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Palawan News March 2018

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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

Summer 2018: Asia's biggest inflatable playground is in Palawan

By Kara Santos

PUERTO PRINCESA -- Looking for something new to do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan?

If you’ve already visited the famed Underground River, gone island-hopping around Honda Bay, and done a city tour of heritage sights, you might want to head over to Kamia Bay Resort to get a thrill at the newest and biggest inflatable playground in Asia.

Just 30 to 45 minutes away from the city center, Kamia Bay Resort in Binusalian Bay at Barangay Luzviminda offers an exciting new attraction for friends and family.

Be one of the first to enjoy the giant fun and enjoyment in the largest aqua-adventure inflatable playground as well as premier water sports like kayaking and jetski tours in one of the world’s best islands. The area covers 3,800 square meters of play area near the waterfront that is available exclusively for day tours.

Thrilling features of the Aquapark include the 40-feet high inflatable slide, a human launcher, oversized trampolines and various floating obstacle courses. Guests get to feel like they’re in an episode of "Wipeout" by navigating through obstacles.

Kamia Bay Island Adventure aims to provide an “ultimate island experience.” Aside from the inflatable playground, it offers eco tours, kayak escapades, lunch buffet and organic food options.

The introductory rate starts at P788 per person inclusive of a one-hour pass at the Aquapark, eco tour and buffet lunch. For those who would like to avail of the round-trip transfer from the city, it costs P1,188 per person.

For guests who just want to enjoy the natural surroundings, Kamia Bay Resort also offers a buffet lunch for P588 per person (adult) and P399 for kids. All tickets and packages must be pre-booked at Amika Main Office in Puerto Princesa. Guests are encouraged to secure their tickets for better deals as the walk-in rates are charged higher.

For bikers, the newly opened MTB Bike Trail, the first in Palawan, offers an authentic trail biking experience with several challenging routes to cater to intermediate and professional bikers.

Unique luxury, environmental responsibility define Apulit Island

By Audrey Morallo (

MANILA, Philippines — The sun was shining brightly and its rays were creating sheen on the surface of the turquoise water. From a distance, rows of over-water villas, built on pillars, could be seen lining both sides of the cove. At the cove’s center, one could see a white-sand beach lined with coconut trees fronting a Filipino-inspired club house.

As the boat approached Serena Pier where they would be greeted by smiling staff, tourists peering from it could see fish and other marine organisms frolicking in the translucent water and feel the fresh sea breeze blowing from the east.

This was the view, and sensual experience, that greeted anyone lucky enough to visit and vacation on Apulit Island, which is under two hours’ travel from the nearest airport.

Apulit Island, one of Ayala Land’s four El Nido island resorts, is known not only for its marine diversity and eco-tourism activities but also for its romantic scenery and atmosphere.

“We’re known for honeymooners and proposals. We have lots of honeymooners,” Heidi Hocson, Apulit’s resort manager, told visiting reporters during dinner on a raft just off the beach of the island.

She said that honeymooners would enjoy the resort’s environment and arrange for private dinners either on the beach or on the raft, which was originally used to transport construction materials when the resort was renovated last year.

In addition to its romantic ambience, Apulit, located in Taytay, Northern Palawan, also appeals to vacationers looking for idyllic getaways that can offer eco-adventure activities.

Guests can snorkel in the resort’s glistening waters and behold the marine environment’s wide array of corals and undersea life whose vibrant colors will surely delight the eyes.

Visitors can also island-hop from Isla Blanca, a private island that features a long stretch of white sandbar, to Nabat Island, which is home to an extensive reef system and marine organisms.

The resort also offers diving activities and courses such as DSD, Fun Dive, Night Dive, Check-out Dive, Scuba Diving, Open Water Course Referral Course, Advance Open Water and Bubble Maker for kids.

Other options in Apulit’s menu of activities are rappelling, rock climbing, cave touring, cliff jumping, kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing and many others.

After fun and exciting activities, one can avail of a variety of Asian, European and tropical face and body spa treatments.

According to Hocson, the renovation, which ran from July to December last year, was meant to upgrade the guest rooms, the club house at the heart of the cove and other amenities.

Apulit offers two types of cottages: Water Cottages -- ideal for couples and has a private veranda overlooking the crystal clear waters -- and Loft Water Cottages -- which can accommodate four people and boasts of stairs that give direct access to the sea.

During renovation, the rooms were fitted with larger glass windows and full sliding doors, which allows a visitor to feel closer to the pristine waters surrounding the island.

The floor areas of the water and loft water cottages were expanded from 24 to 34 square meters to accommodate a foyer, light-colored walls and more spacious toilets and bathrooms. Bathroom counters were also constructed to make them appear like traditional console tables.

“We have finally installed TVs in the rooms to allow guests to remain connected to their lives back home,” El Nido Resorts Group Joey Bernardino said.

Bernardino said that a tropical plantation theme, suggested by designer Conrad Onglao, was introduced to the water cottages through the use of solihiya weave and abaca materials.

The clubhouse at the heart of the cove was also expanded by doubling its seat capacity to 100. Its renovation also blended traditional modern architecture with contemporary solutions and added timeless pieces of furniture in simple silhouettes.

After fun and exciting activities, one can avail of a variety of Asian, European and tropical face and body spa treatments.

According to Hocson, the renovation, which ran from July to December last year, was meant to upgrade the guest rooms, the club house at the heart of the cove and other amenities.

Apulit offers two types of cottages: Water Cottages -- ideal for couples and has a private veranda overlooking the crystal clear waters -- and Loft Water Cottages -- which can accommodate four people and boasts of stairs that give direct access to the sea.

During renovation, the rooms were fitted with larger glass windows and full sliding doors, which allows a visitor to feel closer to the pristine waters surrounding the island.

The floor areas of the water and loft water cottages were expanded from 24 to 34 square meters to accommodate a foyer, light-colored walls and more spacious toilets and bathrooms. Bathroom counters were also constructed to make them appear like traditional console tables.

