to strengthen the ties of PCSD with the schools and the student body governments. The PCSDS would like to link the event to the upcoming PalTREES program where 50,000 trees are to be planted this year. A simultaneous tree planting activity all over the province is already being planned.

Reyes camp wants CA to punish de Lima


MANILA -- The camp of fugitive former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes has asked the Court of Appeals to cite in contempt Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for issuing accusatory statements in connection with a ruling last month.

Lawyer Demetrio Custodio Jr. argued that while the accusation was directed at their client, it "also smeared the reputation of the honorable court by insinuating that it could be influenced to decide a case in one way or another by a party's 'foul tactics and illicit means.'"

He is referring to de Lima’s claims that “foul tactics” were employed when murder charges against Reyes were dropped in connection with the killing of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega in January 2011.

Custodio added it was “an attempt to degrade the court, destroy public confidence in it, and encourage the people to disregard and set naught its orders, judgments and decrees.”

De Lima has ignored her duty as “an officer of the court, to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts and to promote confidence in the fair administration of justice,” he said.

“Clearly from the foregoing, respondent's temerity warrants the wielding of the honorable court's power to punish her for contempt,” he added.

El Nido Resorts is WTTC’s Community Benefit Award winner


Palawan is a popular destination for nature lovers, with lagoons, beaches and nature wonders, Palawan will surely enchant every tourist. Preserving its natural beauty is a must for the luxurious El Nido Resorts, which was recognized this month for its efforts in community building and sustainable tourism.

The World Travel and Tourism Council named Ten Knots Development Corporation/El Nido Resorts as its Community Benefit Award winner. El Nido Resorts which employ local people was cited for playing a vital role in community development. 90 percent of its staff are from the local area. “It has always believed in partnership with local communities, demonstrating the power of tourism to address poverty alleviation, improve local livelihoods and protect cultural and natural heritage for future generations,” said WTTC, which noted that the corporation actively supports staff development as well as the creation of community enterprises. “Examples include micro-finance support to employees who now own and manage recycling facilities, provide boat transfers and excursions and produce a diversity of fresh, local farm products, among other businesses,” WTTC said. The resort educates both its employees and its guests. “El Nido Resorts also purposefully educates guests on how their vacation can be good for the planet and local people,” WTTC said. el_nidoEmployees take a BeGREEN course that promotes environmental best practices, while guests must comply with an “environmental code of conduct” in every room. Throughout the resort, environment-friendly policies are in place. Guides accompany guests to prevent damage to the area’s natural riches, and motorized marine equipment such as jet skis are not allowed. The World Travel and Tourism Council awards recognize best practices in sustainable tourism within the Travel & Tourism industry worldwide. “It is indeed a great leap not only for Philippine tourism in the global scene, but also we are stating that the Philippines is becoming more of a sustainable tourism destination,” said Brian King Ong, Marketing Assistant of El Nido Resorts.

Palawan prov’l treasurer’s office doubles time in tax info campaign to hike collection


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 12 (PNA) -– The Palawan Provincial Treasurer’s Office has started its rigorous tax information campaign to increase tax collection this 2013, and it kicked this off in the southern town of Narra.

Provincial treasurer Elino Mondragon said around 210 barangay officials, businessmen and residents of the town of Narra attended Wednesday the tax information campaign they conducted to escalate collection of real property taxes this year.

Mondragon said the goal of the campaign is also to intensify the awareness of businessmen and other stakeholders in the municipalities to participate in the province’s “tax collection efficiency” target, which will also benefit them.

In doing the campaign, the team informs the participants how much taxes have been collected, how much of the taxes collected go to the barangay, municipality and the province, and what projects are funded or can be funded by the shares.

Mondragon added that through the campaign program, they hope to encourage residents in Palawan to be honest and on time in paying their taxes as they will also benefit in the end.

He added that education is one of the beneficiaries of on time and honest tax payment as 50% of the collected taxes from real properties go to it.

Every year, the provincial government through the PTO assists municipal governments to strengthen their tax collection efficiencies.

Two teams were formed this year for the purpose.

