Friday, 9 May 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, May 5, 2014

Palace calls for Bayanihan to counter adverse effects of El Niño

Malacanang has called on the people to practice “bayanihan” to counter the adverse effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon that is expected to hit the country in June.

“Pairalin natin iyong diwa ng bayanihan. Ang gagawin po natin sa ating kani-kaniyang sambahayan at komunidad ay malaki ang maiaambag sa pambansang pagkilos,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said, Monday, asking the public to heed government calls for power and water conservation.

The El Nino is an anomalous phenomenon caused by the warming of ocean water temperatures, affecting the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean. It is said to bring droughts and trigger abnormal weather patterns.

Over the weekend, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned that the El Nino might affect the country starting next month and could last nine months.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo said the phenomenon could result in reduced rainfall.

The department also warned that water levels in Angat Dam, which supplies 90 percent of the water in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, are already at a critical level.

Coloma said an inter-government agency cooperation is being implemented to counter the effects of El Nino.

He said the government agencies involved include the Department of Agriculture (DA), PAGASA-DOST, Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Trade and Investment (DTI), Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Coloma said the DA is working closely with the PAGASA-DOST to intensify cloud-seeding operations to induce rain in major watersheds and drought-affected farming communities.

The DA will provide shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to farmers in areas that will be affected by the dry spell.

Coloma said the department has also increased its investments on the establishment of small water-impounding facilities, as well as the repair of existing irrigation systems and construction of new ones.

Meanwhile, the DTI will monitor the prices of basic commodities to prevent any unwarranted price hikes, while the ERB will watch for any power rate increase, he said, adding that the DOE will prevent power plants from going offline unexpectedly to avert power interruptions.

“Kasama na rin po ang mga kawani at opisyal ng pamahalaan na makikiisa sa wasto at matipid na paggamit ng tubig at ng kuryente, dahil ito ay maaaring maapektuhan ng inaasahang pagpasok ng El Niño phenomenon,” said Coloma. PND (ag)

Draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law now with Presidential Legal Counsel, says Palace official

The draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is with the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, which is reviewing it before presenting it to President Benigno S. Aquino III, Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said Monday.

“The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Committee is currently being reviewed by the legal team of the Office of the President and by the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel to determine propriety for inclusion in the legislative agenda of the President,” Coloma said during a press briefing.

“This review ensures meticulous and circumspect evaluation that each provision of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law conforms to the Constitution and the signed agreements,” he added.

He said there is a sense of urgency for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to be enacted into a law and submitting it to the House of Representatives is paramount.

“Binanggit na rin ito ng Pangulo na matatapos iyong pagsasabatas nito sa loob nitong taong ito para maidaos din iyong plebisito for referendum sa unang bahagi ng 2015, dahil kinakailangang magkaroon din ng transition na kapag naganap na ang pag-ratipika nito, magkakaroon ng Bangsamoro Transition Commission na papalit sa ARMM (Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao) na iphe-phase out for approximately one year of last period leading up to the 2016 elections,” Coloma explained.

Both Houses of Congress resumed sessions on Monday. PND (ag)

It is up to ERB to look into reports of Meralco’s dividend-sharing, Palace says

Malacanang said Monday it is leaving it to the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) to look into reports that the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has distributed P7.3 billion worth of dividends to its shareholders.

“Part of the ERC’s regulatory functions is to determine the propriety of expenses incurred by distribution utilities such as Meralco,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said during a press briefing.

“ERC is also tasked to determine the reasonability of power rates and power rate adjustments,” Coloma added.

He noted that the government is determined to protect the citizen’s welfare and ensure that power rates are “fully justified and will not unduly burden our people.”

The reported dividend-sharing comes at a time when Meralco announced plans to impose higher electricity rates.

According to news reports, Meralco is seeking to increase power rates this month by less than P1 to as much as P1.72 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). PND (ag)

Former Senator Francis Pangilinan joins Cabinet, scheduled to take oath before President Aquino tomorrow

President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed on Monday former Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Malacañang said.
Pangilinan’s position has a Cabinet rank and he is scheduled to take an oath of office before the President at the Palace Music Room Tuesday afternoon.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. made the announcement in confirmation of reports that resurfaced over the weekend regarding the matter.

Coloma said Pangilinan’s position is similar to that of former Senator now Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson, “hence, he will also hold the title of Secretary.”

President Aquino since last year had been open about his plans to have Pangilinan in the Cabinet following his 12-year stint at the Senate of the Philippines.

“Kiko in particular has several aspects of the agricultural sector that he wants to concentrate on. He is a partymate. He has already discussed his ideas with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and we will try to maximize his involvement to the benefit of the agricultural sector,” President Aquino told reporters in a March 2013 interview. PND (hdc)