Hedcor to build 2 hydro power plants in Bukidnon

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 23 April) – Local officials in the municipality of Impasug-ong in Bukidnon province and representatives of Hedcor, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AboitizPower Corporation, have signed on Monday a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to build two run-of-river hydroelectric power plants.

A press statement from AboitizPower said among the signatories to the MOA were Impasug-ong Mayor Mario Okinlay; Ricardo Anlicao, chairman of Barangay Guihean in Impasug-ong; and Boy Jabonillo, Hedcor’s vice president for business development.

The MOA signing, AboitizPower said, signals the start of a more detailed feasibility study for the project.

Okinlay was quoted as saying that the hydroelectric plants, set to be constructed in nearby Manolo Fortich town, would help ease the Mindanao power crisis.

Hedcor intends to build two cascading hydro plants that will use water from the Amusig, Guihean, and Tanaon rivers. One of the rivers reportedly pass through Impasug-ong.

Okinlay, during the signing, urged his constituents to support the project so they could help get rid of the brownouts.

Bukidnon province is experiencing daily load curtailment.

AboitizPower said the Manolo Fortich Hydro-1 will have a capacity of 35.2 MW and the Manolo Fortich Hydro-2 will generate 16.4 MW or a total capacity of 51.6 MW. Both plants, according to the project brief, can produce at least 300 million kWh annually.

Jabonillo, during the MOA signing, ensured local officials of Impasug-ong town that his company, aside from bringing power to the community, would continue to help residents through “sustainable social development programs.”

Hedcor claims to be the country’s leading run-of-river hydro plant developer in the Philippines.

In Mindanao, Hedcor manages and operates hydropower plants with a generating capacity of 47 MW. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)

Thai-backed palm oil mill to rise in NorthCot

CARMEN, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 24 April) – Carmen Mayor Rogelio Taliño led groundbreaking rites here Monday for the construction of a $10-million Thai-backed palm oil crushing mill.

The mayor said the year-long construction of the mill that will serve planters in North Cotabato and neighboring provinces will start this month.

The Univanich Carmen Palm Oil Corporation (UCPOC) behind the milling plant is backed by the Univanich Palm Oil Public Company of Thailand.

Univanich-Thailand chairman Apirag Vanich, together with his wife Charntip Vanich, graced the occasion.

Established in 1969, Univanich pioneered the planting of oil palm in Thailand. It operates a palm oil exporting facility at the port of Laemphong in Krabi province.

Univanich also operates Thailand’s first laboratory for oil palm tissue culture that produces high yielding clones in support to its breeding program.

“This is a dream-come true project of my father,” said North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, the mayor’s daughter.

She encouraged farmers to plant oil palm to augment their income.

The governor claimed that the recent entry of new investments in the province is proof to the stable political, economic and socio-cultural conditions in the area.

Univanich said the facility will have a crushing capacity of 30 tons of fresh fruit bunches per hour. The company said it will purchase oil palm fresh fruits from local farmers and will produce crude palm oil for sale both in the local and export markets.

The company expects that the milling facility will contribute significantly to the economic prosperity and stability of small farmers in different communities in the province and will cater employment to residents. (MindaNews)

Alert raised in S. Kudarat town after discovery of bombs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 April) – Police authorities have raised the alert level in the municipality of President Quirino in Sultan Kudarat province following the recovery late on Monday of four improvised bombs in the town’s outskirts.

View Pres.Quirino, Sultan Kudarat in a larger map

Senior Supt. Rex dela Rosa, Sultan Kudarat police director, said Wednesday they found the explosives buried in an open field at an upland portion of Barangay Katico, which is about eight kilometers away from the town proper of President Quirino.

He said the bombs were fashioned from four 60mm mortar cartridges and were similar in makeup to the explosives that they either recovered or had exploded in the previous months in several parts of the province.

“(But) these were all defective and will not explode,” the police official said.

Dela Rosa said the recovery of the explosives came after concerned residents of Barangay Katico reported to the President Quirino police station the suspicious movements on Monday of an unidentified person at a portion of their village.

He said a team from the town’s police station that responded to the area initially found freshly-covered shallow diggings in two sites.