“We have finally installed TVs in the rooms to allow guests to remain connected to their lives back home,” El Nido Resorts Group Joey Bernardino said.

Bernardino said that a tropical plantation theme, suggested by designer Conrad Onglao, was introduced to the water cottages through the use of solihiya weave and abaca materials.

The clubhouse at the heart of the cove was also expanded by doubling its seat capacity to 100. Its renovation also blended traditional modern architecture with contemporary solutions and added timeless pieces of furniture in simple silhouettes.

Staying environmentally friendly

As a sign of its commitment to environmental sustainability, all four island resorts of El Nido resorts, Apulit Island, Miniloc Island, Lagen Island and Pangulasian Island, each have an environmental officer who will ensure that their operations will not harm the environment.

Max Fabroa, Apulit’s environmental officer, said that the resort had its own sewage treatment plant and practiced garbage segregation.

Apulit also educates its staff and members of the local community about environmental protection and sustainability as part of the efforts to make them feel they own the initiative.

“It helps that they know the value of what they are protecting since this is theirs,” Fabroa said.

This emphasis on responsible environmental management is what enables Apulit, and the other three island resorts of El Nido Resorts, to maintain the unique experience it can offer to visitors.

“Apulit is where you can still walk barefoot in the sand for long stretches and even have a nearby island to explore all by yourself. It is the most exclusive of the four El Nido Resorts,” Javi Hernandez, El Nido Resorts president, said.

Palawan police on ‘full alert’ for Holy Week, NPA anniversary

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The police forces in the city and the entire province are on full alert to provide security during the Holy Week and the March 29 anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA).

In Puerto Princesa, Senior Inspector Pearl Lamban-Marzo, the spokesperson of the City Police Office, said around 510 police personnel and 65 field trainees will be deployed for rotational roving patrols in the pilgrimage site of Mt. Calvary in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, bus and jeepney terminals, the airport, seaports, and major churches.

“We started deploying our police personnel over the weekend. But today (Monday), we already went on full alert to ensure that the observance of the Holy Week will be peaceful,” she said.

Alcoholic drinks, bladed weapons, and firearms will also be banned from Mt. Calvary, where many residents go during the Holy Week to do the religious crossing.

“Bladed weapons for the food service are all right. But those that nobody normally brings in annual celebrations like this will have to be banned,” she said.

In the popular tourist town of El Nido, Senior Inspector Lodell Lota said their municipal police station will be setting up a police assistance desk at the pier for local and domestic tourists.

Security and safety in the entire town and the island's destinations in Bacuit Bay, El Nido, will be jointly done with the Coast Guard Substation, the Philippine Navy under Naval Forces West and the Joint Task Force Malampaya.

“We will be on full security alert, especially on March 29, the anniversary celebration of the NPA following orders from our higher command,” Lota said.

In Coron, another tourist-frequented town in Palawan, Senior Inspector Michael Von Agbisit said a police assistance desk will be set up at the municipal pier to ensure the security of arriving tourists.

“During the weekend, we already started increasing our mobile patrols and police visibility in Coron for the Holy Week, and we will be on full alert until March 31,” he said.

Agbisit added that around 16 police personnel from the Regional Mobile Security Battalion had been fielded to boost the manpower of the 21 municipal police forces.

“We have not received any intelligence report that there is a threat when the NPA celebrates on Thursday (March 29), but it’s always better to be ready,” he said.

Fisher rescued near Ayungin Shoal in West PH Sea

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A Palaweño fisherman was rescued near the Ayungin Shoal in Kalayaan town, West Philippines Sea (WPS) Friday afternoon after drifting at sea for three days.

Capt. Cheryl Tindog, Western Command spokesperson and Public Affairs Office chief, on Saturday morning identified the fisherman as Albert Carcuevas, 33, resident of Barangay Sicud, Rizal, southern Palawan.

She said Carcuevas went fishing on March 20 on his small motorized banca off the shores of Rizal when it suffered engine trouble and was drifted by high winds to the Dalagang Bukid Shoal near Ayungin in the WPS.

She said Carcuevas had to endure three days at sea without food and water before he was rescued by Filipino soldiers residing in a naval floating asset at the shoal in Kalayaan.

The fisherman was rescued by naval floating asset LS 57 and is in stable condition.

“His family has been informed of what had happened to him, while the Western Command shall ensure his safe return,” Tindog said.

Palawan tree farmers ask DENR to issue ownership certificates

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) associations in Palawan are asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue certificates for the trees they planted for proof and validation so they could harvest them in the future.

Nida Collado, federation president of all CBFM associations in Palawan, said Friday that they also requested the DENR to provide directions for the use of agro-forestry products outside timberland areas to benefit tree farmers.

Collado said they have aired this concern in a recent congressional hearing on the National Greening Program (NGP) conducted by Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva, chairman of the committee on reforestation.

“We informed the hearing about certain issues that affect the CBFM associations in Palawan because we want them to be ironed out and we also want to be guided. There should be policies or directions in the utilization of agro-forestry products, including an income sharing scheme among the associations,” she said.

On the issuance of certificates of ownership of planted trees under the CBFM, Collado said their concern isthat without the certificates, the issuance of permits to harvest their trees might suffer delays and would take time.

“Certificates should be issued to us, (to prove) that we are the owners of the harvestable trees when we already want to utilize them. We hope that the local environment and natural resources office will also not give us a hard time since they are outside the timberland areas,” she said.

The directions for the use or sharing of the agro-forestry products are very important to the CBFM associations to avoid being accused of illegal logging.

Josephine dela Cruz, the provincial federation vice president of the CBFM associations, also said people in interior villages who are implementing tree farming projects will be further motivated if there is a transparent sharing scheme agreement in the agro-forestry component of the NGP.

This component includes the planting of fruit trees, harvestable timber species, and other agricultural crops. She said that one of the concerns that they additionally raised in the hearing was the inclusion of the livelihood component or alternative livelihood for upland residents as part of the package of the project since they are very poor.

Although funds are available to CBFM associations for wages, gathering of wildlings, potting and bagging, care and maintenance before transplanting, there is still a need for alternative livelihood as poverty is very prevalent among farmers, she said.

