Monday, October 27, 2014

PDS now cheaper 
with EPIRA-NGCP

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 21, (PIA) –The National Grid Corporation (NGCP) said power distribution service (PDS) in the country has considerably gone down, from P315.4675 per kilowatt hour per month (Kwh/d) in October 2013 to P297.3155 for firms in April this year. 

This is even lesser for non-firms when it had P10.3715 kilowatt hour per day (Kwh/d) in October to P9.7748 kwpd in April of 2014. 

The cheaper power distribution rate decreased for residential and non-commercial establishments at an average of P10.0498 kwhd in the last 7 months.

And it could still go down, hints Atty. Cynthia Alabanza, as she credits this to the effect of the Energy Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), among other reforms bundled in and the NGCP’s. 

Alabanza, Spokesperson and Head of the NGCP’s Corporate Communications Affairs relayed the message to members of the Bohol media present at the Power 101 Briefing held at the Bellevue Hotel in Panglao, October 2014.

It may be recalled the country’s restructuring of the power sector brought the government to pass the EPIRA Law, which ensured quality, reliable, secure and affordable supply of electric power in the country. 

Among the EPIRA reforms are the privatization of assets of the National Power Corporation through the operationalization of the National Transmission Corporation (Transco), the establishment of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), the eventual privatization of the Transco and the Department of Energy’s Establishment of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). 

In 2001, the EPIRA took its effect and as early as then, people demanded that the law would bring in the promised lower power cost amidst allegations that lowered power rates are among the largely false government promises. 

The NGCP put up, long-term value creation as a more sustainable measure to bring the prices down, even if it were against popular opinion of giving lower tariff rates to power which could trigger subsidies or the unavoidable tax burdens it could bring, an NGCP insider revealed.

The country’s transmission service provider NGCP for one, wants to give that aspiration a head start: its keen desire will be to bring down power rates for Filipino consumers, according to NGCP President and Chief Executive Officer Henry T. Sy Jr.

But he also said before reaching “cheaper rates regime’, massive investments have to be made to expand and upgrade the transmission system and its integrated facilities so their operating efficiencies will eventually improve.

“(NGCP’s) average rates and charges are deliberately designed to decrease as demand for its services increase, thereby, encouraging efficiency,” Mr. Sy stressed, in his quoted statement as reported in a major paper. 

And true enough, NGCP showed that in the Visayas Grid alone, power distribution service per hour on a day, in October of 2013 to April 2014, it had P10.3715, 10.3691, 10,3486, 9.8212, 9.8310, 9.8324, to 9.7748 Kwh/d. 

Visayas grid PDS for non-firms now in fact has lower rate compared to Luzon, which had 9.9393 while Mindanao Grid still is saddled with a P10.1817 kwh/d in April 2014. (RAC/PIABohol)

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At 172 marine sanctuaries, 
Fisheries not yet assured 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 24 (PIA) –While Bohol holds the most number of marine protected areas (MPA) in the entire Visayas, it is still a long way off to assure enough and sustainable fisheries in the province. 

MPAs, or otherwise known as fish or marine sanctuaries are areas of the sea apportioned for conservation where any kind of fishing is strictly prohibited and marine laws enforced to the full. 

MPAs are established in areas which have been observed to be most ideal for such, with good to excellent coral reef cover, grass beds and a generally healthy ecosystem, sums up Bohol Fisheries Officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Cresencio Pahamutang. 

Studies have showed that fish density in no-take reef areas where fishing is banned, goes as high as 2-5 times in abundance over areas where open fishing is practiced, and areas near sanctuaries produce a generally high yield due to over-spilling of fish stocks, according to a network of Australian marine scientists in a published study. 

Guided by these studies and observation, the Fisheries Code of the Philippines or Republic Act 8550 has a provision for towns or local government to legislate for their own marine sanctuaries. 

The Fisheries code said towns, in consultation with the local fisheries and aquatic resource management councils, may legislate for the establishment of fish sanctuaries or MPAs as long as it does not go past the 15% of their total coastal areas within their 15 kilometer from shorelines to the seas jurisdiction. 

Such is so that small fishers can still have a generally open-areas for fishing, adds Adelfa Salutan, Bohol coastal resource and management coordinator based at the Bohol Environment Management Office. 

At the Kapihan sa PIA last Thursday, October 23, Salutan, whose office keeps tabs of Bohol’s database of marine reserves, said Bohol now has 172 MPAs, the most number of MPAs compared to other Central Visayan provinces. 

The number however is still less than 5% of the 15% total of local coastal areas which Bohol should have to be assured of sustainable fisheries, butted in Pahamutang, whose office is coordinating the establishment of marine protected areas. 

“We’re still a long way to go,” Pahamutang said, adding, that is even with the high end fisheries requirement for tourism is supplied in part by the marine parks in Bohol. 

