Palawan News September 2016

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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.
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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


Find new energy sources to replace Malampaya

City Gov’t holds groundbreaking ceremony for Balayong Park

By Nikki Aquino-Watt

Following the recent announcement of a man-made tourist destination in Puerto Princesa that will feature Palawan’s version of Japan’s famous Sakura trees, City Mayor Lucilo Bayron led the groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed ‘Balayong Park’ on Thursday, September 29. The 5.8-hectare park will be hosting Palawan Cherry trees, locally known as ‘Balayong’, which are endemic in the province and known for their white and pink flowers that closely resemble those of Japan’s cherry blossoms.

Three fully-grown Balayong trees have already been transferred to the proposed park location, along with 30 seedlings. According to City Information Officer Richard Ligad, transplanting the trees was done by the City Agriculture’s Office with the help of Korean technology.

Mayor Bayron said it has been his long-time dream to build a park that will cater to almost all events in the city. “Kapag natapos ang Balayong Park na ito, dito na natin gagawin ang Balayong Festival at iba pang aktibidad sa lungsod,” he said.

Aside from a ‘tunnel’ of Balayong trees, the Balayong Park will also host an ecumenical chapel and meditation garden, water park, fitness and recreational park auditorium and amphitheater, among others. Engr. Juvenee Sagun of the City Planning Office added that the park is part of the city’s comprehensive land use plan under the category of parks and open spaces.

It was also mentioned in the ceremony that the City Council will try to amend the ordinance for Balayong Festival and separate its celebration with that of the City’s Foundation Day, in order to emphasize the celebration for the tree and the park. “Pwede nating amyendahan ang ordinansa ng Balayong Festival para maihiwalay ang Foundation Day ng lungsod at magkaroon ng Balayong Festival na hiwalay sa selebrasyon ng ating Foundation Day,” Bayron explained.

As of now the there is still no definite timeline for the Park’s completion date due to a lack of funds. Bayron said the groundbreaking ceremony is through his own initiative, with the coordination of the City Council. An estimated budget of Php100M will be needed to finish the park, including the renovation and upgrades on existing buildings at the City Sports Complex. Nonetheless, Bayron said he’s determined to finish the project within his term.

Aside from City Government officials and personnel, Palawan Archbishop Pedro Arigo was also in the event for the ceremonial blessing of the trees and seedlings.

Puerto Princesa participates in simultaneous earthquake drill

By Aira Genesa Magdayao

In coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center (NDRRMC), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), five schools in Puerto Princesa participated in the national earthquake drill held on Wednesday, September 28 at 9 a.m local time. With the hashtag ‘Pagyanig’, students and teachers from Palawan National School, San Miguel NHS, Marcelino Abadiano Javarez NHS, East Central School and Tiniguiban Elementary School coordinated with the authorities in understanding the basics of what to do during an earthquake.

Personnel from the BFP led the discussion on the different factors of earthquake preparedness, such as Alarm, Response, Evacuation, Assembly, Headcount and Evaluation. Students performed the drill in open spaces to ensure the safety of everyone.

“Habang buhay na ninyo itong kaalaman kapag may kalamidad,” said SFO1 Randino Rubio of the BFP.

According to Luis Mationg, DRRM Head of Palawan National School, the largest secondary school in Puerto Princesa with 7,057 students, they have anticipated the said event since last week. However, based on their assessment some of the students did not take the drill seriously. Based on the outcome of today’s drill, the school’s DRRM team promises to conduct a more extensive information drive among the students, specially in terms of emergency management and disaster preparedness.

Cusi asks CoA to honor Malampaya gas contract

By Alena Mae S. Flores

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi asked the Commission on Audit to honor the sanctity of the Malampaya natural gas project’s contract in northwest Palawan.

CoA earlier issued a notice of charge to collect around P151 billion from the Malampaya consortium for the period 2002 to end June 2016, arising from the CoA’s tax interpretation that corporate income tax should not form a part of the government’s share in the Malampaya project.

The Energy Department under the previous administration appealed CoA’s findings.

Cusi said in a letter to CoA dated Sept. 19 that the Energy Department was “still adopting the aforementioned motion for recommendation as the official DOE position in the subject controversy.”

Cusi said “the foremost consideration in the mind of foreign investors in deciding where to invest is the predictability, certainty and consistency of investment rules and regulatory regime of a country.”

“It is therefore, of fundamental importance that we observe the sanctity of contract in our commercial transactions,” the official said.

The energy chief said in a separate comment that he raised the matter to the economic cluster and the Cabinet and “we concurred with the [previous] DOE stand.”

The CoA decision eroded the country’s investment standing compared to other countries, but Cusi said this could be reversed if “CoA reconsiders and reverses its decision.”

The Malampaya consortium is composed of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V., with a 45-percent stake, Chevron Malampaya LLC (45 percent) and PNOC Exploration Corp. (10 percent).

Cusi raised the matter to the Cabinet economic cluster shortly after Spex, operator of the Malampaya gas project, filed a second arbitration case due to the CoA decision.

Cusi said the “solid legal” foundations of DoE’s position was contained in Presidential Decree 87 and Presidential Decree 1459.

Energy Department director for legal division Arthus Tenazas said CoA’s decision “is an undue interference to the powers of the DOE to administer and implement PD 87 and PD 1459.”

Tenazas said CoA “totally overstepped and exceeded the legal bounds of CoA’s constitutionally mandated functions tantamount to a gross abuse of discretion.”

The department said the 60 percent share of the government including income tax was based on following provisions of the law: Section 12 of PD 87 (a) which states that “the contractor is exempt from all taxes except income tax.”

It also has legal basis under Section 18 (b) of PD 87 which states that: “That in no case shall the annual net revenue share of the government, including all taxes paid by or on behalf of the contractor, be less than 60 percent of the difference between the gross income and the sum of the operating expense and Filipino participation incentive.”

Tenazas said the agency’s legal position was also anchored under under PD 1459, Section 1 (a) which “provides that the share of the government including all taxes shall not be less than 60 percent of the difference between the gross income and the sum of the operating expenses and such allowances such as the secretary of Energy may deem proper to grant.”

Civil Service Comm brings fight against ‘Red Tape’ in Palawan

By Alliae Alexie Garcia

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is taking the fight against Red Tape to Palawan and highlighted their campaign with an ‘Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) Caravan’ hosted at the Atrium, Puerto Princesa City on September 26 and 27. The Caravan featured a one-stop shop where participants were able to avail the services of 13 frontline government offices.

“The Civil Service Commission is doing everything, taking things seriously to implement the Anti-Red Tape Act,” said CSC PAIO Director IV Maria Luisa Salonga-Agamata during her opening remark in a press conference held on Monday,September 26. Agamata also emphasized that the CSC wants to make sure that citizens do not have to wait for too long in order to get answers for their inquiries regarding government services.