“We are also pushing for additional livelihood for tree farmers and other people who manage the NGP sites,” she added.

They are also pushing for the issuance of tenurial instruments to areas being covered by the NGP. Dela Cruz added that there is also a need to extend the duration of growing of trees under the NGP from three to five years.

“Three years are not enough for the care and maintenance of the tree farms and plantations,” she said, adding this way, the trees would grow more to ideal lengths and sizes.

Napocor to donate power generators to West PH Sea’s Kalayaan town

By Keith Anthony Fabro (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Barangay Pag-asa Island in the disputed West Philippine Sea will soon have longer power supply service following the National Power Corporation's (Napocor) commitment to provide two units of electric generator to the Kalayaan municipality.

Through the efforts of 1st Palawan District Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez, Napocor has agreed to donate to the remote town’s municipal government two units of 150 kilo-volt-ampere (KVA) generating sets (gensets).

Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo said Thursday that technical representatives from Napocor in Manila will fly to Pag-asa in April to do location and population validation surveys.

“They will go to Pag-asa Island to determine if the specifications of the generating sets are enough to cover the whole barangay, or if there is a need to upgrade or downgrade the 150 KVA,” he said.

Pag-asa, which has around 45 households composed of 150 residents, only relies on a 75 KVA generator that provides power supply from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. or four hours a day.

He said the Napocor gensets, whose donation was made possible by Rep. Alvarez, would be able to provide electricity for up to eight hours daily.

The Napocor will include in the donation package the putting up of distribution lines, while the municipal government will provide the meters to each household, Del Mundo said.

“Eventually, it will become income-generating for us, which would extremely be helpful,” said Del Mundo, adding that they only rely on their PHP72-million annual internal revenue allotment (IRA).

With this more stable power source, Del Mundo expects it would attract investors, especially in the fishing industry, to consider bringing economic development to Kalayaan town.

He said the seas surrounding the town offer rich fishing grounds.

Old-age, survivorship pensioners urged to reactivate status

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The local office of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) here Thursday reminded its 3,151 old-age and survivorship pensioners to personally appear in any of its offices for the Annual Pensioners Identification Revalidation (APIR).

GSIS Palawan Branch Manager Marina Ignacio said this is because they are required to reactivate their status to avoid disruptions in their monthly pension benefits.

“Our old-age and survivorship pensioners, 79 years old and below, are required to report to the GSIS starting March 23 until June 30, 2018, to reactivate their status as pensioners,” she said.

Ignacio said those who cannot appear due to sickness and disabilities do not need to go, but have to request for home visits from GSIS personnel or use their agency’s wireless automated processing system (GWAPS) kiosks.

“Those who cannot go because of sickness or because they are bedridden, all they need to do is to request for home visits from our branch here,” said Ignacio.

She warned that if they fail to appear after June 30, their pension benefits would be temporarily suspended by the GSIS in July.

Pensioners whose birth months are January to June will have to report to the GSIS branch or use the GWAPS kiosks in Brooke’s Point, Narra, Taytay, Roxas, Robinsons Place-Palawan, City Hall Building, and Provincial Capitol for their reactivation.

“We are doing this to safeguard our GSIS funds because we’ve had cases of pensioners who had passed away and yet we’re still paying pension benefits due to failure in reporting. We’ve lost a huge amount of funds because of overpayment,” she added.

Ignacio cited a case in Culion town, where an overpayment of more than PHP1 million was made to the caretaker of a pensioner who had already died.

“We have a lot of overpayment cases in Palawan. Imagine, if that is happening in the whole country, then the GSIS (would be) losing funds,” she said.

The three-month reactivation period from March 23 to June 30 will involve 2,320 old-age pensioners and 831 survivorship pensioners in Puerto Princesa and Palawan’s 23 municipalities. APIR caravans, she said, will also be set up in selected municipalities to bring services closer to pensioners and help them.

“This is very important as we, at the GSIS, want to ensure that the System will be sustainable to benefit our present and future pensioners,” she said.

For the purpose of reactivation, pensioners have to bring their GSIS eCard or Unified Multi-Purpose Identification (UMID) card. If the UMID card or eCard is not available, any two valid government-issued IDs with picture and signature may be presented.

Puerto Princesa, SM City to lead ‘Earth Hour’ 2018

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The city government here and SM City Puerto Princesa have partnered for the March 24 celebration of this year’s “Earth Hour,” encouraging residents and businesses to participate by turning off their lights for an hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

During the annual celebration, which marks the people’s commitment to the planet, various activities will be held and prepared for local residents, who want to show the world that the city cares; and tourists.

Russell Fernandez, the public affairs officer of SM City Puerto Princesa, said their company is keen on “raising awareness about climate change and in getting the community to participate in a collective effort to care for the environment.”

“The warming of the waters of the Pacific Ocean has spawned super typhoons like Haiyan (Yolanda). And because of climate change, experts have warned that more are to come that can devastate shoreline communities, displace people, and destroy infrastructure, homes, and livelihoods,” he said on Wednesday.

With the Philippines being visited by more than 20 typhoons every year and the ever-increasing weather disturbances, every initiative, big or small, counts to help ease the dire effects of climate change, he said.

Liza Selirio, director of the SM Cares Program on the Environment and Sustainability, said this is the key reason why SM Prime Holdings Inc. has been taking an active part in the yearly celebration of the “Earth Hour.”

“We want to encourage communities to participate in the Earth Hour celebration because the more people taking part, the more awareness and positive action we are able to achieve. This is why even our SMDC Malls are joining us this year because we want our communities in our residential buildings to also take part,” Silerio said.

Since its launch in the Philippines in 2009, the “Earth Hour” celebration has been observed in more than 1,600 cities and towns across the country while over 15 million Filipinos have joined the global celebration of the hour-long lights-off, a gesture-symbol of commitment to the well-being of the planet.

The SM Group, including its chain of 68 malls nationwide, seven SM Malls in China, plus its affiliated establishments, namely SM Development Corporation (SMDC) will take part in the “2018 Earth Hour".

