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Greenpeace condemns “midnight decision” on eve of Pnoy’s Mindanao energy summit

Ochoa to DOJ prosecutors: Ensure efficient criminal justice system to lure investors

Withdraw case vs budget - ESamar prov’l employees appeal to SP

Pagcor’s Entertainment City will make RP “more fun” for projected 10-M annual tourist visits - DOT Sec. Jimenez

Leyte IDOL Season 7 Final 8 named

NPA camp seized by government troops in Northern Samar

COTS outbreak in Ormoc

KALAHI-CIDSS adapts bottom-up budgeting

Ormoc city government shutdowns LMC

Peace security watchdogs meet at 19th IB






Greenpeace challenges PNoy to show real leadership at Mindanao Summit; says DOE agenda killing renewable energy in Mindanao

April 11, 2012

QUEZON CITY  –  Greenpeace today challenged President Benigno Aquino III to demonstrate real leadership and political integrity at the upcoming Mindanao Energy Summit by championing clean and renewable energy solutions for the region, instead of anchoring the island’s energy future on dirty coal power.

The environment group made the call as it questioned the DOE’s coal-dependent energy prescription for Mindanao, which it said has the twin effect of extinguishing the island’s robust renewable energy potential and condemning local host communities to a future of dangerous and toxic emissions.

“The Mindanao power crisis is a test of President Aquino’s leadership and integrity. There is more than enough renewable energy potential in Mindanao to address the region’s current and future needs. Moreover, the enabling policy that was meant to achieve that vision is already in place. It would thus be a massive failure of leadership on his part if he chooses to endorse harmful coal projects in the face of such clean, viable and sustainable alternatives,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“Before he assumed the presidency, P’noy declared that he was for the phase-out of coal power and that the country must make the serious shift towards clean energy sources.  Last year, he counted among his achievements the National Renewable Energy Plan, his vision of how RE will ‘rebuild the nation. We sincerely hope that he goes beyond mere rhetoric by translating his clean energy vision into reality. That to us is real leadership,” he added.

Greenpeace contests that the current energy plans of the DOE for Mindanao are designed to promote the uptake of coal power. The upcoming Mindanao summit, purportedly intended to convene stakeholders towards the attainment of lasting and sustainable solutions to the island’s power woes, has been preempted by the hasty approval of coal power plants whose local acceptability continues to be contested by host communities.  Five more coal projects are being lined up in the next few years, which Greenpeace says will effectively edge out renewable energy options for Mindanao.

The National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), launched last year by the Department of Energy, shows how Mindanao is sitting on a ‘gold mine’ of renewable energy resources that have yet to be tapped.  The NREP itself pegs geothermal potential at 290 MW, plus a current capacity of 103 MW, and 50 MW worth of approved projects projected to be online by 2014.  Current hydropower capacity is at 1080 MW, with 1263.9 MW pegged as targeted additional capacity.  Wind potential is pegged at 336 MW, biomass with 36.8 MW waiting to be implemented, and solar power estimated at 5 KW hours per square meter.  With additional resource mapping these potentials could be even higher.

Greenpeace maintains that the rapid development of such energy sources should be enough to meet the island’s current energy shortfall and provide for its future needs. The deployment of these solutions, however, is being stymied by delays in the implementation of the RE law, specifically the approval of the feed-in-tariff (FIT) regime for RE projects, and by the aggressive campaign against RE being waged by pro-coal interests.

Coal plants would lock the people of Mindanao into at least three decades of reliance on dirty and polluting fossil fuel, whose costs are expected to escalate in the future. The group further warns that the approval of these projects are being carried out without a balanced and comprehensive examination of how renewable energy can similarly and more safely address the island’s power needs.

Speaking on behalf of host communities in Zamboanga, Barangay Chairperson Josephine Pareja reminded the President of his promise: “P-Noy said that he will allow Mindanaons to decide what sort of power we want.  Well, we don’t want coal, we want a clean energy future for Mindanao.”

For his part, Juland Suaso of Panalipdan, a broad alliance of environmentalists and peoples’ organizations in Southern Mindanao, said that "coal is not cheap.”  The costs of electricity from coal will likely go up in the future and such increases will also likely be passed on to the consumer.  This past year, power rates have already gone up due to the escalating price of fossil fuels.  Why add this burden to the future of already suffering Mindanaons when we have vast renewable energy resources that can be tapped and are not affected by price volatility?”