Coast Guard beefs up teams in Tubbataha to remove grounded ship

(LBG, GMA News)

The Philippine Coast Guard on Thursday sent additional teams to Tubbataha Reef to help remove a Chinese fishing vessel grounded there since Monday night, and to prevent any oil spill in the heritage site.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said the teams included divers from the special operations group, and environmental protection unit personnel looking out for oil spills, radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported.

Balilo said the Coast Guard teams will help out in efforts to remove the Chinese fishing vessel, initially by lightening its load.

The Coast Guard aims to remove at least 8,000 liters of fuel as well as fishing nets and water from the ship's cargo hold so it can retract from the reef on its own.

"Once na gumaan siya, baka on her own she can retract from the reef," Coast Guard commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said.

In a separate interview on "State of the Nation," Isorena said the fishing vessel's engine did not appear to sustain any damage.

"Walang damage sa engine so probably the ship can run on her own," he said.

The Chinese vessel with 12 fishermen aboard ran aground at Tubbataha Reef before midnight Monday.

Monday's incident occurred three months after the minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef. The USS Guardian was removed from the area only last March 30.

On Wednesday, the 12 fishermen were charged before the provincial prosecutor's office with poaching. Added charges are to be filed against them on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Tubbataha Management Office sought the help of the Department of Transportation and Communications in removing the fishing vessel, according to a separate report by dzBB's James Viernes.

The report also said the Philippine government will coordinate with the Chinese government in looking for the owner of the ship so he or she will shoulder the expenses for salvage operations.

Public-private partnership roadshow in Palawan to boost regional competitiveness


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 10 (PNA) -- A roadshow on “Boosting Regional Competitiveness through Public-Private Partnership” will be held here Thursday by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-MIMAROPA.

The roadshow, co-organized by the Regional Competitiveness Council (RCC), is part of the aim of inclusive growth of the Philippine Development Plan which the NCC is pursuing in order to promote competitiveness at all levels in both the public and private sectors.

Leading the regional roadshow is Guillermo Ruiz, private sector Co-Chairman and Executive Director of Makati Business Club, Director Joel Valera of DTI-MIMAROPA and the Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The roadshow hopes to spur partnership with local government units, local industries, business sector, non-government and people’s organizations and the academe, that would make Palawan more competitive in terms of economic, government efficiency and infrastructure indicators.

Topics that will be taken up in the roadshow are Globally Competitive City; Updates on Seamless Infrastructure; State of Philippine Competitiveness; and Gameplan for Competitiveness.

Panel of investigators, reviewing documents on USS Guardian grounding in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 9 (PNA) -- The panel of investigators on the grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) are reviewing documents and reports that were submitted following the incident.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Palawan District commander, who joined the Philippine investigating team in Sasebo, Japan last week, said investigation on the minesweeper's stranding in the South Atoll in Tubbataha is now underway.

“Documents submitted are now being reviewed by the joint investigating team. Maybe in a week’s time or two, the investigating panel will meet again,” said Evangelista to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). The head of the investigating team from the Philippine government is Admiral Luis Tuazon.

“If more documents are needed, the investigating panel will request for them again and then review,” he added.

Last week, the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) said it will seek from the U.S. Navy more than P58 million in damages to the coral isle due to the grounding of the USS Guardian.

Based on the law that governs over the protection, preservation and conservation of the marine protected area, the PAMB will collect P12,000 per square meter of damaged reef and the same amount also per square meter for rehabilitation.

Contrary to an early estimate of 4,000 square meters damaged reefs, the assessment deduced that the destruction was much less at 2,345.67 square meters.

In an interview with the local media earlier, Jose Lorenzo Tan of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines said the methodology in the assessment they used determined accurately the size of the damaged corals.

‘Microgiving’ program benefits conservation campaign in Palawan

By Anna Valmero

QUEZON, PALAWAN— To engage the community to take part in local sustainability efforts, it is crucial to educate local stakeholders—from the authorities in the local government, to fisherfolk families, including the young children.

WWW-Philippines, partnered with local bank Banco De Oro Unibank Inc. (BDO), for an education campaign program starting from the younger school children up to the elder fishermen in the area as well as the local policy makers.

The education fund for the project, amounting to a few hundred thousand pesos, came from the pooled five-peso personal donations from every BDO cardholder in 1, 290 automated teller machines (ATMs) for the whole quarter of 2012.