This year’s worldwide theme, “Connect to Earth” seeks to raise awareness on the effects of climate change and to get the community involved in helping care for the environment.

4 new 'medicare' hospitals to open in Palawan this year

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Four new medical care (medicare) hospitals are set to open in Palawan this June to give residents in remote areas medical emergency access.

These will open in the towns of Roxas in northern Palawan, and Rizal, Narra, and Brooke’s Point in the southern area, said Saylito Purisima of the provincial government on Tuesday.

Medicare hospitals in Palawan, although open to everyone, give free services to the elderly and children belonging to poor families.

Funded PHP80-million by the Department of Health (DOH) Mimaropa Region and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in close cooperation with the provincial government through the initiative of Governor Jose Alvarez, the medical care hospital projects are part of the development agenda IHELP.

IHELP stands for Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood, and Protection of the Environment.

Purisima, chief of the Infrastructure Sector of IHELP, said that in May, the medicare hospitals will have soft openings to know if there are remaining issues in their facilities that need to be taken care of.

“Before the end of the year, we will also inaugurate medicare hospitals in Cuyo and Coron towns, which are already 80 percent completed,” he said.

Purisima added that though the construction of the two hospitals is still incomplete, they are already serving residents of Cuyo and Coron.

The provincial government-DOH partnership will also continue the construction of the Quezon town medicare hospital in April this year.

He did not say what caused the delay of the construction, or why it was interrupted.

Purisima also disclosed that six more medicare hospitals are up for construction in the towns of San Vicente, El Nido, and Dumaran-Araceli in northern Palawan, and Bataraza and Balabac in the southern part.

DOH monitors medical aid for indigents in Mimaropa

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Health (DOH) began monitoring the implementation of its Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP) program in hospitals and health facilities in Mimaropa, starting with the province of Oriental Mindoro on Monday.

“We need to assure the effective implementation, utilization, and disbursement of funds in all authorized health facilities, including private health facilities that are under memorandums of agreement (MOA) with the regional office and ensure that these are properly utilized in accordance with MAIP implementing rules and guidelines,” DOH 4-B (Mimaropa) Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said.

This is also to ensure that MAIP funds are available in these facilities, and are being used for hospitalization expenses, Janairo said.

Among the health facilities visited by the MAIP monitoring team were the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital, Oriental Mindoro Central District Hospital, Oriental Mindoro Southern District Hospital, Ma. Estrella General Hospital, Bulalacao Provincial Hospital, Renato Umali Reyes Hospital of Bongabong, and Bulalacao Community Hospital.

Special Provision No.7 of Republic Act No.10964, known as the General Appropriations Act of 2018, allocated funds to DOH for its “assistance to indigent patients” for hospitalization.

The DOH manages the funds through the Public Assistance Unit, which implements the MAIP.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 last year, DOH-Mimaropa MAIP has served a total of 22,216 patients, 11,729 of whom were from Palawan; 6,495 from Oriental Mindoro; 3,096 from Occidental Mindoro; 439 from Marinduque; and 457 from Romblon, with a total amount of PHP56,081,965 used.

Janairo said the regional office continues to bring patients who need more specialized care to Manila and are given accommodation at the regional office while awaiting their scheduled treatment.

All their basic needs are met during their stay, including a standby 24/7 transportation to bring them to and from the hospital.

DMCI to buy generator sets for Palawan, Masbate

(ABS-CBN News)

MANILA - DMCI Holdings said Monday its power unit would buy P160 million in new diesel generating sets to increase supply in Masbate and Palawan islands.

The 7 units will have a total capacity of 11.2 megawatts and will raise the capacity in the 2 areas by 14 percent to 90 megawatts. DMCI Power Corp operates outside the grid, the Consunji-led company told the stock exchange.

"We are expecting a significant increase in power demand in our host provinces this year. We want to ensure that DPC will have reliable power generators to supply our consumers with continuous, sufficient and dependable electricity," DMCI power president Nestor Dadivas said.

Masbate and Palawan drove most of DMCI Power's 4 percent sales growth in 2017, according to the disclosure. It also supplies power to Oriental Mindoro and Sultan Kudarat.

Shares of DMCI were down 0.73 percent in early trading, compared to a 0.59 percent decline in the main index.

Kudat-Palawan RoRo to push through in April

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The maiden voyage of the Kudat-Palawan roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ferry link service between the Philippines and Malaysia will push through in April after a delay due to Tropical Storm Basyang last February.

Palawan provincial information officer Gil Acosta Jr. said on Saturday as he refuted a recent story published by East Malaysia’s online news site Daily Express which reported that the sea link is unlikely to start soon due to difficulties in documents and permits being faced by Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation, the operator of FastCat.

“Contrary to the recent news that claimed it will not push through, it will push through. Our last schedule was canceled only because of our own hesitation when there was a tropical storm (Basyang) in Palawan. It’s a go for us,” he said.

Acosta said the ferry service that would link Palawan to Kudat is just currently sorting out “certain papers” to ensure that travel would be smooth when it finally leaves the port of Buliluyan, Bataraza town, next month.

“In fact, we are looking forward to it because our livelihood programs are tied to the Kudat-Palawan RoRo, particularly our goat-raising dispersal program due to demands for goat meat in Malaysia,” he said.

In April, the RoRo ferry service will start with a test run that will be participated by local government officials to check on security and safety.

“The dry run will first happen for local government officials to check on the security of travel, and after that would be the maiden voyage with the media to see the ease of travel and propriety that it is really possible to go to Sabah,” said Acosta.

In terms of safety, the ferry service is well coordinated with the Philippine National Police Maritime Group, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other law enforcement agencies.

“Before we leave, we have to ensure security and safety because if not, one incident can end it all for us,” he added.

Live, dead sea turtles seized from ‘fishermen’ in Palawan

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Policemen have confiscated three live and three dead critically endangered sea turtles from eight suspected illegal fishermen in the northern Palawan town of Roxas.

