Wednesday, 23 July 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Government taking a proactive stand on impending power shortage, Palace says

The government is taking a proactive stand in anticipating an impending power shortage in the summer of 2015, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Tuesday.

“The Department of Energy (DOE) anticipates that between March and May of 2015, there could be a possible shortfall of 200 megawatts. On account of which, Secretary Jericho Petilla is proposing an additional capacity of 200 to 300 (megawatts), making a total of 400 to 500 megawatts in new capacity in Luzon and parts of the Visayas,” Coloma said during a press briefing.

Energy Secretary Petilla is proposing that President Benigno S. Aquino III be given emergency powers to address the impending shortage in power supply.

“Ang nililinaw niya (Petilla) ay nagiging proactive lamang siya at ang Department of Energy sa paghahain ng impormasyon na maaaring magkaroon ng shortfall sa summer months na even for a brief period ay hindi ito dapat magdulot ng ligalig sa ating mga mamamayan,” Coloma explained.

Under the existing Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) or Republic Act No. 9136, the private sector has the primary responsibility for providing new generation capacity, and the government may step in only if there is an emergency.

“Hence, he (Petilla) says, there is a need for the government to study at this point whether this course of action is warranted way ahead of the projected time of shortfall,” Coloma said.

The Communications Secretary attributed the impending power shortage to “dynamic” factors, such as an increase in demand for electricity due to economic growth, as well as the “unscheduled breakdowns” of old power plants.

He also noted that the shortfall might be incurred despite the construction of several power plants, which will be operational by the second half of 2015.

Giving the President emergency powers to address the impending power crisis is just one of the options, Coloma said.

“Kaya naman naipanukala niya (Petilla) na ngayon pa lang, habang maaga, pag-aralan na ito para masuri kung ano ang iba’t ibang opsyon,” he added. PND (ag)

Philippine government working hard to repatriate Filipinos from Libya

The Palace said the government is doing everything to help overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) who want to leave Libya because of the worsening security situation there.

"Ginagawa ng Department of Foreign Affairs ang lahat ng makakayanan nito. Nagpadala na o nagtalaga na ng rapid response teams at pinagtutulungan ito ng lahat ng embahada ng Pilipinas sa Gitnang Silangan," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing in MalacaƱang on Tuesday.

Among the major complaints of OFWs in Libya is safety during travel, with many fearing being kidnapped or taken hostage.

Coloma said the government recognizes the concerns of OFWs in Libya, and that is why it is working hard to bring them out of harm’s way.

Due to the grave security situation there, the Department of Foreign Affairs has issued Alert Level No. 4, according to Coloma.

The Palace official said the Philippine government had faced a similar situation before, when it hired a ship to ferry Filipino workers from a conflict area in the Middle East.

Embassy officials face mounting challenges in bringing OFWs from conflict zones because they have to transport them to safe areas by land, he said, noting that arranging for transportation is very difficult in danger zones.

The Philippine government is also working with other governments to evacuate OFWs in Libya, he said.

Coloma said that Philippine embassies normally have 25 to 30 personnel and they could hardly accommodate the repatriation of 13,000 Filipinos in Libya.

"Kaya humihingi po tayo ng tulong sa iba’t ibang mga bansa, katulad ng Indonesia na meron ding mga nationals sa mga lugar na ‘yan, para mabawasan ang panganib sa ating mga mamamayan."

Last week, the United Nations said it was evacuating its remaining staff from Libya because of the deteriorating security situation in the country.

The Libyan government has indicated that it is considering calling for international forces to help re-establish security after deadly clashes closed Tripoli airport. Attacks have severed air links with the outside world.

Liberals and Islamist militias have been fighting for control in Libya since the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. PND (as)

President Aquino to tackle social welfare, peace and security in his State of the Nation Address on Monday

President Benigno S. Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday will focus on what is being done by the government to improve the condition of Filipinos, a Palace official has said.

"Katulad din po ng dati, nais niyang malaman at maunawaan ng mga mamamayan kung ano ang mga ginagawa ng kanilang Pangulo at pamahalaan sa iba’t ibang larangan," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The President's upcoming SONA is in line with the administration's Philippine Development Plan, he said.

He will tackle such issues as livelihood, social welfare and social protection, security and peace and order, good governance and anti-corruption, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation.

President Aquino will particularly focus on climate issues because of the devastation caused by Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, Coloma said.

"Kaya’t iyan ang maaaring maging tema ng nilalaman ng talumpati ng Pangulo na katulad noong mga nakaraang SONA ay naglalayung ipaalam kay Juan dela Cruz ang mga ginagawa ng pamahalaan para sa kanyang kapakanan," he added.

As in the past, the President thinks of the concept of his SONA, does the outline of his speech, and lists the points he wants to convey to the people, Coloma said. PND (as)

Government might consider proposal for Bataan Nuclear Power Plant conversion, Palace says

The government will look into proposals to convert the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) into a natural gas-powered facility to ease the country's growing demand for energy, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said Tuesday.

"Mainam na pag-aralan ang panukalang iyan, kung ito ay posible at kapaki-pakinabang," Coloma said when asked if the government is willing to consider a proposal in Congress to convert the mothballed nuclear plant into a gas-fired plant.

The suggestion to convert the BNPP has been raised before, he said, adding that there is a need to reassess a previous study to know if the proposal is viable for the government and interested investors.

Proponents of the conversion of the BNPP have said that operating the plant would be easy because the country has natural gas in Palawan.

Instead of spending P26 million annually on the plant’s maintenance, the government could convert it to produce 1,800 megawatts of power, they said.

“Ito ay naimungkahi ng ibang mga private investors, at dahil sa mga kadahilanang ito ay napapanahon na bigyan ito muli ng masusing pag-aaral,” Coloma said.

A South Korean firm has also reportedly shown interest in converting the BNPP into a coal-powered plant. PND (as)