“This P5 small donations essentially operates under microgiving, which can help create a larger impact on conservation when you pool the resources together,” said Jose Angelito Palma, vice president for Conservation Programs at WWF-Philippines.

The microgiving program, which runs throughout the year, supports a different project site of WWF for each quarter. It generates at least 3 million pesos for a year and the amount is distributed to key project sites, including the Donsol whale shark conservation program, the Tubbataha reef rehabilitation project and most recently, the mariculture program in Quezon.

In other parts of the world, microgiving has been proven as a creative means to sustainably raise alternative funds especially among environment and other advocacy groups.

By donating just five pesos, a local ATM cardholder does not feel that he is giving too much to support a cause he or she believes in so most of them turn to become regular microgivers, almost every time they withdraw cash from the ATM, explained Palma.

To tap local schools, the non-profit organization partnered with the local government to enable the local science curriculum in elementary and high school to integrate lessons on environment conservation, with a strong focus on marine protection since the community derives its income from the sea.

Fishermen, on the other hand, are a different segment. The lessons on conservation were integrated during their livelihood trainings on seaweed farming and suno mariculture.

“Sustainability takes on multiple frameworks for its adoption in Quezon but it is directly linked to let the fishermen keep their jobs and generate new streams of revenues for local families,” said Marivic Matillano, project manager of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Live Reef and Sustainability program in Palawan.

(Read: (Part 1) Seaweed farming, mariculture provide alternative livelihood for Palawan fishermen)

“For example, you need to let them know that the mariculture method can help keep the production of suno—their main income source—high so that they will know they will not lose their jobs when you tell them to veer away from traditional ways of capturing suno—that is from getting the suno in their coral habitats,” the official said.

The community is also involved in taking care of marine protected areas by informing them of the allowed and prohibited activities in no-take zones and multiple-use areas, according to Pacita Bravo, BFAR officer for Quezon.

Conservation leads to livelihood

For suno mariculturist and trader Mary Jane Rodrigo, she said that the mariculture of suno proved to be a more profitable means of livelihood for her family. While still a full-time mother to her two young kids, she can now help her husband earn from their small cage of suno. Her family earns P30,000 for every harvest of mature suno that they sell to traders at the poblacion.

A floating cage made of green polyethylene net framed with rope only cost P3,000. The cage can hold 30 pieces of 100g to 200g of suno for conditioning until they weigh near a kilo or more.

“This time, I am able to help my husband and my family even when I stay at home. By becoming a suno culturist, I was able to show other women in the community that the previous methods we employed can harm the environment and the community in the long run,” said Rodrigo.

She said that apart from suno mariculture, she has also attended several trainings on coastal conservation and how fishing communities can protect marine resources where they get their livelihood.

Rodrigo and other households in Quezon engaged in suno mariculture earn over half a million per year, which is six times more than the poverty threshold for the province pegged at P83,100 a year.

Aside from mariculture, suno culturists and traders also get bulk of their income from remittances, farming and other small business such as sari-sari stores.

The municipality of Quezon in 2009 produced a total of 27,640 kilos of live suno, making the town one of the major suppliers of live reef fish commodities in Southern Palawan, according to the BFAR office in Quezon.

While the reef condition in Quezon does not look promising, it should be noted that the fish biomass such as 852 metric tons per square kilometer in Calumpang and fish density of 6,406 individuals per square kilometer in the area is relatively high, according to the Western Philippines University.

The fishermen were also educated that by adopting mariculture, they are setting an example to other coastal municipalities that adopting the Fishery Code of the Philippines, which prohibits the trading and export of live fish except those produced from full-cycle mariculture, can actually be done. In other parts of the country where live reef fish trade is being done, this provision is usually not implemented and the suno are caught straight from the reefs.

Before, locals in the area would not be able to eat the suno that they harvest from coral reefs, the reason being is that they would rather get the money from the valued fish so they can buy cheaper alternatives, said Rodrigo.

Today, families such as Rodrigo’s operate fish cages of suno at their floating houses along Quezon bay. The fishes which die while being cultured are eaten by the traders, while some even offer live suno to visitors and family guests as a parting gift.