Palawan Police spokesperson, Senior Insp. Ric Ramos, said Friday afternoon personnel from the municipal police station apprehended the suspects on the morning of March 14 in the coastal village of Sitio Ligawen, Barangay Taradungan.

He identified them as Julito Trinidad, Alfredo Guerrero, Ronel Berial, Jomar Matarong, Arnel Arevalo, Michael Lagahan, Jeffrey Aremala, and Eddie Emperial, all residents of Barangay 1 in the town proper of Roxas.

They were arrested for fishing with the use of compressors, which are banned under the country’s fisheries law.

The suspects have been charged with violating the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (Republic Act No. 10654) and the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (RA 9147) for possessing live and preserved sea turtles.

Also confiscated from them were two motorized bancas, two compressors with tanks and hoses, 55 kg. of assorted fish, five harpoons, two flashlights, two paddles, 10 liters of gasoline, and 7 liters of diesel.

Western Command celebrates 42nd anniversary in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Western Command (Wescom) here celebrated its 42 years of service with General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday.

Lt. General Rozzano Briguez led the officers, men and women, and friends of Wescom in celebrating the event themed, “Kaagapay sa Katahimikan at Kaunlaran ng Palawan at ng buong Sambayanan”.

“As we chart the years ahead, rest assured that the Western Command will continue to be inspired and motivated by the support of our peace partners and the Filipino people. We will continue to be resilient and dependable as we are determined to keep the fire burning in our hearts to reaffirm our selfless devotion to duty and brave sacrifices for our great nation and its people,” said Briguez.

As part of the celebration, a series of pre-anniversary activities were organized and conducted in the city and the province.

Included were the Mangrove Tree Planting on February 14 at Sitio Barimbing, Barangay San Manuel; Medical and Dental Mission on February 24-25 in Rizal and Brooke’s Point, southern Palawan; 2018 Western Command Student Art Competition on March 5; Bloodletting Activity; 2nd Palawan Inter-school Debate Championship, and Gift Giving Activity also in Brooke’s Point.

The celebration also recognized Wescom personnel and stakeholders for their significant contributions to the overall mission of the Command.

Awarded were Capt. Cherryl Tindog, Wescom’s spokesperson and public affair’s chief; Technical Sergeant Gilmot Laranjo as Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; Glory Ann Laurel as Civilian Employee of the Year; CAA Donito Ribo as CAFGU Active Auxilliary of the Year; Lieutenant Colonel Sonny Gonzales as Distinguished Service Medal Awardee; Lt. Jose Oliverus Sepeas Distinguished Service Medal Awardee; Technical Sergeant Anthony Corpuz as Silver Cross Medal Awardee; 1st Lieutenant Maria Cristina de Vera as Military Merit Medal Awardee; Master Sergeant Manuel Autencio Jr. as Military Merit Medal Awardee;

Corporal Dexter A Espineli PAF as Kalayaan Island Group Campaign Medal and Ribbon (Bantay-Lahi) with Silver Fortress Awardee; Corporal Romero Coronado as Kalayaan Island Group Campaign Medal and Ribbon (Bantay-Lahi) with Gold Fortress Awardee; 44th Marine Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team 4 as Combat Company of the Year; Headquarters and Service Coy, Marine Battalion Landing Team 4 as Combat Service Support of the Year BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17) as Ship of the Year; N-22 NOMAD as Aircraft of the Year, and Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corps and Church of Latter Day Saints as Kapayapaan Awardees.

DENR Mimaropa says El Nido water quality improving

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Water quality in Bacuit Bay, El Nido in northern Palawan has improved from 2013 to 2017 despite the influx of tourists.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau’s office (DENR-EMB) in the Mimaropa region, in a statement issued Thursday, said the recent water quality monitoring result shows that “the overall fecal coliform of the four monitoring stations passed the DENR standard of 100 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters”.

The statement, received by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday, was signed by EMB-Mimaropa officer-in-charge, Director Maria Socorro Abu.

Although, it did not say when the monitoring tests were conducted, Abu’s statement said the improvement could be attributed to a project of the local government of El Nido called the “Water Supply, Sewerage and Sewage Treatment Plant”.

“This could be attributed to the desludging of the septic tanks of commercial establishments, where the sludge deposits were collected and treated in the Water Supply, Sewerage, and Sewage Treatment Plant,” the statement read.

EMB-Mimaropa said the project was undertaken by the municipal government to address the problem of untreated waste water discharges in commercial establishments.

In the past few years, EMB-Mimaropa has been monitoring the water quality in the beaches in El Nido.

A study it conducted in 2013 revealed that the beach water in the tourist town contained a high level of fecal coliform, an indicator of water quality and a type of bacteria which, when ingested, may lead to serious health problems.

In 2014, then-presidential adviser for environmental protection to then president Benigno Aquino III, Neric Acosta said water pollution due to improper sewage management in El Nido was threatening its marine ecosystem and its chance as a growing tourism destination in Palawan.

Acosta said this was because water samples tested from the town showed that its beaches were contaminated with coliform from human and animal wastes.

He said the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) was 3,000 percent higher than what the Clean Water Act allows.

Acosta is the principal author in Congress of the Clean Water Act.

The regional EMB stated that Phase 1 of the El Nido treatment facility in Sitio Batbat, Barangay Villa Libertad had been in operation since 2014, servicing the barangays of Buena Suerte, Maligaya, Masagana, and Corong-Corong.

Phase 2 will kick off this year to service barangay Villa Libertad and Pasadena, while Phase 3 will start in 2023 and will cater to barangays Baratuan and Bucana.

“EMB-Mimaropa, through Regional Director Maria Socorro Abu, assures its continuous efforts in keeping Bacuit Bay and the water quality of El Nido to its intended beneficial use,” it said.

The action to create a task force to clean up El Nido strengthens efforts to improve the environmental compliance of commercial establishments to support the Clean Water Act as one of the priority programs of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, said EMB-Mimaropa.

It also abides by the campaign of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to improve the water quality of beaches throughout the Philippines.

