PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez led Monday afternoon the signing of a statement with multi-stakeholders that declared the province as a “zone of sustained peace, development, and prosperity,” believing they are most consequential to his leadership’s poverty alleviation goals.
In a media conference, the Palawan governor called on representatives of the military, the coast guard, the religious sector, the non-government organizations (NGOs), government organizations (GOs), the academe, League of Mayors of the Philippines (LMP)-Palawan, Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC), the women and children sectors, the indigenous sector, the business sector, the city government of Puerto Princesa, and others, to band together and support the local government in its aspiration to maintain a lasting accord in order to effect growth plans that could greatly reduce the province’s 63.8% poverty index.
Alvarez said no local government can achieve higher development and prosperity goals for its constituents without the presence of “sustained peace,” and without them supporting each other.
Reiterating his determination to make something progressive out of Palawan’s tourism industry to reduce poverty, the governor told stakeholders “to call his attention, and sit down with him over bread rolls (pandesal) and brewed coffee to resolve issues that may come up.”
“Should anything come up, I appeal to all of you to sit down with me. Let’s talk about your problems over cups of brewed coffee with pandesal to resolve them; let’s not immediately resort to drastic options… and I understand that when people have nothing to fill their stomachs, they recognize no law… so, let’s help each other in sustaining peace,” he said.
Among others, Alvarez disclosed to the attendees of the declaration signing that the plan to link Palawan to Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia via a sea transport service is ongoing under the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
Should this prosper, he said, the provincial leadership is hoping to bring at least one million tourists from Sabah alone to the province for Palaweños to benefit from, by means of livelihood.
He added that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is now working double time for the concreting of the national road between barangays Buliluyan, Brooke’s Point and Rio Tuba, Balabac.
Alvarez also disclosed briefly that the provincial government has plans of putting up a seaweed processing factory in Balabac, and this had already been initially discussed during their planning for the 2015 budget.
Once set up, the seaweed processing factory can enhance Palawan’s potential to be recognized in the industry in the production of certain byproducts needed for food, agricultural, agri-chemical, biochemical markets, and others.
“I hope there will be no more so-called fireworks to be lighted like what happened last time at the Puerto Princesa Underground River and the Royale Bus Line,” Alvarez said, referring to the “fireworks” as the alleged bombing incident at the wharf in Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan here in early 2013, and the simultaneous incidents in El Nido and Puerto Royale Bus Company in April 2012.
Meanwhile, in reaction and in representation of the general Islam community in the city and province, senior Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Palawan leader Gen. Estino Jairi Ayyobie, assured Alvarez and other attendees of the event that they are “together with the provincial government in ensuring a sustained peace, development, and prosperity climate” in the province.
Still over a thousand all-in-all in the MNLF in Palawan, Ayyobie said he understands that the conflict is in some of their places in Mindanao that is why they are happy that in the province, there are moves to sustain peace and prosperity among people.
“We are very happy about this effort and move to sustain peace in Palawan,” Ayyobie said, adding that during the term of former city mayor Edward Hagedorn in May 2012, they also signed a declaration of peace.
In the current leadership of Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Ayyobie further commented, that they also signed the same declaration last year.
“Whatever happens in Mindanao, Palawan can rest assured that it will not be included in the conflict. We will abide by the declaration we have signed with the city, the province and the national governments. Here in Palawan, you can rest assured that we’re not holding any arms, not even knives,” Ayyobie strongly stated.
For their part, Western Command (WESCOM) Gen. Roy Deveraturda said that to sustain peace, development and prosperity in the province, “all must give profound respect for human rights, work together effortlessly to win over poverty, and humbly submit to the rule of law.”
“The Western Command is committed to continue with its mission to help in Palawan’s development. We must all do our share to maintain and sustain peace, development and prosperity by giving respect to the rights of the people that we serve, help alleviate poverty in the areas, where we operate, and implement the rule of law with respect again, to the rights of the people,” Deveraturda said.
Under the declaration, all signatories commit “to a deep sense of mutual responsibility to strive to continue and maintain the state of tranquility, where the citizens may live in a secure environment conducive to their growth.”
Among the signatories are Alyansa ng Palawenyong Mamamahayag (APAMAI), the Apostolic Vicariate of Palawan, the city government of Puerto Princesa through Bayron and Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, the Palawan Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Palawan Tourism Council, the Moro National Liberation Front, and the academe. PNA