The event, which forms part of the project ‘Partnership for Integrity Jobs’ or I4J of the European Union and the City Government of Puerto Princesa, particularly aims to intensify the fight against Red Tape and promote integrity, transparency and nation-building. I4J is one of the projects supported by the European Union (EU) Delegation of the Philippines.

Guests to the said event included EU Ambassador Franz Jessen and IJ4 Project Director Dr. Peter Koeppinger. CSC PAIO Director IV Maria Luisa Salonga-Agamata and Mayor Lucilo Bayron represented the CSC and City Government, respectively. SHARE ON

South Cotabato sets sights on Palawan's environmental best practices


GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) -- The provincial government of South Cotabato is planning to adopt the "best practices" of Palawan province and Puerto Princesa City to enhance the implementation of its environmental policies and programs.

The local government sent a team to Palawan last week for a capability-building and study mission on the area's clean and green initiatives.

Elbe Balucanag, senior environment management specialist of the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), said Monday the study mission mainly focused on the innovative environmental strategies and practices of the two local government units (LGUs).

She specifically cited the clean and green programs and projects, and the mechanics, guidelines and criteria of the annual competition for Palawan LGUs.

"We looked into some of the best practices that they have been implementing for replication here in the province," said Balucanag, who led the study mission, which was hosted by the Palawan and Puerto Princesa LGUs from Sept. 19-23.

The team was composed of the nine evaluators of the province's annual search for the cleanest and greenest LGUs.

Balucanag said they chose Palawan as site for the study mission being a model in the country in terms of environmental practices.

Palawan and Puerto Princesa City had received numerous awards these past years from the government and the private sector for its clean and green initiatives.

She said the team visited various physical facilities such as public markets, slaughterhouses, municipal nurseries, central material recovery facilities, plazas, parks, public transport terminals and sanitary landfills.

They conducted a benchmarking activity at Puerto Princesa City's sanitary landfill as well as its cleanliness and beautification program for public plazas, she said.

The landfill, which is located in Barangay Sta. Monica, sits on a 32-hectare property and handles around 100 tons of residual wastes daily.

"We visited watershed areas and related sites that are covered by programs similar to what we have in the province and benchmarked their best practices to determine if they could be integrated into our existing environment programs," Balucanag said.

The team made a stop at the world famous subterranean river in Puerto Princesa City and studied the conservation and sustainability initiatives being implemented for the world heritage site, she said.

In South Cotabato, T’boli town has a similar attraction in the Bakngeb underground river-cave.

Palawan Gov’t, AFP to launch Special Citizen’s CAFGU Active Auxiliary

By Nikki Aquino-Watt

In a MOA signing between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Provincial Government of Palawan on Friday, September 23, the latter sought aid on alleged ‘vigilante’ activities in the province, especially in the southern municipalities. In response, the AFP will be putting up auxiliary units in different municipalities where the provincial government has ongoing infrastructure projects.

The auxiliary units will specifically include volunteer civilians who will be chosen from target communities and who will undergo special training led by the AFP. According to Major General Romeo Gan of the AFP, the presence of the Special Citizen’s CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) in the municipalities will help the provincial government to effectively ensure peace and order in Palawan.

“Isa itong pagkakataon upang makatulong pa lalo ang AFP sa paglilingkod sa lalawigan,” Gan said.

Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez said that tourism is the priority of the province, and being declared as the ‘world’s best island’ entails tight security measures. “Malaki ang naitutulong ng turismo sa lalawigan, kaya kailangan natin masigurado ang kaligtasan ng mga turista,” Alvarez said. The governor further said that the Dos Palmas Abu Sayyaf kidnapping in 2001 has greatly wounded the tourism industry of Palawan and that they are preventing the same situation from happening again.

The SCAA, which will follow a community-based approach, will be active in the next projects of the provincial government, such as road constructions, in isolated barangays in the South.

“Kailangan natin bantayan na hindi na maulit ang pagsunog ng mga rebelde sa mga heavy equipment ng lalawigan dahil ang mga proyekto na ‘yan ay para rin sa mga mamayan ng Palawan,” explained Gan.

The SCAA program is already active in different parts of the country and now is set to start in Palawan

Development of an airport in Taytay, Palawan pushed


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- A provincial solon in Palawan has asked Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Antonio Buendia Jr., through a resolution, to consider the development of the Sandoval Airport in the northern municipality of Taytay in a move to expand tourism access in the area.

Board Member Winston Arzaga, who authored the measure, said Thursday development of the Sandoval Airport will further strengthen the tourism industry in northern Palawan municipalities.

The towns located in the northern part of the province, aside from Taytay, are San Vicente, Roxas and El Nido.

Arzaga, whose resolution called for a public-private partnership (PPP) operation of the Sandoval Airport in February, is calling for proposals, noting that the participation of the private sector will speed up the development of the airport.

“We can speed up the development of the airport if its operation will be led by the private sector, particularly those that have technical expertise,” he said.

"When the operation of the facility has been opened to commercial flights, the tourism industry in northern Palawan will experience a huge change as well as the economic activities in the area," he added.

Sandoval Airport is strategically located in Barangay Sandoval in an area between Taytay and El Nido.

Arzaga said private entities that are interested may send their proposals to the Office of the Governor.

Taytay is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 70,837 people.

CSC takes ARTA Caravan to Palawan


MANILA, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- After the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao leg of the Anti-Red Tape or ARTA Caravan, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) takes the campaign to Palawan in collaboration with the Partnerships for Integrity and Jobs Project Office (Project I4J) and City Government of Puerto Princesa.

The three-day ARTA Caravan, which aims to engage the citizenry in improving public service delivery by increasing awareness on the anti-red tape campaign and on citizens’ rights and responsibilities as clients or consumers of government services, will be held from 26-28 September 2016 at the Atrium, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

“To keep up with the gains in the implementation of the ARTA Program, we have to come up with innovative ways to raise the public’s consciousness that they are entitled to the highest quality of service from the government. Banking on the positive feedback received during the first three legs of the Caravan, we have to push this initiative especially now that we have Project I4J and the City Government of Puerto Princesa onboard,” said CSC Chairperson Alicia dela-Rosa Bala.

Project I4J is a consortium of six institutions including the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI), the League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and the League of Provinces of the Philippines.

