GenSan dads join calls for Aquino to use emergency power in addressing Mindanao power woes

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 April) — The city council here has expressed support to mounting calls for President Benigno Aquino III to use his emergency powers to effectively address the worsening power crisis in Mindanao.


The council passed a resolution during its regular session on Tuesday “strongly requesting” the President to specifically adopt emergency measures to expedite the resolution of the continuing power shortage in the critical Mindanao grid.


City Councilor Elizabeth Bagonoc, the resolution’s author, said it’s time for the national government to flex its muscles to finally resolve the problem, which has caused prolonged daily rotating brownouts in the area lasting a total of 14 hours.


The rotating brownouts, which started in early 2010 and have worsened since last year, was mainly blamed on the severe load cuts imposed by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) as a result of the declining generation capacity of the National Power Corporation’s (Napocor) hydroelectric plants.


“We’ve been urging (the government) for how many years already to put a stop to these brownouts,” she stressed.


Bagonoc said the continuing long brownouts have severely affected the operations of local businesses as well as government and private offices.


“It is pestering not only the lives of businessmen but of the ordinary citizens as well,” she said.


Bagonoc originally introduced the resolution during its regular session last week but the council decided to defer its action on the matter due to the scheduled regional power forum here last March 25 that was joined by Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.


The councilor, who heads the council’s majority bloc, also authored a pending resolution requesting the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to look into the possibility of declaring a state of calamity in the city due to the negative impact of the long brownouts to the local economy and human health.


The local business sector earlier joined calls for the President to use his emergency powers to resolve the power crisis in Mindanao.


In support of the move, administration lawmakers proposed for the granting by Congress of the necessary emergency powers to the President to address the power situation in Mindanao more swiftly.


Malacañang said last week it is already looking into the proposal but noted that the Department of Energy and other stakeholders in the island were already working on possible solutions to the problem.


Distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) is presently implementing daily rotating brownouts lasting seven hours for each of its two feeder grouping, or a total of 14 hours due to the power shortage.


Socoteco II, which has a daily average peak power demand of 112 MW, serves this city, the entire Sarangani province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.


In the last two weeks, Napocor’s power allocation to the area only ranged from 40 to 49 MW, resulting to a deficit of between 33 to 40 MW.


Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) augments the area’s power supplies by 30 MW based on a power sales agreement that it earlier signed with the electric cooperative.


Socoteco II forged the sales deal with TMI in 2011 after Napocor slashed the area’s power allocation to the area by 30 percent or from 104 MW to 72 MW in 2012.


This year, Napocor imposed another 30 percent cut to the area’s power supplies or specifically from 72 MW to 52 MW. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)



NorthCot in talks with investors to put up hydro, solar power plants

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– The provincial government of North Cotabato is exploring hydro and solar power as alternative energy sources to address the supply shortage in the province in the long term, Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said Tuesday.
Currently, the towns of Pikit, Pigcawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap and Aleosan or known as the P-PALMA Alliance are experiencing an average of 10-hour daily power curtailment.

The rest of the towns in North Cotabato and this city are also experiencing daily brownouts lasting an average of seven hours.

Mendoza told MindaNews that the provincial government has been talking to some investors on the possibility of developing a hydropower plant powered by the Malitubog-Maridagao (Malmar) irrigation dam in Carmen town.

“Malmar is being studied now. Since we have that big dam for irrigation, we might as well maximize the water [for a hydropower plant],” she said.
Mendoza said they are also considering using solar energy to augment the dwindling power supply in the province.

In fact, Korean investors have already expressed their interests in putting up a solar-powered plant in the province, she disclosed.
Mendoza said a team from the Provincial Planning and Development Office has been tasked to visit the existing project of the Koreans in Dapitan City and in Tanay, Rizal.

The governor admitted that developing solar power is expensive, ”but in the long run we can save so much.”
She appealed to her constituents to be patient, saying: “Even if you have this study, it doesn’t mean that you will have available power tomorrow. It takes years. But what is important is that we have started.”

The governor also explained that even if she will have the commitment of the investors, it is important that a comprehensive data should be made available first.

Besides hydro and solar as potential energy sources, Mendoza said that they are also considering biomass as an alternative source of energy.

The province has a lot of rice mills, she said, noting their wastes can produce biomass energy.
For the development of potential alternative energy sources, Mendoza said they have already forwarded the raw data to prospective investors for review.

“Because we don’t have the expertise to analyze as well as the technology. Then we will know what’s the timeline, how much will it cost, how many years to build, the capitalization. These are the things that will follow.”

Mendoza said they are not considering the construction of a coal-fired power plant in the province as an option to address the area’s power problem.

