Tag Archives: Right to development

[In the news] IBON says political capital must be used for real reforms in 2012 – InterAksyon.com

IBON says political capital must be used for real reforms in 2012
Christine Ubalde, InterAksyon.com
January 2, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – With the Philippines expected to remain affected by the fallout from global economic woes, the Aquino administration should use the “political capital” of a popular President to push serious reforms, especially in manufacturing, to boost jobs, technology and capital in 2012.

The local think tank IBON Foundation Inc. offered this unsolicited advice to boost the Philippine economy at the first working day of the new year, as it noted how external risks remain high, considering the challenges to the country’s traditional trading partners and hosts of its huge migrant labor.

Ibon said in a statement real reforms are urgent considering how, in 2011, the Philippines was impacted by the slow global economic growth from a confluence of problems—the debt crisis in Europe and the slow recovery in the United States. This, as well as the government’s underspending last year, resulted in an overall anemic economic growth for the Philippines. .

The serious reforms should include those boosting the manufacturing industry, which is always greatly affected by external shocks, said IBON. This will help shield the country from the external environment which is expected to remain in the doldrums for a time, the think tank added.

“The Aquino presidency supposedly has high approval ratings from the public. If true, this can be political capital for the reforms that the country needs – that is, getting the support of the people not just on a populist anti-Arroyo or anti-corruption issue but for the necessary economic measures that are in the general public interest. The Aquino administration’s policy choices in 2011, such as giving greater weight to narrow foreign and domestic elite interests, unfortunately only underscores the challenge of pushing for real reform in 2012,” IBON said.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[In the news] CL RDC approves P13-B projects- www.journal.com.ph

CL RDC approves P13-B projects
Written by Mamer Bañez

BALER, Aurora – The Regional Development Council of Central Luzon yesterday approved P12.79 billion worth of projects, including a giant dam in Tarlac.

In a full council meeting held at the Juan C. Angara Sports Complex here last Tuesday, the RDC approved five resolutions namely, Phase 2 of the P12.028-billion Balog-Balog Multipurpose project, the P238-million proposed extension of the Enrique Garcia Senior Avenue (EGSA) in Balanga, the conduct of a feasibility study for a P300-million anti-flooding project, the conduct of a feasibility study for the proposed integrated drainage system in Dinalupihan, all in Bataan; and the proposed P228-million widening and extension of the Bigaa-Plaridel national road in Malolos City.
Read full article @ www.journal.com.ph

[People] Saving the Planet and Ourselves by Fr. Shay Cullen

Cologne, Germany – It’s hard  to imagine, 600 sq. miles of woodlands burned to cinders, that’s  about the size of Ireland or Northern Luzon, in the Philippines. It happened in Arizona, USA a few weeks ago. It’s the second worst fire in living memory. Gigantic cyclones and tornados have swept through the southern states and left entire towns devastated and hundreds dead. Massive floods in Australia, China and elsewhere have destroyed the livelihood of millions. Gigantic hurricanes have battered the Caribbean in recent months and above all, the Arctic ice caps and the glaciers of Greenland are melting like ice cream on a hot summer day.

Nothing like this has happened for millions of years and when it did, the earth was uninhabitable, even animals could hardly survive and thousands of species became extinct. It’s happening again all because of us humans, the species with the big intelligent brains who should know better. We do know better but action does not follow knowledge. Many politicians and corporate bosses especially in the developed economies refuse to face and admit the truth of global warming and dangerous climate change simply because of corporate greed, the love of comfort and money, and to retain political power and economic growth.

The near absence of political will and the blindness of denial are allowing the planet’s temperature to creep upward to the maximum allowable temperature increase of 2 degrees before disaster strikes. Even this, the experts say, is already a calamity. An increase of .75 degrees is causing the death of the coral reefs – the life giving food of thousands of species of fish upon which millions of families depend for a daily meal.