During the caravan, participants can get first-hand experience at availing themselves frontline services from participating government agencies, including:

Pag-IBIG Fund – online membership registration, verification of membership savings and loan entitlement, Loyalty Card application;

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – Labor Education for Graduate Students, Labor Employment Education Services, Jobs Fits, Career Guidance, Special Program for Employment of Students, PhilJobnet, kiosk, job recruitment;

Philippine Statistics Authority-National Statistics Office (PSA-NSO) – answer queries on NSO service matters;

Land Transportation Office (LTO) – answer queries on LTO service matters;

Social Security System (SSS) – issuance of SSS number, online verification of contributions and loan status, screening and receiving of loans and benefit applications, info kiosk;

Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) – promote bank products and services, conduct recruitment;

Civil Service Commission (CSC) –answer queries on civil service matters and offer CSC publications;

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) – online registration, Member Data Record application and inquiries, ID and UMID application, updates on membership;

Bureau of Internal Revenue – queries and provision of tax information;

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – clearance application and issuance;

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – passport appointment system; and

Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) – e-services through GWAPS kiosk;

Commission on Higher Education - request for CHED data/information

Aside from offering key frontline services, the ARTA Caravan will feature a Town Hall Meeting where Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Rodriguez Bayron, Project I4J Project Director Dr. Peter Koeppinger, European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen and Director IV Maria Luisa Salonga Agamata of the CSC’s Public Assistance and Information Office and ARTA Project Manager answer questions from participants as well as explain the relevance of cutting red tape; good governance sessions facilitated by; and integrity orientation and dialogue with the barangays in Puerto Princesa.

‘Habagat’ brings rains to Palawan


MANILA, Sept. 22 (PNA) – 'Hangin Habagat' will bring rains to Palawan Thursday, the state-run weather bureau Philippine, Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

In its 5:00 a.m. weather bulletin, the agency said the area will have light to moderate winds blowing from the southwest to southeast.

PAGASA also said partly cloudy to cloudy skies will prevail over the whole country, bringing isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

Other areas will have moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast to east over extreme northern Luzon.

Similarly, the area will have moderate to rough coastal waters.

PCKDF rowers ready as PH hosts twin meets in Palawan


Fresh from its successful campaign in the World Dragonboat Festival in Moscow, Russia, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) team will compete in the Asian Dragon Boat Championship and International Club Crew Championship slated on November 11 and 12 in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan.

“This is the first time the Philippines is hosting such a big event – because it will combine two events in one place – the 2016 Asian Championships and International Club Crew championships,” said PCKDF President Jonnee Go on Tuesday at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Shakey’s Malate.

“This is huge for us because we want to promote the tourism of our country and we want to showcase how Filipinos are really good in paddling sport,” added Go.

Go said that 45 PCKDF athletes would compete in the prestigious tournament.

The Philippine team will be up against powerhouse Asian teams including Iran, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, and Singapore as well as contingents from Germany and United States.

“Asian countries are also very tough competitors when it comes to dragon boat,” Go added.

National head coach Len Escollante, on the other hand, believes that the good chemistry among her wards will work to their advantage in the tournament.

“We are very familiar with each other so have a great teamwork,” Escollante said.

Recently, the PCKDF team won three golds, one silver, and two bronze medals in the World Dragonboat Festival in Moscow, Russia.

By Aberon Voltaire Palaña

THE Department of Energy (DOE) should fast-track the development of new indigenous energy sources to ensure a stable long-term energy supply for the country given the inevitable closure of the Malampaya gas facility, Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian said on Monday.

The Malampaya gas facility is set to close when its service contract expires in 2024.

It is operated by a consortium composed of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. as operator with a 45 percent stake, Chevron Malampaya LLC also with a 45 percent stake, and PNOC Exploration Corp. with 10 percent.

The consortium owns Service Contract 38, which covers the Malampaya gas field located in the West Philippine Sea northwest of Palawan. The consortium had requested an extension of the contract with the previous administration.

Gatchalian noted that even if the government decides to extend the life of the Malampaya contract, the gas field is projected to be completely depleted by 2030.

“The government must redouble its efforts in exploring and developing new energy sources. The government must find a way to fill the void that will be left in the wake of Malampaya’s depletion. Failing to do so would result in a catastrophic energy crisis of a magnitude that this country has not witnessed since the so-called Dark Ages of the first Aquino administration,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

Gatchalian pointed out that Malampaya is currently responsible for approximately 2,700 megawatts (MW) of installed energy generating capacity.

“Unless we find new indigenous natural gas deposits or develop the capacity to import and process natural gas, we stand to lose a tremendous amount of energy generation capacity. The failure to find viable alternatives to Malampaya will compromise our energy supply stability in the coming decades,” Gatchalian said.

Meanwhile, DOE Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said earlier that the government plans to develop the Philippines’ first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to support the operation of the Malampaya gas project in northwest Palawan, if the service contract of the Malampaya consortium is not extended.

“Malampaya (consortium) should initiate the renewal if they want to renew because at the end of the term, it reverts back to the government. What we are doing is preparing for any eventuality,” Cusi said.

Cusi said the DOE is making preparations to ensure the continuity of operations of the Malampaya facility, which supplies fuel to three natural gas power plants in Batangas with a combined capacity of 2,700 MW.

“We will make that LNG farm in Batangas to supply gas-to-power plants. We PNOC (state-owned Philippine National Oil Co.) initiated the study but now, there is a lot of interest in the private sector. We are open to that. Whatever is best for the country, that’s the direction we will take,” Cusi said.

He said the department was studying all options, including privatizing the Malampaya facility if the service contract is not renewed.

CSC to initiate Anti-Red Tape Act Caravan in Puerto Princesa

By Alliae Alexie Garcia

The Civil Service Commission (CSC), in collaboration with the Partnerships for Integrity and Jobs Project Office (Project I4) and the City Government of Puerto Princesa, will conduct a three-day campaign for raising awareness for the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) in Puerto Princesa City on September 26-28.

Republic Act No 9485, also known as the “Anti-Red Tape Act” (ARTA), aims to improve efficiency in the delivery of government service to the public by reducing bureaucratic red tape, preventing graft and corruption, and providing appropriate penalties. CSC is initiating the caravan to intensify awareness about the law, whose most popular goals include speeding up transactions in government frontline offices and discouraging ‘fixers’.

In a press release, CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said that they are coming up with innovative ways to raise the public’s consciousness of ARTA. “Banking on the positive feedback received during the first three legs of the Caravan, we just have to push it especially now that we have Project I4 and the City Government of Puerto Princesa as our partners,” she said.

Among the activities to be featured at the caravan is a one-stop shop for availing government frontline services, which will be comprised of nine participating government agencies, and will be held at the Atrium. There will also be a Town Hall Meeting that will include CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala, City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Project 14 Director Peter Koeppinger and European Ambassador Franz Jessen as speakers.

Alexandra Cousteau inspires students during Philippine visit


MANILA, Sept. 18 (PNA) -- Oceana senior adviser Alexandra Cousteau wrapped up her two-week tour with a diving trip to El Nido in Palawan, which she described as a “world-class” destination worthy of protection.

Cousteau, granddaughter of renowned undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, visited the Philippines from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11 to promote awareness on sustainable fisheries management and the global fight against illegal fishing practices.

“When you think about the world that my grandfather started scuba diving in 70 years ago, it was a world that didn’t know what was under the surface of the ocean. As we’ve learned more about the oceans in the past 70 years than ever before, we’ve also lost more of the oceans,” she told a media forum on her last day in the country.