The diggings yielded four sets of explosives that were each made up of a 60mm mortar cartridge and several other components, he said.

Dela Rosa said a team from the provincial police’s explosives and ordnance disposal or EOD unit secured the explosives for proper evaluation and disposal.

The official said they are still investigating the possible motive, target and the owner or source of the recovered explosives.

“We’re looking at all possible angles right now. But the overall makeup and component of the bombs point to the same group that was behind the previous attacks in some parts of the province,” he said.

Dela Rosa was referring to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), which was tagged by authorities as behind the string of bomb attacks last year in Tacurong City and in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat.

The BIFM, which is based in Maguindanao province, was founded by former Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Ameril Umbra Kato after bolting from the rebel group in 2010.

“It could be intended to scare off the farmers there since it’s harvest time already or to preempt possible operations of military forces in the area,” he said.

Dela Rosa initially brushed off the possibility that the recovered bombs could be linked to the ongoing local campaigning for the upcoming May 13 midterm national and local elections.

Authorities have placed the town under close watch due to the possible escalation of violent incidents in the run-up to the polls.

Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr., Region 12 police director, earlier said the security situation in President Quirino town has remained volatile due to the continuing threats on the life of reelectionist Mayor Emilio Salamanca.

Salamanca, who is running under the United Nationalist Alliance, figured in two daring attacks at his residence in Tacurong City in November and December last year that authorities believed were linked to his reelection bid.

The incumbent mayor is being challenged by Liberal Party (LP) bet Azel Mangudadatu, who lost in their first faceoff in the 2010 elections.

Azel is the wife of outgoing mayor and now LP vice mayoral candidate Freddie Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town in Maguindanao. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)


DAVAO CITY (23 April) – The Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election. The MOU was signed at a hotel in the city in the presence of the government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF peace panel chief Mohagher Iqbal and members of the International Monitoring Team.

Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo, chair of the government’s CCCH, said the MOU is a positive measure in support of the previous agreements signed by the negotiating panels.

“This is also very important because as we have observed there are other stakeholders that are not part of the parties. The government and MILF showed another milestone to extend protection to the entities especially to the Board of Election Inspectors,” Sedillo added.

For his counterpart, Said Shiek, Al Haj, pointed out: “Clearly, this is not an election-related function but an undertaking for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the GPH-MILF ceasefire accord.”

Shiek added that both panels signed substantial agreements and it is a sacred duty to safeguard and transform these into a credible political solution.

This is the third time that both parties signed the same guidelines to help ensure peaceful elections. The first was in 2007 and then in 2008.

“This cooperation shows heightening collaboration between GPH and MILF in various ways such as development undertaking, election and good governance, capacity building and most important is promoting the primacy of peace process,” the MILF’s CCCH chair explained.

The MOU says the government and the MILF shall abide by the gun ban as stated in Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9561, the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities in July 1997, among others.

It also aims to strengthen both parties’ cooperation and further define their roles in ensuring peaceful elections next month in order to safeguard the ceasefire and the peace process.

Region 12 RDC urges DPWH to speed up bidding for SouthCot-Sarangani road project

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 April) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to speed up the bidding process and awarding of contract for the unfinished sections of the 75-kilometer Lake Sebu-Maitum road network in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani.

In a resolution, the council specifically asked the DPWH central office to hasten the processing of the necessary documents and the re-bidding of the long-delayed road project to facilitate its immediate implementation.

It was referring to the upgrading and concreting component of the road project’s South Cotabato section, which has an allocation of around P175 million.

General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, RDC-12 chairperson, said the council’s Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) found out during its recent monitoring activity that the project has not yet started despite a pre-bid conference conducted by DPWH’s central procurement office on September 4 last year and actual opening of the bids on September 18.

Based on the RPMC’s verification, she said it found out that the DPWH central office has declared the results of the opening of bids as null and void.

“It instead instructed the DPWH Region 12 to assume the conduct of the opening of bids for the project after the submission of the revised bidding documents of its bidders,” Custodio said.