The wanton destruction of the Philippine black corals of Mindanao is shocking and is the result of corporate and local government corruption. Good the traders were caught but too late for a huge area of corals. They take a long time to recover. Besides, the oceans are absorbing all the CO2 they can and they are becoming more acidic. Global fish stocks are threatened as a result.

There will be more massive crop failures, drought, floods, rising sea levels, greater forest destruction and massive population migrations. The prices of food commodities are increasing at an alarming rate and as production drops, famine could once again kill millions in some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It sounds all gloom and doom, it is, and we have to take serious action to stop it. The deadline is 2016 before a tipping point of global temperature is reached that could make the warming irreversible.

Besides, the earth is already warmer and vast tracts of marsh lands in Siberia and near the Arctic Circle are melting releasing billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere adding to the blanket of gas that is insulating the planet and preventing the heat from escaping while the sun beats down cooking us like hams in an oven. Winters will be harsher, colder and more prolonged as happened this year again in the Northern hemisphere.

Here in Bonn, Germany, the experts and political negotiators at the Bonn Conference on Climate are trying to work out an international agreement for all counties to cut back on the rising level of emission of CO2 that is causing global warming. Before the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide levels were around 280 parts per million (p.p.m.), now the level is close to 400 p.p.m. An hour away from here in Bonn, corporate lobbyists are also trying to block progress in the interests of the oil and coal industry and others like auto-makers who benefit from burning fossil fuels.

If we humans continue destructive behaviors, like destroying forests and burning fossil fuels in coal plants to make electricity and populating the world with billions of methane-making cattle, we are going to make big trouble for ourselves and the rest of human kind. The forests are threatened. In Western North America, the warmer climate has allowed a wood-eating beetle to thrive and destroy up to 70 percent of the trees.

Ordinary humans can march, demonstrate and do much lobbying by letter-writing to push politicians and corporate tycoons to stop building more coal plants and turn to non-destructive and renewable ways of making electricity such as geothermal, solar and wind power.  We must persuade politicians and tycoons to stop blocking progress on limiting CO2 emissions by an international agreement.

We too can change our lifestyles by protecting our local environment, stop logging, planting trees, recycling, and establishing  organic food gardens to feed ourselves and eat less meat. We have to be good guardians of the planet and save it for the next generation. END

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

[In the news] Group says EPIRA makes ‘Voltage Five’ even richer – Business – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News

Group says EPIRA makes ‘Voltage Five’ even richer – Business – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News.

A decade after its passage, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) has failed to lower electricity rates and has only enriched the so-called “Voltage Five,” the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said.

“In contrast to our electricity-starved citizenry and economy, five super-rich families have become much, much richer, having cornered the fruits of EPIRA privatization which in practice has dropped all pretensions of opening up the electric power industry to as many competitive players as possible,” said FDC president Ricardo Reyes in a statement.

Describing these personalities as the “Voltage Five,” Reyes identified them as the Lopezes, Aboitizes, Manuel V. Pangilinan, Danding Cojuangco, and Henry Sy.

“Ten years of a failed privatization scheme under EPIRA should convince the Philippine government, especially Congress, to overhaul it. Our people need and deserve a new electric power reform law that will really provide affordable, accessible and clean electricity to all,” the FDC president said.

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of EPIRA last Wednesday, militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) also said the law has done the opposite of its promise to lower electricity rates, among other things.

“The promise then was that EPIRA would bring down power rates and ease the financial burdens of the cash-strapped Napocor. Neither of these happened and consumers are worse off now than they were 10 years ago,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said on Bayan’s website. — Paterno Esmaquel II, with Jerbert Briola/LBG, GMA News

[Press Release] EPIRA a “massive failure” – FDC

MANILA, Philippines – For not succeeding in achieving its objectives of reducing the debts of the National Power Corporation (NPC) and bringing down the power rates in its 10 years of implementation, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) is a “massive failure,” according to the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

FDC issued the statement echoing the opinion of Senator Joker Arroyo who said that “EPIRA is a failure” during a public hearing of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) last Thursday at the Senate.

