Monday, August 29, 2016

What skills trainings fit Antique villagers?

Panay News
REGION August 29, 2016

SAN JOSE, Antique – A government agency is determining the skills trainings appropriate for various sectors in the villages.

Barangay captains were asked to submit a list of residents categorized as displaced workers, persons with disabilities, overseas Filipino workers, indigenous peoples, rebel returnees, drug dependents, and out-of-school youths.

This “Barangay Skills Mapping” is in line with the Barangay Kasanayan para sa Kabuhayan at Kapayapaan program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), said a senior specialist at the agency, Karen May Duay.

The program supports the Duterte administration’s poverty-alleviation initiatives and barangay empowerment advocacy, said TESDA director general Guiling Mamondiong.

It helps villagers in availing themselves of trainings — conducted in TESDA-accredited institutions — that will provide them skills to become entrepreneurs or look for local and overseas jobs.

Antique has six TESDA-accredited schools: Advance Central College, Goodhands Training Center, Semirara Training Center, St. Anthony’s College, Wright Technological College of Antique, and the Provincial TESDA Training Center.

The following courses are offered in these schools: health care services, cookery, visual graphic, bread and pastry, caregiving, food and beverage services, beauty care services, massage therapy, hilot wellness, agricultural crop production;

Bookkeeping, shielded metal arc welding, motorcycle and small engine services, machining, industrial electricity, and trainers’ methodology (Level 1). (PIA/PN)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cadiao to DENR chief: Consult us on Semirara

MAIN STORIES August 28, 2016

ILOILO City – Gov. Rhodora Cadiao of Antique hopes Secretary Gina Lopez will coordinate with the provincial government in whatever the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will decide on the coal mining operations in Semirara Island, Caluya town.

Lopez ordered an audit on existing mines, including that in Semirara. She recently asked Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) to explain why its permit should not be cancelled despite alleged violations of environmental laws.

“I hope the good Secretary will also coordinate with the provincial government before she makes decisions regarding Semirara. Of course, I am concerned with the environment of Semirara. But I am also concerned with the tumandok nga CaluyaƱos nga madulaan obra,” said Cadiao.

The result of the mining audit on Semirara, the biggest coal mine in the Philippines, may be completed next week, according Lopez who was here yesterday.

DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is doing the audit.

Lopez said she wanted to go to Semirara to see for herself the situation there.

Cadiao said she instructed the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office to prepare a folder containing multi-partite findings, the pros and cons, benefits and other information about Semirara’s coal mine. This will be submitted to Lopez.

Cadiao earlier disclosed that Lopez herself told her during a League of Provinces of the Philippines meeting in Manila recently that she wanted to discuss the mining situation in Semirara Island.

Semirara is one of the three main islands of the municipality of Caluya, the other two being Caluya and Sibay.

Even before it could fully comply with safety requirements, the coal mine operator in Semirara was granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), Lopez said early this month.

Since July 1 when Lopez started checking compliance with environment laws, she had suspended eight mining operations.

SMPC is the country’s largest coal producer. According to Lopez, the Semirara mining pit has sunk below sea level and continued coal mining could “kill” Semirara Island.

Even as the company’s revenues reached billions of pesos, nearly half of the island is poor, Lopez lamented.

“They (people) have suffered for a long, long period of time and this is not acceptable,” she stressed.

But in a statement, SMPC said its coal mine complies fully with environmental laws.

“We would like to reiterate that (SMPC) has been fully complying with all relevant laws and regulations,” the company said.

It added: “Our mining and environmental protocols also conform with the conditions of our ECCs. We hope that our company will be accorded due process throughout any pre- and formal audit process of the government.”/PN

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Aboitiz Power on shutdown to improve supply in VisMin

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 24, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A power plant of Aboitiz Power Corp. in Mindanao and of Energy Development Corp. (EDC) in Visayas went on maintenance shutdown to improve their reliability to supply power to the Visayas and Mindanao grids.
AboitizPower disclosed yesterday Unit 1 of the 2x150-megawatt (MW) Davao coal-fired power plant of its subsidiary Therma South Inc. (TSI) started its scheduled shutdown yesterday for preventive maintenance activities. 
“This maintenance activity is necessary to review Unit 1 and to implement some corrective measures as needed which should be similar in nature to the coverage of work done in the recently planned outage of Unit 2 from June 18 to July 13,” TSI president and COO Sebastian Lacson said.
The maintenance activity is estimated to last until Sept. 7.
“We are confident that after this outage, TSI should be better equipped to reliably meet the needs of our customers. As always, we will try our best to keep the duration of this interruption to a minimum,” Lacson said.
Originally scheduled to start Aug. 6, AboitizPower said the Unit 1 maintenance schedule was moved to Aug. 22 to better adjust to the grid situation.
TSI is coordinating with electric cooperatives and distribution utilities customers in Mindanao in order to implement measures to mitigate the impact of the maintenance activity.
In another disclosure, EDC said its 77-MW Malitbog Unit 2 Power Plant in Leyte tripped last Aug. 17 after it “experienced a flashover inside the high voltage terminal box.”
The plant tripping did not cause any supply shortfall in Visayas since the facility was offline and was in the process of testing and commissioning of its Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) under the supervision of ABB, the manufacturer of the AVR, as part of a 30 day scheduled maintenance outage.
“The incident did not have any impact on the grid as Malitbog Unit 2 was not synchronized to the grid at that time, and no injuries were sustained by any of the personnel involved,” it said.
Together with ABB and other consultants and contractors, EDC said it is currently conducting an assessment of the extent of the repairs needed and a full review to determine all contributing factors that led to the plant incident to ensure appropriate measures are taken to enable the safe and reliable operation of the unit.           

