Saturday, May 3, 2014

Legarda: No Time, Water To Waste as PHL Expects El Niño

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that there is no time to waste in getting ready for the El Niño phenomenon that is expected to hit the country in June, adding that this means Filipinos should start conserving water.

According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the El Niño may trigger drought and stronger storms.

“As the DOST has warned of an impending El Niño, we expect that government agencies have already set out programs to address the effects of this phenomenon. Foremost of our concerns is food security because prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugar cane, vegetables and other agricultural products. It can also cause a decrease in fisheries yield,” said Legarda.

“Meanwhile, communities should also start water conservation programs. Households should avoid excessive water use and practice reusing water,” she added.

The Senator also urged local government units (LGUs) to put up rainwater harvesting facilities in all barangays as part of water conservation program. Such system would help address the country’s water shortage problem, particularly during the dry season, while making use of the excess water from rainfall.

“We are already experiencing hot temperatures, but rain showers occur every now and then. Manila was flooded yesterday due to heavy rain. A rainwater catchment system could have avoided or decreased the volume of flood,” she explained.

Legarda said that the creation of rainwater catchment basins is mandated by Republic Act 6716, a law enacted in 1989 that requires the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the country.

“These catchment systems can be built using low-cost local materials. But while the system is not yet in place, the people can use drums to store rainwater especially in areas being frequented by rains. We just have to make sure that water is stored properly so it would not become a breeding place for mosquitoes,” she said.

Legarda also cited the proposal of environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. to create rainwater catchment ponds. Vacant land in low-lying areas can be excavated and turned into a pond or lake so that excess water from heavy rains or storms have a place to go. The proposal also includes growing fish to prevent the pond from becoming a breeding ground of mosquitoes and planting vegetables like kangkong and fruit-bearing trees like banana in the area surrounding the pond.

“We have to implement programs such as these water catchment basins that bring multiple benefits of water conservation, flood prevention and food production. Moreover, as we expect stronger storms due to El Niño, we have to strengthen disaster prevention programs and ensure that our early warning systems are in place and effective,” Legarda concluded.


MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada urged the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon) to begin the inquiry on the alleged misuse of the Malampaya Fund.
Jinggoy, a member of the committee, said that the body might also be interested in uncovering the truth behind what is described as “worse than the fertilizer scam” which involves “amounts bigger than the pork barrel.”
Sen. Estrada cited that the committee already released last April 1 its report following the nine hearings on the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. Committee Chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III also earlier pronounced that it is ready to shift focus to the investigation of the Malampaya Fund scam as “all of its goals were already achieved.”
The lawmaker further noted the problematic state of our energy sector from persistent power supply deficit and rotating brownouts to high costs of electricity as possibly the strongest evidence in the misuse of Malampaya funds which is used for the financing of energy-related programs.
Sen. Estrada questioned why up to now the Blue Ribbon has not started its investigation on the so-called Malampaya scam. "Sen. Guingona has repeatedly said that he was about to start investigating the Malampaya scam but has not done so yet,” Jinggoy said.
In a television interview yesterday after the press conference of the Office of the Ombudsman announcing the grant of immunity to Mrs. Ruby Tuason, Sen. Estrada questioned how the authorities computed the amount of 40 million pesos which was turned over by Tuason in favor of the government.
Tuason is believed to have played a major role in the Malampaya scam. In his privilege speech last March, Sen. Estrada disclosed that Tuason owns a property called “Malampaya Mansion,” referring to a posh house and lot located in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City.
“Tinawag po itong ‘Malampaya mansion’ ng mga malalapit kay Mrs. Tuason sapagkat ito ay isa sa mga katas diumano ng kanyang Malampaya kickbacks na sinasabing umabot sa halagang 242 million pesos,” Jinggoy said then in his speech.
Apart from this, Jinggoy revealed that Mrs. Tuason also set up Rubysons Corp., an eighty-million peso capitalized corporation which is supposed to be engaged in micro-business activities, and put up a high-end jewelry store in a plush hotel. In the same speech, Estrada also exposed Tuason’s other real estate properties – one at Las Vegas Country Club (worth 6.3 million pesos), one in Oakland, California (worth 150,000 dollars), one in Henderson, Nevada, another in Kawayan Cove in Cavite, townhouses in Alabang and Valle Verde.
Tuason was charged along with 21 others with plunder by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the Malampaya fund scam.


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