Saturday, August 30, 2014

Legarda: Deadline Extended for Submission of Curatorial Proposals for Philippine Pavilion in Venice Biennale 2015

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call to Filipino curators and artists to submit their curatorial proposals for the Philippines’ national pavilion in the 56thInternational Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2015 as the deadline for submission has been extended until September 3, 2014.

The deadline for submission of curatorial proposals has been extended so that more curators and artists can participate.

“We encourage our Filipino curators and artists to take part in this project by submitting their proposals. This is our comeback pavilion after 50 years of absence in this prestigious art event in Venice, Italy and we want to showcase our citizens’ talent and our nation’s rich cultural heritage through this event,” she said.

The Coordinating Committee, composed of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in partnership with the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, is accepting curatorial proposals from Filipino curators and artists residing in the Philippines and abroad.

The curator must be a Filipino citizen, has curated international contemporary art exhibitions and has sufficient grasp of contemporary art discourse and practice; while the artists must be Filipino citizens and must have participated in one major national exhibition.

The open call proposal form is available at the NCCA website The proposal form should be submitted with the curatorial proposal, which includes title of the exhibition, curatorial concept (800 -1,000 words only), proposed exhibition lay-out, curriculum vitae of the curator and participating artists, budget (production of the works only, production timeline, and contact information.

For more information, curators and artists may contact the Coordinating Committee through 527-2206 or

Friday, August 29, 2014

Drilon: Senate seen to strongly support anti-dynasty bill

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today expressed confidence that the proposed anti-dynasty bill stands a good chance in Congress, especially with the backing of President Aquino who recently threw his support for the bill's passage.

“Sa Senado po, amin pong maipapasa ang anti-dynasty bill. Sa aking tingin, susuportahan naman ito ng aking mga kasama sa Senado dahil makakabuti ito sa estado ng ating pulitika,” Drilon said during a radio interview.

(“We could pass the anti-dynasty bill in the Senate. In my view, my colleagues in the Senate would support its passage, since it will improve the state of our country’s politics.”)

Drilon said he expects his fellow senators “to give the bill a fighting chance, and that they will uphold the democratic interests of our people foremost once we commence debating and crafting the anti- political dynasty bill.”

Earlier, the Senate leader urged his colleagues to allow a constructive debate over the proposed measure.

“I would like to believe that my colleagues in the Senate understand how important the end of political dynasties would be to the progress of Philippine governance. Support for the measure among senators would not be hard to achieve,” he said.

The Senate chief added that “as lawmakers of the land, it is our duty to ensure that provisions under the Constitution – which include the prohibition of political dynasties – are made into active and fully working laws.”

Drilon stressed that the country has waited long enough to pass the enabling law that will completely ban political dynasties from Philippine governance, as stated under the 1987 Constitution.

“It has been past three decades already, and given the administration's reformist stance, we enjoy a supportive political climate, so every opportunity that has been unavailable in previous years is now with us lawmakers to act on," said Drilon.

Drilon noted that the House version of the anti-political dynasty bill, HB 3587, has been already sponsored before the plenary last May, and is steadily gaining support among congressmen, capped off by House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s expression of support towards the initiative.

“Once the House of Representatives finish and pass their version of the anti- political dynasty bill, we in the Senate will immediately pick up and start our discussions towards the passage of the version in the upper chamber,” he explained.

“We need to listen to the demands of the people. We have already done it with the end of the pork barrel. The Senate heard and acted on the people's clamor to abolish the pork barrel and we shall do it again," he said.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


MANILA-Aside from taking on the ice bucket challenge on Thursday and donating to a local rare diseases support group, Senator Sonny Angara has filed Rare Diseases Bill which aims to provide patients with rare diseases and their families better access to adequate medical care, health information, and healthcare products needed to treat their condition.

A rare disease, also known as orphan disorder, is any health condition resulting from genetic defects that rarely affect the general population. Rare diseases are often chronic, progressive, degenerative, and life-threatening.

