BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...

BELMONTE: HOUSE APPROVED 2015 BUDGET PORK FREE  

NOV 25 --File photo of House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte. Joven Cagande Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday assured that the proposed P2.6006 trillion budget approved by the House of Representatives is constitutional and pork-free, contrary to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago's claim. “That's her opinion. There is no pork in our budget,” Belmonte said on Tuesday. In her privilege speech, Santiago said that the 2015 national budget was loaded with pork barrel and that the new definition of savings was unconstitutional for being over-broad and vague. The senator suggested that the Department of Budget and Management retain the old definition of savings. FULL REPORT BELOW...

ALSO: Miriam hits 'redefined savings', pork barrel in 2015 budget

NOV 25 --File photo of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Edd Gumban MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday assailed the constitutionality of the proposed 2015 budget that contains two "dangerous minefields." In a televised privilege speech, Santiago said the 2015 budget is vulnerable to corruption due to the new definition of government savings and the retention of pork barrel or lump-sum funds to be spent at the discretion of the legislators. "In other words, the 2015 budget which contains two dangerous minefields leading to corruption, is not what people expect. It is what administration candidates expect," she said. "Ito ang tinatawag na hyper-presidentialism. Sumobra na ang abot ng executive branch ng ating gobyerno," Santiago also said of the two "minefields." FULL REPORT BELOW...

ALSO: Senate OKs P2.6t budget with deletions, inclusions 

NOV 27 --Penalizes non-reporting of lump sum funds use: VOTING 13-0, the Senate approved on third and final reading the P2.6-trillion proposed national budget for 2015. Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the finance committee, said they deleted the phrase “at any time” in the definition of savings as proposed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. When acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III questioned Escudero on the definition of “savings” the Senate will adopt, he said they deleted the said phrase to ensure that the bill’s intention is clear. Santiago earlier said the redefinition of savings introduced by the House of Representatives was unconstitutional for being vague and too broad. In a privilege speech, she said the redefinition diminishes the congressional power over the purse. Escudero also said they included in the budget a provision that would penalize the head of agency for failure to give a report on their use of lump sum funds. ...

ALSO: PH economy slows to over 5-yr low, public spending scandal hurts

NOV 27 --The Philippine economy posted its slowest growth in more than five years in the third quarter, hurt by a decline in public spending and backing views the central bank will hold rates for an extended period before resuming its tightening cycle. Compared with the previous quarter, gross domestic product rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in the September quarter, undershooting expectations of 1.4 percent growth. It was the weakest pace of growth since the first quarter of 2009 when GDP contracted 2.4 percent. From a year earlier, the economy grew 5.3 percent in the July-September period, well below the 6.6 percent predicted by economists. “Relative to expectations, this is a big miss. It looks like the slowdown was led by the service sector. Manufacturing and construction seems to be holding up in line with what we are expecting,” said Euben Paracuelles, economist at Nomura in Singapore. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Disappointing GDP growth pummels index  

NOV 29 --A disappointing third quarter gross domestic product growth dragged the local benchmark index into the negative territory yesterday. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) failed to hold on to Wednesday’s momentum as it plunged 1.24 percent or 91.25 points to close at 7,265.34 on Thursday, with the All Shares index likewise following the drop as it lost 1.05 percent or 45.42 points to end at 4,279.97. Analysts have their fingers pointed to a single culprit for Thursday’s sour mood – and that is the country’s lower-than-expected third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth. The government reported yesterday that the Philippine economy grew 5.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, way below consensus forecast of 6.5 percent. “All eyes and ears were trained on the release of the third quarter 2014 GDP numbers,” said Justino Calaycay Jr., analyst at Accord Capital Equities Corp. As such, the local market reflected the disappointing GDP results with all counters in the local bourse ending in the red led by the property firms which dropped 2.87 percent or 83.76 points. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: SM North EDSA is now world's biggest solar-powered mall

NOV 25 --SM City North EDSA in Quezon City is now the world's largest solar-powered mall, after its rooftop solar power project was switched on, Monday morning. President Benigno Aquino and SM Prime president Hans Sy led the switch-on ceremony at the rooftop of SM North's multi-level car park, where the 5.760 solar panels are installed. "This is significant in light of the challenges that will confront our energy sector," Aquino said. Solar Philippines, led by 21-year-old Leandro Leviste, partnered with SM Malls to build the solar panels that could generate up to 1.5-MW power. This is SM's second solar power project after it installed a 1.1-MW project at its SM City Xiamen mall in China. FULL REPORT BELOW...

