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Gov’t to boost Palawan via key works—Speaker

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Congress to allocate at least P3b for crucial infra projects

The government will pursue key projects in Palawan given its strategic importance to the country’s efforts in the West Philippine Sea, Speaker Martin Romualdez said Friday.

Romualdez also led the distribution of P12 million worth of additional rice and cash aid to Puerto Princesa indigents and fire victims and P200,000 worth of rice and groceries to the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the province.

“In my capacity as your legislative district caretaker and as Speaker of the House, I pledge to marshal all necessary resources to support our key development priorities. This commitment extends beyond mere words; it is a promise already set into motion. The support from Congress for Puerto Princesa and Palawan will remain steadfast and unyielding,” Romualdez said.

Congress earlier designated Romualdez as caretaker of Palawan’s 3rd District in November following the death of its representative, former Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn.

Palawan is the jump-off point for the government’s sorties to the islands and features in the West Philippine Sea, amid the country’s concerns over China’s increasingly aggressive actions in areas like the Scarborough Shoal, which it took over in 2012.

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With Beijing’s warships loitering in waters off the Philippine coast, President Marcos told Australian lawmakers on Thursday he will remain firm in defending the country’s sovereignty, despite “formidable” challenges (see related story on A1 – Editors).

The National Security Council also said the successful completion of the state visit to Australia of President Marcos “marks a significant milestone” in strengthening the long-standing and enduring military and diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Australia has shown consistent support to the Philippines in the West PH Sea, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said in a statement Friday.

During his initial visit to Pag-asa Island last October, the Speaker gave his assurance that Congress would allocate at least P3 billion for critical infrastructure projects, including the airport expansion, naval port and fishing sanctuary, alongside facilities to bolster tourism.

At the Western Command headquarters, Romualdez affirmed the government’s “commitment to enhancing our nation’s defense capabilities.”

“We are committed to ensuring that your needs are met, your capabilities are enhanced, and your welfare is prioritized. Your dedication to our country inspires us, and it is only right that we support you with the resources necessary to carry out your noble duties,” he said.

“The increase in your budget is a strategic decision, aimed at ensuring that our military is not only equipped but also prepared to meet the evolving challenges of national security. We understand that a well-funded military is pivotal for maintaining peace and security, and this understanding has guided our fiscal decisions,” he added.

Romualdez, who turned over to WesCom chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos P200,000 worth of rice and groceries, said the increased military budget is also intended to support comprehensive training and education programs.

This would ensure that soldiers are adept, well-trained, and capable of navigating the complexities of contemporary warfare and defense strategies, he said.

During his visit to the province, Romualdez delivered close to P12 million worth of additional assistance to indigents and fire victims in Puerto Princesa City in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other donors.

He led the ceremonial distribution of assistance to over 2,200 indigent-beneficiaries under the Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) program at the Provincial Capitol Convention Center.

Each beneficiary received P3,000 cash aid from the DSWD, along with five kilograms of rice from the Office of the House Speaker.

In a separate event at Mendoza Park, Romualdez led the distribution of some P4.8 million in cash assistance to 700 household representatives of fire victims who received between P2,500 and P10,000 each under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the DSWD.

The beneficiaries, who also received relief packs from donations of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and youth group NextGen, were from 681 households affected by the Feb. 7 fire incident in barangays Bagong Silang and Pagkakaisa, and 19 households affected by the Feb. 14 fire incident in Barangay San Miguel.

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