The advocacy group asked the JCPC to compel the NPC and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) to make public their financial statements. PSALM is the agency in charge of selling government power assets.

FDC secretary-general Milo Tanchuling, who participated in the JCPC public hearing, stressed that after ten years since EPIRA was passed the power rates have increased and the total amount of NPC debts have remained virtually the same.

He explained that the figures presented by PSALM showed that the NPC’s debt and other financial obligations stood at US$16.387 billion in 2001 when EPIRA was passed. At the end of 2010, it amounted to US$15.821 billion, or a difference of only US$500 million.

“With regard to the basic generation rates of NPC, there have been two rounds of increases since EPIRA was approved, first in 2005 when NPC was granted a P1.03 per kilowatt per hour (kWh) increase and in 2009 when NPC was again granted increases of P0.4682 per kWh in Luzon, P1.1460 per kWh in the Visayas and P0.7147 per kWh in Mindanao,” he said.

Tanchuling said during the JCPC public hearing that his organization was “dismayed by the fact that the huge debts of NPC have remained in spite of repeated power rates increases and power adjustments under EPIRA which were all shouldered by ordinary consumers, not to mention the burden of additional taxes used to invest in the NPC power plants—most of which have now been sold supposedly to pay the NPC debts.”

“It was clear that, EPIRA did not provide for any substantial and meaningful renegotiation of NPC’s contracts with independent power producers (IPPs), even though these contracts require NPC to purchase electricity whether or not these are actually generated or dispatched, and to supply fuel to IPPs that are in operation. The price NPC agreed to pay for this electricity was overstated to begin with, and many of these contracts have clauses that allow the IPP to raise rates over time,” he pointed out.

Tanchuling noted that EPIRA’s failure to meet these two objectives were also the reasons mentioned by Senator Arroyo during the JCPC meeting for the failure of the EPIRA.

Tanchuling proposed to the JCPC that NPC and PSALM should release their annual financial statements to the JCPC so that the public may know why NPC’s indebtedness was not reduced even after selling the bulk of its assets, hiking its generation rates twice and, on top of these, receiving regular payments of its so-called deferred accounting adjustments through the Generation Rate Adjustment Mechanism (GRAM) and Incremental Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment Mechanism (ICERA).

“Moreover, a debt audit of the NPC debts and financial obligations is needed to determine if these were contracted under fair terms and conditions, and then used wisely and prudently. The Filipino people will also have a solid basis to demand the repudiation of any onerous debts and financial obligations of NPC,” he added, “which if passed on to electricity consumers and taxpayers would be a grave injustice.”

Press Release
Contact Person: Milo Tanchuling
Tel. No. (02) 921-19-85

[In the news] DENR: Higher mining fees a boon – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

DENR: Higher mining fees a boon – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it would impose more charges on the mining industry to maximize government revenues at a time when the price of minerals such as gold and silver were soaring in the world market.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he had proposed to President Benigno Aquino III several reforms in the mining industry to optimize the government’s control over the country’s mineral resources.

These reforms and new fees could give the government an income of about P8 billion yearly, Paje said in a recent interview.

“You are destroying the environment somehow through mining. Thus, you have to recover something from the environmental degradation,” he said.

Paje said his proposals lay down new charges for the mining industry. It is expected that Mr. Aquino would issue an executive order soon imposing the reforms and lifting the moratorium on new mining applications.

One of the major changes proposed involves the ownership of mine tailings and waste, which are worth “billions” of pesos, Paje said.

Some old and abandoned mining areas still have mine tailings from which gold, copper and iron ore could still be extracted, he said. These are resources that mining firms would be eager to get their hands on, he said.

Minerals such as gold and silver have seen record-high prices these past months. Gold reached $1,500 per ounce in April on the back of economic uncertainties in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.

Instead of allowing mining firms to claim abandoned sites and their mineral resources, “we are proposing that these become the property of the state,” Paje said. The government can then auction off the extraction of minerals from these tailings to private companies, he said.

