Thursday, 30 October 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

President Aquino encourages investments in renewable energy

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday encouraged the energy sector to continue exploring and investing in renewable energy to sustain the growing demand for energy, which is needed to spur economic growth.

“It is of absolute importance that we continue exploring and investing in clean and renewable energy sources,” the President said in his speech at the Energy Smart Philippines 2014 conference and exhibition held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. The conference carried the theme, “Clean Energy Solutions for a Sustainable and Competitive Philippines”.

The President noted that the government is fully aware of its obligations to future generations of Filipinos.

“This is why, despite our status as a developing country; despite the need to industrialize further; and despite our historically low carbon emissions, we are still doing everything in our power to maintain and improve our low-emission development strategy,” he said.

The government is committed and is doing its part to ensure that the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), which aims to add 9,931 megawatts of renewable energy-based capacity by 2030, is on track, he said, adding that the program is already “making early strides.”

He said that Phase 1 of the San Carlos Solar Energy Facility, once completed, will produce 22 megawatts of solar power.

In addition, the government is looking to incentivize the entry of 450 megawatts of solar power, with the Department of Energy (DOE) endorsing to the Energy Regulatory Commission the expansion of the installation target for solar power under the Feed-in-Tariff System, he said.

The President further said that apart from diversifying the country’s sources of energy, the government is also reducing the amount of energy being consumed.

He said that under the Philippine Energy Efficiency Program (PEEP), the DOE distributed 8.6 million compact fluorescent lamps to the public, resulting in reduced power demand by as much as 240 megawatts in the evenings, and annual consumption by 306 gigawatt hours.

Through the PEEP, he said, the DOE also replaced the lighting systems of national and local government offices, and retrofitted a number of public lighting systems, reducing annual power consumption by 11.05 gigawatt hours and 4.42 gigawatt hours, respectively.

The Chief Executive also said that the government is looking forward to the first delivery of e-Tricycles for its e-vehicles project.

“Right now, the DOE is in the process of procuring 3,000 e-Tricycles, which we expect to be completed by next year. This will be the first step towards our goal of replacing 100,000 gas-fueled tricycles with electric ones, which will reduce our carbon footprint further, as well as our dependence on oil,” he said.

He called on the participants of the conference to seek partnerships and synergies that are still untapped.

“(This is) so that we can move as fast as possible into a future that is more prosperous, safer, and cleaner, not just for our country, but for all of humanity,” the President said. PND (ag)

Foreign Affairs Secretary briefed U.S. officials on Philippines' response to Islamic State threat, Palace says

The Philippines has informed American authorities of its efforts to respond to the threat posed by the Islamic State, as the United States and its allies fight the terror group, a Palace official said Tuesday.

In a media interview in the US last week, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario would meet officials of the US State Department to discuss possible Philippine assistance to the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"Ang batid ko lamang diyan ay ang pagkatapos ng pagpupulong ng Pangulo sa iba’t ibang mga grupo sa Estados Unidos, nag-stay on si Secretary Albert del Rosario dahil nga sa pakikipagpulong niya sa mga opisyal ng State Department," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

"At sa pagpupulong na ito ay nagbigay lang naman siya ng impormasyon tungkol sa mga nakalap na ng ating military and intelligence community at kung paano tayo rumeresponde doon sa banta o ‘yung sa ligalig na nililikha ng ISIS."

Coloma was one of the officials who accompanied the President in the latter’s official visits to Europe and the US.

It was recently reported that jihadists from Mindanao have left for Iraq and Syria to join the ISIS, raising concerns that they might return to the Philippines with knowledge and training to fight the government.

The US and its allies in the Middle East have intensified air strikes in different locations in Iraq and Syria targeting ISIS strongholds. PND (as)

Malacañang says significant achievements have been made to ease port decongestion

The Palace said on Tuesday that the task force created to decongest the Port of Manila has made significant accomplishments, as there is already an equal volume of cargo arriving and exiting the port.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said he has received reports indicating major developments in the removal of overstaying cargoes at the Port of Manila.