She urged Filipinos to conserve the country’s marine bounty, after seeing their beauty during her diving trips. “I just saw Palawan and El Nido with my own eyes, and it is world-class,” she said.

At the Apo island in Negros Oriental, she swam with sea turtles in the marine sanctuary that has become a model for protected area management.

In the tourist town of Moalboal in Cebu, Cousteau got a glimpse of the sardine shoal that provides livelihood for fishers. She was treated to dance numbers showing the fragility of the oceans by young pupils, whom she exhorted to be vigilant in conserving their resources to ensure food security in the future.

Speaking before students at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City and at the University of Cebu, she focused on the role of the oceans for human survival. “The ocean is part of our lives. It gives us food, transportation, oxygen – all critical reasons to save it,” she stressed.

Cousteau showed a film of her grandfather that showed how marine resources are fast disappearing due to over exploitation and destructive fishing.

“What brings us together is the opportunity to restore abundance and diversity in the oceans,” she said. “It is not just about sea turtles, dolphins and the whales and corals, but it's also about restoring resources that support people especially the poorest of the poor. There’s an opportunity to protect communities from typhoons and in creating livelihood for sustainability and tourism.”

In Manila, Cousteau met with Vice President Leni Robredo and legislators including Senators Cynthia Villar, Risa Hontiveros, Miguel Zubiri, and Juan Edgardo Angara, as well as Rep. Pia Cayetano. They expressed interest in Oceana’s campaigns as embodied in the slogan “Save the oceans, Feed the world” and vowed to help craft programs and laws that would promote wise use of marine resources.

Cousteau had a meeting with Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, who promised not to grant any permits that would destroy the deep-sea reefs in Benham Rise and the coastal and marine habitats.

Cousteau also met with Drusila Esther Bayate, assistant director for technical services of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, a vital partner of Oceana and fishing communities in law enforcement efforts.

“We are extremely honored to host Alexandra on her first visit to our country,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana in the Philippines. “She has tremendously helped in highlighting our overarching goal to restore fisheries abundance in the country, increasing citizen awareness on the compelling need to act and protect our oceans and in securing commitments from key decision makers,” Ramos added.

PNNI drops Haribon Palawan, endorses new reps for monitoring Bataraza mines

By Catherine Santos

Following the removal of Haribon Palawan from its roster of members, the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated (PNNI) has endorsed the Palawan Katutubo Mission (PKM) and the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) as representatives of civil society organizations in the Multi-partite Monitoring Team (MMT) and Mines Rehabilitation Fund Committee (MRFC), respectively, of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC).

In a resolution signed on July 29, 2016, PNNI said Haribon Palawan has been inactive for a long time and has failed to submit reports concerning the two companies’ MMT and MRFC activities, which eventually resulted to the organization’s delisting from PNNI’s network. PNNI’s Executive Director Atty. Robert Chan, emphasizing that the seat of an NGO in the MMT and MRFC must remain credible and free from “influence” of any mining company, lamented that, “Haribon already loses its credibility. Eh hindi na anti-mining.”

Director Roland de Jesus of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has yet to comment on the matter as they presently await to see the black and white endorsement of PNNI.

An MRFC is created in regions where there are active mining operations. The Committee’s main task is to ensure that mining companies comply with environmental protection and enhancement programs. MMT is a multi-sectoral team that serves as the monitoring arm of MRFC.

PKM is headed by Rev. Fr. Arman Limsa, while ELAC is led by Atty. Gerthie Anda.

Research symposium highlights sustainable development and climate resiliency

By Catherine Santos

With a theme “Towards Innovative Environmental Research for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency”, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, in collaboration with Palawan State University, Holy Trinity University and Western Philippines University, conducted the 3rd Palawan Research Symposium yesterday, September 15, at Citystate Asturias Hotel.

According to PCSDS Executive Director Nelson Devanadera, the work to achieve sustainability remains an uphill battle and that, “We are challenged by the tremendous pressure to accelerate economic gains.”

In his keynote speech, Dr. Angel Alcala, National Scientist and Former DENR Secretary, said he hopes to see the creation of innovative plans for relevant research, conservation programs and actions through PCSD’s leadership and the cooperation of local and foreign partners. According to him, this can be done by using a mix of traditional and modern methodologies. Alcala also emphasized that there is a need to maintain the integrity of the natural ecosystems of Palawan in the face of climate change and the present tendency to over-exploit terrestrial and marine biodiversity.

In an interview with Palawan News, Dr. Dai-Yeun Jeong, Executive Director of Asia Climate Change Education Center, said that, “All people are already aware of the importance of responding to climate change, but the government policy alone is not enough.” Jeong underscored that there is a need to formulate a global policy through a “top-down” approach, specifically a global policy guided by the UN and followed by a national policy implemented down to the local level. However, he admitted that there remains a big challenge as a consensus among nations to combat the effects of climate change and strengthen climate resilience is still needed.

Aside from plenary sessions and oral presentations, the said symposium also featured scientific poster exhibits and a Memorandum of Cooperation signing among new members of the “Palawan Knowledge Platform”, which included Palawan Polytechnic College Inc., City DepEd, Philippine Statistics Authority, Puerto Princesa City Water District and the National Commission on Indigenous People. Around 170 members of academic, government and non-government institutions participated in the said event.

New Zealand govt launches project for small fishermen in Busuanga, Palawan

By Nikki Aquino-Watt

In his recent visit to the Philippines and interview with the local media on Tuesday, September 14, New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan announced that the national government of New Zealand (NZ), through the New Zealand Aid Program, has launched a project to help small fishing communities in Busuanga, Palawan. According to Strachan, the NZ Government, with the help of different local and international non-government organizations (NGO), has been “more than willing” to give aid to the agricultural and business sectors of the province.

Program Manager Raphael Ylade said the program specifically aims to empower communities in the coastal areas of Busuanga and help in advancing the role of small fishermen in coastal management. Aside from this, it also seeks to develop livelihood opportunities for the wives of the fishermen, mainly by providing them with the right skills and knowledge to sustainably manage their primary source of living.

Currently, the program has organized three ‘fishermen groups’ in the area, namely Bantay Dugong Association, Busuanga Women for Dugongs, and a volunteer group called Bogtong Environmental Management Team. The groups, which are presently being registered with the Department of Labor and Employment, have been conducting team building activities, as well as seminars on community development and coastal resources sustainability.

The said program for Busuanga fishermen adds to the existing program supported by the New Zealand government in Palawan, specifically the ‘Roots of Health’ organization, an non-profit group that helps women and children.

PNP-MIMAROPA awards Palawan’s fight vs illegal drugs

By Jesus M. Ustares [(PNA), LAP/CARF/JMU/RSM]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) in the MIMAROPA Region recognized and awarded Friday the province of Palawan’s devoted fight against illegal drugs.