The government is also proposing to compel mining applicants to pay an annual occupational fee of P60. At present, companies only pay the fee once they submit an application, Paje said.

For failing to collect the occupational fee annually, the government is losing P750 million a year, the DENR chief said.

“When you get an application, the claim is yours exclusively. But if you are letting the land go idle for 10 years, the government is not getting an income,” Paje noted.

Charging royalties

Aside from these charges, the government is also thinking of charging mining firms a royalty fee.

Paje previously said he had suggested to the President that 21 mining sites he declared “mineral reservations.”

Declaring an area a mineral reservation, which means its products are of “strategic” value to the country, would compel a mining firm to pay royalties to the government.

Paje said the Aquino administration stands to earn about P7 billion a year from royalties.

Mining companies paid P340 million in excise taxes to the government in 2009, an insignificant amount compared to their total gross sales of about P150 billion, Paje said.

At present, nine mineral reservations have been declared throughout the country. These are found in Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bulacan, Camarines Sur, Samar island, Surigao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Zamboanga del Norte and all offshore areas around the country.

Paje said mining firms had agreed in principle to the imposition of the royalty fees. However, he noted that they had suggested “payment options.”

“They don’t want an across-the-board 5-percent royalty fee, for instance. They want it based on profits,” the environment secretary said, adding that the government was willing to discuss the rates with the industry.

[Statement] Pagtutol ng Task Force Sierra Madre sa Kanan hydropower project

Kaming mga kasapi ng Task Force Sierra Madre, isang samahan sa Northern Quezon (Real, Infanta at Heneral Nakar) na ang pangunahing adhikain at pananagutan ay ang pangalagaan at ipagtanggol ang Inang Kalikasan at ang kanyang mga likas na yaman ay mariing nagpapahayag ng pagtutol sa Kanan Hydropower Project ng Kanan Hydroelectric Power Corporation na sinang-ayunan ng lokal na pamahalaan ng Heneral Nakar noong Agosto, 2009.

Una sa lahat, naniniwala ang aming samahan na ang proyektong ito na magtatayo ng isang dam na may taas na 91.4 metro at haba na 206.7 metro ay di makakalikasan. Sisirain nito ang kagubatan at tubig kanlungan at maaapektuhan nito ang buong sistemang ekolohikal o ecosystem. Alam nating ang kasiraan sa taas na bahagi ng sistemang ekolohikal ay magsasanhi din ng kasiraan sa ibabang bahagi nito. Sa pagkasira ng nasa itaas kung saan ilalagay ang dam, mawawalan ng tahanan ang samu’t saring anyo ng buhay na doon ay naninirahan at sa gawing ibaba naman ay makakaranas ng kakulangan ng kakailanganing nutrisyon ang mga samu’t saring buhay namang dito ay naninirahan. Dagdag pa dito, ayon sa mga eksperto, ang mga power stations ang pinanggagalingan ng pinakamalaking porsyento ng greenhouse gases lalo na ng carbon dioxide na naiipon sa himpapawid at siyang pangunahing sanhi ng patuloy na pagtaas ng temperatura at di normal na pagbabagu-bago ng klima sa mundo na nagsasanhi naman ng pagkasira ng kalikasan at pagkasawi ng maraming buhay na masidhi nang nararanasan na sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo.

Pangalawa, naninindigan ang aming samahan na ang proyektong ito ay hindi para sa tunay na kaunlaran. Ang tunay na kaunlaran ay kinakailangang sustenable, ibig sabihin hindi lamang nito isinasaalang-alang ang pagtugon sa pangangailangan sa kasalukuyan kundi pati ang kapakanan at kinabukasan ng susunod na mga henerasyon. Ang pagkasira ng kapaligiran at mga likas-yaman ay hindi kailanman magdudulot ng sustenableng kaunlaran dahil nakaugat ang ating buhay at ang buhay ng mga susunod na henerasyon sa isang balanseng ekolohiya, sa malinis na kapaligiran at maayos na mga likas yaman.