The creation of a local cooperative initiated by fisher folks and assisted by the local fisheries office also helped as it created an avenue for collaboration among the business sector and the government so they can initiate similar objectives, she added.

Most of the suno cultured in cages are still caught in the wild via extractive fishing methods, according to Lota Alcantara-Creencia, researcher with the Western Philippines University. To address this, the local government of Quezon initiated in 2010 a P3-million fish sanctuary project with the Danish International Development Agency.

(Read: (Part 2) Coastal conservation reaps benefits for Palawan fishermen)

The project, which runs for 18 months, helped establish and protect 1,000 hectares of marine protected areas and fish sanctuary to ensure spawning areas for suno—thus ensuring that there will be mature suno that can reproduce for the next harvest season.

Since the number of live reef fish cagers and traders had boomed from three to ten groups per barangay, anecdotal stories from older fishermen said that the suno they can catch today have severely declined.

A decade ago, old fisher folks can catch up to 100 pieces of red suno a day, while fishermen of today have lesser catch with more of the pinkish and brownish grouper in their harvest.

Employing hook and line fishing, locals catch 1 to 3 pieces of suno per day or 30-90 pieces per month with 10 to 15 pieces good size. Hook and line fishing is one of the traditional methods used by local fishermen and is allowed by the local fisheries bureau for catching suno for mariculture.

“The quality of the coral reef ecosystem where red groupers inhabit is in question here. The stories from LRF fishers reveal that the coral reefs frequented by fishers are far because those nearby are not in good condition which can be confirmed by coral cover data. There is declining catch of groupers,” according to a report from Western Philippines University.

When coral reefs are not healthy, many associated organisms are affected. If the catch of groupers has declined, then other populations in the coral reef can either decrease or increase depending on the conditions of the unbalanced ecosystem, said Lota Alcantara-Creencia, researcher with the Western Philippines University.

Matillano said that there is still room for improvement in the sustainable live reef fish trade plan in Quezon but it is worth noting that efforts such as this have helped communities in Palawan to adopt more sustainable practices of culturing suno as well as allowing no-take zones in marine protected areas to revitalize brood stocks of suno.

“For conservation to work, you need to balance food security with poverty alleviation and economic opportunities and the story of the small town of Quezon proves that,” Matillano said.

Tourists begin summer exodus on top sites in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 7 (PNA) -- Foreign and domestic tourists have started flocking to popular and pristine tour sites in Palawan, the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) here on Saturdy said.

Maribel Buni, chief tourism operations officer of the PTO, said the towns of Coron and El Nido remain to be the top destinations in Palawan, not only during the peak season but all year round.

She said that since February, hotels and other accommodation venues in the two towns were already fully booked until May.

Buying plane tickets in Manila to get to the two towns have become difficult due to early bookers, particularly during the peak season, Buni said.

She said that this only indicates that Palawan is already in the tourism map of tourists not just in the country, but all over the world due to the success of the provincial government's promotions in partnership with the Palawan Tourism Council.

Phl to ask P58.3M from US for damages to Tubbataha

By Victoria Asuncion S. Mendoza (LBR/VSM/PIPalawan)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, April 6 (PIA) -- The Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) is seeking P58.3 million from the United States for damages to the coral reefs when its minesweeper USS Guardian run aground in January.

A demand letter for payment of the reef damage will be issued to the United States navy through the Department of Foreign Affairs at the soonest possible time according to TPAMB.

The computation was concluded Friday afternoon based on what is in Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act. The law states that a fine of P12,000 per square meter is mandatory, and another P12,000 per square meter to be prescribed for rehabilitation.

Based on the result of the assessment, the actual reef damage was measured to have reached 2,345.67 square meters which is smaller than the earlier estimate of 4,000 square meters.

“The difference in the estimates of the damage area was in the methodology used, but the one used yesterday was more accurate using shaped polygons which follow the natural contours of the reefs,” said Jose Lorenzo Tan, CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines and TPAMB member.

The joint assessment team conducted the actual survey and inspection of the affected areas on April 3-4 composed of marine scientists and experts from the Tubbataha Management Office, WWF Philippines, UP Marine Science Institute and a marine expert from the US Navy.

He said that according to the Filipino scientists there was less damage due to the fact that the hull of the minesweeper was made of wood. “There could have been bigger damage had it been made of steel,” said Tan.