Provincial Information Officer Atty. Gil Acosta Jr. said Governor Jose Alvarez has received information from the PNP in the MIMAROPA Region that Palawan, through effective leadership, shall be recognized in a simple awarding ceremony for its active fight against illegal drugs by no less than PNP Chief Director Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.

Acosta, who was also tasked to represent the provincial governor, said the award has further inspired the provincial government to strengthen its anti-illegal drugs campaign to substantially minimize its effects in the community until it is eliminated.

As part of the campaign, Acosta said Alvarez is seriously considering the establishment of several drug rehabilitation centers. The first will be in Puerto Princesa, and the rest will be in the towns of Brooke’s Point and Bataraza in southern Palawan, and in Roxas, San Vicente, El Nido and Culion in the north.

Currently, he said, over 3,000 suspected drug users and peddlers have voluntary surrendered to authorities.

The drug rehabilitation centers will help in the provision of medical or psychotherapeutic treatment to individuals, who will prove to be dependent on psychoactive substances such as cocaine, heroin or shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

Acosta said the goal of the provincial government is to enable patients to cease substance abuse and renew the way they live their lives.

Php364M water project to kick off in San Vicente, Palawan

By Catherine Santos

Through a tripartite partnership, Palawan’s provincial government, San Vicente’s municipal government and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) are currently pushing for the establishment of a water supply and sewerage system in the said municipality. According to Municipal Administrator James Paul Inawasan, the said partnership was established in the latest Water Summit held last Tuesday, September 6.

According to a press release by the Provincial Information Office, the project will cover three locations, namely Daulat Water Project in Barangay Caruray, Ipedal water project in Barangay Binga and the CBDC water project in Barangay Kemdeng.

The project’s implementation remains under discussion, however. “We’re agreeing on the best mode of implementation. Pero pinag-uusapan pa,” Inawasan said. Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. echoed Inawasan’s statement, sharing that the project is indeed still being studied.

Acosta further explained that they are considering three options for the implementation model, particularly in terms of equity sharing. First is the Boracay model where 80% of the total equity will be coming from a third party group and 20% comes from TIEZA. The second option is total equity will come from TIEZA, with the LGU and the province sharing none. The third option, which the provincial government reportedly prefers, entails the LGU loaning from TIEZA the full amount needed for the project, which will be payable in the next 10 or 15 years, presumably through the income generated by the project.

As Acosta said, “Ang gusto talaga ng LGU, direct download ng budget (from TIEZA).”

The said water projects are designed to utilize the force of gravity to “push water into the pipelines.” Operations will be energy-efficient because electric pumps will not be used to draw in water from the source. A network of pipelines will bring water to households in the barangays for Level-III water connections.

Inawasan believes that San Vicente was selected because of its status as an emerging tourism hub, highlighted by the 14-kilometer Long Beach that defines the municipality’s coast. Dubbed as the next big thing after Boracay, the municipality is now shaping up into a prime tourism estate. He added that if it will succeed, the water system project will serve as a model to other municipalities in the province.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the project is expected to be signed in the final quarter of the year.

Multi-faceted art festival marks first anniversary of “Art on the Move”

By Joy Tabuada

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan—Art on the Move will be marking its first anniversary with an art festival entitled “Art Kaleidoscope: Celebrating the Multi-Faceted Nature of Art” on Saturday, September 17 at Robinsons Place Palawan Activity Area.

Art on the Move started out as a simple art bazaar and gathering of Palawan artists. In the course of a year, the group has managed to bring together visual artists as well as photographers, artisans, craft-makers, writers, poets, musicians and multi-media artists for a string of events designed to promote various forms of art throughout the city.

The diversity of Art on the Move collaborators—and the success of their collaborations—inspired the theme of the festival. Just as a kaleidoscope forms a harmoniously intricate pattern out of an assortment of shapes and colors, Art Kaleidoscope is a celebration of the dynamism that comes from embracing diversity in the art community.

The festival begins at 12 noon with a series of art workshops on terracotta sculpture, rubber-cut stamping, jewelry making, watercolor painting, origami crafting and paper mâché art.

Live figure drawing, art jam and performance art sessions are scheduled at 3 p.m. The Art Kaleidoscope exhibit will open at 6 p.m., followed by live musical performances and poetry-reading acts.

Art on the Move organizes other art events regularly, including arts and crafts bazaars, various workshops and art exhibits, and live portrait-sketching and art jam sessions. Staying true to its name, the group travels to different locations in Palawan to hold these events, providing a creative venue for artists and art enthusiasts alike.

The Art Kaleidoscope festival is the group’s latest effort to raise public awareness on the importance of the arts in community building. And it’s definitely not the last. Art on the Move is gearing up for an even more exciting lineup of activities as they enter their second year.

This event is co-presented by Mugs and Kisses Express, and Lucky Panda. For more details about the festival and other Art on the Move projects, contact Wendi Garcia at 0927-770-5724.

City Jail revives ‘electronic dalaw’ system

By Alliae Alexie Garcia

The Bureau of Jail and Management Penology (BJMP) in Puerto Princesa City has relaunched its Electronic Dalaw (E-Dalaw) system in the City, said J/CINSP Lino M. Soriano, MBA (Warden) on Friday, September 9. The system, which allows inmates to communicate with their families, relatives and friends through monitored Internet-based channels, was previously started in 2014 but was shortly stopped.

E-Dalaw specifically allows communication between inmates and their loved ones through the use of Skype, a computer application that allows video calling. Through E-Dalaw, inmates are allowed to talk with their families and friends both local and abroad. Sessions are to be properly monitored by a Protocol Officer of the BJMP to avoid illegal transactions and to ensure that no security issues will arise from the communications.

According to Jail Officer Marlito Anza, E-Dalaw is free of charge since it is shouldered by BJMP personnel. Each inmate will be given a 15-minute usage of E-Dalaw, depending on the number of inmates availing the program for a given day.

The City Jail presently has two desktops with stable internet connections. The system is available during Saturdays and Sundays, from 8-12NN and 1-4PM. There is no exact limit on the number of inmates to be accommodated per day.

“Kung magpapasched. yung mga inmates, it should be done ahead of time or a day before para at least ma-inform namin ‘yung families/relatives nila,” Anza added.

Palawan’s Rescue 165 now has 8 operation centers to respond to emergencies

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -– The Palawan government’s Rescue 165 now has eight operation centers that are ready to respond to emergencies.

Rescue 165 chief Gilbert Baaco, who is also the head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), disclosed Tuesday that the recent and the eight operation center they have opened is at Barangay Villa Libertad in El Nido.

The operation center in the said barangay was opened on September 3, and shall be the center of all quick response functions in the tourist-frequented El Nido.

According to Baaco, the opening will speed up the provincial government’s responses to emergency situations in El Nido from Rescue 165’s first responders.