Karamihan sa aming mga kasapi ng Task Force Sierra Madre ay mga magulang, mga lolo at lola na nangangarap ng magandang bukas para sa aming mga anak at mga apo at para sa lahat ng kabataan. Bukod sa natatanaw naming pagkasira ng kapaligiran at mga likas na yaman, ang walang kasiguruhang katatagan ng itatayong dam na ito ay labis na bumabagabag din sa amin. Sa nangyaring trahedya sa bansang Hapon kamakailan lamang, isang bansang may mga teknolohiyang akala natin ay may sapat na kakayahan para maiwasan ang mga ganoong trahedya, kapanga-pangamba na maranasan muli dito sa aming lugar ang naranasan naming trahedya noong Nobyembre 29, 2004. Hindi kaila sa amin na ang dam na itatayo ay malapit sa Infanta-Marikina fault line. Bagamat hindi natin ninanais, paano kung magkaroon ng malakas na paglindol? Maaaring mas malagim pa sa nangyari noong Nobyembre 29, 2004 ang trahedyang mangyayari kung sa pagkakataong iyon ay naitayo na ang dam na ito. Hindi bale na kaming marahil ay ilang taon na lamang ang nalalabing buhay. Ngunit paano ang aming mga anak at apo at mga kabataang ating tinataguriang pag-asa ng bayan?!

Ikatlo, mariin din naming inihahayag na ang proyektong ito ay hindi ginagalang ang buhay, kultura at karapatan ng mga kapatid nating katutubo. Ang sustenableng kaunlaran ay isinasaalang-alang din ang likas na ugnayan ng ekolohiya at kultura o eco-cultural landscape. Samakatuwid, ang anumang proyekto sa lugar na kung saan may mga katutubong naninirahan, napakahalaga na isinasaalang-alang nito ang kanilang buhay, kultura at karapatan. Sinasakop ng lupang pagtatayuan ng dam ang mga lupaing ninuno. Para sa mga kapatid nating katutubo, ang lupa ay buhay. Ang kanilang kultura at buhay ay nakaugat sa lupa. Kapag sinira natin ito, para na rin nating pinatay ang kanilang kultura at kinitlan sila ng buhay. Kung kaya’t kinakailangan ang kanilang malayang pagsang-ayon o free and prior informed consent sa anumang proyektong sasakupin ang kanilang lupaing ninuno. Ito ay napapaloob sa batas IPRA o Indigenous People’s Rights Act. Ayon sa mga katutubong kasapi ng Task Force Sierra Madre, walang nangyaring malayang pagsang-ayon o free and prior informed consent hinggil sa proyektong ito.

Sa pangkalahatan, binibigyang diin ng aming samahan na ang Kanan Hydropower Project na aming mariing tinututulan ay hindi makaBUHAY! Nilalagay nito sa panganib ang buhay ng mga katutubo at ng lahat ng mamamayan at samu’t saring buhay na naninirahan sa mga bayan ng Real, Infanta at Heneral Nakar at maging ng mga karatig na bayan.

Ang lahat ay magkakaugnay. Ang anumang gagawin natin sa isang bahagi ng Kalikasan ay makakaapekto sa pangkabuuan. Ang pagsira sa isang bahagi ay pagkasira ng kabuuan. Ang pangangalaga at pagpapanatili ng kagandahan at buhay sa isang bahagi ay pangangalaga at pagpapanatili ng kagandahan at buhay ng kabuuan…






[In the news] 5 good news and 5 not-so-good news about PPP | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

5 good news and 5 not-so-good news about PPP | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features.

MANILA, Philippines – Almost six (6) months since the launch of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino Administration, there are still many issues on PPP which have been left unanswered.