The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) became one of the most popular rare diseases worldwide today, thanks to the ice bucket challenge that aims to raise awareness and funds to help strike out ALS.

World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that there are 7,000 known rare diseases. 50 to 70 percent of which affect children while 30 percent of patients die before they reach the age of five.

According to the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders (PSOD), the prevalence of rare diseases in the country is 1:20,000, with 227 patient families in the PSOD registry representing 48 rare disorders as of 2014.

Among the most common rare diseases in the Philippines are the maple syrup urine disease with 126 patients listed in PSOD, and the mucopolysaccharidoses II with 49 patients.

Since these diseases afflict only a small number of people, there is a lack of health practitioners who are experts in the field, and only a handful of companies manufacture medicines for rare diseases in the country.

There is also little government support for patients and research centers for orphan drug development in the Philippines.

"Such a situation makes treatment, often life-long, costly and far beyond the reach of most Filipino patients," Angara said.

"It should be national policy that the state endeavors toward universal healthcare, even for rare diseases," stressed the lawmaker, who is one of the authors of the Universal Healthcare Act of 2013.

Angara's Senate Bill No. 2383 aims to ensure that every patient diagnosed to have a rare disease has access to comprehensive medical care, including drugs and healthcare products, as well as timely health information to help them cope with their condition.

It also seeks to create and maintain a Rare Disease Registry that will contain data on rare diseases in the Philippines, patients afflicted with rare diseases, and orphan drugs and products.

"This data will be utilized in formulating policies, identifying program interventions and designing researches that will eventually address the needs of patients with rare disease," Angara explained.

The proposed measure further seeks to mandate the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to include the cost of treatment of rare diseases in the benefit package, and to direct provisions from the sin taxes collection to cover the cost of care for patients with rare diseases.

Senators Pia Cayetano, who lost her youngest son to complications from a rare congenital disease, and Cynthia Villar have also filed similar bills.

"Definitely, this ice bucket challenge craze would eventually die down. Looking forward, there is a need to integrate public educational and informational campaigns in the current programs of the Health Department to identify persons afflicted with rare disease and help the public understand the special needs of such persons," Angara said.

Aside from accepting the challenge and filing the bill, the senator will also donate US$100 a month for the next year to PSOD.

Angara was earlier nominated by Cebu Rep. Luigi Quisumbing, and in turn, he nominated Sen. Cayetano and Gilas Pilipinas Coach Chot Reyes to do the challenge.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Drilon: Gov’t underspending could undermine Aquino admin economic gains

MANILA-Even as the country continues to register a laudable economic expansion in the second quarter of 2014, a sharp drop in government spending – if not addressed immediately – could pull down overall growth and make the full-year 6.5% to 7% growth unattainable, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today said.

Drilon said that the current data shows clear sign of underspending by the government. The government consumption for the Q2 of 2014 is only P221.73 billion, which registered a zero growth when compared to its level of consumption of P221.68 billion in the same period last year.

"Government consumption" refers to government spending on public projects or programs made through disbursement of funds allocated to agencies. 

“That zero percent growth is a far cry from the 17 percent growth rate we saw between the Q2 2013 and 2012 when DAP was in effect and fast-tracked public expenditures,” he emphasized.

“If the current level of spending continues for the rest of the months, it will affect many aspects of our economy. For one, unemployment would continue to rise if the government does not accelerate spending because government programs, particularly infrastructure projects, pave the way for job creation,” Drilon pointed out.

He added that the slowdown in public spending could undermine the economic gains in the past years of the Aquino administration.

Drilon noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) partly attributed the slower spending to "administrative bottlenecks," which pulled down growth in public construction and other economically-important government programs

Drilon however said that the drag in government spending might be the “chilling effect” of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“The members of the bureaucracy now have apprehension against taking initiatives, because they might face charges stemming from the DAP decision. Whether you like it or not, the SC decision on the DAP had a chilling effect on the government expenditure program," the Senate leader said earlier.