Greenpeace has been proposing an Energy [R]evolution scenario for the Philippines, where a massive shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures would wean the country away from the rising costs of fossil fuels.  In this scenario, the Mindanao grid could be powered by as much as 57.16% from renewable energy if measures are quickly implemented, rising to as much as 77.34% by 2020.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.





Go after the fugitives Palparan and Reyes, not ordinary citizens and activists – Karapatan

April 11, 2012

QUEZON CITY  –  As the P-Noy government continues to display its leniency on the case of the two high-profile fugitives, former Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. and former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, it has on the other hand, arrested eight people, including a minor, on the basis of trumped up charges such as kidnapping, rebellion, illegal possession of firearms, robbery in band and terrorism.

Karapatan reported that, “in a span of one week, and while the nation was about to observe  the holy week, the P-Noy government arrested  and detained eight persons: five in Nueva Ecija, two in Las Pinas, Metro Manila and Bayan Negros Occidental secretary general in Bacolod.  The latter was arrested and detained but is now out on bail. All seven others are currently detained, with no clear basis aside from the usual fabricated cases.  The police asserts that one of the persons arrested in Las Piñas has a standing warrant of arrest for a supposed kidnapping with murder charges.  Those arrested in Nueva Ecija were slapped with various common crime charges after their inquest.”

“We condemn this government’s continuing pretensions of going after erring government and military officials while in reality, its efforts are geared towards hunting down people whom it perceives as its ‘enemies’. While the likes of Palparan and Reyes who have clear charges against them continue to roam freely, activists and ordinary people are arrested and detained arbitrarily on trumped up criminal charges to conceal the political nature of their arrests and detention,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan’s chairperson.

Hilao-Enriquez added that, “in the case of Nueva Ecija, around 100 soldiers of the 56th IB-PA and policemen under the Nueva Ecija Police Provincial office even resorted to staging a gunfight with supposed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and planted evidence to justify the arrest of five people, including a former political detainee and a minor. One of those arrested was tending his farm when soldiers saw him and tied him up.”

Lastly, Hilao-Enriquez called on the P-Noy government “to stop persecuting people whom it considers as ‘enemies of the state’. The more the government does this, the more it proves to the whole nation that it is no different from the Arroyo regime. The government should instead turn its gun to the real fugitives and enemies of the people, those who are clearly rights violators and criminals, those with real crimes against the people.”





Pagcor’s Entertainment City Project to Put RP In World Tourism Map – PTAA

Press Release
April 11, 2012

MANILA  –  Philippine travel and tourism operators are looking forward to the PAGCOR-initiated Entertainment City, Asia’s multi-billion Las Vegas-like gaming and entertainment complex, to spark international and domestic tourism in the country.

Ms. Aileen Clemente, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), said the US$ 5 billion Entertainment City project of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation will also generate huge employment opportunities for tourism, travel, hotel, food and related industries.

“This will also spur domestic tourism and generate huge employment following the rise of several world-class, landmark establishments,” said Clemente, head of the umbrella organization which represents the country’s travel sector in various international and national associations.

PTAA is an organization of the national associations of outbound travel agencies and inbound travel operators sitting in the tourism councils of the local government units.

Clemente called on all sectors of society to support the project being spearheaded by Pagcor Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. – with the help of local and foreign investors – as Clemente noted that the estimated one million annual tourists’ arrivals to be generated by Pagcor’s mix hotel, gaming and entertainment complex will result in significant increase in foreign gross receipts.

Clemente stressed the PAGCOR project will be a big contribution to the country’s tourism industry. It will draw foreigners’ attention to the Philippines.

She said it will put the country in the international map, and will create a huge publicity globally, and eventually attract people from abroad to come and see the Philippines, and have fun in the country.

She noted that the project will generate awareness in the minds of foreign travelers that there is more fun going to the Philippines than in other Asian countries because we have many beautiful places to offer aside from the Filipino hospitality.

However, Clemente said the government should ensure that gambling should not be made the ‘focus’ of our offer to tourists.