He said that the TPAMB acknowledges the efforts of the US navy in the handling and the conduct itself of the salvage operation which explored all possibilities to prevent further damage.

Evacuees from Sabah seek shelter on island in Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 5 (PNA) -- Immigration and naval authorities in Palawan on Friday are on its way to Mangsee Island, Balabac to facilitate the proper documentation and investigation of around 740 Filipino evacuees from Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia.

The evacuees arrived on the country's territorial waters Tuesday, Naval Forces West (NFW) commander Commodore Joseph Rustom Pena told PNA.

Pena said the evacuees, mostly young children and women, were accosted by crewmen of a patrol naval vessel at sea on their arrival on various small sea transports.

"They said they are from Sabah, and that they want to seek shelter on Mangsee Island as they have relatives there. We really don't know much yet, our people on the ground are still finding out. Of course, they need to be documented first," Pena said to the PNA, adding the evacuees failed to show documents that could prove their identities.

He cannot fully ascertain if the evacuees are supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu or long-time residents of Lahad Datu who were caught in the bloody fight with the Royal Malaysian Guards.

Asked if the evacuees will be brought to Puerto Princesa, Pena said they have to obtain their areas of residences and communicate with their relatives if necessary, and with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) for whatever assistances are needed.

Mangsee Island is off the southernmost tip of Palawan and is frequently used as jump off point of Islam traders going to Malaysia.

French Navy ship FS Vendemiaire arrives in Puerto Princesa for goodwill visit

By Orlan C. Jabagat (LBR/CRG/OCJ/PIA4B)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, April 4 (PIA) - The French Navy ship FS Vendemiaire arrived in Puerto Princesa on April 1 as part of its two-day goodwill visit to Palawan.

The vessel’s 92-strong crew including officers headed by its captain Commander Joffrey Gerry FN were received by the Western Command Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Elmer Amon.

CDR Gerry said there won’t be any exercises during their visit. Goodwill visits, Gerry said, is one way for the Navy to learn the culture, expertise and capabilities of the French Navy.

Personnel from the Naval Forces West, the Philippine Navy unit in Palawan will also have a chance to familiarize themselves with French’ weaponry, machineries and other capabilities of their ship.

The French vessel’s visit marks its first in Palawan. It visited Manila in 2009 and Cebu in 2012.

FS Vendemiaire is a light monitoring frigate or warship of the French Marine Nationale. It has missiles, guns, a turret and a helicopter.

They are docked at the Naval tidepole pier in Puerto Princesa.

DMCI: Palawan power plant to use clean coal

(MST Business), PDS/CARF/PJN

DMCI Power Corp. is building a power plant in Palawan to avert a looming power crisis in the fast-growing province, which thrives on tourism as a main industry.

DMCI Power will use the newest and cleanest coal technology in the proposed 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Narra in the southern part of the province. The power plant is expected to commence operation in September 2014.

DMCI Power during the interim construction period will install additional generating capacities through modular diesel generating sets, until dependable capacity reaches 25 MW in September 2013.

Also called the “clean-coal” technology, the circulating fluidized bed combustion technology prevents the formation of acid rain by effectively reducing the emission of sulfur oxide and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. The CFB technology has a 99.9-percent efficiency rate in the collection of fly-ash and buttom ash, thereby preventing dust pollution.

The CFB technology is compliant and has met all world environmental requirements including the standards set by the Philippine Clean Air Act.

DMCI Power said the project would not affect the wildlife and cockatoo sanctuary in the area. The power plant is small, with its proposed smoke stack only two meters wide, which is too narrow to block the flight path of the cockatoos.

DMCI Power will connect to the feeder power lines built by National Power Corp. and which have been in existence even before the proposed project.

DMCI Power will employ other measures to guarantee public health and environmental safety, such as the construction of an ash pond and if necessary, hauling out the ash as back load of the barges that will deliver coal to the plant, and waste water treatment system.

It will set up different groups that will have representatives from the community, who will monitor and ensure the project complies with standards.

TMO head, 2 experts to assess Tubbataha damage


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 2 (PNA)-- The head of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) on early Tuesday flew to Tubbataha with two experts on Philippine corals to begin ocular inspection of the area.

