Palawan is a cradle of biodiversity and has been designated as the country’s “Last Ecological Frontier” and “Man and Biosphere Reserve” (MAB) by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1990. The objectives of preserving biological diversity, fostering economic growth, and upholding related cultural values must be balanced in a sustainable way. Palawan is the largest province in the country in terms of the total area of jurisdiction. The islands are located in the MIMAROPA region, stretching from Mindoro in the northeast to Borneo in the southwest. It lies between the West Philippine Sea and the Sulu Sea. Palawan is one of the most breathtaking destinations in the world. Conde Nast Traveler described Palawan as the most beautiful island in the world.
For conservationists and advocates, it is the last stronghold of wildlife and nature that needs the utmost protection against the potential destroyer.
The province is home to a number of protected areas which is by far the most for a province: Ursula Island in Bataraza, Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Malampaya Sound in Taytay, Calauit in Busuanga, Coron Island, and those listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the Underground River in Puerto Princesa and Tubbataha Reefs in Cagayancillo. Due to its essential nature of protection, and conservation to promote sustainable development, numerous government agencies and NGOs are working hand and hand to preserve its beauty.
It is within these contexts where the Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW West) being the “Air Sentinel of the Western Frontier” sustains the mandate of the Philippine Air Force as it provides support to military operations other than war and became a partner in environmental protection in maintaining Palawan’s biodiversity. TOW West employs its air assets in conducting surveillance flights, maritime patrols and reports areas of deforestation/illegal mining activities to the concerned government agencies to serve as their basis for assessment and immediate enforcement.
The Air Sentinel also partners with LGUs in their National Greening programs through the conduct of Mangrove/tree planting activities, seed dispersal, and coastal clean-up activities that aim to improve environmental stability, and biodiversity conservation as well as enhancement of climate change mitigation and adaptation. TOW West also adheres to no-fly zone areas, especially in some protected areas that require minimum human intervention. It also partners with law enforcement agencies to track and apprehend illegal poachers and loggers to prevent the destruction of our environment. These efforts were made through the cooperation and active participation of different agencies and their commitment to safeguarding the future of the next generation.
We are one with our fellow Palaweños who aspire for a higher degree of discipline and environmental consciousness among its people with a developed sense of pride and commitment to protecting our banwang Palawan. TOW WEST will remain vigilant and vigorous for the protection of our environment. We should unite as we made a significant mark in the security and promoting sustainable development in the WESCOM joint operational area.