South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the DPWH central office had cancelled the awarding of the project, which was supposed to begin last December, to the winning construction firm due to pending problems with some government projects that it previously handled.

Fuentes said the winning bidder turned out to have records of “slippages” in several projects that that were earlier contracted by the DPWH central office.

But she said Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson assured that the agency would prioritize the immediate commencement of the project, which is funded by its allotment for 2012, upon the completion of the bidding process.

The project mainly involves the opening and concreting of the South Cotabato section of the road network, which covers parts of Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town and Upper Sepaka in Surallah.

Aside from last year’s P175-million allotment, the DPWH has set aside another P150 million for the project under its 2013 budget.

Based on the DPWH’s development plan, the additional funding would be utilized to continue with the development of the unfinished portions of the five-section road network, which would mainly connect the municipalities of Maitum in Sarangani and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

The project will cover the construction of a bridge and the concreting of portions of the road’s South Cotabato section.

Aside from the P150 million for the South Cotabato section, the agency allocated another P50 million for the development works along the Sarangani section. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)

Tesda to hold skills training for poorest of the poor in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 April) – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Southwestern Mindanao is set to launch next month a series of skills trainings for beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer program in the region.

Zeus Ampuyas, TESDA Region 12 director, said Wednesday they have identified five municipalities in three provinces in the region as beneficiaries of the skills trainings, which is dubbed cash-for-training program or C4TP.

He said the program mainly aims to provide more livelihood opportunities and eventually improve the socio-economic status of the region’s “poorest of the poor” households that are supported by the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

TESDA earlier launched the program as part of the government’s convergence initiatives for beneficiaries of the 4Ps, which is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“We will start the training program as soon as we receive the endorsement of DSWD-12, identifying the priority beneficiaries who will be provided with the skills trainings,” Ampuyas said.

The official said the identified priority areas for the program are Maasim and Malapatan towns in Sarangani Province; Lake Sebu and Tboli in South Cotabato; and Senator Ninoy Aquino in Sultan Kudarat.

Ampuyas said the program primarily caters to “poor and marginal groups, those who cannot access, or are not accessible by formal training provisions.”

“They have low skills, limited management abilities, and have few economic options. They have no access to capital or most of them are unqualified for formal credit programs,” he pointed out.

The official said they are currently working on the setting of the schedules, training venues and requirements to facilitate the commencement of the program by May.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD Region 12 director, said the agency is currently validating the list of potential beneficiaries for the training program.

She said their field staff and the project development officers earlier conducted training needs assessment (TNA) activities among 4Ps beneficiaries in the C4TP’s priority areas.

The agency will submit the TNA results to TESDA-12 for evaluation and finalization of the training programs, she said.

Taha said they will later provide the potential beneficiaries with a list of technical trainings and short-term vocational programs that may be availed from TESDA.

“We discussed with TESDA-12 the possibility of creating a referral system involving local establishments to provide employment for Pantawid beneficiaries who will complete their trainings,” she said.

Taha said a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the initiative was initially discussed by DSWD-12’s community-driven enterprise development officer Ibrahim Sangcupan, external relations officer Lorraine Blanza and regional convergence coordinator Florentino Fiel with TESDA-12 officials.

She said they are hoping to finalize and sign the MOU on April 29.

The program’s priority areas are the localities earlier identified by the National Statistical Coordination Board’s small area estimates that host the “poorest of the poor” in Region 12.

4Ps serves 2,253 households in Maasim; 3,664 in Malapatan; 4,166 in Lake Sebu; 3,850 in T’boli; and, 2,757 in Senator Ninoy Aquino. (Allen V. Estabillo  / MindaNews)

Surigao Sur to stage fun run for the environment

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 April) – Two fun run events will be simultaneously held in the province of Surigao del Sur this Saturday, April 27, with ABS-CBN stars Gerald Anderson and Maja Salvador and anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez joining.

Fr. Raymond Ambray, parish priest of the municipality of Cantilan, said the twin fun run activity dubbed “Jagan Para sa Kinaiyahan” is in line with their anti-mining campaign efforts and part of their post celebration of Earth Day.

Ambray said the Save Our Surigao Movement and Balik Kalikasan of ABS-CBN Foundation are the organizers of the twin run.