5 Good News. Since the launch of the PPP last November 18, 2010:

1. Five (5) PPP projects have been prioritized and will be subjected to bidding within the year. These are the P6.3 billion Metro Rail Transit Line 3, the P7.7 billion Light Railway Transit Line 1, the P1.6 billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway link road, the P10.6 billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway Phase 2, and the P21 billion North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway connector road.  The selection process for the service contractor for the first two (2) projects – MRT3 and LRT1 has already commenced.

2. A lot of countries have signified support for the Philippine PPP initiative. These are China, U.S.A., United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, India, Korea, Qatar, UAE, Doha, and Abu Dhabi. Foreign governments and investors have manifested their desire to invest in the Philippines. International donor and financing agencies have likewise extended their technical and financial support for the flagship program of President Aquino.

3. The local private sector is also abuzz over PPPs. About 44 investors sent their expressions of interest to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the MRT3 and LRT1 projects. A number of unsolicited proposals are in the pipeline and the proponents are awaiting directions from the concerned government agencies regarding their viability and suitability for PPP. There are proposals for development and financing of airports, seaports, roads, energy, water supply and distribution, land development, health services, among others.

4. PPP initiatives from the public sector abound both at the national and local levels. The Philippines has been named as the center for PPP excellence for health. More than 100 PPP projects were identified as priorities by the various departments of government. At the local government level, the Province of Camarines Sur adopted its own guidelines for provincial joint ventures and leases, and provided for incentives and tax exemption privileges to PPP investors.

5. Aside from project financing that will be provided by banks and financial institutions, public financing schemes are about to be put in place to fund the PPP projects. Budgets for some PPPs are already in the General Appropriations Act, including a P300 million revolving fund for the PPP Center (formerly BOT Center). An additional single borrower’s limit has been set by the Bangko Sentral for PPP infrastructure projects. Bond flotation, investment by government insurance systems and financial institutions, creation of a Philippine Infrastructure Financing Corporation, and the establishment of a Philippine Infrastructure Development Fund are being considered.

Read full article @ ABS-CBNnews.com

[In the news] Mindanao power crisis ‘worsening’ | Sun.Star

Mindanao power crisis ‘worsening’ | Sun.Star.

By Jereco O. Paloma

DAVAO. Oppositors of the Aboitiz-proposed coal-fired power plant stage a sit-down picket in front of the City Council building while a public hearing was ongoing inside Friday. (Seth delos Reyes). Sunstar.com.ph

DAVAO CITY — AboitizPower Corp., the proponent of a P25-billion coal-fired power plant here, warned anew of the worsening power situation in Mindanao even as environmental groups questioned the shortage’s validity.

In Friday’s final hearing of the City Council on the proposed 300-megawatt (MW) power plant, Aboitiz first vice president for Mindanao Manuel Orig said that since 2009, power shortage had increased significantly.

He said a third party study conducted by an international researcher shows an impending and present power shortage that is higher than what the Aboitiz had projected.

“Makita dyud namo na dili na makaya sa power supply ang power demand (It really shows the power supply cannot meet the demand),” Orig said.

However, Julan Suazo of the Foundation for Philippine Environment questioned the veracity of Aboitiz’ findings, saying there have been no concrete data validating the power firm’s claims of power shortage.

Suazo dared the City Council to come up with a decision free from bias and possible manipulation on the Aboitiz-proposed coal power plant.

Read full article @ Sunstar.com.ph

[In the news] ‘Make CSR part of business agenda’ | Sun.Star

‘Make CSR part of business agenda’ | Sun.Star.

By Mia A. Aznar

SAYING that business can thrive if the community it is in also rises, a businessman is challenging local entrepreneurs to include corporate social responsibility in their agenda.

Jose Antonio Aboitiz, Visayas chairman of the Philippine Business for Social Progress, spoke before members of the Rotary Club of Cebu West and urged them to include CSR activities in their companies.

He said that if a community thrives, more businesses succeed.

“In the long run, that social investment comes back,” he said, adding that the private sector should also be involved in nation building.

Read full article @ Sunstar.com.ph (link above)