He reiterated that the challenge now for the country’s economic managers is to find ways to ramp up public spending in the remaining months of the year, without resorting to DAP-like mechanism which the Supreme Court ruled out as unconstitutional. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Philippine Congress to hosts Asian Regional Consultative Meeting to Review the Common Principles for Parliamentary Development

MANILA-The Senate of the Philippines and House of Representatives, together with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, are hosting the Asian Regional Consultative Meeting to Review the Common Principles for Parliamentary Development on, August 28, 2014, at the Manila Hotel.

            More than 20 secretaries general of parliaments across the region and officials from parliamentary development institutes and international organizations are participating in the two-day consultative meeting (August 28 and 29, 2014) aimed at improving the quality of parliamentary development support through better cooperation and coordination.

            Senate President Franklin Drilon said that the Philippine Senate’s long history of active collaboration in the work of the IPU and the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments.  “I am again delighted that the Congress of the Philippines is hosting this IPU event which will harness the contribution of Secretaries General of Asian national parliaments, parliamentary officials and parliamentary development organizations to the proposed Common Principles of Parliamentary Development,” said Drilon.

            In November 2013, a drafting group composed of the European Parliament, the French National Assembly, the United Nations Development Programme, the National Democratic Institute, and the IPU began work on the Principles in response to requests from parliamentary development practitioners.  To ensure broad ownership, support and endorsement of the Common Principles, the IPU has invited national parliaments and organizations involved in parliamentary development to contribute to the document.

IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, in a letter to secretaries general of national parliaments from the Asian Region and to officials of organizations that provide parliamentary development support said, “These Principles aim to provide helpful guidelines for suitable and effective parliamentary development assistance by strengthening cooperation, coordination and quality.  They are the fruit of the contributions by national parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and parliamentary development organizations.”

            The two-day Asian Regional Consultative Meeting in Manila is part of the process of broad consultation to invite final input to the draft Common Principles before it is presented for adoption to the IPU’s governing bodies in October 2014.
            The Philippine Congress contingent to the Asian Regional Consultative Meeting to Review the Common Principles for Parliamentary Development will be led by Senate Secretary Yabes and House of Representatives Secretary General Marilyn Barua – Yap.  Joining them are Senate Deputy Secretary for Legislation Edwin Bellen, Senate Deputy Secretary for Administration and Finance Arnel Jose Bañas, House Deputy Secretary General for Operations Artemio Adasa, and House Deputy Secretary General for Committee Affairs Arlene Dada – Arnaldo. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

PHO, PIA hold kapihan on health care in Tarlac

TARLAC CITY-Health care is important.
This was the notable advice of Develyn Florendo of the Provincial Health Office to around 60 residents of Gawad Kalinga (GK) Tibagan in the capital city during the Kapihan ng Mamayan (KNM): Isang Talakayan Para sa mga Tarlakenyo which it co-organized with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
“Proper health care ensures a healthy body, a healthy family, a healthy community, and a healthy nation,” Florendo said.
She encouraged family members to prioritize health and be as nutritious as possible by being an “active participant of one’s health care,”
“Proper health care is everyone’s responsibility. Talk to your doctor about healthy lifestyle tips and avoid engaging in habits or activities that have the potential to damage your body in any way,” the provincial health officer added.
She reminded villagers to regularly visit the health center for a check-up, to exercise healthy lifestyle tips, to take vitamins prescribed by doctors, and to avoid extreme exhaustion and pressure.
Florendo also gave a brief discussion on responsible parenthood, in relation to the recent symbolic awarding of the 100th millionth baby in the province.
“To be a good parent, you need to know how to make your children feel valued and loved, while teaching them the difference between right and wrong,” she said.
Meanwhile, GK Tibagan program director Ruben Puangco expressed gratitude on the first KNM activity held at the community, which strengthened the awareness understanding of parents on health care and parenting.
KNM is a two-hour communications activity of PIA that aims to serve as an avenue for government agencies to converse and gather feedback regarding their latest programs, projects and issuances. (Lorie Gene C. Cruz)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

