This is part of a collection of images and videos posted by IWA's Vincent Tajanlangit. However, it has since been removed.

1st District Palawan Representative Edgar Salvame has denied any connection with the Iloilo Watercraft Association (IWA), which organized a medical mission in Linapacan recently but became embroiled in controversy when its jet ski riding members roamed around marine protected areas where such activities are banned.

Zanie Seracarpio, a senior political affairs officer in his office, informed Palawan News that Salvame had no knowledge of the IWA or any of its members.

“First, our office know nothing about (activities) them. Walang alam ang opisina dyan. Second, even (congressman) Salvame does not know them,” Seracarpio said.

Seracarpio said that they later learned that the IWA would be carrying out a medical mission in Linapacan, but no coordination had taken place with the district office beforehand.

“If the office has a part in their activities in Linapacan, then you would see the name and face of the congressman there in their tarpaulin,” Seracarpio said.

Seracarpio clarified that Conchita Salvame is the widow of the late Taytay mayor Roy Salvame, who is the brother of Rep. Salvame.

When a member of the IWA contacted Conchita while they were in the area, she reached out to someone in Rep. Salvame’s office. It happened to be Ken Palay, a political staff member of Rep. Salvame, who was present in the district at the time.

According to Seracarpio, it was a mere coincidence that Palay had prior acquaintance with one of the jet ski mechanics. When a member of the IWA posed a question, Palay happened to be the one who provided the answer.

“It was simple asking questions about anything from somebody who is not from here and it so happen our staff had to answer because a relative of our congressman called,” Seracarpio said.

Seracarpio mentioned that following their activities in Linapacan, the group stayed for several days at the East Wind hotel in San Fernando, El Nido, which is located quite far from the town proper and adjacent to Linapacan island.

“If they committed some violations of environmental laws, then they are liable. They are mature, responsible adults already I suppose,” Seracarpio said.

Seracarpio emphasized that the IWA group was not invited by Salvame to visit North Palawan and engage in their jetski activities, which had a negative impact on the pristine protected maritime areas of Taytay and El Nido and caused disruption to other vacationing tourists.

DENR mum on Iloilo jet skiers
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has chosen to remain tight-lipped regarding the recent incident.

Despite mounting public interest and calls for action, local DENR officials have continued to refrain from providing specific details regarding the nature of the violation of the members of the watercraft association when they rode their jet skis in marine sanctuaries in the two towns.

Nonetheless, an anonymous source from the DENR in the province has confirmed that a violation did occur when members of the IWA, allegedly led by businessman Vincent Tajanlangit, neglected to inquire about the permissibility of jet skis in MPAs.

The source said IWA violated Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Resolution No. 2017-052, Section 20(g) of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) or Republic Act 11038, and DENR Administrative Order No. 2019-05 on the Implementing Rules and Regulation of the ENIPAS.

The ENIPAS imposes restrictions on the operation of motorized vehicles within protected areas, the source added, unless a permit has been obtained from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

In IWA’s case, additional sources claimed it had been informed by the PAMB of the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ETMRPA) that the use of jet skis was prohibited. However, this communication occurred prior to the sighting of the jet skis in Kandungan and Snake Islands.