“Our goal is to get the services of Rescue 165 closer to the people of El Nido, especially when there are emergencies,” he said.

The operation center, or OpCen-El Nido will have the support of two rescue ambulances and a service vehicle for responders, he added.

Aside from the mentioned support facilities, Baaco furthered that they are also poised to put in place in El Nido a rescue boat unit to respond to emergencies that will emanate from the town’s island locations.

The operation centers that have been opened in the past are in San Vicente, Roxas, Taytay and Dumaran in northern Palawan, and Aborlan, Quezon and Brooke’s Point in the southern part.

Water Summit forges Php 364-M tripartite partnership for new projects in San Vicente, Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 9 (PNA) -– The Water Summit hosted recently by the Palawan provincial government pumped out the best when it produced a Php 364 million-worth tripartite partnership with the municipality of San Vicente and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for three water projects.

Provincial Information Officer Atty. Gil Acosta Jr., in a press statement released Friday, said that the Sept.r 6 provincial government-hosted Water Summit churned out the counter-parting scheme among the Palawan government, the emerging tourism hub San Vicente town in the northern part of the province, and TIEZA.

The counter-parting scheme involves, but not limited to engineering cost estimated at 20 percent of the total project cost, which shall be shouldered by the provincial government of Palawan.

San Vicente, on the other hand, will be securing necessary permits and tenurial instruments for the sites, where the projects will traverse, while TIEZA will bankroll the funding requirements of projects estimated to be Php 364 million.

Acosta said San Vicente “was selected because of its status as an emerging tourism hub punctuated by the 14-kilometer long beach that outlines its coast.

Dubbed as the next big thing to Boracay in northern Palawan, the municipality is now shaping up into a prime tourism estate.

“This is the reason why TIEZA focused its attention on the locality,” Acosta said.

The three water projects are located in the following areas: Daulat Water Project in Barangay Caruray, the Ipedal Water Project in Barangay Binga, and the CBDC Water Project in Barangay Kemdeng – all in San Vicente.

He said, “the gravity-driven water projects are designed utilizing the force of gravity to push water into the pipelines.

Its operation is energy-efficient because it does not use electric pump to draw water from the source. This was made possible since the water is sourced from elevated areas, where a diversion channel – the component that collects raw water from the river – is installed.

From the diversion channel, water is conveyed into different components that include the settling basin, the primary media filter, the dual media filter, the clear water well, and the disinfection house that further cures unwanted impurities thereby, making the liquid safe and potable for consumption.

Treated water is then ready for distribution to households. For this purpose, a network of pipelines will bring water to households in the barangays for Level-III water connections.

The memorandum of agreement (MOA) by and among the parties are now being drawn out to explain in simple terms the provisions that will bind the parties to the project. It is expected to be signed in the final quarter of the year.

Acosta said the Water Summit happened smoothly with the round table discussion personally anchored by Governor Jose Alvarez.

Lawyer Joy Bulauitan, the assistant chief operating officer of the Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ) Management Sector headed the contingent from TIEZA, while the municipal government of San Vicente was led by Municipal Mayor Maria Carmela Alvarez and Vice Mayor Antonio Gonzales.

Palawan planning and disaster managers to create local climate change action plan

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 8 (PNA) -– Planning coordinators and disaster managers in Palawan’s 23 municipalities started Thursday a three-day workshop called Training-Workshop on Preparation of Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) here with the provincial and city governments.

Engineer Gilda Garibay, project coordinator of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and facilitator of the said training-workshop, said her agency wants to help local governments to create a scientific scheme to be able to forecast different threats that have something to do with climate, determine methods that should be undertaken to minimize the impact of these threats, and gauge what are climate change’s development challenges and opportunities in economy.

Garibay said the event is part of strengthening and enhancing the capacities and capabilities of local governments in facing climate change challenges, which is part of the national government’s strategy under the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).

It is expected that at the end of the training-workshop, the participants will be able to complete their own area’s LCCAP, which is one of the requirements on how local governments can have access to long-term funding support from the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) of the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

The LCCAP provides the official framework for local government units (LGU) in the Philippines to comply with their mandates under the Climate Change Act and relevant laws.

Under the Climate Change Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 9729), Philippine LGUs shall “be the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas.” Further, Republic Act No. 10174 established a People’s Survival Fund, the priority use of which by LGUs shall be based, among others on the availability of a climate change action plan. (PNA) LAP/CARF/EDS

Massive infra dev’t projects in Palawan to boost tourism industry


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA) -– Palawan’s tourism industry that fuels its economy stands to get a boost in the ensuing year as the provincial government begins implementing its massive infrastructure project.

Infrastructure Development Sector head Engr. Saylito Purisima, who is also the officer-in-charge of the Palawan Provincial Engineering Office (PEO), disclosed this Tuesday in a statement.

According to him, “substantial funding has been allocated for the construction of more roads and bridges, and airports and seaports to improve access and connectivity among destinations and market centers in the province.”

Purisima said that out of their 5,580 kilometers of road network target, 2,021 kilometers of all-weather gravel road have been completed. The balance of 3,559 kilometers is presently being worked on until their completion.

The cost of the project package is valued at PHP1.5-billion more or less. If no unforeseen problem happens, the province-wide road development program is well within the capacity of the provincial government to achieve targets on schedule.

The existing seaport in Barangay Buliluyan, Bataraza in southern Palawan, he said, will undergo improvements and expansion of limited facilities to accommodate vessels that will service the sea-link between Palawan and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. This is expected to improve connectivity in the BIMP-EAGA sub-region.

Bankrolled by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to the tune of PHP125 million, the big-ticket project was bagged by the province due to its “no-nonsense fiscal management,” attributed mainly to prudent spending and efficient prioritization of programs, projects and activities of the provincial government, according to Purisima.

To improve air connectivity, on the other hand, among island destinations, the construction of airstrips is currently underway in Agutaya and Cagayancillo.

This connectivity is seen to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services, as well as to bring in more economic opportunities in the islands.

Purisima added that another airstrip will soon be established in the municipality of Araceli to connect the island to the local tourism circuit.

Home to two (2) world heritage sites, the world’s best beaches and magnificent dive sites, Palawan is a paradise for tourists who fancy tropical island adventures and those who wanted to commune with Mother Nature.

Improving access to different destinations in the province will open the floodgates for the arrival of more visitors, more investments, as well as spur the growth of the local economy.

Palawan farmers installed after 13 years


QUEZON CITY, Sept. 6 - It was a day of relief and peace for farmers in an estate in Southern part of Palawan province after confronting 13 long years of struggle to fully own the land awarded to them by the government.

This came after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has succeeded installing them to the landholdings previously owned by the Agro-Marine Industrial Corporation that was placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“Para kaming nabunutan ng tinik. Parang imposible, parang isang panaginip na masasaka na namin ang lupang ibinigay ng gobyerno sa amin,” Allan Bello, president of Boli Ponti Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Association, said right after the installation. The group was organized by the farmers’ themselves primarily aims to urge the government for their immediate installation to the CARP-covered property.