15 ambulant vendors in Sta. Cruz receive Nego Kart from DOLE

STA. CRUZ, Zambales-15 ambulant vendors in Sta. Cruz town recently benefitted from the P200,000 worth of livelihood assistance given by the Negosyo sa Kariton (Nego Kart) program of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
In a message, DOLE Technical Support and Services Division for Employment and Welfare Chief Nely Punzalan urged the recipients to work hard to make their businesses more profitable and successful.
“As chosen beneficiaries, we are hopeful that you would be able to transform your respective small scale enterprises into formidable and sustainable businesses in the future,” Punzalan stressed.
Aside from the kart, grantees were likewise provided with a startup capital while Mayor Consolacion Marty pledged that the municipal government would give them trainings on enhancing their skills as well as on entrepreneurship and business management. (Marie Joy L. Simpao)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

1,000 Palayan households get P5-M water systems project

PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija–Some 1,000 households in this city now have access to potable water following the launch of a P5-million water systems project in this provincial capital.

          The project involves a pumping station equipped with generator sets and other facilities which was unveiled here last Wednesday in Barangay Singalat, one kilometer away from the city proper.

          Mayor Adrianne Cuevas, who led the launch, said the water systems project is part of city government efforts to lay the infrastructure requirements for the influx of investments in the city.

She said that a “bagsakan” project will soon be launched within this month while a business hub will also launched next month.

          Aside from Cuevas, also gracing the inauguration of the pumping station were Local Waterworks and Utilities Administration (LWUA) chief Andres Ibarra, Palayan City Water District (PCWD) general manager Gerardo Calling and Singalat barangay chairman Fausto Lagisma.

          The project was financed through a P5-million funding from the PCWD.

          Cuevas said that the project poses a big relief to residents in Singalat since access to potable water systems  has always been a perennial problem in the city’s far-flung barangays. She said the acute lack of drinking water could be blamed for the outbreak of diseases in some communities because they only use shallow wells between six to nine meters deep.

          Cuevas said the city government has been exerting efforts to provide water to Palayanos, noting that next year, they will launch a program providing water systems to 50 indigent families per barangay in each of the city’s 19 barangays.

          “Gradually, we will be undertaking water provision projects so that eventually, we can have water for all Palayanos, with the help of LWUA through Administrator Ibarra and Manager Calling,” she said.

Ibarra said the city can avail of national government projects on water systems provision. He said one of these projects is the $60-million loan from the Asian Development Bank which can be used in water expansion in various areas of the country.

Among the areas which can be covered by the loan package are Koronadal, Metro-San Fernando in La Union, 15 water districts (WDs) in Bulacan and an additional 42-45  WDs in various areas of the country.

Ibarra said within the next two years, he expects the water coverage of the city to increase from the present 13 barangays to 16 barangays out of its total of 19 barangays.

Calling said that the PCWD was able to implement P23.7 million worth of water systems projects in the city. Of this, P15 million was used for the expansion of areas and “Lingap sa Mahirap” projects  in barangays Militar, Singalat and Aulo, benefitting 3,600 water concessionaires.

He said that they are eyeing four more pumping stations in Aulo and Singalat while in the next three years, four additional deep wells and lines will be installed in six barangays, including Bagong Buhay, Manggahan and Maligaya.       

Calling said provision of water is one of the priorities of the Cuevas administration which is eyeing to build at least 2,000 housing facilities in coordination with the National Housing Authority (NHA).

It is also preparing for the establishment of the government center, involving the transfer of offices of all government agencies from Cabanatuan City. (Manny Galvez)

Ecija cops nab murdered woman’s ex-lover

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – Police operatives arrested in Angono, Rizal on Friday the former live-in partner of a 21-year-old woman suspected of killing her and dumping her body in an irrigation canal last Sunday.

          Police Superintendent Pedro Soliba, Cabanatuan police chief, identified the suspect as Melvin dela Cruz, 26, of Purok Ilang-ilang, Barangay Mayapyap Sur this city.