BFAR is keeping a strong mari-culture industry support by making sure that high-end commercial fish can be easily available when needed. 

The BFAR mariculture park in Ubay assures that Bohol can also have locally hatched grouper, pompano, snappers and kitong for every local fish-pen operators. (RAC/PIABohol) 

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Is Bohol really GMO-free? 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 24, (PIA) – Bohol may have been innovative in successfully enjoining business, civil society and government sectors in keeping Bohol genetically modified organism (GMO) free, but how certain are we that these products have not entered the province? 

The question was the gist of what a National Corn Competitive (NCC) Board Member posed to regional media who attended the 3rd Seminar for Regional Media held at the US Embassy last September 15-17, 2014. 

In a pioneering legislation which claimed to be the first serious move against the GMO threat, Bohol junta Resolution gave birth to an ordinance declaring Bohol as GMO-free.

Provincial Ordinance No. 2003-010, aims to institute stringent measures to safeguard the health of the Boholanos and protect the ecological soundness of the Province of Bohol from the possible disastrous ill-effects of GMO, providing penalties for violations thereof, and for other purposes.

The ordinance defined genetic engineering as the process of transferring genes from one organism to another, producing new transgenic product. 

Bohol Sanguniang Panlalawigan secretary Bonifacio Quirog even pointed out that Bohol ordinance under the leadership of Vice Gov. Julius Caesar F. Herrera, chair of the SP Committee on Agriculture, is effective because it employs a tri-sectoral approach involving the active participation of civil society, business and government sectors in its defense against entry of GMOS.

Then, Bohol asked civil society groups especially Bohol Initiators for Sustainable Agricultural Development to do massive information education communication campaigns and for Greenpeace International to help monitor GMO entry here, apparently to maximize information coverage. 

The ordinance also incorporated a similar mandatory labeling of GMO products or those bringing in would face penal sanctions. 

But Salvador Umengan, of the NCC asked if the labeling was strictly imposed from the manufacturers side, who may not have the same legal provision [as Bohol does].

“In the Philippines, for example, while Bohol bans entry, GMO research and cultivation continues as the country happens to be the first member nation of the ASEA to establish a genetic engineering regulation,” Umengan said. 

“With the Philippines being the first country in the region to commercially grow genetically engineered crops in corn, what are the possibilities that GMO corn has entered as feedmill products?,” he asked. 

Negros Oriental, Umengan cited again, has to close a huge livestock farm, because locally sourced corn for feeds could not cope up with the demand. Operators used to get GMO corn supply outside the province, but was later banned for an anti GMO local provision. 

He added the US has been among the country’s top agricultural product buyers, including GMO corn, confident on the country’s transparent and science based approach to genetic engineering technology. 

Genetic engineering, according to Umengan has been cited as a mean for local farmers to enhance their productivity, while scientists at the Food and Drugs Authority, through FDA Advisory 2013-014, has assured on the safety of GMO foods produced through modern biotechnology and currently in the market. 

And as trade relation with the US are strong, the United States also happen to be among the country’s largest suppliers of dairy, soya beans, corn, cotton, potato, alfalfa, canola and sugar beets, some of them could be genetically modified, and un-labeled.

And with product sellers unfamiliar with the production, origins and processes, there’s a gigantic chance that we may be eating GMO in processed food, unknown to legislators, Umengan hinted. (RAC/PIABohol)

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Bohol needs 360 hectares 
To recoup lost mangroves 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 24, (PIA) –The government is now racing against time to put up some 360 hectares of mangrove replantation in three years, to recover the hundreds of hectares it lost during the recent earthquake. 

As the great earthquake created uplift granting Bohol additional dry lands, it also pushed some lands up causing seas to retreat, leaving isolated huge patches of mangroves, reports the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). 

Cresencio Pahamutang, BFAR Bohol Fisheries Officer as well as DENR’s Juliet Paler and Corazon Colarines of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shared at the Kapihan sa PIA that they are now working double time to save what can be saved and recoup what Bohol has lost in its mangroves and its intertidal ecosystem now deprived by tides. 

“In a little more than a year, we have covered 240 hectares already, but if we could cover more than the 360, we would,” hints Paler, of the provincial environment and natural resources office.

On this, they call well-meaning groups who would be willing to help, to organize and be ready for the next mangrove propagule ripening season by January. 

A mangrove can be a tree, shrub, palm or ground fern that normally grows above mean sea level in the intertidal zone of marine coastal environments and estuarine margins. It can also mean the tidal habitat comprising such trees and shrubs, according to mangrovewatch.org.au.

Seen in areas that are perpetually in the water, some mangroves are also in estuaries where the breaching high tides provide them the right nutrition. The permanent retreating of the tides pose serious threats to these mangroves, foresters said. 

