Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
The city or Puerto Princesa. Palawan has been endowed with a natural environment that has been spared from the ravages of calamities. However, the continuous degradation and denudation of the forest and fishing areas in the province were cause for worry of both national and local officials. The Bantay Puerto Program was born out of the expressed desire of the people for an honest to goodness implementation of existing laws and regulations to protect, conserve and rehabilitate the natural resources of the city. When the city mayor took office on June 1, 1992, he immediately set into motion the creation of a multi and intra agency body to carry this out. Observing that past attempts along this line failed due to the absence of coordination and/or noncooperation of people and agencies concerned, and the many political and economic pressures that get in the way of the program, he personally assumed direct responsibility for its implementation.
The program is divided into five major program components: (1) the Bantay Gubat program which addresses the problem of illegal logging and destructive farming practices; (2) the Bantay Dagat which is concerned with the protection of the sea from illegal fishing activities; (3) a Special Monitoring group concerned with data gathering of all relevant information on illegal activities undertaken within city jurisdiction; (4) the Civilian Task Force which is the action team involved in actual law enforcement assisting the locaI police and the military; and (5) the Cyanide Detection Test group which involves itself in the detection of cyanide and other chemicals used in fishing along city jurisdiction.
The presence of strong political will on the part of the administration brought about the respect and strong support from the constituents for the program. The program has successfully eliminated the bringing out of banned live marine products from the city, including endangered bird species. Illegal loggers no longer operate in the area. Kaingin was substantially reduced. Illegal fishers avoid the waters of Puerto Princesa City. Moreover, civilian-military cooperation was evident in the program as manifested by the use of air force helicopters in the patrol and pursuit/apprehension of illegal fishermen and illegal loggers. Now, peace and order in Puerto Princesa has improved 1remendously making it one of the safest places in the country.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 1994 Galing Pook Awards.