The damage on the Tubbataha Reef will be officially appraised on March 8.

TMO head Angelique Songco flew to the site with Drs. Al Licuanan from the De La Salle University and Maricor Soriano, an assistant professor in the National Institute of Physics of the University of the Philippines.

Licuanan and Soriano will help determine the set of procedures to be followed to conduct timely post-assessment in order to define if a natural or an assisted regeneration is necessary for the damaged corals.

The TMO said the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) has yet to hear from the U.S. Navy "or its government," with regard to the compensation for corals damaged by the decommissioned USS Guardian.

In a media conference called by the Task Force Tubbataha (TFT) late Monday, Songco said after sending the notice of violation some time ago, the PAMB of the marine protected area has not received any official reply from the U.S. Navy if it will recompense the Philippines and when.

“Well, the PAMB has not received or heard anything officially yet, up to this time. But we have read in the papers, and so in television that various agencies of the U.S. have committed to compensate the park,” Songco said.

She added the last direction she received from the Tubbataha PAMB was that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10067 will be carried out in collecting compensation for damages incurred by the minesweeper.

“Actually, my last instruction from the PAMB was that we are going to follow the law in doing this. But I’ve heard that there are negotiations that have gone on with the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), and I think that is part of negotiations even early on in this case,” she said.

On the other hand, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, who flew to Puerto Princesa for the purpose, said the U.S. Navy has said it will recompense but it needs to know the exact damages its minesweeper had caused on the coral isle, where it got stranded last January.

“Actually, that was the line U.S. Navy is following eventually. Of course, the U.S. Navy is willing to assist in whatever they can to rehabilitate the reefs. So we really do not know the whole package yet. But they mentioned that they are very willing to assist the TMO to rehabilitate,” Isorena said.

He added “everything will fall into place” after results have already been obtained from the post-assessment that will be conducted in Tubbataha.

“The TMO will head the post-assessment to determine how much had been damaged by the USS Guardian. From here, maybe the U.S. Navy can already gauge how much it will need to compensate,” Isorena told the PNA.

Meanwhile, Isorena also announced in the media conference that a team from the Philippines, which would include PCG-Palawan District Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, will be flying to Sasebo, Japan on Wednesday for a meeting with the U.S. Navy, 7th Fleet.

New WESCOM chief promises more military efforts for Palawan dev't


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 1 (PNA) -- The new chief of the Western Command, Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero guaranteed Monday to double military efforts in Palawan to help it achieve its mission in the province.

Guerrero, who formally replaced Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban as the WESCOM commander on April 1, said with a “doubled military effort,” he will continue focusing on the three major aspects of developmental support for the province: that of ensuring territorial integrity of the areas under the command's jurisdiction, enhancing disaster response management, and strengthening partnerships with the civil groups.

"We will address the internal security concerns, we will continue to support the environmental groups and local government units' initiatives to sustain environmental protection efforts and, of course, we will find ways to further enhance disaster response in the province," Guerrero assured.

He said these tasks are not new to him, having served as PMC commandant prior to appointment as WESCOM chief because he has been undertaking the same in other parts of the countries where he was assigned.

"We will put the right people on the ground and we will assure you that [the military] will continue working with the people of Palawan to achieve the purpose of our presence here [in the province]," the newly-installed WESCOM commanding general said.

Guerrero also said he is not daunted by the challenges posed by limited resources that WESCOM has at its disposal because he believes the men and women of the different units under unified commands can augment its lack of physical assets.

The marine officer, however, stressed that “the cooperation of the local community is an essential factor in ensuring the success of the military's mission.”

He appeals to the public to observe the spirit of "bayanihan" or communal volunteerism that is the core of the military's Internal Peace and Security Plan.

Guerrero previously served as commanding officer of the 1st Marine Brigade and as superintendent of the Marine Corps Training Center. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1981.

He finished his Masters of Military Study and Command and Staff College in Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, USA; took up Foreign Officers Tactical Intelligence Course in Queensland, Australia, and tactical, operational and strategic command courses in various military institutions in the country.

Prior to his assumption as commandant on August 24, 2010, he was the commander of the Joint Task Force Comet for almost one year in Sulu.