The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) partially inaugurated Saturday (March 6) its cruise port facility project in Puerto Princesa which is expected to place it and Palawan on the list of popular international cruise destinations in the world.
The cruise port consists of seven phases, including the construction of a 500-meter wharf, docking facility, passenger terminal, and access road. Its construction in the city is being led by the DPWH regional office.
DPWH Sec. Mark Villar, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Arthur Tugade, and Executive Secretary Salvador Midealdea were the top government officials who graced the event with House Reps. Gil Acosta Jr. (3rd District) and Cyrille Abueg-Zaldivar (2nd District) and Puerto Princesa mayor Lucilo Bayron and Palawan governor Jose Alvarez.
Villar said the project’s estimated cost is P3.50 billion and the DPWH had already spent P1.5 billion so far for the construction of the wharf.
He said since the country is awaiting the arrival of the anti-COVID vaccines, he can see the tourism industry opening up and getting back to normal.
“Inauguration ng first four phases of this cruise port, and by August matatapos ang susunod na three phases. Malapit na rin dumating ang ating one million [anti-COVID] vaccines, tuloy-tuloy ang dating ng vaccines so we can see the tourism industry is starting to open up. I know in Palawan it’s already starting to open up so, sisigla muli ang ating ekonomiya,” Villar said.
“Pagdating ng araw na maluwag na ang tourism, ang ekonomiya… we’re ready to take full advantage of the comeback. Malapit na rin ang comeback natin,” he added.
The cruise port is designed to receive big international cruise ships that will bring international travelers to the city and province.
Villar said that when world traveling bounces back, there will be a big demand for tourist attractions in Puerto Princesa and Palawan and both should be ready to accept them through the cruise port.
“Sa ngayon gumastos na ang government ng P1.5 billion at siyempre marami tayong magagandang attractions dito sa Palawan at Puerto Princesa — yong underground river. Sa tingin namin, malakas ang magiging demand para sa mga cruis ship na magpa-park dito para makita ang mga site at saka nasa programa para maging top tourist destination ito. It can accommodate the size of big cruise ships,” he said.
Tugade added that once tourism reopens, the cruise port facility will help the locals have income sources through the visiting tourists.
He said it is the fulfillment of the mandate given to them by President Rodrigo Duterte which is to make Filipino lives comfortable again after the coronavirus disease challenge.
“Ngayong araw na ito, nandidito [tayo] ngayon, ini-inaugurate natin yong cruise port and facilities. Ito lang ay hindi magbibigay ng mga kabuhayan sa lokal, ito’y magpaparating ng mga turista, samu’t sari [mula] sa ibang bansa. Ang puno’t dulo nito uunlad [muli] ang ekonomiya,” said Tugade.
Meanwhile, Governor Alvarez expressed gratitude to the administration for making the city and province among its priorities in infrastructure projects, especially related to tourism as it is one of the provinces industries.
“Wala na ako ibang sasabihin kundi bow, take off my hat, unang-una kay Sec. Tugade, kay Sec. Mark Villar, lalong-lalo na kay Executive Sec. Medialdea. Punong-puno sila ng tulong para sa Palawan. Taus puso kaming nagpapasalamat at hindi namin makalimutan ang lahat ng tulong ninyo sa Palawan — walang katapusang pasasalamat,” he said.
Mayor Bayron said once the cruise port is completed, it will be a “game changer” not only for the place where it is located but for the entire city.
Among the city’s plans in the area, he said, is the construction of a five thousand-capacity convention center, invitation of investors to build hotels and other possible commercial establishments, and a launching pad for bay cruise.
“Napakalaki ng impact niya sa magiging tourism ng City of Puerto Princesa. Itong area na ito, the city government is planning to put up a convention center, tapos mag-i-invite tayo ng mga private corporations and individuals to set up mga hotels dito, and then we intend to set up a launching pad for the bay cruise and mga restaurants and entertainment area,” Bayron said.
Reps. Acosta and Zaldivar also thanked the current administration for their support to Puerto Princesa and Palawan as they get back on their feet from the pandemic.
He said it is an important tourism development made possible by the effective partnership of Palawan leaders, especially Bayron and Alvarez.
“Itong pangarap ng Puerto Princesa Cruise Port ay pangarap ng tatlong tao — Gov. Jose Alvarez, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, si dating kongresista Cong. Gil Acosta — at kami ay nagpapasalamat kay Sec. Villar na year in and year out ay mayroong project, may budget ito,” he said.
“Ito ay very special because this is a big project — a landmark project na matagal ng pinapangarap ni Gov. Alvarez, ni Mayor Bayron, at ni dating Cong. Acosta. Today, we [are] seeing the realization of the dream, and we thank not only our beloved local leaders but also our leaders from the national government headed by no other than Presidenr Rodrigo Duterte,” Zaldivar said.