The country’s tourism industry is gaining momentum, but the province of Palawan might be left behind due to persistent power outages that continue to hound the area, a local coalition of Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) members, consumers, and owners (MCOs) warned.

“Kilala ang Palawan bilang isa sa mga paboritong tourist destination sa bansa pero nangangamba kami na baka tayo’y mapag-iwanan dahil sa patuloy na brownout sa ating lalawigan,” said Dr. Tony Cabrestante, a leader of PALECO MCOs.

According to PALECO MCOs, different parts of Palawan continue to experience unannounced power interruptions lasting for one hour three times a day, on top of the announced daily power interruptions that last for hours.

El Nido, a popular tourist destination in Palawan, established a new record after it welcomed 500,408 visitors in 2023, but Cabrestante expressed concern that this accomplishment could go down the drain if power interruptions persist.

“Kapag ganito palagi ang sitwasyon, sino ba namang turista ang gaganahan kung palaging walang kuryente. Kahit gaano kaganda ang lugar, kung palagi namang may aberya, tiyak na hindi na babalik ang marami sa kanila,” Cabrestante said.

Cabrestante renewed the coalition’s call to the Senate Committee on Energy, chaired by fellow Palaweno Sen. Raffy Tulfo, to investigate the perennial power problem in the province.

“Muli kaming nananawagan kay Senator Tulfo na bigyang pansin ang kalagayan ng kanyang mga kababayan upang matuldukan na ang pahirap ng PALECO sa mga Palaweno,” he said.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan recently aired its dismay over the relentless power outages that affected not only the residents’ way of life but also income opportunities for businesses, especially in El Nido.

“Ang bayan ng El Nido, hindi lang weekend ang rotational load shedding na ginagawa ng PALECO kundi araw-araw na. Nakakalungkot kasi tinaguriang pinakamagandang destinasyon sa buong mundo ang El Nido pero may problema tayo doon sa kuryente,” Board Member Juan Antonio Alvarez said in a privilege speech.

Board Member Nieves Rosento, a former Mayor of El Nido, echoed Alvarez’s sentiment, saying the blackouts are taking a huge toll on local businesses.

“Persistent occurrence na ang brownout sa El Nido at hindi na ito katanggap-tanggap bilang isang tourism destination na madi-discourage po ‘yung mga turista na dumarating,” she said.

Senator Nancy Binay, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Tourism, has called on the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to come up with short-term solutions “as far as corrective actions to arrest future prolonged brownouts in tourism destinations.”

The Senator also enjoined the DOT to draft a template for a contingency or continuity plan since most establishments do not have adequate plans to deal with energy- or communications-related failures.

The El Nido Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ENCCI) has already brought PALECO’s poor service to the attention of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., hoping that concerned national agencies would help address the energy situation in Palawan.

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