Gambling can only be one of the elements of entertainment that we are giving tourists in this new PAGCOR endeavor,” noted Clemente.

For local gambling enthusiasts, she said the government should set some parameters to play in the casino like granting of a permit to gamble, or giving them limited access with the issuance of Identification cards.

“So they can show their ID and pay certain amount if they want to play in the casino in the Entertainment City. We can take a look at the Singapore model in running this,” she observed.

Earlier, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez expressed optimism that PAGCOR’s multi-billion Entertainment City project will make the country “more fun” to visit and help DOT achieve its targeted 10 million annual tourist visits by 2016.

Jimenez said the mixed-use entertainment complex, which is expected to attract at least one million tourists yearly once it becomes fully operational, will complement the DOT’s programs under the slogan: “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”

“Any development that involves attracting tourists is beneficial to our program to boost the tourism sector. Pagcor’s Entertainment City will be beneficial to Philippine tourism,” Jimenez said.

“Gaming is only one part of the Entertainment City. It will also attract the families of players. There will be a comprehensive package, which includes tourist sites in the City of Manila and other nearby environs,” he added.

Pagcor’s Las Vegas-style facility is expected to generate $10 billion annually in gaming revenues alone, of which 25 percent or about US$ 2.5 billion will go to the government.

“The Entertainment City will have a big impact on our tourism industry,” Jimenez added.

Jimenez also noted that Chairman Naguiat is on top of the situation in so far as accusations of impropriety hurled against him by casino magnate Steve Wynn are concerned.

Jimenez said Wynn’s accusations “will not have a major impact” on the Entertainment City’s tourism potential.

“The project is not personality-based and Chairman Naguiat has the situation well in hand,” the Tourism chief added.





DOE arm-twisting for ERC to fast-track power barge and electric coop rates – anti-consumer

TUCP condemns expensive power solutions in Mindanao: Poorest provinces to take hit, not Cagayan de Oro or Davao

Press Release
April 11, 2012

QUEZON CITY  –  The Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP) slammed the proposed Department of Energy (DOE) fast-tracking and expedited approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of the pending contracts and tariffs between the Aboitiz-Therma Marine power barges and the electric cooperatives as anti-consumer.

“The TUCP believes that the President is being badly advised by the DOE Secretary. The proposal which involves approval of the generation charge of Aboitiz of P14 per kilowatt hour (kWh) will now pave the way for an expensive tariff regime in Mindanao,” said TUCP Rep. Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza. He explained that this will impact only the smaller cities and rural areas serviced by electric cooperatives and not on the largest cities.

“We are shocked that this pro-power provider solution is being imposed on the developing provinces such as Cotabato and Bukidnon. Why is it the struggling rural areas striving to lift themselves from poverty and overcome underdevelopment and peace and order problems the ones who will be made to bite the bullet,” explained Rep. Mendoza.

TUCP pointed out that none of the expensive solutions are being directed at the two largest cities of Mindanao – Davao City and Cagayan de Oro. “It is the smaller cities – Kidapawan, Tagum, Dapitan, Marawi, Mati, Bislig, Dipolog, Isabela, Malay-balay, Koronadal and General Santos – that will be the sacrificial lambs and the rural areas around them,” explained Mendoza.

“Is it because provincial towns can be pushed around by the DOE and its attached agency, the National Electrification Administration (NEA)? Is it because they can bully the electric cooperatives using Presidential Decree 269 as amended by Presidential Decree 1645 where the General Managers of these electric cooperatives are appointed thru and by the NEA Administrator? Is it because the General Managers of these coops and their board of directors can no longer protect themselves and the poor consumers from the importunings of the DOE Secretary?” pointed out Mendoza. “Kayang-kayang takutin ng DOE at NEA ang mga managers ng electric coops pero hindi nila kayang kausapin ang mga malalaking pamilya tulad ng Aboitiz,” Mendoza added.

“Why couldn’t the DOE Secretary instead have convinced the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. with its expensive power barges to moderate its financial acquisitiveness and lower its rates from P14/kWh to P8/kWh? In fact, why should the DOE resort to using outmoded, anti-democratic, Martial Law-era Presidential Decrees to pressure and frighten electric cooperative managers to buy expensive power from Aboitiz?” asked Mendoza.

