PPSRNP mgt de­nies on­line claims wharf fa­cil­ity is in ‘poor con­di­tion’

Palawan News - - FRONT PAGE - By Gil­lian Faye Ibañez Re­porter

The man­age­ment of the Puerto Princesa Sub­ter­ranean River Na­tional Park (PPSRNP) de­nied the claims posted on so­cial me­dia by a pri­vate and li­censed tour guide that the wharf fa­cil­ity at Si­tio Sa­bang, Barangay Cabayu­gan, is al­ready in “poor con­di­tion”. PPSRNP park su­per­in­ten­dent El­iz­a­beth Ma­clang said the claims of tourist guide Glaiza Me­len­dres on so­cial me­dia on the con­di­tion of the wharf on November 1 are “with­out strong ba­sis and ground­less.” “Okay ‘yang [at­ing kasalu- kuyang daun­gan]. Hindi ko nga alam kung ano ang stan­dard niya ng maayos na daun­gan. May sis­tema na­man kami dito sa wharf, kaya lang nade-de­lay siya dahil doon sa alon tapos sasabayan pa ng low-tide,” Ma­clang said.

Ma­clang de­fended that the 30-minute in­ter­val that two-tothree boats had to en­dure on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 31, be­fore they can load and un­load pas­sen­gers was not be­cause of the poor state of the wharf but the low-tide cou­pled with strong wave surges. She pointed out that if the wharf was con­gested on the day men­tioned, it was “un­der­stand­able since they can­celed all tours to the un­der­ground river for two con­sec­u­tive days.” Ma­clang added they al­ways make sure to fol­low a sys­tem in dis­patch­ing the vis­i­tors so they could all en­ter based on the re­quired car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of the un­der­ground river. The or­der for the tour boats to only load five in­stead of the nor­mal ca­pac­ity of eight pas­sen­gers had to be made to en­sure their safety against the wave surges that are present that day, she said. “Kami ay hu­mi­hingi ng pasen­siya doon sa mga de­lays na nangya­yari, but we see to it na ta­la­gang maintindi­han ng at­ing mga tour op­er­a­tors, mga tour guides, na ang PPUR des­ti­na­tion ay isang nat­u­ral site ‘yan. Kaya ako, ang ak­ing pak­iusap lamang, ‘yong mga de­lays na gan­ito ay maintindi­han, kasi it’s beyond our con­trol. Au­to­matic ‘yan magpa-pile up ‘yong bi­sista. Pang-un­awa ‘yong hini­hingi sana natin, kasi hindi na­man natin gin­u­gusto na ma-de­lay,” Ma­clang said. When­ever there are can­ce­la­tions, she said travel and tour agen­cies are al­ways in­formed so they can tell their guests about pos­si­ble de­lays and other is­sues if they still in­sist to go the next day. Ma­clang said the least Me­len­dres could have done was help the man­age­ment in ex­plain­ing to the guests the cause of load­ing and un­load­ing de­lays. “Hindi na­man sa sinasabi kong mali na maglabas ka ng sin­te­myento mo sa so­cial me­dia, pero itama mo, i-con­tex­tu­al­ize mo ‘yong ko­mento mo at alamin mo ‘yong facts. Da­pat fac­tual ka. Hala­tang hindi siya in­formed kasi hindi niya alam kung ano ‘yong up­date, mga ac­tivites, at mga pro­grama ng city govern­ment, ng PPSRNP man­age­ment at ng Pro­tected Area Man­age­ment Board ( PAMB) sa wharf. Nag­tataka kami saan ‘yong hugot niya, in­isip nalang namin [na] ta­la­gang hindi siya in­formed, na mis­in­formed siya, at the same time, kung tit­ing­nan namin ay sa dami ng tour guides, sa kanya lang nang­gal­ing ‘yong gani­tong reklamo. Da­pat ‘yong ex­pec­ta­tion namin sa tour guide kat­u­lad ng gi­na­gawa ng iba niyang kasamang tour guide, kaak­i­bat namin, ka-part­ner, kasama sa pag­pa­pali­wanag ng sit­wasyon,” Ma­clang said. Me­len­dres whose Face­book name is “Glaiza Serd­nelem” claimed that be­cause of the Sa­bang wharf prob­lem, “guests who had to wait long ven­ti­lated their frus­tra­tions on the tour guides.” She said many guests also got dizzy and threw up be­cause of over­stay­ing on the tour boats to with­stand the strong waves. “Maram­ing guests ang na­pa­mura at na­galit dahil sa so­brang ba­gal ng ser­bisyo. Maram­ing tur­ista ang nag backed out dahil karami­han ay may mga biyahe pa papunta ng Port Bar­ton [at] El Nido at ang iba na­man ay may flight. Alas kuwa­tro na ng hapon pero ang num­ber serv­ing ay #66 pa lang at ang da­pat pang bu­miyahe ay aabot pa sa #90,” she said. Her pub­lic