On July 28-29, 2016, the DAR officials in Palawan, accompanied by police authorities, contingents from the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) 12 and personnel from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), walked unharmed through the property as they led the 63 farmer-beneficiaries (FBs) in occupying the 43-hectare land in Bgy. Marangas in the town of Bataraza, Palawan.

The farmers immediately built their makeshift houses after taking possession of the lands awarded to them by the government following the actual installation.

Of the 206 hectares of agricultural land placed under CARP, only 193 hectares were distributed to 151 FBs. The excluded portions were identified as retention areas and not suitable for agriculture.

What went before

The DAR has covered the property in two installments, 150 hectares in 1989 and 43 hectares awarded to 88 FBs in 1994.

In 2003, the 63 FBs for the 43 hectares received their Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) from the DAR but were not able to take possession of their respective lots as Mr. Gil Cubangbang, the former administrator of the property has restricted, prevented and threatened them of bodily harm should they enter the lands.

Ignoring and opposing the government’s land reform program, Cubangbang refused to yield the land to the DAR. As alleged by the farmers in their sworn statements submitted to DAR, he even hired men to harass the farmers each time they try to take possession of their lands.

Since then he used the land for his own benefit. The farmers alleged that he would allow individuals to farm the land in exchange of rental. Reports received in the barangay that Cubangbang has leased large portion of the lands to a local businessman who in turn deployed its own men to work on the vast farmlands.

In spite of the DAR filing of Obstruction of Justice case against him, Cubangbang maintained his stand and filed cases against former Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) Engr. Rogelio D. Madarcos before the Ombusdman, and for the cancellation of CLOAs on the grounds that DAR has recruited individuals who are not qualified to become FBs.

The case against MARO Rogelio was dismissed as the Ombudsman found it baseless and lacks merit. Meanwhile, the DAR’s Obstruction of Justice case against Cubangbang has prospered as the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) convicted him guilty. The cases had made the farmers wait for more than 10 years as the DAR was hurdling it.

Farmers’ installation

Two weeks prior to the installation of FBs, the DAR with the presence of the PNP-Bataraza personnel and Philippine Marines, initiated a pre-installation dialogue where the CLOA holders and Cubangbang and his followers were brought to one venue. On the activity held, DAR has notified Cubangbang and his followers of the government’s desire to fully award the land to the CLOA holders by installing them to their respective farms.

The pre-installation dialogue ended with the DAR facilitating the written agreement between the legitimate FBs and the ten Non-ARB occupants allowing the latter to stay until the first cropping harvest.

Upon seeing the DAR with PNP and military aid installing the farmers one by one in their respective lot, Cubangbang together with his followers sent feelers to DAR officials asking for a final dialogue.

The dialogue led to a peaceful reconciliation with written agreements where Cubangbang and followers would immediately leave the farmlands after the first cropping harvest.

After 13 long years of worry and denial of land ownership and physical possession, the FBs and the heirs of deceased FBs now feels secure as full owners of the agricultural lands awarded to them by DAR.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) Conrado S. Guevarra said “requesting police and military assistance is an option to ensure peace and order in the areas where former landowners and supporters continue to defy the government and refuse to surrender their property covered by the CARP.”

Palawan PNP rescues 23 human trafficking victims anew

By Catherine Santos

Twenty-three more female victims of human trafficking in Bataraza, Palawan were rescued through a joint operation conducted by the Palawan Provincial Police Office, Bataraza Municipal Police Station and the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office on Sunday, September 4, at around 5:30 PM.

“May natanggap tayong report na allegedly may mga biktima ng human trafficking in person. Noong pinuntahan po sa Bataraza Consolidated Incorporated, nakita dun sa building, nakita nga itong mga babae na lulan ng van,” said Police Inspector Ric Ramos, Spokesperson, Palawan PPO.

“Ang recruitment nila thru internet lang, at saka cell phone. So nakakalungkot na may naloloko pa din sa ganito,” Ramos added.

The victims, whose ages range from 18 to 40 years old, are supposedly to be transported to Malaysia.

Authorities have identified at least two suspects for the incident. A follow-up investigation is still being conducted.

The victims are now in the custody of Bataraza MSWD for counseling and documentation.

Relatedly, Insp Ramos said that because of the series of human trafficking incidents in Palawan, PNP Provincial Director Roade Tombaga met with some Malaysian officials in Camp Crame last week to discuss ways to strengthen police patrols in identified transit/back door areas.

Tombaga is also set to go to Malaysia this September to discuss the matter with concerned officials, Ramos said.

DOH completes WASAR trainings in Palawan


MANILA, Sept. 4 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) – MIMAROPA together with the Philippine Coast Guard Palawan District (PCG) completed the third batch of Water Search and Rescue (WASAR) training for tourist guides, boatmen and divers in Coron, Palawan on Saturday.

A total of 29 successful trainees completed the course who will be among the certified lifeguards having the capability to provide protection to local and international tourists in the different resorts in Palawan in support of making it as "destination choice".

DOH MIMAROPA refers to the provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.

As a whole, a total of 162 DOH WASAR trained water attendants in Palawan and 29 certified lifeguards in the series of trainings conducted.

During the training period, Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo reminded the trainees to continue undergoing healthy lifestyle practices.

Janairo that doing healthy lifestyle practices can contribute a lot in maintaining strong physique and alertness.

He further said that smoking and drinking alcoholic drinks can affect the perception and awareness while on duty.

“Always remember that you will not only save the lives of others but you will also have the chance to make your lives better since you are now a fully trained emergency and rescue personnel with skills in demand and with a high sustainable revenue.” he added.

The Regional Director added that the WASAR training activity will be the last for this year.

“We will continue to conduct the training next year to be able to reach our 500 lifeguard target in order to preserve and safeguard the well-being not only of tourists but also of our own fellow countrymen.

WASAR training is one of the priority component of the “Health in Tourism Program” of DOH-MIMAROPA launched on March 24, 2015 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Among the eight components includes vermin control and disinfection, cleanliness in ports and vessels, installation of health signage in strategic places, creating a network of medical clinics, training of lifeguards and emergency responders, provision of buoys, lifeguard towers or posts, water testing for bacteriological and minerals/solutes and proper sewerage disposals.

WASAR training is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.

Participants are trained on the proper way of water entry, types of swimming, lifesaving techniques, group survival, water evolution and knot tying including basic life support training.

English explorer Ed Stafford says Palawan ‘almost like a cathedral’

By Edwin P. Sallan (

Ed Stafford has accomplished feats that no ordinary men would even consider attempting.