To date, EMB-Mimaropa said that 303 commercial establishments in five barangays in El Nido had been monitored and inspected from Feb. 22 to March 2.

Of the total number, “the special task force was able to inspect roughly 99 percent of the total number of establishments in the municipality”.

“Notices of violation will be issued to establishments found to be non-compliant with different environmental laws,” the statement added.

Palawan agri extension workers undergo hybrid rice seed training

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Municipal agricultural extension workers (AEW) here are currently undergoing a two-day training on the production of hybrid rice seeds in a bid to raise farm yields and farmer income in Palawan.

Richard Romanillos, senior science research specialist and training coordinator of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PHILRICE), said Friday the activity was held to pass down to Palawan farmers the latest trends and farming tips in hybrid rice technology.

He said the participation of the attendees from the province’s 23 towns means they would be able to share what they will learn to other farmers in their localities.

“Kailangan kasi natin i-train ang ating mga AEW doon sa mga munisipyo natin nang sa ganoon hindi na tayo mahihirapan sa pagbaba ng mga technology sa mga farmers natin (We need to train our AEWs in the municipalities for them to be able to help us inform the farmers about new agricultural tips and techniques),” he said.

Romanillos cited that new technologies in agriculture are useless if not related and taught to farmers.

“Kasi sabi nga nila ay aanhin mo ang magandang technology kung hindi naman tama ‘yong pagpapalaganap nito sa mga farmers (As they say, what would you do with new technology if you don’t disseminate them correctly to our farmers)?” he said.

He said the training is composed of commercial cultivation, where the AEWs are taught about the proper planting of hybrid rice and seed production that aims to increase seed ovules and make the program sustainable.

“Una ay sa commercial cultivation. Sa isang programa kasi ng probinsya ngayon ay dadalhin sa farmers ang technology natin ng hybrid rice. So, bibigyan sila ng binhi nang sa ganoon ay makapagtanim sila ng hybrid rice natin – ‘yung public hybrid na mestizo 20 (First is commercial cultivation. In one program of the province for farmers, the hybrid rice technology will be brought to them. They will be given seeds for planting – this is the mestizo 20 hybrid rice seeds),” he said.

He added that the seedlings must be cultivated and produced in Palawan for them to be accessed by farmers.

“Kasi mahirap naman na ‘yong magpapatanim tayo dito ng hybrid tapos wala naman dito yong seeds (It would be difficult to make them plant hybrid rice if they do not know where to get their seeds),” added Romanillos.

This would raise the income of farmers, and residents who want to earn can participate in production by becoming seed growers, he said.

Planting hybrid rice is a strategy being implemented by the national government to upgrade palay production and secure the country supply , he said.

The training is supported by PHILRICE and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of Palawan through the Productivity Rice Enhancement and Development.

102-year old World War II hero awarded in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A 102-year-old World War II veteran was honored in Busuanga town recently with five notable awards for saving two wounded American pilots in 1944.

3rd Lieutenant Jesus Barracoso personally received the medals from the Philippine Veteran Affairs Office (PVAO) and the Palawan Liberation Task Force (PLTF) of the provincial government in a special ceremony arranged for him on February 26 in his hometown.

The WWII hero received the American Service Defense Medal, Philippine Defense Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal, Victory Medal, and the Distinguished Unit Badge with oak leaf clusters, said Sweet Jonalyn Mata of the PLTF on Thursday morning.

“He is the only living WWII veteran whom we have awarded in his hometown this year in the PLTF for his heroic deed in 1944 that was documented by writer Stephen Moore in his book ‘As Good as Dead’. We want to award him here in the city in April, but he cannot travel anymore,” said Mata.

She said Barracoso is the only living WWII hero among 20 they plan to award in April when Palawan commemorates the 73rd Anniversary of the Palawan Liberation next month at the Plaza Cuartel.

“Because we cannot risk his health by flying him to the city, the PLTF went to Busuanga to give him the awards last February, so he can celebrate with his family,” she said.

The awards were given to Barracoso by Vice Governor Dennis Socrates and Puerto Princesa Councilor Matthew Mendoza with the help of Busuanga Mayor Elizabeth Cervantes.

In April this year, 19 other WWII veterans will be honored with posthumous awards by the PLTF at the Plaza Cuartel.

Since 2015, the PLTF had already honored posthumous awards to 29 WWII veterans; and 16 still living.

The PLTF is composed of the provincial government, the city government of Puerto Princesa, Puerto Princesa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Palawan Tourism Council, Filipino and American Memorial Endowment, Palawan Special Battalion World War II Memorial Museum, and Rajah Travel Corporation.

Barracoso was commissioned in the Philippine Army as third lieutenant in August 1941 and was then inducted to the United States Army Force in the Far East’ (USAFFE) B Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Infantry as a junior officer.

Mata said that during WWII, Barracoso’s unit participated in numerous combat operations against the Japanese Imperial Forces in Camarines Norte. Outnumbered, they retreated to Tayabas, Quezon, where his unit was dispersed due to confusion.

“Since the reorganization was unfeasible that time, 3rd Lt. Barracoso hit mountain trails and cross-country roads looking for other units to join. But they had all retreated to Bataan, and he was unable to join them due to unfavorable circumstances,” she said.

As verified by the PVAO, Barracoso decided to go home to Coron, Palawan, to become a civilian farmer.

He returned later to military service and joined the 6th Replacement Company, 1st Replacement Battalion, APO 72, where he was tasked to join the augmentation and replacement of fellow freedom fighters in Leyte, who were killed and wounded in combat operations.

He was honorably discharged from the military on December 30, 1946, during the disbandment of guerilla forces in the Philippines.

3rd Lt. Barracoso’s contributions during the war make up the glorious chapters of the Philippines’ WWII past, Mata said, adding they would be forever etched in history to serve as inspiration to all Filipinos.

“For rescuing the American pilots and for fighting for the liberation of the province and the country in WWII, 3rd Lt. Barroco deserves to be a hero after all these years. His love and service to the country to fight for freedom at all cost should be emulated by all of us,” said Mata.

