Hagedorn says Palawan geared for tourism but is no mining paradise

By Lily O. Ramos

MANILA, Nov. 11 (PNA) - Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn said that Palawan, including Puerto Princesa is geared towards tourism and business investment but definitely not for mining purposes.

Speaking on Friday during the first anniversary of the Communication and News Exchange Forum (CNEX) at the PIA Bldg. in Quezon City, Hagedorn emphasized that for a place to progress, it must be concerned with eco-tourism, instead of destroying what nature has artfully drawn and painted in unequaled manner on earth.

"I am all for progress but there should be strict code of conduct to be followed so as not to disturb what can't be created by man. Mining would definitely hurt the earth irreparably as miners take out the rich minerals, poison clean underground water and kill the trees and greens that help screen toxins on the air that we breath in," the mayor said.

He talked about strict enforcement of anti-littering ordinances wherein no one is exempted from obedience. And asked if the reforms he has established in Puerto Princesa will continue if he is no longer a politician, Hagedorn replied that it is the people who will decide his fate and history of the province.

He made special mention of the year 2001 when he was removed from office for a year and a half and a special election was held that returned him to power.

"That can happen again, but I hope there's no need to do so," he said.

Speaking before a big crowd of print, radio, online and TV journalists, Hagedorn, who is spearheading an all-out campaign for the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) which is grabbing the top spot in the voting for the New Seven Wonders of Nature, said the newly declared world heritage site first hurdled the initial 400 candidates that was later trimmed down to 28, further cut down to the Top 10 and now in the contest's Lucky Seven.

Hagedorn likewise noted that whereas Palawan had 150,000 tourist arrivals in 2009, it made a big jump in 2011 with 425,000 visitors and the figure continued to increase by leaps and bounds this year.

This resulted in an increase in employment of residents as airplanes' ground crew, hotels, souvenir shops and small businesses began thriving once more.

"Before, we used to have only three plane flights a day but lately we have been having 11 flights daily which is still a paltry count when you consider the 42 flights of Malaysia.

"I agree that the airport in Puerto Princesa should be modernized and come to international standards and more and more foreign travelers are coming in to see the PPUR and the other magnificent places in the province," said Hagedorn.

The tough, movie-star looking mayor also said that countries who have been honored with man-made wonders and nature-created beauties were able to pull in an increase of about five billion dollars in earnings brought about by tourism industry.

The Philippines should gain around 1.8 billion dollars a year or P2 billion if proper infrastructure are built like roads and bridges to ease transport of goods and services as well as people, Hagedorn said.

According to the Puerto Princesa mayor, the PPUR campaign has united the Filipinos through texting and online voting around the globe and the Philippines as the texting capital of the world is a great asset in making them winners. (PNA)
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