He said the first run, which will be participated by 5,000 runners, will be held in Cantilan starting at 8 a.m. with three distances – 1.5 km, 3 km and 5 km.

In the afternoon, the fun run will be in Tandag City, capital of Surigao del Sur. Gun time starts at 1 p.m.. Ambray expects 7,000 runners to run the Tandag leg.

Registration fee is P100 but students pay only P50. Ambray said proceeds of the twin run will be for activities of the Save Our Surigao Movement, including the group’s anti-mining campaign drive.

Ambray added that aside from the fun run, they will hold a signature campaign to free Surigao del Sur from large-scale mining activities.

Tinty Irreberri, event coordinator, said they are working authorities to ensure security during the twin run. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)

Bigger crowd seen this year in Mindanao’s biggest beach party

GUMASA, Sarangani (April 22, 2013) – The growing crowd each year flocking into the white sand beaches here in Glan never fails to hype Sarangani Bay Festival as Mindanao’s biggest beach party. From the 33,499 in 2011, the crowd went up by 70 percent or equivalent to 57,199 in 2012. Significant increase in tourist arrivals was noted since the festival was launched in 2006 with 3,200 tourists, 5,700 in 2007, 14,800 in 2008, 17,755 in 2009, and 23,800 in 2010. Bookings for this year’s festival in resorts along the 7-kilometer white sand and pebbled beaches fronting the Bay have been full starting even in the later months of 2012, according to organizers. Sarangani Tourism and Investment Promotions Center (STIPC) reported reservations have already spilled over to the resorts and hotels in Alabel and General Santos City. But the office pointed out transportations to and from the venue can be pre-arranged in tour packages. Seven of the several resorts along the festival site were already declared as “tourist-ready” by the Department of Tourism. STIPC said walk-in guests can still be accommodated though in the tent city in designated areas within these resorts for an average of P150 to P200 per tent area (tent excluded). There are also tents for rent. Site preparation for the 5.9-hectare venue has started earlier according to STIPC to anticipate a larger crowd of partying beachgoers this year projected to increase by 20 percent. Party zone and food and souvenir stalls share approximately 9,000 square meters of the area. As usual, the 15-kilometer swim-across-the-bay relay contest from Maasim to Tango, Glan which is participated in by professional group of swimmers, and the 3-km and 5-km fun-run will kick-off Sarbay this year on May 24. Sarbay is only a two-day festivity (May 24-25) but organizers said even more exciting and crowd-drawing activities this time are lined-up. Activities set are Sarbay Swim Challenge, Sand Sculpture, Sayaw Sarangan: Hataw sa Tag-araw, Beach Volleyball, Beach Football, Skim Boarding Clinic, Poi and Zip Clinic, Smart/Talk & Text Games and Raffles, Sarbay Jet Ski Invitational Challenge, Pinta sa Baybayon, Sarbay Zumba with the Legendz, Fire Dancing Exhibition, Bay Bodies ’13, Summer Party at the Bay, SMART/Talk & Text Foam Party, Sarbay Bancarera, Smart/Talk & Text Games and Raffles, Sarbay Mountain Bike Ultra 3-Men Challenge, Concert at the Bay and Splash in The Sky and All Night Beach Party. Aside from the regular events, beachgoers could also enjoy a series of water sports like jetski, kayak and skimboard. Sailboat, banana boat, and poi and zip are also available for reasonable rental fees. (Beverly C. Paoyon/ Sarangani Information Office) 

4th Musabaqah opening

The 4th Provincial Musabaqah with the OlymPeace 2013 as highlight opens with a parade Tuesday, April 23, at the Sarangani Capitol grounds. The parade was23.4th Musabaqah opening accompanied by a police brass band.  Jake T. Narte/Sarangani Information Office



4th Musabaqah opening

The 4th Provincial Musabaqah with the OlymPeace 2013 as highlight opens with a parade Tuesday, April 23, at the Sarangani Capitol grounds. The parade was23.4th Musabaqah opening accompanied by a police brass band.  Jake T. Narte/Sarangani Information Office