TUCP pointed out that the power provider in Davao City is the Aboitiz group and that the distributor, Davao Light and Power is also Aboitiz. “The city power supply and distribution is owned by one family so they can already put the squeeze on consumers anytime. The same situation also applies to Cagayan de Oro with the Abaya-owned Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (CEPALCO),” said Mendoza. “In these two cities, the DOE will just distance itself as the oligarchs who own the power system there can allow events to set the stage for them to eventually bring up rates also,” Mendoza added.

TUCP explained that even with the DOE providing a P9/kWh subsidy for power sourced from Aboitiz-Therma Marine Inc., this will already put in place a de facto high tariff regime which will tie up the electric cooperatives for a multi-year period. TUCP pointed out that even should abundant hydropower currently priced at P2.97/kWh currently become available after the Agus-Pulangui repairs, the electric cooperatives are already contracted to buy and distribute power from the more expensive Aboitiz-Therma Marine Inc. Eventually this emergency government subsidy of P9 will be phased out forcing the consumers to pay up the full cost of generated power at P14/kWh.

“The DOE has caricaturized the Mindanao power crisis as one whose answer lies in meeting supply needs. That way all the DOE needs to do is lead us down the path of least resistance: buy from the expensive Aboitiz-Therma Marine power barges. But the truth is that the answer lies in balancing the needs between supply and the cost of power. Mindanao’s development was always premised on the provision of cheap hydropower. This drives commerce and industry in Mindanao,” explained Mendoza.

TUCP advocates maintaining hydroplants as the main energy source with standby power in the form of government-owned power barges. We believe that allowing the National Power Corporation (NPC) more leeway in administering their gross receipts – instead of remitting the same to PSALM – will allow the full rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangui Complex.

TUCP believes that lowering the reserve capacity of National Grid Corporation (NGCP) from 250 Megawatts (MW) to 150 MW would have readily released an additional 100 MW into the Mindanao Grid and that the fulfilment of rehabilitation of Agus 4 would have raised sufficient capacity. Instead DOE has pressured electric coops to buy expensive power from Aboitiz-owned power barges and called for further repairs of the Agus 6 to create an artificial shortage of hydropower when it is most needed. TUCP also remains opposed to the planned sale of 4 state-owned power barges which can best be used for a last resort measure for Mindanao or for when power shortages occur in Luzon or the Visayas. Once rehabilitated, they can also be used to address the current demand of Mindanao.

TUCP further warned that DOE Circular No. DC2012-03-2004 in directing the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) “to support the enforcement of regulatory requirements to implement the measures (power supply contracts)” are actually go-signals for ERC to run roughshod over consumer interests such as the right to challenge these proposed power rates in participative and comprehensive public hearings in these small impoverished provinces. “ERC will view this DOE Circular as the blessing from the high and powerful to allow expensive power to be sold to the poorest,” said Mendoza.





Northern Samar grants additional assistance to more than a hundred farmer recipient of Agrikulturang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

By AILENE N. DIAZ, PIA Northern Samar
April 10, 2012

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  –  More than a hundred recipient of Agrikulturang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program from the town of Las Navas were given additional assistance by the provincial government as the provincial counterpart initiated in line with the convergence program of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Municipality of Las Navas.

The farmers-recipient are also beneficiaries of 4Ps program of DSWD whose farm land within the 5 barangays of Las Navas are covered by irrigation project under the Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project (HCAAP).

Provincial Agriculturist Damian Acero said, assistance given to the farmers include 100 bags of certified seeds and 100 liters of fertilizers. Also, they were able to avail of farm mechanization program of the province. Under the program, farmers-recipients availed of an easy and non-interest bearing loan of two tractors, as an initiative of the provincial government of Northern Samar.

Governor Paul Daza also instructed to give insurance coverage on the seeds planted by the farmers so that the capital they invested will be insured and thus get an indemnity when calamity occurs and destroys their plantation. The provincial government paid 50 percent of the insurance premiums of the farmers, while the other 50 percent was shouldered by the Department of Agriculture through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, Acero added.

