President Rodrigo Roa Duterte acknowledged the efforts of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), under the leadership of Secretary Arthur Tugade, and its Maritime sector, for the completion of the expansion project at the Puerto Princesa Port and the acquisition of new maritime assets that will boost the government's capability to secure and protect the country's territory.

President Rodrigo Duterte (3rd from left) was joined by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea,
Senator Bong Go, DoTr Secretary ArthurTugade, other transport officials, and local government
executives during the inauguration of the completed development projects in Puerto Princesa Port
on Nov. 4, 2021. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
President Rodrigo Duterte (3rd from left) was joined by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senator Bong Go, DoTr Secretary ArthurTugade, other transport officials, and local government executives during the inauguration of the completed development projects in Puerto Princesa Port on Nov. 4, 2021. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

President Duterte was joined by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senator Bong Go, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, other transport officials, and local government executives during the inauguration of the completed development projects in Puerto Princesa Port on Nov. 4, 2021.

"I commend the DoTr and the PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) for the completion of this port expansion project. It is indeed a significant milestone under our 'Build, Build, Build' Program. I am excited to see the outcome of this infrastructure project, which is envisioned to boost growth in Palawan and its nearby areas," President Duterte expressed.

The Puerto Princesa Port expansion project involves the construction of a backup area, excavation of existing seabed, supply and installation of rubber-dock fenders as well as supply and installation of bollards.

"Talagang happiness [is in the air] 'pagkat in addition sa ating pantalan na ini-inaugurate ngayon, alam n'yo po ba na nakagawa na ang Kagawaran ng Transportasyon at ang PPA, under the guidance of President Duterte, ng 14 port projects dito sa Palawan ("Really happiness [is in the air] 'cause in addition to our port being inaugurated today, do you know that the Department of Transportation and the PPA, under the guidance of President Duterte, have already built 14 port projects here in Palawan, " Secretary Tugade said.

"Nagkaroon ng koneksyon sa lokal, nagkaroon ng koneksyon din 'ho sa international. Never before has this reality been born and begotten in the Republic of the Philippines ("There was a local connection,) there was also an international connection. Never before has this reality been born and begotten in the Republic of the Philippines," Secretary Tugade emphasized.

Serving as Palawan's main maritime gateway, the expanded Puerto Princesa Port will also be able to double its current capacity. Every year, the port receives around 1,500 international and local vessel calls, while it also handles approximately 1.7 million metric tons of cargoes. Moreover, 200,000 passengers use the port annually, including almost 6,000 cruise-tourism passengers.

"Habang patuloy pong nababawasan ang mga restriction dahil sa Covd-19, inaasahan po nating mas gaganda pa ang productivity ng pantalan partikular na sa long-haul connection nito sa Kamaynilaan at ang pinaplanong connectivity nito sa isla ng Mindoro via the port of Bulalacao ("As restrictions continue to be reduced due to Covd-19, we expect the port's productivity to improve, particularly with its long-haul connection to Manila and its planned connectivity to the island of Mindoro via the port of Bulalacao)," PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said.

"Talagang taos-puso kaming nagpapasalamat na 'yung expansion ng port ay pagpapatunay na 'yung trade and commerce pagkatapos po ng December vaccination drive natin ay sana bumalik na 'yung normal na business at normal na buhay natin dito sa Puerto Princesa at sa lalawigan ng Palawan "We are truly grateful that the expansion of the port is proof that trade and commerce after our December vaccination drive will hopefully return to normal business and normal life here in Puerto Princesa and the province of Palawan," Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez said.

Prior to the unveiling of the marker of Puerto Princesa Port's expansion project, President Duterte also led the commissioning of the new aerial asset of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) – the multi-role fixed-wing aircraft, Cessna Caravan 208.

The new maritime asset is expected to boost PCG's capability in patrolling and securing the Philippine waters and in intensifying its response efforts and operations, especially during disasters.

Moreover, the PCG has formally inaugurated the new Coast Guard Station Kalayaan located in Pag-Asa Island in Palawan. In partnership with PCG Auxiliary (PCGA), the PCG upgraded the station to improve the living condition of Coast Guard personnel deployed in Pag-Asa Island.

The facility likewise aims to boost the PCG's monitoring and patrolling capabilities in the West Philippine Sea as it will serve as the operations headquarters in the area.

"As we bolster the connectivity in Palawan, we also look into fortifying our maritime security in the area. I am glad to know that the Philippine Coast Guard continues to be geared towards expanded presence in the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Group [of Islands] to safeguard Filipino fishermen to venture into the sea of their daily livelihood," President Duterte said.