The uplift in Bohol coastal areas, which deprived several mangrove habitats the water in the tide it would need, extends as far as Maribojoc on the south and Buenavista’s islets, closest to where the seismologists point to where the epicenter was during the October 15, 2013 earthquake.

Farthest from the epicenter, Maribojoc reports state that the town gained 18 hectares of lands due to the uplift, its biggest manifestation is a 50 meter dry land, which used to be underwater. 

In Loon, town tourism officer Reynaldo Monreal in his face book account said the town gained huge mangrove areas also needing rehabilitation. 

In Cantumocad Loon, for example, home for the already getting famous gleaning macaques, the dried mangrove flats pushed the monkeys out into migration, reports Loon residents who tracked the animals nearly 8 kilometers south of their usual mangrove habitat. 

The same has been noted in some mangroves flats of Calape and Tubigon, which also experiences subsidence making some dry land–adaptive mangrove species to be perpetually soaked in salty water, endangering its survival. 

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Donations fund Bohol 
earthquake memorial 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 20, (PIA) –Like the way Bohol rose after the earthquake, the newly conceptualized earthquake monument would rise at the Heroes Part atop Banat-I Hill, funded by a convergence fund pool. 

Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio III bared this during the groundbreaking ceremonies of the memorial monument of the great 7.2 magnitude earthquake that showed Boholano heroism and resiliency. 

No less than Tagbilaran City diocese Bishop Leonardo Medroso, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, Economic and Development Authority regional director Efren Carreon and elected leaders led by Gov. Edgar Chatto and city Mayor John Geesnell Yap graced the groundbreaking and capsule laying as well as the unveiling event of the proposed memorial. 

Damalerio told a modest crowd gathered at the top of Tagbilaran City’s most prominent elevation that the monument would soon rise with the help of donations from private individuals, groups, organizations and government in the spirit of collaboration. 

The monument, which will grace the park, will be the yearly venue of the commemoration of the Great Bohol Earthquake every 15th of October. 

Earlier, the Provincial Government of Bohol and the City Government of Tagbilaran, with all component Local Government Units, called talented Boholano artists around the globe to participate in the search for the best design for the Memorial Monument of the 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake. 

They picked the theme, “Boholano heroism and resiliency amidst the earthquake crisis” as the main message conveyed by the memorial monument to be installed within the 40 hectare Provincial government property at the hill. 

The design must depict Boholano heroism and resiliency during the earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15, 2013, said an online poster calling Boholano artists all over the globe to join in the design competition. 

The winning design, which shows a tilted dome of a church and a depiction of people from sectors helping in rebuilding Bohol, earned for the unnamed designer some P10,000. (RAC/PIABohol)

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2 local coaches off to 
AFC coaching course 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 22, (PIA) – Two Boholano soccer coaches earn slots to a rare Asian Football Confederation (AFC) “C” License Coaching Certificate Course held at a professional training facility in Barotac Nuevo in Ilo-ilo from October 19-30. 

Bohol Football Association (BOHFA) President and Victoriano D Tirol Advance Learning Center (VDTALC) coach Edmar Thaddeus Simpao (VDT-ALC coach) and Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School (DCPNHS) Coach Louie Supremo now has the chance to sit and share experiences along with the country’s top striker Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong and some great names in the country’s soccer circle. 

Should the two get their certificates and licenses, the future for soccer in Bohol gets a mighty highball as only very few football clubs here are coached properly, much less trained the way the beautiful game is to be played. 

No less than the Philippine Football Federation, (PFF) the country’s premier football federation sanctioned by the Football International Federation Associations (FIFA), brings the training and certification to regional coaches from all football clubs under its coverage to the PFF Regional Training Center in Barotac Nuevo Ilo-ilo. 

BOHFA also happens to be the only football association in Bohol acknowledged by the PFF and consequently the FIFA. 

The Boholano coaches would be among the 26 coaches all over the country who would have to pass the stringent training for coaching certification. 

BOHFA also happens to be one among the 10 football clubs participating in the coaching certification course. 

Among the football clubs participating are the hosting club: Ilo-ilo FC, Cavite FC, National Team players, MPL FC, Bohol FC, Tarlac FC, Rizal FC, Negros Occidental, National Caital Region FC, and Leyte FC. 

Whether the duo can pass, Simpao has already assured that getting into the course is more than enough boost for Bohol FCs who shall benefit from whatever they will learn from the training. 

We wish to elevate the level of soccer in Bohol, a game many perceive to give Boholanos a high medal potential. 

This is the perfect moment for Boholanos, who could have the chance to get good players to national competitions, which have been denied of their potential due to bad coaching and dis-organized trainings, Simpao added. 

This is even worsened by bad organizing, he added. (RAC/PIABohol)

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