“We are for clean energy,” she noted.

Immediate option

While studies are still underway, Mendoza said the provincial government has already signified its interest last month to lease a generator set as an immediate option to ease the outage in the area.

Aside from the generator set, she also bared that the provincial government supports the case filed by Kidapawan City Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista against the Department of Energy and power executives for not acting on calls to allocate 25 percent of the output of the geothermal power plant to this city and to the province.

Mendoza said the 25 percent allocation to the host community, which is the province, “should not be debated” since it is under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

 The civil case, which was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 23 here in April 2012, is to compel the DOE, National Power Corporation and the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation to supply the city with 25 percent of the electricity produced by the geothermal plant in this city. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)


Socoteco eyes acquisition of 15-MW diesel-fired modular genset

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– Distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) is planning to acquire a 15-megawatt (MW) diesel-fired modular generator set to offset the projected power shortage in the area when its three-year supply contract with the National Power Corporation (Napocor) expires in August.


Engr. Santiago Tudio, Socoteco I general manager, said they are set to negotiate with the Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for a loan arrangement that will allow the cooperative to purchase the generator set.


“We had long been planning to acquire a modular generator set. Now here’s an opportunity for us to acquire one with the government’s help so we’ll do it,” he told MindaNews yesterday.


Tudio said they decided to acquire a modular generator set to counter the impact of the expected reduction by 10 MW of the area’s power allocation from the Napocor by August.


Socoteco I serves Koronadal City, eight municipalities in South Cotabato and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat.


The electric cooperative’s daily power allocation from the Napocor reaches around 27 MW or 7 MW short of its 34 MW contract.


But Socoteco I’s daily peak demand only reaches around 32 MW, making its deficit at just 5 MW.


Tudio said the electric cooperative has a standby supply of 4 MW from its power sales deal with Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc.


“Right now, our daily rotating brownouts only last about an hour but it might reach seven hours by August,” he said.


Napocor has started to reduce its power allocation to electric cooperatives in Mindanao last year due to the declining generation capacity of its hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.


Several areas in Mindanao, including this city, have been experiencing prolonged rotating brownouts lasting as high as seven hours since January due to the worsening power shortage in the island’s power grid.


The shortage was mainly blamed on the declining water inflow at the hydroelectric plants due to lack of rains since last month and the ongoing rehabilitation of several power plant complexes.


Based on the power situation outlook released by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines for Wednesday, Mindanao grid’s system capacity is presently at 972 MW or 118 MW short of the area’s system peak of 1147 MW.


As alternative solution to the problem, the DoE has offered a loan scheme that will allow electric cooperatives in Mindanao acquire their own modular generator sets.


Under the scheme, which will be coursed through NEA, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said electric cooperatives will be given a grace period of two years wherein they will only be required to pay for the loan’s interest.


After two years, he said the cooperatives will have an option to pay for the loan principal and interest or completely waive any further payment by returning the generator sets to NEA. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)


Bukidnon media workers sign manifesto for responsible poll coverage

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– Reporters and other media workers signed a one-page declaration Monday, vowing to cover the 2013 local and national elections “fairly, comprehensively and accurately.”

The declaration, signed after a seminar-workshop on election reporting organized by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), sought to remind both journalists and media stakeholders of their role in covering the elections.

The declaration was firmed up after media organizations received criticisms from the public about the conduct of politician-backed radio block-timers, or those who buy air time slots.

“We members of the (press) in Bukidnon commit to ensure responsible news and information dissemination to the general public … to pursue the highest standard in print, broadcast, television, and online news undertaking with the public good and welfare as the primordial concern,” the 12-paragraph statement said.

In the “Pulitika sa Bukidnon” Facebook group, netizens hit “reporters” as alleged paid hacks of politicians in a thread created by FB member “HDG.”

HDG, who describes himself as an information technology professional, claimed that a certain politician “has controlled the Bukidnon media through paid spokespersons on the air.”

He noted that radio has a great influence on the people, especially to those who were unable to attain further education

At least 33 workers from different media outlets in the province have signed the declaration as of April 1.

The declaration urged the media workers “to deliver meaningful and significant information to help citizens arrive at informed choices.”

It noted that “providing meaningful and accurate information” does not rely only on reportorial skills but also on “understanding and adherence to the ethical standards of journalism.”

Those who signed vowed to adhere to the Journalists’ Code of Ethics adapted by the Philippine Press Institute, the National Press Club, and the NUJP; and the standards set by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas’ Broadcast Code of the Philippines 2007 (as amended in 2011).

Pacifico Estore Jr, NUJP-Bukidnon president, said it is important for the media community to stand up and take care of its members through self-regulation.