Palawan offers to pay bills of cops injured in line of duty

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Palawan’s police force has found an ally in the provincial government, which is willing to spend for their hospital and medical expenses if they get wounded while enforcing the law.

“Don’t be afraid to do your tasks and responsibility of protecting the people against criminality, the provincial government will help you,” Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez told Senior Supt. Gabriel Lopez, of the Palawan Police, during the celebration of their 27th Founding Anniversary at Camp Higinio Mendoza, Barangay Tiniguiban Monday afternoon.

Alvarez, who lauded their performance, also urged them to fully support his administration’s tourism initiatives.

“Let us protect our tourism industry because it is the key to Palawan’s development. The mines are about to be saturated, our fish stock is declining, but our tourists and guests, they are arriving in numbers now, and we need to protect their safety and security,” he added.

During the ceremony, Lopez boasted that the provincial police has caused Palawan’s crime index to decline by 20.6 percent last year, which he attributed to increased visibility and operations to fight illegal drugs, as ordered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“Our police force was able to bring down crime index in Palawan by 20 percent in 2017, and that is due to increased police visibility in distant areas, as well as our operations against the use of drugs,” he said.

Non-index crimes -fraud, gambling, offenses against family and children, among others – stood at 1,127 in 2016, compared to 2017’s 895. Index crimes in 2016 were 617, compared to last year’s 490, down by 20.6 percent.

Non-index crimes refer to cases of violation of special laws such as Republic Act (RA) No. 7610 (Child Abuse), RA 9165 (Illegal Drugs), RA 10591 (Illegal Firearms), Presidential Decree 705 (Illegal Logging), RA 4135 (Traffic Code), and others. The Palawan Police, which celebrated its 27th anniversary, was established in 1991 immediately after the enactment of RA 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Week-long celebration of Cuyunon culture proposed in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Members of the City Council here is poised to pass a proposal seeking to preserve the Cuyunon heritage every month of August.

Acting Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates, the ordinance author, on Monday afternoon said her goal is to make the celebration week-long every year to revive the diminishing culture and tradition of the ethnic group in Puerto Princesa.

“We are seeing a decline these days on, you know, the practice of our Cuyunon culture and tradition, which is an important part of why this city and province came to be. Our young people today do not know any more about our Cuyunon songs and dances,” she said.

Socrates said that once approved, the said month would highlight songs and dances that the Cuyunon residents for others to appreciate, particularly tourists who love to discover new things.

“I saw for myself that some tourists here are looking for something traditional and cultural to do. It’s an added attraction if we can make this week-long celebration interesting enough,” she said.

It will have a budget of around PHP2 million.

Feasts are important in the culture of the Cuyunons. They revel many things, but the main celebrations are weddings, birthdays and baptisms.

They celebrate them using musical instruments like the batungtung, palakupakan, lantoy, and subbing. Along with the music, they like to dance a lot.

Positive that her proposed ordinance would be approved, the acting vice mayor said for August this year, they would spend more on information dissemination instead of a grand celebration.

“This August, I think, we should start something small first. Perhaps introduce the ordinance and the programs, and tell people what will happen the following year,” she said.

Known locally as Cuyono, the Cuyunons in Palawan is the most dominant tribal group although scattered throughout the province.

Socrates said his proposal does not mean to disregard other indigenous peoples (IP) groups in the province; it is only to revive the vibrant culture and traditions the Cuyunons which made the city and Palawan what these are today.

“Other tribes in the city, can also do their own. Being a Cuyunon, myself, I want to see our culture and traditions preserved. The Tagbanua people can also have their annual celebration, and this might be a model for other indigenous groups. If they see that the Cuyunon festival is successful, it will encourage all the IP groups to be proud and promote their culture,” she said.

Underground River PAMB to survey coastal easement

By Keith Anthony Fabro (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — A survey on coastal easement zone will be done by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in the area of the Palawan underground river, or the Puerto Princesa City Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP).

Elizabeth Maclang, PPSRNP park superintendent, said the survey will start on Thursday, March 8, to see if any structure is violating the 30-meter no-build easement zone.

“All those who put up their structures on the prescribed easement zone will have to move backward,” Maclang said Monday morning.

She added the PAMB will give them enough time, or at least “one year” to self-demolish and move their structures at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan here.

“Establishments at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, are cooperative enough to observe established environmental rules and regulations because they believe it’s for their own benefit,” she assured.

Maclang said the management has already implemented the easement zoning rule even before the national government launched a crackdown on erring establishments in El Nido, Boracay and other tourism destinations.

“We did it before when we started with small structures. If you remember, before there were kiosks on the coastal easement zone, but now you can see they’re gone after they voluntarily self-demolished,” she said.

Maclang said the surveying team will be composed of experts from the PPUR Management Office, local offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and concerned non-government organizations.

DOT-Mimaropa to focus on tourism in rural Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office will be focusing on the development of potential natural leisure sites in rural areas in Palawan that have yet to be exposed to the mainstream of the country’s tourism industry.

Newly-installed DOT-Mimaropa Regional Director Maria Luisa Diploma, in a press statement Thursday, said their goal is to help other municipalities with untapped tourism potentials.

“We plan to give more attention to rural areas. Those that are not yet so well-known. There are other spots like these municipalities that I met now, they need help with regards to developing their tourism destinations and access roads. So, that’s where we want to focus our attention -- for small towns to also benefit from tourism,” she said.

Diploma, who visited Puerto Princesa on February 26 to meet with local government and tourism officials, and various stakeholders, said her regional tourism leadership is looking forward to developing more tourism sites in the municipalities.

“I was really looking forward to this because I’m just one month in my job as regional director and I needed something to start with. It was very fortunate that I was able to visit and meet with all the people, especially the tourism officers, mayors and also from the private sectors,” Diploma added.

Getting comments, even negative reactions will be helpful to the DOT-Mimaropa’s goal to help Palawan bring more economic development through tourism, she said.

“I have talked to some municipalities and they were telling me that it is so difficult to identify a tourism destination. They want to focus on other things rather than tourism because they think they are poor economically and they could not afford to invest or develop tourism destinations,” she added.