The 40-year-old English explorer holds the Guinness World Record for being the first human to ever walk the almost seven thousand-kilometer Amazon River. Three years after completing that remarkable achievement documented in the Discovery series, “Walking the Amazon,” Ed spent 60 days alone with only his camera on a desert island in another Discovery series, “Naked and Marooned.”

The series, now simply called “Marooned,” is now on its second season and follows the premise where Stafford journeys to remote destinations around the world for 10 days to see if he can survive all alone with no food, no clothes and no tools. Just he, an emergency satellite phone, and an emergency medical kit.

“I’ve done so many of these. A lot of the time, I am hungry or uncomfortable. In a jungle environment, I will be sweating and bitten and getting rained on. It isn’t particularly comfortable. If I find myself in a situation where it has quite a pleasing temperature and I’m not hungry and I’m quite enjoying it, then I am pleasantly surprised,” Stafford said in a recent interview.

If it’s mostly uncomfortable, why even do it, he was asked.

“If I stop putting myself in a situation where I’m constantly challenging myself, then I’ll stop growing as person,” he retorted. “To continually put yourself through the different experiences, different challenges that stretch you is a very healthy thing to try out your whole life. I don’t ever want to stop.”

And since he refuses to stop, Stafford eventually found himself traveling to a secluded beach in Coron, Palawan. Lying on his sick bed of palm leaves, Ed realized that if he didn’t push himself to find water and food quickly this survival mission was over. But hemmed in by towering granite cliffs he was concerned there might be no water to be found.

“Finding water was really tricky. It hadn’t rained for about three days or four days before I came in so there was no fresh water, I had to drink coconut for the first few days and eventually find a pool of stagnant rain water which I filtered with charcoal and sand and organic matter and eventually filtered and then boiled it in a rusty tin can that I found in the beach,” he recalled.

“I eventually got over that. Water was the initial challenge [as was] finding food to stay nourished in order to have enough energy to complete the project. I was just trying to put as many sea urchins and limpets and crabs in my mouth as I can.”

Other than the challenges he needed and managed to overcome, Stafford has fond memories of Palawan.

“It was the dramatic landscape. It was almost like a being inside a cathedral but obviously not. It’s like huge sort of limestone cliffs that just went straight out of the sea and it was almost eerie,” he shared.

“I think I was in an area where the local people go to pray and they consider it, if not a sacred place, certainly a sort of a spiritual place. You could feel that there was a certain energy in the place. I felt a very very pure, a very good energy there. That’s probably the essence that I will take away.”

For Stafford, Palawan and the many other islands that comprise the Philippines make the country “an explorer’s dream.”

“There are so many coves and beaches and caves and cliffs to explore that you can’t possibly know all but that’s the essence of it. It’s the ability to go to so many different places and just explore. The Philippines is unique like that.”

“Marooned with Ed Stafford Series 2” premiered on Discovery Asia last August 30 with the episode where he explored Coron Island in Palawan. The episode re-airs this Saturday, September 3, at 8:10PM.

The crowning glory of Puerto Princesa

By Claire Marie Algarme (Write On The Spot)

PUERTO Princesa, the capital of the province of Palawan, is the gateway to many beautiful spots in the province. It is not surprising to find Filipinos and foreigners trooping to this western part of the Philippines and wanting a piece of this paradise.

The city alone is an exquisite beauty. There’s the butterfly garden, the crocodile farm (which we opted to skip), Bakers Hill, and the Iwahig Penal Colony. Off the coast of Puerto Princesa is the Honda Bay which is a sea lover’s haven. But the city’s crowning glory, which is about a few hours from the main city, is the World Heritage Site and New 7 Wonders of Nature destination Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Honda Bay

We boarded a boat to take us around Honda Bay where small islands and islets, some of which are submerged underwater during high tide, dotted the sea. While the crystal clear waters beckoned us for a swim, the beautiful cloud formations looked like icing on our cakes as they added a touch of breathtaking beauty to the already awesome landscape. We couldn’t wait to get to our destination and as we docked at the beach of Snake Island.

It was a great place to snorkel where fishes and corals abound. But it was also nice to just roll at the shallow waters where several starfishes and tiny fishes swim nearby.

Underground River

A trip to Puerto Princesa is never complete without an adventure through the Underground River. Its length can be likened to a long magnificent hair of a woman, highlighting the beauty of the whole place. But as more and more people find their way towards the Underground River, more rules and guidelines have to be put in place to make sure that it is not damaged. The local government now makes sure that the place is protected and they control the influx of visitors inside the subterranean river. That is why, it is important that you secure your permit at the city center before going there, or let the tour agencies do it for you. There’s an office in Sabang but you might have to wait in line before you are allowed entry into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) site.

From Sabang port, we had to take a boat to bring us to the beach nearest to the cave’s entrance. There we had some close encounters with monkeys and monster lizards. The journey inside the cave was fun and exciting, with our boat guide helping us identify shapes formed by stalactites and stalagmites while cracking some jokes here and there. There were vegetable-like images while some looked like human beings. There was even a portion there where it looked like a grotto. It was an awesome experience and it even made me wonder what still lie ahead in the deeper parts of the cave.

It would be nice to go back to Puerto Princesa and explore its other attractions. But I would also love to travel towards El Nido, which is another popular destination in Palawan. Maybe soon, I’ll get there.*

Palawan’s RTC is drug-free; executive, legislative dep’t urged to take drug tests

By Catherine Santos

NEGATIVE. Results of the surprise drug tests conducted among the judges and employees of Palawan’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) on August 22 were released today and all showed negative for drug use. Based on the results provided by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), all 155 personnel of the Court turned up negative of illegal drug use.

“Siyempre masaya kami at lumabas na resulta at negative lahat,” Executive Judge Jose Bayani Usman exclaimed.

Judge Usman admitted that, personally, he did not expect an all-negative result, but nonetheless hoped and prayed for it. “Siyempre gusto namin negative lahat, but we are apprehensive. Parang iniisip namin baka mayroong isa, o at most tatlo na mag-positive. But it turned out na negative, so malaking bagay ito na nakabunot ng tinik sa ating dibdib.”

The head of Palawan’s RTC gave credit to all the judges for helping him push the said activity despite a limited budget (the drug testing amounted to P200 per employee). “Nag-contribution ang lahat ng judges para magkaroon ng katuparan ‘to. Napapanahon lang ‘to para mapakita namin sa publiko ang pakikisama sa drive ng ating gobyerno,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Judge Usman is expecting that the ten Municipal Trial Courts in the province will follow the RTC’s example and undergo drug tests soon, hoping to ultimately prove that Palawan judiciary is “clean from drugs”.

Relatedly, Usman challenged all executive and legislative branches in the province to do the same. “Ang gusto ko i-challenge talaga ang executive at legislative branch both sa city at sa province,” he said. He particularly urged the said government branches to follow their example and conduct a surprise drug test too, in order to arrive at a more credible result. He also appealed to the community to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

The result of drug test will be submitted to the Supreme Court.