“It was an overdue move. We only needed someone to initiate it with the perception that the media community has ignored or tolerated [breaches in ethics and standards],” he added.

Norma Brigente, editor of the church-owned Ang Bandilyo weekly newspaper, said the move “will help gain back the trust of the public to the news media.”

“For journalists, it reminds us of our role and responsibility to the public, especially during election time,” she added.

Ruby Balistoy, Philippine Information Agency-Malaybalay chief, said the declaration “is a tool for journalists to check if they are still in the right track with regards to role and responsibilities.”

Armando Benabaye, KBP-Bukidnon vice chair, said the declaration is a good start for the media organizations in Bukidnon.

“It will now serve as a local reference for the media (on matters of ethics and professionalism),” he added.

Benabaye noted that the KBP was unable to respond to the perceived abuses by block timers because there were no complaints lodged before them, which is a requirement for them to investigate.

The declaration also asked the management of radio stations and newspapers to “conduct refresher sessions on ethics, skills trainings and professionalism courses; and to impose appropriate sanctions to violators.”

It also stressed that to be transparent, media workers who work in full or part time basis for politicians or political parties should make a public disclosure and take a leave of absence from reportorial duties.

“We do not condone any form of abuse by our colleagues, and we vow to help improve the situation with dialogue and action knowing it will affect the credibility of our profession,” according to the manifesto.

It appealed to the public to take advantage of mechanisms in place in the media community to address reported abuses.

“We encourage the public to bring to the attention of editors and station managers or the president or chair of the Bukidnon Press Club, the KBP and NUJP Bukidnon chapters any case of abuse or irresponsibility by any member of the press so the proper channels can act appropriately,” it said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

Duterte assures continued assistance to kin, survivors of Davao wharf blast

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– Acting Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assured Tuesday continued educational assistance for survivors and families of the victims of the Sasa wharf bombing here in 2003 that killed 17 persons and wounded 56 others.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the bombing at the blast site, he said the assistance from the city government will continue in the next three years or “as long as I’m here.”

Duterte is running unopposed for the mayoralty post in the May 13, 2013 elections. He previously served as mayor for 19 years.

So far, the total amount extended for the educational assistance of the survivors and the dependents of the victims amounted to almost P4 million, he said, citing data from the City Social Services and Development Office.

Eighteen of the beneficiaries had since graduated and four others are completing secondary education, he continued.

Among the graduates were the five children of Nelia Tiongco, 47, who was tending her small store at the Sasa wharf gate when the bombing happened. She was wounded in the abdomen.

In an interview, she cited that aside from the educational assistance for her children who are all married now, she also received a start-up capital to rebuild her store, now located across Sasa wharf.

She told reporters during the commemoration program that she is “okay now and has nothing to complain about.”

“I have totally accepted [what] happened to me,” said Emy Dosaran, 31, who had just arrived at the wharf from Manila on board the Super Ferry vessel when the explosion happened.

She was on her way out of the gate when the bomb exploded, which she described as “a very quick incident.”

“I did not even notice it was a bomb,” Dosaran recalled.

The impact fractured her left leg that took two years to recover, she said, adding that she was able to gather the confidence to join the commemoration only three years ago.

Duterte said the city had three explosions in his 19 years as mayor, with the Sasa wharf bombing the third.

It followed the bombing at the old airport on March 4, 2003 that killed 20 persons and injured 146 others.

The bombing at the San Pedro Church on December 27, 1993 killed seven people and injured 151 others, 32 of them seriously wounded.

“This was a war of attrition. No specifics.  But I think the government was able to consolidate the forces and stabilize the situation,” Duterte said.

He branded the bomb attacks as “purely terrorism.”

In 2010, Toto Akman, one of the five suspects in the Sasa wharf bombing, was convicted and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment.

The five suspects, including Akman, were reportedly acquitted in the old airport bombing incident. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)

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Representative of International Partner Meets UNYPAD Executive Officers

By: Tu Alid Alfonso April 3, 2013: The UNYPAD led by President Rahib Kudto briefed the IC Net Limited Officer for Community Development Assistant, Mr.Yukitoshi Matsumoto, on its on-going activities during his recent visit to the UNYPAD national office in Cotabato City. Mr. Matsamuto is in Cotabato City to solicit ideas from different organizations that

ARMM voters will spend longest time in polling precincts

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 April) – Of the country’s  52 million voters, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s 1.3 million voters will spend the longest time in the polling precincts in May because they will not only elect national and local officials but regional as well.