post which had been liked by 246 ne­ti­zens, shared 149 times and earned 104 com­ments, also crit­i­cized the PPSRNP for spend­ing mil­lions for the “Subaraw Bio­di­ver­sity Fes­ti­val” in­stead of fix­ing first the Sa­bang wharf prob­lems. She said over­crowd­ing and long queues are com­mon prob­lems in the PPSRNP that should have been solved a long time ago. “Sana na­man po mabi­gyang pansin din ito, reg­u­lar na prob­lema na natin ito at na­pakata­gal na. Kung nakaka­paglaan kayo ng pondo para sa floater na hindi na­man nagamit diyan at para sa Subaraw Fes­ti­val na mi­lyon-mi­lyon ang ha­laga para sa pro­mosyon, bakit hindi po ito ang un­ahin ninyo? Gusto niny­ong ki­lalan­ing World Class des­ti­na­tion ang PPUR eh, pan­ta­lan pa nga lang po hindi na maayos, li­bong tur­ista ang sumasakay arawaraw pero ha­los dalawang oras po ang an­tayan bago po makasakay, at ka­hapon (Oc­to­ber 31) po apat na oras mahigit ang pag aan­tay na gi­nawa ng mga guests, so­brang haba na ng pasen­siya ng mga iyon, pero may mga hindi nakatiis at ta­la­gang sum­abog na sa galit. At kam­ing mga TOUR GUIDE PO ANG INAWAY NILA kahit hindi na­man sila kasama sa grupo namin… Susme… [sic],” she said in her post. PPSRNP in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Jan Elmer Badilla clar­i­fied that the mod­u­lar dock or “floater” worth P14 mil­lion that Me­len­dres claimed was funded by the PPSRNP was ac­tu­ally a do­na­tion from the Tourism In­fra­struc­ture and En­ter­prise Zone Author­ity (TIEZA). He said it was set up by TIEZA dur­ing the first quar­ter of this year at the beach area and in Sa­bang wharf. But it was im­me­di­ately re­moved by the man­age­ment a few days af­ter due to crit­i­cisms in the so­cial me­dia and the cir­cu­la­tion of the hash­tag #Pho­toBomberOfNew7Won­der­sOfNa­ture. “Kasi nga medyo ku­makalat nga sa so­cial me­dia, tapos may pic­ture pa noon na doon nga siya naka­ha­rang siya sa cave en­trance. Ti­nang­gal muna namin. So kin­ausap namin ‘yong TIEZA na baka puwe­deng tang­galin muna, while ex­plor­ing other al­ter­na­tives. So far, dahil tag-ulan na [ngayon], medyo malakas na ang alon, hindi na siya basta-basta maila­gay ulit ng TIEZA. So kailan­gan mag-an­tay ng un­til sum­mer time,” he said.” Mean­while, Ma­clang said the con­struc­tion of a new and big­ger wharf or pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal, worth P100-P150 mil­lion with break­wa­ter and waste­water fa­cil­ity, is now be­ing pro­cessed. The project is a col­lab­o­ra­tion among the PPSRNP man­age­ment, the Puerto Princesa City govern­ment, and the TIEZA which re­quired per­mits from the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNESCO) World Her­itage Con­ven­tion, she said. “May de­sign na ‘yan, ifina-fi­nal­ize na lang. On process na siya, in progress siya. Nabib­in­bin lang nga dahil nga sa mga stud­ies na kailan­gang gawin, ‘ yong hy­dro­log­i­cal study, ‘yong en­vi­ron­men­tal in­fra­struc­ture as­sess­ment study, lalo na nasa pro­tected area tayo, re­stricted talaga ang ilang mga bagay-bagay,” Ma­clang said. She also said there was no need for Me­len­dres to drag the Subaraw bud­get in her com­plaints since they have al­ready ex­plained it to the mem­bers of the City Coun­cil. “Nag­tataka ako kung saan nang­ga­gal­ing ‘yong hugot niya na pati ba na­man ‘yong Subaraw Bio­di­ver­sity Fes­ti­val natin na mata­gal nang na­pali­wanag and we are very trans­par­ent on that, ta­la­gang kasama sa kaniyang sin­te­myento,” Ma­clang said. Ma­clang said the park man­age­ment will write a for­mal let­ter to the City Tourism Of­fice (CTO) for a di­a­logue with Me­len­dres and other con­cerned tour guides and stake­hold­ers af­ter the cel­e­bra­tion of the Subaraw on November 11. She said they have taken note of Me­len­dres’ points, hop­ing to clar­ify them fur­ther in the di­a­logue she will re­quest from the CTO. She as­sured the pub­lic that they are do­ing their best to im­ple­ment the poli­cies con­cern­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and con­ser­va­tion and apol­o­gized for the ex­pe­ri­enced de­lay of the tourists.

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