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