          Dela Cruz was arrested at Block 5, Lot 14, Herald Village, Angono by joint operatives of the Cabanatuan police and the Criminal Investigation Detection Team  led by Senior Inspector Ferdinand Mendoza. He did not resist arrest.

          Dela Cruz, a tricycle driver, was tagged for the brutal murder of Gladys Bernardo, 21, of Barangay Caalibangbangan who went missing on August 17. Her body was found floating in an irrigation canal of the National Irrigation Administration in the same barangay last Wednesday.   

          A day after, barangay officials went to the police station accompanying witnesses who executed affidavits and identified Dela Cruz as the one who murdered Bernardo. (Manny Galvez)

Kilo-for-kilo, Phl now Asia`s fastest rice producer

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija - Kilo-for-kilo, Philippine rice is the best in Asia. It is the fastest rice producer in the continent, believe it or not, based on world market data.

          Dr. Eufemio Rasco Jr., PhilRice executive director, citing data from the World Market and Trade of the United States Department of Agriculture said that the Philippines, which posted a 97-percent rice self-sufficiency status last year, registered a 4.04 percent average increase in milled rice production over the four-year period from 2010-2013.

          This after the country produced 10.99 million metric tons of milled rice from 9.77 million metric tons in 2011.  

          With this produce, the Philippines surpassed major rice exporters including  China and India, which showed an improvement of only 1.55 and 3.77 percent, respectively.

          Thailand, a leading rice exporter, only posted a 0.39-percent change difference in milled production.

          Tom Slayton, former editor of The Rice Trader and co-author of an article on how rice price crisis could be prevented from becoming a crisis of hunger, noted that Philippines - considered a key importer in the world rice trade - posted zero imports that was maintained at 1.50 million metric tons during the last two years.

          Bangladesh recorded a 0.25-change difference in imports from 2012 to 2013, while China, although one of the largest rice producers in the world, registered 0.10 difference.

          Relating the world rice production data to regional rice industry integration in Asia, researchers Tin Htut Oo, Tim Maung Shwe, and Larry Wong said the “increasing private sector efforts in integrating increasingly ASEAN-wide modern farming and modern economic activities along agri-food supply chains and international trading networks could and should be harnessed and leveraged to complement and supplement on-going government efforts [towards food security in Asia].” 

          Rasco said the institute and the International Rice Research Institute based in Los Baños, Laguna, recently signed a memorandum of agreement to collaborate on conducting researches and promoting technologies.

          The two rice institutes will also share information on researches conducted in the country, and provide intensive training among collaborators. 

Friday, August 22, 2014


The National Irrigation Administration (NIA), through the Public Affairs and Information Staff (PAIS), offers this clarificatory statement to give light on the issue being circulated in the media about the supposed Php9.9B-fund allocated to NCR for “irrigation projects.”

The Php9,865,878.00 (to be exact) is not meant to fund irrigation projects in Metro Manila for a very obvious reason: there are no irrigation projects or systems in this very urbanized part of the country. The said amount, although it is stated in the DBM document that it is allocated to National Capital Region, is in fact for projects with Project Management Offices based at the NIA Central Office in Quezon City and/or activities undertaken by some sectors at the central office.

These projects/activities include the following:

I.                    Locally-Funded Projects

a.       Feasibility Studies, Detailed Engineering, and Pre-Engineering Activities of various projects. The conduct of Feasibility Studies requires specialists from various disciplines, and such positions are only available at the Central Office. (Php310.000M)
b.      Provision for the Non-Power Component of the San Roque Multipurpose Project, of which Php3.789B is for payment of unbooked obligations.

