Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Angara calls for more secured airport and bus terminals’ security nationwide

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 14, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology yesterday called for more secured security measures in airports and bus terminals nationwide as many Filipinos gear up for travel next week where a huge volume of tourists are expected to come this holy week.

Angara said that there is a need to double our effort to protect the safety of all these travelers whether foreign and local, saying that the holy week typically brings in a huge volume of tourists throughout the country; thus, a more comprehensive security measures in the country’s transport system are needed.

“Our airports are lagging behind our ASEAN neighbors in terms of facilities and security equipment. These issues must be addressed to cope with the increasing interest in travelling to and around the Philippines,” Angara said.

The Senator authored Senate Bill No. 2026 otherwise known as “An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Transportation Security Program, Creating for the Purpose the Philippine Transportation Security Administration (PTSA), Defining its Powers and Functions, and Appropriating Funds Therefore”, adding that the bill is also known as the Philippine Transportation Security Act of 2010 that seeks to beef up the safety and security of both employees and passengers in the different forms of transport.

He said that it would establish the PTSA under the Department of Transportation and Communications, a new law enforcement agency tasked to safeguard and protect all the modes of transportation in the Philippines.

To prevent security threats to human lives and property, a National Transportation Security Committee would also be created to liaise between the government and private transport providers.

“We must bolster safety and security in all means and modes of public transportation for the sake of the citizenry and tourists. I called for coordination and cooperation of the transport sector and law enforcement, public security and safety agencies and our countrymen,” Angara ended. (Jason de Asis)

DENR dares NIA to prove no coliform pollution in Pantabangan Dam

CABANATUAN CITY, April 13, 2011-A top official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday dared the National Irrigation Administration (NIA)  executive to prove his claim that there was no coliform pollution in the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS) which supplies irrigation water to the Pantabangan Dam.

DENR regional technical director for forestry Sofio Quintana said that it’s up to Engineer Reynaldo Puno, UPRIIS operations manager, to disprove an earlier DENR findings of the presence of coliform at the Pantabangan Dam and its tributaries.

“If there is no coliform content then prove it. The burden of proof is with him,” he said in an interview.  

Earlier, Puno disputed the presence of the coliform bacteria in the UPRIIS area as claimed by Quintana, saying water at the dam is proven to be of good quality and is even used as potable water by local residents.

Quintana said that the bacteria, which are hazardous to people are found midstream and downstream of rivers from the watersheds of the UPRIIS, Dingalan in Aurora, Angat-Maasim and Angat-Ipo in Bulacan; Porac-Gumain in Pampanga; Pinulot in Bataan; Bulsa Moriones, Camiling and O’Donnel in Tarlac and Bucao, Cabaluan, Caulaman, Nayom and Sto. Tomas in Zambales. 

These river systems provide irrigation to thousands of hectares of farmlands in the region, led by Pantabangan Dam which – as the country’s biggest dam – irrigates 102,000 hectares in the region.

Quintana said local government officials should build community toilets and strengthen the enforcement of solid waste management laws.

Quintana, in a recent water conservation forum, said a test conducted last year on water quality of 15 rivers in Central Luzon showed various stages of fecal coliform contamination from human and animal wastes.

Puno said the reported presence of coliform at the system is far from accurate, saying they have quarterly samples of the water quality  of the Upper Pampanga in the towns of Pantabangan and even in Rizal to disprove it.

He said the report on coliform contamination cited by Quintana is  unfounded insofar as the UPRIIS is concerned. “Hindi totoo ‘yon (It’s not true). In fact, water quality at the UPRIIS is so good it is even used by residents in Pantabangan where the dam is located as potable water source,” he said.

But Puno said several water quality tests conducted by First Gen. Corp., the power generation arm of the Lopez group, at the Aya reservoir in Pantabangan showed zero contents of fecal coliform. He showed a copy of the report which states that generally, water quality is good enough and only need some treatment processes such as chlorination and sedimentation for potable water supply.

“So if the water is not safe as Quintana claims, local residents would have gone sick and farm animals would have perished because they drink water from the river. And even fish species would have died and there would have been a massive fish kill. But none of these exist,” he said, as he belied Quintana’s report.

But Quintana said the possibility of the presence of coliform cannot be discounted particularly when there are people inhabiting river banks and areas near river systems. “For as long as man inhabits river banks, then it’s highly possible that fecal coliform is present. I am not saying the contamination is severe or significant but the bacteria is there,” he said. 

In a related development, Manuel Collado, NIA regional irrigation manager for Central Luzon, said that so far, none of the farmers and irrigators’ associations have filed a complaint regarding the coliform pollution reportedly affecting the Angat-Maasim and Angat-Ipo rivers in the region. (Jason de Asis) 


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