Thursday, 13 March 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, March 6, 2014

Palace: Government works to ensure stable power supply; asks for stakeholders’ cooperation

The government had said it is committed to provide stable power supply for the country and asked the public, power producers and distributors to work together to resolve the power shortage especially in Mindanao.

“I think what is apparent here is that kailangan talaga iyong tulung-tulong. Mas maraming maa-accomplish kung magtutulungan sila both the users and the distributers, the generators,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a press briefing in Malacanang Thursday.

“This is a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution to be provided by all of the stakeholders.”

In a statement, Coloma reported that according to the Department of Energy the current supply in Mindanao is 1,064 megawatts compared to the peak demand estimated at 1,222 megawatts, which means a shortfall of 158 megawatts.

This results to rotating brownouts at an average of two to three hours, except in Maguindanao province that is currently experiencing up to more than 10 hours of power interruption daily, he said.

To address this shortfall, the DOE and the power industry are implementing several measures such as the use of embedded generators by distribution utilities, adoption of the interruptible load program involving the voluntary use of generator sets by consumers; continuing repair and rehabilitation of the 210-megawatt STEAG coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental; and the repair and rehabilitation of existing hydroelectric power plants.

The Communications Secretary said the rehabilitation of the 210-megawatt STEAG coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental will be done from two to three months.

At the same time, Coloma said the government is closely monitoring ongoing projects that will increase power supply in Mindanao by up to 900 megawatts.

These new projects include the 200-megawatt coal-fired plant of the Alsons’ group and the 300-megawatt Aboitiz-owned coal-fired plant, which will both come online by 2015.

Another 400 megawatts coal-fired plant owned by Filinvest will become operational in 2016, he said.

With the expected 500 (MW) in 2015, and 400 (MW) in 2016, the additional energy of 900 (MW) will address the current need which is around 1,200 (MW).

“The DOE continues to undertake reforms that power sector including actively pursuing a 50/50 energy makes between traditional and renewable energy with increased private sector investments in hydroelectric, biomass, and solar power,” Coloma added. PND (as)

Negotiators to push country’s interest during talks on increased US rotational presence

Ongoing talks on increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines will be built on existing agreements and the Philippines will ensure that its interest is protected, the Palace said on Thursday.

“The current negotiations will build upon existing agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said.

“As these agreements have been in existence for a number of years, both countries are aware of the challenges in implementation. Hence, both panels will consider how to frame the proposed agreement in such a way that those challenges will be addressed adequately,” he added.

The Philippines had an issue over the jurisdiction of US troops in the country particularly on the VFA.

But Coloma said the country should learn from experience and will not allow a one-sided agreement that would favor the US. The good thing is that negotiators are relying on the baseline—the existing agreements and they are not starting from scratch.

“Hindi naman nanggaling sa tabula rasa o iyong wala, may baseline. Kasama doon sa baseline na yon iyong actual experience in implementation,” Coloma said.

“Doon sa actual na yon nagkaroon na ng mga hamon sa implementation. Therefore, it is only proper na ang magkabilang panig, lalo na tayo, ia-address natin kung ano yung mga naging challenges noon at hindi dapat tayo pumayag namadedehado tayo.”

Philippine defense officials believe shoring up US presence in the country will allow it to achieve a minimum credible defense particularly with the aggressive posturing of China in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). The two countries have completed five rounds of negotiations since August. PND (as)

Administration remains relentless in anti-corruption fight

The government vowed not to waver on carrying out reforms at the local government level as well as in the police and the military especially after the Office of the Ombudsman released a report about the big number of corruption cases from these offices.

The Ombudsman said the leading government agencies with a huge number of corruption cases include the Local Government Units (LGUs), with more than 2,000 cases; Philippine National Police with some 1,000 cases, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines with 200 cases.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said this figure is not surprising considering the number of localities involve and the huge number of individuals coming from the police and the military.

For instance, the country has 81 provinces with around 100 chartered cities in addition to more than 1,600 municipalities. The police and the military have approximately 125,000 members for each.

“By appreciating these figures, hindi rin naman kagulat-gulat na doon mag-o-occur ‘yung mas maraming insidente kasi mas maraming tao ang maaaring masangkot sa mga usapin,” Coloma noted.

“Pero ang pinakamahalaga diyan ay ‘yung aksyon ng mga ahensya. Kaya nga isa sa mga haligi ng ating Philippine Development Plan ay ang good governance.”

In the local government level, the anti-corruption thrust continues, Coloma said, adding that during the leadership of the late secretary Jesse Robredo of the interior and local government, he tried to improve the quality of service of the LGUs.

Among Robredo’s challenge goals include the grant of incentives to well-performing LGUs to entice them push reforms, he said. Robredo also started the citizens’ charter that increases the transparency of transactions down to the local government level.

“Lahat naman ng mga institusyon sa pamahalaan ay ginagabayan ‘nung programa ng ating Pangulo na daang matuwid,” the Palace official said.

“Kaya habang iniuulat na marami ang mga kasong ganyan, kasabay naman diyan ‘yung patuloy na emphasis by the good governance and reduction of corruption as one of the five pillars of the Philippine Development Plan,” he added. PND (as)