Through the assistance of the provincial government and other agencies, Acero expects an increase in rice production. He estimated a production of 120 cavans per hectare as compared to the previous usual production of 30-40 cavans per hectare.

Aside from those assistance mentioned, the provincial government continue to conduct trainings for the farmers on the new technology and adopt strategies such as Farmer’s Field School, technology transfer and organizing irrigator’s association.





19th IB eyes more peace dialogues in Leyte villages

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
April 8, 2012

KANANGA, Leyte  –  The Army’s 19th Infantry (Commando) Battalion completed a total of 10 peace forums during the first month of its peace and development campaign in the town of Carigara, Leyte.

This was learned from Lt. Col. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, the commanding officer of 19th IB after he conferred with his staff and subordinate commanders at Brgy. Aguiting, Kananga, Leyte on Saturday, April 7.

Nacnac stressed the importance of the campaign to the over-all mission of the 19th Infantry (Commando) Battalion which covers the provinces of Leyte and Biliran. Thus, he is eyeing to promote the said activity to the other 39 barangays of Carigara and the villages in the other towns of Leyte.

“The conduct of Peace Forum is intended to build up among constituents, awareness on the peace and development initiatives of the government. Our mission to create a peaceful environment that is conducive to development shall fail if these basics are not internalized”, Nacnac said.

A Peace Forum is a multi-sectoral initiative to have a whole of society approach in solving conflict issues. It is a conflict resolution activity where people are given the opportunity to discuss and take action on the most important issues affecting peace in their own communities. After the meeting, election of officers for the Barangay Peace and Development Organization is conducted to strengthen the community’s advocacy to peace and development.

It can be recalled that the first-ever Peace Forum conducted by 19th IB was launched at Brgy. Upper Sogod, Carigara, Leyte on March 11. Peace forum were also conducted in Brgys. Canlampay, Libo, San Isidro, Hiluctogan, Candigahub, Tigbao, Paglaum, Canlampay and Camansi all of Carigara, Leyte and Brgy. Gaas, Ormoc City.

Nacnac reiterated that the presence of the military forces is neither a threat nor an implication that there’s conflict in the barangays. Likewise, he called for the support of the different agencies as the 19th Infantry Battalion gears towards peace and development.





Over a thousand slots await “summer jobbers” in Southern Leyte

April 4, 2012

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  –  The Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) project of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) provincial office here just got even more special this summer time, as more qualified youths will be gainfully employed.

In a list of 2012 SPES pledges faxed by DOLE to the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), some 1,031 posts are up for grabs, mainly through the labor agency’s partner institutions that included local government units, a public school, and one national government office, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Mario Tictic of DOLE-Southern Leyte told PIA yesterday that for this year their office was given an allocation of 1,500 students to be taken in for SPES placement, also popularly known as summer job, so they still have to fill in some 400 plus slots, this time in cooperation with private schools which already signified their intention to join.

DOLE and their respective listed partners are presently finalizing the papers of students who had applied for this summer’s SPES, which will start on May 7 for a 20-day employment period, while educational institutions in the private sector like Saint Joseph College (SJC) and the College of Maasin (CM) will start this June, Tictic informed.

The provincial government tops the list with 338 students up for hiring, followed by the city government at 150 individuals, and Malitbog LGU came in third with 110, then Sogod LGU at 100.  Malitbog has the distinction of hiring similar students for years in a row, even as it accepts new SPES applicants, 80 students for this summer.

The public school which participated in this program is the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU)-Bontoc Campus.

Other LGUs with SPES placements this year are Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Tomas Oppus, Libagon, Saint Bernard, Anahawan, Hinundayan, Silago, and Liloan.

Most summer jobbers have a daily rate of P150 per day, except for SLSU-Bontoc at P133 per day, Maasin City at P180 per day, and DPWH at P250 per day.  Salaries, however, will be shared between DOLE and the sponsoring LGU/agency, with DOLE paying 40% of the rate, and the LGUs, 60%.

Based on the list, DOLE sets aside a budget of P1,338,662.40 for 1,031 SPES takers already pledged, while the combined counterpart of all the LGUs was P2,007,993.60.

Last year, there were only a little over 400 SPES slots reserved by DOLE for Southern Leyte.



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