Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron hands over a fishing net to one of the beneficiaries of the UNDP grant for its Climate Security – Recovery Assistance to ST Rai/Odette-Affected Indigenous People Communities in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-Philippines) today turned over several farming and fishing equipments to Puerto Princesa City government, as part of assistance to communities in Barangays Cabayugan, Marufinas and Tagabinet under its Climate Security – Recovery Assistance to ST Rai/Odette-Affected Indigenous People Communities in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) program.

According to PPSRNP superintendent Elizabeth Maclang, the aid is part of the $90,000 (P4.9 million) grant from other UNDP countries that will be shared by communities from the three barangays.

“Ang dumating pa lang ay worth P1.5 million that includes farm implements, seeds, boat repair kits, pressing and printing machines, laptop computers, fishing nets, and other materials for infrastructure,” Maclang told Palawan News.

Maclang said the grant was a product of their dialogue with the communities and barangay officials for the equipments to be used in their livelihoods.

She added that a team from UNDP led by Camille Soriano arrived last year after typhoon Odette, to conduct a community consultation, after which, the project immediately started.

“This was offered by the UNDP. Pinuntahan nila kami dito para i-evaluate yung damage ni Odette. Dati na rin silang may proyekto dito, yung under sa Small Grant Project 5 worth P12 million. At nakita nga nakita nga nila na may pangangailangan talaga na masustain ang livelihood ng mga community,” she added.

The community-recipients include four groups from fisherfolks, farmers, and other IP communities with more than 1,000 members whose organizations were assessed and will be given aid based on their needs.

“There will also be infrastructure assistance for the jungle trail in Sitio Sabang going to the Puerto Princesa Undergound River where a portion of the boardwalk was destroyed, information centers and waiting areas of tourism destinations in Cayasan-Bayatao area of Brgy. Tagabinet,” she said.

One component of the jungle trail is the board walk that will be installed with ecoplank composed of recycled plastic.

Meanwhile, Soriano said the grant was given by the Canadian government after resident representative Selba Ramachandran said the communities in the area were chosen as beneficiaries.

In Brgy. Marufinas, a community of almaciga resin gatherers also received aid last Wednesday for the rehabilitation of the forests.

Marufinas village chief Crespe Cena stressed the importance of rehabilitating the environment, adding that it will be a big boost to the livelihood of the Tagbanua community whose primary source of livelihood is resin gathering.

“Isang magandang opportunity ito kasi makakatulong kami mapalitan ang mga nasira ni Odette and at the same time may pagkakakitaan din ang mga taga-rito. Importante ito kasi ang buhay ng tao halos katumbas din ng kalikasan,” Cena told Palawan News.

Aside from the effects of typhoon Odette, the almaciga trees in Marufinas were heavily affected by unregulated tapping of non-community members.

The community was forced to halt their resin-gathering for the conduct of inventory of trees and let the trees regenerate naturally during a temporary closed season.

“Sa ngayon ay hindi pa rin po namin nararating ang mga puno ng almaciga kung ano na po ang sitwasyon nila. Sa lakas ng Odette iniisip namin na marami ng natumba lalo na nasa high ground talaga sila. Wala din talagang umakyat doon kasi unang una, ang hirap ng daan tapos nagkaroon din ng closed season. Stop muna ang operation kasi kailangan muna ma-imbentaryo ang mga almaciga,” Cena said.