She said she needed to tell them to change their mindset as tourism is one way of generating jobs, of bringing in more economic activities.

“Let us change our orientation and look at tourism as a means of uplifting the lives of people in the community,” Diploma said, adding that tourism depends on the creative thinking of local government officials and how they market their tourism destinations.

P720-M water project to rise in Iwahig

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Water supply in this city will soon get a boost with the planned construction of a PHP720-million water supply development project in Barangay Montible.

The plan to construct a 30,000-cubic meter water supply project in two rivers within the jurisdiction of the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) had been given the green light by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD) General Manager Antonio Romasanta disclosed Tuesday afternoon that after five years, the BuCor had finally agreed to allow them to tap into the Montible and Lapu-Lapu rivers located in Barangay Montible for the project.

He and BuCor officer-in-charge Valfrie Tabian signed the agreement that is renewable every year for 15 years on Feb. 19 in Manila.

“We signed the memorandum of agreement more than a week ago, on the morning of February 19 to be exact. At last, because we’ve been working this out since 2013, the BuCor said yes to the Montible & Lapu-Lapu Rivers Water Project for the benefit of the people of this city,” he said.

In exchange, the PPCWD agreed to supply 50 cubic meters of water daily for every inmate of over 3,000 currently imprisoned in the IPPF and all its subcolonies; pay a fixed amount of PHP100,000 monthly to BuCor that can be used for the improvement of facilities in the IPPF; pay .27 centavos as income share per cubic meter, and free water for all offices inside the penal farm.

“We will have our own meter for the .27 centavos, and payment is depending on the supply we will come up based on the demand,” he said.

The proposed water supply development will be funded by a PHP720-million loan the PPCWD will undertake in the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Development Bank of the Philippine (DBP).

“We are expediting the processing of our loan with BPI and DBP, and hopefully, when it's released within the year, we will start the project as soon as we can,” said Romasanta.

They are also now, he said, facilitating its water rights at the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) as required by Presidential Decree 1067, or “The Water Code of the Philippines.”

“We need to accomplish that before we can develop the two rivers as water sources,” he stated.

He added that the project involves the construction of a free-flowing Teruvian dam that would connect to a water pool using high-density polyethylene pipes, a single-lane road, a processing plant for sanitation, and a 14-kilometer transmission pipe that will connect to the Irawan watershed.

“Our engineer is proposing a Teruvian dam there, and we will be the one to construct this,” Romasanta said, explaining it will be a 15-meter elevated dam.

Despite the project’s additional 30,000 cubic meters to the existing 32,000 cubic meters daily production, Romasanta said it is not enough because of the increasing demand which is now 40,000 cubic meters per day.

“The construction of subdivisions here are fast. Imagine how many are currently being constructed, and all of them will need water. That is why we need to make more water wells,” he said.

Yearly, he said their target is to connect 2,000 homes to water. “Right now, we have 42,000 active subscribers and 10,000 that are inactive. If they’re activated, then we’d have 50,000 and there are more people migrating,” he said.

The MOA signing was also witnessed by IPPF Superintendent Richard Schwarzkof Jr., BuCor Legal Office chief Daisy Castillote, BuCor spokesperson Eusebio del Rosario, Jr. and PPCWD’s Ronnie Fernandez.

Palawan PESO to increase SPES beneficiaries

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Palawan Public Employment and Services Office (PESO) is increasing the number of beneficiaries of its Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) this year.

Richard Rebote, the manager and chief manpower development officer of the PESO, said Tuesday that for 2018, an estimated 665 students would benefit from SPES in the whole province compared to last year’s 500

The number of beneficiaries increased this year because there were municipalities last year that were not given slots, said Rebote.

Students who could benefit from the student employment program should be within the ages 15-25, he said.

“When it comes to work assignments, they will be assisting the regular personnel and staff of various offices. They’re not allowed to do major taskings,” he said.

The SPES is mandated under Republic Act No. 7323 to help poor but deserving students pursue their education by encouraging their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations through incentives granted to employers, allowing them to pay only 60 percent of their salaries or wages and 40 percent through education vouchers.

It is a component of the national government’s Kabataan 2000 Program along with the Work Appreciation Program (WAP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

SPES aims to develop the intellectual capacities of children of poor families and harness their potential for the country's well-being.

Palafox leads master planning dev't workshop in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- In a bid to contribute to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and cut Palawan’s poverty index, the provincial government held here recently a master planning development workshop facilitated by urban designer Felino Palafox Jr. of Palafox Associates (PA).

Governor Jose Alvarez said Monday that having the master plan would eventually enable the province to contribute at least five percent in the GDP from the current one percent.

He also believes that moving to have a comprehensive and dynamic long-term planning to guide Palawan’s future growth and development would be beneficial to their target of bringing down its 55 percent poverty index to 20 percent in the next 10 years.

“This master planning can preserve the whole Palawan, to be there not only for the next 4th generation but forever when everything is in place,” he said in his speech.

Alvarez also added that the master plan would help preserve Palawan’s environment, which one of the pillars of its progress.

During the activity, Palafox presented the master plan they crafted for the town of San Vicente, northern Palawan, which was recognized as one of the Top 8 Plans in the world.

Its features include both conventional and determined visitor and population forecasts until 2044 by allowing taller buildings away from the beach; banning parallel fences to the ocean, and building footprint of 50 percent is proposed.

Funded by Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the master plan of San Vicente also proposes an access to the beach every 400 meters, which is the average walking threshold with minimum with about three meters to accommodate emergency vehicles.

Among others, the beach area in San Vicente would also have community centers within 800 meters. It will have open spaces for the public, toilet facilities, security outposts, and banks, among others.

Palafox said it would take the province over five years to implement the master plan, but this would be sped up, anyway, since Governor Alvarez committed full support.

Among the attendees of the workshop are municipal mayors and local government planners.

The master plan, which would be the result of the workshop, will be presented to the province as soon as it has been completed, according to him.