[WIND turbine for home use generates electricity. The benefits of converting to clean energy will be felt in the long run, after the initial investment is paid off. Photo By Ma. Esther Salcedo-Posadas, Contributor]

MANILA, MAY 13, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Ma. Esther Salcedo - Posadas - Why the Philippine clean energy sector needs a boost - Former Senator Heherson Alvarez thinks that the world is so close to what is known as the “tipping point” where even the food chain will be directly affected.

He mentioned a UN report that cites the Philippines as the third most vulnerable country with regard to the impact of climate change, mainly because of the country’s geographical location and nature as an archipelago.

In that 2007 study led by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Alvarez cited the following: it was concluded in the report that carbon dioxide is the culprit of warmer climates. At that time, the earth had warmed up by 1.4 degrees centigrade and it was estimated that a tipping point would occur with an additional 2 degrees. He further explained that the tipping point would lead to hotter climates, bleaching of corals, plankton (fish food) dying, fish also dying from lack of food and eventually humans not having enough fish and protein supply.

He thus reiterated the drastic need for carbon to be reduced and alternative energy such as wind, solar, and hydro to be used.

According to Alvarez, the Philippines is actually a low carbon consumer at around 1.5 to 3 tons per person while the United States uses around 12 to 14 tons per person. Unfortunately, the Philippines is the first victim of global warming since the country experiences numerous weather disasters such as typhoons.

“Let’s aim for zero carbon,” he says. He gave the example of Costa Rica that uses predominantly clean energy that they plan to reach that target in a few year’s time.

“There is a dominant minority that is profiting from the old system,” laments the former senator with regard to the Philippine scenario. He feels that many decisions are made to satisfy short-term goals.

He mentions that the Maria Cristina hydroelectric plant in Mindanao currently lacks around 500 megawatts and the immediate solution found was to use more fossil fuel energy. He believes that investing in a clean energy water turbine may be the better path. He explains that it could take a few years to pay off the investment but in the long run, the cost of running the electricity would be zero.

“Long term disaster planning should prevail over short term benefits. Profits should be drawn on long term social calculations.” Alvarez admits that there is a wide difference between the cost of electricity obtained from coal versus clean energy, with coal being the cheaper alternative. Thus, there is a need to make real sacrifices in the beginning.

He also believes that the feed-in-tariff is not beneficial in the long run: “Feed-in-tariff would be self defeating. It’s restrictive for the full entry of alternative fuel especially if there’s a breakthrough.”

In summary, Alvarez concludes that there is little time left before the full impact of climate change will be felt. The clean energy industry is a completely new arena that few people even understand the dynamics. And yet the clock is ticking.

Former Senator Alvarez is acknowledged as the father of the climate change movement in the Philippines. He is a commissioner of the Philippine Climate Change Commission that is headed by President Aquino. The group is tasked to formulate policies on climate change for the Philippine government.


BIR to continue probe on tax liabilities By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue said it would continue its investigation on taxpayers’ tax liabilities even as it receives legal petition notices (LPNs) from individuals or entities questioning the audit.

The BIR said there has been a proliferation of LPNs or similar documents coming from taxpayers and practitioners questioning the validity of the electronic Letters of Authority (ELAs) issued by the country’s main tax collection agency.

“Even as we repeatedly reply to these LPNs reiterating the validity of the ELAs, these taxpayers persist on sending LPNs, thinking that LPNs will stop or defer the investigation process. However, it is evident that they misconstrue the consequence of these LPNs and are ignoring the long established procedures for audit, assessment and protesting deficiency assessments,” said BIR Commissioner Kim Henares.

“The normal process and procedures related to audit/investigation arising from ELA will not be suspended notwithstanding the receipt of LPN questioning the validity and enforceability of the ELA duly issued by the concerned regional director for the audit of taxpayer within the region inasmuch as the issue has already been clarified,” Henares said.

The BIR circular clarifies taxpayers concerns on the audit program, and their responsibility in engaging tax agents.

Henares underscored the need for taxpayers to understand the implication of these LPNs and/or certain procedures related to audit, such as issuance of subpoena duces tecum and assessment notices to prevent any attempt by taxpayers and practitioners to thwart and undermine the authority of the BIR to exercise its functions provided by law.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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