While voters in other towns nationwide need to shade only 30 or 31 ovals on the left side of the candidates’ names for 12 senators, one party-list representative, one Congressional representative,  one governor, one vice governor, four or five provincial board members, one mayor, one vice mayor and eight municipal board members,  ARMM voters have to shade five more for the regional governor, regional vice governor and three members of the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) per district.

Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, regional director of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the ARMM, told MindaNews the estimated shading time for each ballot in the ARMM is five minutes.

Voters in Basilan and Tawi-tawi need to shade 35 ovals because Basilan has only eight provincial board members and voters elect four per district. But a voter in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu, need to shade 36 ovals because they have a ten-member board and voters elect five per district.

ARMM is the only region in the country where voters will experience synchronized elections at the national, local and regional level.

ARMM voters will elect two governors and two vice governors —  provincial and regional – and five sets of legislators: Senator, House Representative, Regional Assemblyman, Provincial Board Member and  Municipal Councilor.

At stake in the ARMM election which was supposed to have been held on August 8 last year, are 26 posts – governor, vice governor and 24 assemblyman at three per congressional district.

The Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, Inc. (Citizens CARE), a Comelec-accredited election watchdog,  is fielding 7,000 volunteers to assist in voter’s information and values education in the ARMM provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Citizens CARE Executive Director Salic Ibrahim told MindaNews that part of the voters’ education would be to show them a template of the ballots that are available for downloading at the Comelec website.


A total of 94 candidates are running for the ARMM’s 26 posts.

Six candidates, including OIC ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari are running for ARMM Governor, eight are running for Vice Governor and 80 are running for the 24 regional assembly seats.

Aside from Hataman, who is the Liberal Party’s candidate, and Misuari (Independent), also running for Governor are former Sultan Kudarat Governor and Representative Pax Mangudadatu (Ind.) former Agrarian Reform regional director Yusoph Mama (Ind.), Elsie New Orejudos (Ind.) and Aisha Fatima Buena Prudencio (Democratic Party of the Philippines).

Hataman, former three-term Anak Mindanaw party-list Representative, took over the ARMM as OIC Governor on December 22, 2011.

Misuari is the longest serving ARMM Governor in the 23-year old ARMM. Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front who signed the Final Peace Agreement with the Philippine government on September 2, 1996 and was elected a full week later, served as Governor from September 30, 1996 until his arrest off Sabah on November 24, 2001.

Mangudadatu is uncle of reelectionist Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu (LP).

Running for vice governor are former ARMM Local Governments Secretary Haroun Alrashid Alonto Lucman (LP), Pundatoon Sultan Bagol (Ompia Party), Sultan Bob Datimbang (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino), Bashier Manalao (PDP-Laban), and Independent candidates Mesug Manaloco, Abdulaziz Mangandaki, Marconi Curso Paiso, and Pundato Sharief.

There are 80 candidates running for 24 RLA seats at three per congressional district: 11 in Basilan’s lone district; nine in Tawi-tawi; 17 in Lanao del Sur – nine in District 1, eight in District 2; 31 in Maguindanao – 12 in District 1, 19 in District 2; and 13 in Sulu – four in the first district and eight in the second district.


Last year, a general re-registration was held in the ARMM, a region that has repeatedly been  described as the nation’s “cheating capital” every election.

Comelec records show that in the May 2010 Presidential polls, ARMM had 1,882,338 voters. This year’s record shows ARMM has 1,300,479 registered voters.

In December, the Comelec removed 280,077 underage and multiple registrants. A report of the Philippine Star on December 3, 2012 quoted ARMM Comelec director Sumalipao as saying that the Election Registration Board hearings on November 26 to 30  “found thatthere were 250,773 multiple registrants and 29,304 underage applicants that tried to have themselves listed in the 10-day general re-registration of voters in the region last July.”

The ARMM election, synchronized with the local and national polls on May 13, will be the seventh and last elections in the 23-year old ARMM.

Following the October 15, 2012 signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a 15-member Transition Commission has been formed to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law in preparation for the “new autonomous political entity” called “Bangsamoro”  that will replace the ARMM.

The supposed three-year term of office of ARMM officials from 2013 will be cut short as soon as the Basic Law shall have been passed by Congress and ratified by the people in the Bangsamoro and the ARMM is deemed abolished, according to the FAB.

The ARMM’s functions will then be taken over by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority until  the first set of Bangsamoro officials shall have been elected in May 2016 and sworn into office by  noon of June 30, 2016. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

Summer at Timoga Cool Springs

02timoga1lowYou know it’s  summer when picnickers troop to the swimming pools at the Timoga cool springs in Iligan City even during weekdays and workdays like Tuesday, April 2. MindaNews photo by Bobby Timonera