II.                  Foreign-Assisted Projects*

a.       Participatory Irrigation Development Project-Phase I (PIDP), nationwide (Php152.410M)
b.      National Irrigation Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (NISRIP), nationwide (Php927.070M)
c.       Jalaur River Multipurpose Irrigation Project Stage II (Php1.190B)
d.      Adopting to Climate Change Impact Through the Construction of Water Impounding Facilities in the Philippines (Pasa SRIP in Isabela) (Php9.215M)

*These projects have Project Management Offices at the NIA Central Office in Quezon City.

III.                Programs

a.       General Administration and Support (General Management and Supervision) (Php1,642,973.00)
b.      Support to Operations (Irrigation Support Services [Php72.265M); Monitoring and Evaluation Activities for Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Project [Php5.361M]; and Quick Response Fund [Php500.000M])
c.       Operations (Construction of Irrigation Projects and Repairs of Irrigation System – Payment of Right of Way [Php939.002M]; Completion works and Unpaid claims and damages of completed projects [Php63.285M]; Irrigation Management Transfer Support Services [Php12.000M]; and Climate Change Adaptation Works [Php16.500M])
d.      CARP-IC (for the requirement of the Program Beneficiaries Development Component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) (Php236.793M)

The amounts stated herein are either released or held at the Central Office to support the various activities included in each of the project/program and not intended for the actual construction and rehabilitation of irrigation projects/systems and other irrigation-related activities in NCR/Metro Manila.

It is hoped that we have provided you sufficient information regarding the issue at hand.  Should you have any other questions on the matter or other concerns regarding our agency, our office is more than willing to provide you with the most  objective and credible information that will better inform the public about NIA’s existence and efforts in agricultural productivity and nation-building.

Thank you.

Department Manager A
Public Affairs and Information Staff, NIA

Palayan wages war vs wastes, crafts 10-year waste management plan

PALAYAN CITY – This city – Nueva Ecija’s capital – has waged a protracted war against wastes by formulating a 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) intended to mitigate the impact of a worsening garbage disposal problem whose projected volume of 13.2 tons of waste per day could double over the  same period.

          Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas said the city government’s SWMP is in consonance with the provisions of Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which mandates local government units (LGUs) to prepare their respective SWMPs for the re-use, recycling and composting of generated waste and its efficient management and disposal.

          “This 10-year plan contains all the components provided in RA 9003 and a timetable for implementation in accordance with the national framework plan. It contains the direction, scope and the process by which the plan was developed,” she said, adding its main features are to provide a doable ecological solid waste management program, creating the necessary institutional mechanism and incentives, declaring certain acts prohibited, providing penalties among others.

          “It conforms to the city government’s vision of turning Palayan into a vibrant capital of Nueva Ecija with a well-managed environment, effective and efficient waste management system that addresses the waste problems not only through reduction and recycling but also through organic fertilizer production, establishment of material recovery facilities (MRFs) in the barangays and pocket green parks around the city,” she added.

          Anelyn Bongcawil, city environment and natural resources officer, noted that as early as 2010, the preparation of the city’s SWMP was already started and submitted to the National Solid Waste Management Council (NSWMC) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

          However, its approval was held in abeyance by these agencies due to inaccurate data and for failing to conform with the provincial and regional SWMPs.

          The Cuevas administration has since instituted various programs and measures such as the closure of controlled and open dumpsites in Barangay Atate, the adoption of clean and green programs and construction of a model MRF awarded by the NSWMC.

          At present, the city government has established barangay MRFs in six of its 19 barangays. These are located in barangays Aulo, Bagong Buhay, Caballero, Mapaet (formerly Manggahan), Militar and Santolan.

          Helen Grace Antonio, a consultant from the mayor’s office, said that based on their projection, the volume of the city’s waste could balloon from 13.2 tons per day (tpd) at the end of 2014 to 23 tpd by 2023.

          By 2015, this could go up to 14.2 tons per day, to 15.6 tpd by 2016, to 16.8 tpd by 2017, to 17 tpd by 2018, to 18.2 tpd by 2019, to 19.4 tpd by 2020, to 20.6 tpd by 2021, to 21.8 tpd by 2022 and finally to 23 tpd by 2023.