“Ang pinakahuling ulat na natunghayan natin ay halos equal na ‘yung volume, kung ano ang naipasok ay nailalabas na within a given period," he said.

"So this is an indication na napahusay na ‘yung cargo flow na papasok at palabas mula sa Port of Manila at nagbunga na ang mga iba’t ibang measures to decongest," he added.

Secretary Coloma further said that the inter-agency committee tasked to handle the issue is scheduled to meet on Tuesday afternoon. The committee is headed by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

He noted that the President regularly receives updates on the developments at the port.

The government has been carrying out initiatives to decongest the port as the holiday season approaches.

It said overstaying cargoes have to be moved out of the port or they will be transferred to Subic, where a special storage fee will be imposed on importers. PND (as)

Malacañang advises Filipinos in Hong Kong to refrain from joining protest

Malacañang on Tuesday advised Filipinos in Hong Kong to refrain from joining the ongoing civil disobedience protest spearheaded by college students there.

“Pinagpapayuhan po ang ating mga mamamayan na kung maaaring umiwas sila sa paglahok sa mga aksyon na ‘yan, at mag-focus na lang sa kanilang gawain sa Hong Kong,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during a press briefing at the Palace.

He assured the public that the government is monitoring the protest.

“Tinututukan po ang sitwasyon na ‘yan ng ating Consulate General sa Hong Kong,” he said.

Hong Kong activists on Sunday launched a mass civil disobedience rally in its major arterial road to demand electoral reforms from Beijing.

Anti-riot police have tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas but the rally has continued, with tens of thousands of protesters vowing not to end street blockades until Beijing grants their demand. PND (ag)

Palace backs bill on SIM card registration

The Palace said on Tuesday it supports the bill on the registration of prepaid SIM cards.

“According to NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) Commissioner (Gamaliel) Cordova, it is preferable that a law be passed requiring SIM card registration. The Executive branch has manifested its support to proposed bills that are now being discussed in Congress,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

There have been calls to require the registration of prepaid SIM cards to preempt and combat criminality.

Authorities have cited the bombing incident in Cagayan de Oro in 2013, wherein perpetrators built an improvised bomb out of mortar shell and used a cellphone with a prepaid SIM card as trigger. Eight were killed and 40 others were injured in the incident.

There is an existing NTC directive that requires the registration of prepaid SIM cards but this was challenged by telecommunications companies.

The Supreme Court has favored the telecommunications companies and has issued a temporary restraining order against the directive. PND (ag)

President Aquino reassures investors that joint resolution is only to address power shortage

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday reassured stakeholders of the energy sector that the government move to ask Congress for a joint resolution, authorizing it to contract additional generating capacity, will not disrupt the energy market.

“I am aware that investors in the energy sector are worried about these measures distorting the market, but let me assure you: government intervention is meant only to address the shortage,” President Aquino said in his speech at the Energy Smart Philippines 2014 conference and exhibition held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

“The sole goal of this initiative is to make sure our economy does not lose its momentum in the event of an energy shortage,” he said, acknowledging that the country is facing a possible shortage of 300 megawatts during summer next year.

“Such a situation necessitates steps to ensure energy supply if a shortfall does arise, which is why we have asked Congress,” he said.

The President has invoked Section 71 of the Energy Power Industry (EPIRA) Reform Act of 2001 or Republic Act 9136, which states that “upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve”.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla meanwhile said “many options” are available besides asking Congress to authorize the government to contract additional generating capacity.

These options include industry players’ use of large stand-by generators during the peak hours of the day under the Interruptible Load Program; making energy savings mandatory in work and in homes; and setting air conditioning units at 25 degrees Celcius.

“These are just some suggestions that we’ll give to lawmakers,” said Petilla. PND (ag)