Villar: Mining should shift from export to processing

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MANILA, Philippines -- The development of domestic mineral processing plants should be the government's long-term goal since these will generate more employment and significantly improve the mining industry’s contribution to the economy,  Sen. Cynthia Villar said.

"That should be the vision in the future because, right now, we are just exporting raw materials but as the country develops, we should export the processed already. [We can't do that] now because the industry is not that developed but it is something that we can look forward to in the future,” Villar said on the sidelines of the opening day of the Mining Philippines Conference 2016.

The plan is similar to that of the Indonesian government's which requires companies to build domestic processing facilities and has revised regulations on mineral ore export to lean towards banning it altogether.

"If we are able to build stronger mining companies then their next sphere of action would be to build processing plants. They have to be stronger first, then that would follow,” Villar said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said the establishment of processing plants cannot be done in a short period of time as these need economic feasibility studies that would benefit both investors and the government.

"The industry would need a huge capital for that, billions of dollars, and we have to look at the best available technology. It’s a longer-term plan," COMP executive vice president Nelia Halcon said.

Although Villar doubts that the plan would materialize in the current administration, the chamber is upbeat that the plan would at least be included in Duterte's six-year development program as he shift gears towards industrialization.

"The president has been saying that we have to industrialize. In his term of six years, I think that would all be allotted for planning and the next administration would be on the execution," Halcon said.

Despite the costly plan of putting up processing plants, Halcon noted that investors would continue to flock to the Philippines as long as the government would provide incentive packages such as tax exemptions on environmentally-safe equipment.

Unlike in Indonesia, the chamber emphasized that it should not be mandatory, but merely an encouragement for companies to increase their investments and income.

"I don’t think you should impose just like what Indonesia did because not everyone was able to follow. It’s hard for Filipinos to be imposed on, it’s better if we just encourage and direct them that this is what the country needs and this is where we are heading. And that way, I think Filipinos, taipans and industrialists will invest in the country," Halcon said. 

Striking a balance

Amid the administration’s ongoing clampdown on allegedly irresponsible mining operations, Villar -- chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources -- emphasized that the mining industry generates employment and helps the government's poverty reduction measures.

"The government should do a balancing act—encourage investors by putting in place the right business environment and at the same time be vigilant against abuses and excesses, especially negative impact, if any, on the environment," Villar said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he will support responsible mining that will uphold environmental and safety standards, strictly implement the mining law and considers limiting the issuance of government permits to mining companies.

Last month, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez ordered the audit of all mining companies to ensure their compliance with environmental standards. This has resulted in the suspension of around 10 firms in the last 50 days.

Furthermore, Villar said mining projects that prioritize local suppliers and contractors should be given priority since this can spell the difference in inducing growth both upstream and downstream industries such as agriculture and agro-forestry, which can thrive under responsible mining operations.

Although accounting for less than one percent of the country’s total employment, Villar said mining's contribution should not be overlooked as it enhances local services such as retail trade, financial services, agriculture, manufacturing and others that are indirect beneficiaries of mineral resource development.

The value of mineral resources in the Philippines is over $1 trillion and the country is utilizing less than one percent of its mineral wealth.

Based on the Philippine Development Plan, of the country’s nine million hectares endowed with high mineral potential, only 2.7 percent is covered by mining permits while only 0.32 percent is in the development or operating stage.

"I was surprised that with so little, you are being blamed for environmental degradation. You [big companies] and the illegal miners should be differentiated so that you would not be blamed," she added.

Villar reiterated that any talk of mining will bring about concern for the environment as mining begins and ends with nature and should not be done to the detriment of the country’s natural resources.

"While the industry’s growth and development may foster equitable distribution of the country’s natural wealth to the Filipinos, it can never justify environmental destruction, especially when unrestrainedly done. We should continue to draw the line as it has been clearly demarcated even before by existing policies, rules and regulations," she said.

Despite being mineral-rich, the senator said the country should still strive to be competitive in terms of taxes to be attractive to investors and that mining taxation should be studied thoroughly.

"There have also been calls to revisit some issues relating to provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. What is important is that all sectors and stakeholders are consulted and that the decision will ultimately be beneficial to the country," she added.

The senator also urged mining stakeholders to come to Congress and educate them on matters regarding the industry.

"Legislators do not pretend that they know everything, you have to reach us in order to be able to pass meaningful legislation that will both benefit the industry and our country," Villar said.