          Based on a report, biodegradable wastes form the bulk of collected wastes at 4,273.2 kilograms per day (kpd) followed by recyclables at 2,353.2 kpd, residual wastes with 5,086.8 kpd and special wastes at 288 kpd.

          Antonio said that the major sources of residual wastes are six urban barangays of the city (38.11%), the 13 rural barangays (36.48%) and non-households (14.74%).

          The most common residual wastes include diapers, sando bags, thin films, metallic, metallic foil and sachet, tarpaulin and broken ceramics.                

          The garbage problem has become a major issue during last year’s elections when Cuevas was accused by her political rival of reportedly supporting the establishment of a sanitary landfill in a 20-hectare site in Barangay Imelda Valley.

          The proposed sanitary landfill was contained in a 25-year lease agreement entered into in June 2012 by Cuevas’ predecessor, former mayor Romeo Capinpin with a waste-to-energy corporation.

          Cuevas denied she is supporting the landfill project, saying she was in fact instrumental in having the contract between the Capinpin administration and the firm Ecosci Corporation rescinded by the Sangguniang Panlunsod.

          Cuevas said it has consistently been her position to oppose the proposed sanitary landfill together with Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali not only because of the health hazards but also because of the stiff opposition by civic leaders and local residents.

          She said the city government is bent on pursuing the setting up of an economic zone in the city, a vision which it shares with the provincial government. – Manny Galvez

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Energy, water bill of gov’t offices to rise to P13 B Recto files “Green Energy Government Offices Act”

MANILA-With the national government coughing up more than a billion pesos a month for electricity and water in its offices, calls for conserving utility use in the bureaucracy have been aired anew in the Senate.  

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said one way of cutting the annual P12.9 billion power and water bill of the national government is for public buildings to be installed with solar panels.

“When it comes to use of renewable energy, government must practice what it preaches,” Recto said. The Senate President Pro Tempore last week filed the proposed “Green Energy Government Offices Act” which prescribes measures to reduce carbon footprint of government buildings.

Recto’s bill requires two agencies - the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Energy (DOE) - to spearhead the installation of not only green energy systems in public buildings but also the popularization of practical energy conservation guides.

“Conservation is always a mix of the high-tech and the common sense,” he said.

Recto made the proposal after noting that utility expenses of the government have been on a steady rise, from P8.4 billion in 2011 to the projected P12.9 for 2015, which is the amount proposed in the P2.6 trillion draft national budget.

“If your utilities bill will go up by P4.5 billion in just four years, then you have to plan some cost-cutting,” he said.

This year, the allocated amount for utilities is P12.2 billion, but Recto said that going by the historical record, the amount set aside is always breached.

“In 2012, for example, while national budget documents reported an expenditure of P9.2 billion for utilities, actual amount spent according to the Commission on Audit was P11.1 billion,” Recto said.

Of this amount, P8.8 billion was for electricity, P2.2 billion was for water, and about P67 million was for cooking gas, the latter mostly by hospitals and camps of the uniformed services.

“The ratio is that for every 1 peso national government allocates for utilities, 80 centavos goes to power, and the rest mostly to water,” Recto said.

Explaining that P12.9 billion proposed for utilities covers national government offices only, Recto said the actual bill is way higher if utility expenses of local governments and government corporation are included.

While Recto called for a reduction of the energy use in public offices, he, however, called for “higher electricity consumption in one particular area  – on the streets where the installation of more street lights to deter crimes and prevent traffic accidents is clearly justified.”

In batting for solar energy use in his bill, Recto cited the DOE’s renewable energy assessment where it estimated solar’s annual potential average at 5.1 kilowatt-hour (kWh)/m2/day.

“Solar energy represents fuel input that is free-of-charge and will not affect our foreign currency reserves as imported petroleum and other fossil fuels do,” Recto stressed in his bill. 

The senator said placing more government buildings under solar power would create job opportunities.

He said “the current $800 million in direct investments in renewable energy in the country is expected to create 3,500 new jobs.” 


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