ALSO PHILSTAR Opinion:  Metro Manila pollution worse than ever

NOV 25 --Traffic in Metro Manila is usually the heaviest on Fridays and weekends especially now with the approaching holiday season as people from the provinces start trooping to Metro Manila to shop for Christmas gifts. For sure, this will be exacerbated by the spike in the number of arriving balikbayans who are not only spending the holidays here, but also to wait for the arrival of Pope Francis in January next year. Exhaust from idling vehicles stuck in traffic make it difficult to breathe, and the condition is made worse by the cool weather since the dense air cannot circulate upward – trapping carbon particles that make the ground level atmosphere thick and heavy with pollutants. Respiratory ailments have increased by 30 percent since last year, according to records from Metro Manila hospitals.


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Belmonte: House-approved 2015 budget pork-free


File photo of House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte. Joven Cagande

MANILA, DECEMBER 1, 2014 (PHILSTAR) POSTED NOV 25, 2014--By Patricia Lourdes Viray - Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday assured that the proposed P2.6006 trillion budget approved by the House of Representatives is constitutional and pork-free, contrary to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago's claim.

“That's her opinion. There is no pork in our budget,” Belmonte said on Tuesday.

In her privilege speech, Santiago said that the 2015 national budget was loaded with pork barrel and that the new definition of savings was unconstitutional for being over-broad and vague. The senator suggested that the Department of Budget and Management retain the old definition of savings.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab defended the 2015 national budget, noting that the definition they crafted complies with the Constitution, existing laws, rules and recent Supreme Court (SC) jurisprudence.

"With all due respect to Senator Miriam, the clause at any time for justifiable reasons is not included or part of the House version's definition of savings," Ungab said.

House Committee on Appropriations and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone added that it is only the SC which can decide if any issue is unconstitutional.

Aside from the redefined savings, Santiago hit the P37.3 billion lump sum funds appropriated to the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Commission on Higher Education.


FROM PHILSTAR

Miriam hits redefined savings, pork barrel in 2015 budget By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated November 24, 2014 - 5:03pm 4 1487 googleplus0 2


File photo of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday assailed the constitutionality of the proposed 2015 budget that contains two "dangerous minefields."

In a televised privilege speech, Santiago said the 2015 budget is vulnerable to corruption due to the new definition of government savings and the retention of pork barrel or lump-sum funds to be spent at the discretion of the legislators.

"In other words, the 2015 budget which contains two dangerous minefields leading to corruption, is not what people expect. It is what administration candidates expect," she said.

"Ito ang tinatawag na hyper-presidentialism. Sumobra na ang abot ng executive branch ng ating gobyerno," Santiago also said of the two "minefields."

Santiago said the new definition of "savings" is unconstitutional for being over-broad and vague. She pointed out that under Section 68 of the proposed budget, savings can be declared at any time for whatever might be considered "justifiable reasons."

The senator said the old definition is better since it allowed savings only after final discontinuance or abandonment of the work, activity, or purpose.

"The redefinition of savings demolishes and overturns not only the constitutional and legislated meaning of savings; it goes against the generally accepted meaning of the word itself. We might be the only country in this world which declares savings at any time," Santiago said.

"Since the private sector has a different meaning of savings, books on accounting, auditing, and financial management will have to be changed," she added. "Ganoon katapang ang mga taga-Malakanyang. Papalitan nila ang bokabularyo."

Santiago is urging her colleagues to reject the new definition of savings introduced by the lower chamber and retain instead the original definition.

She added that the Senate should not approve the budget unless the redefinitions are removed.

Pork barrel revived?

Santiago said the term "Priority Development Assistance Fund" (PDAF) or the lawmakers' pork barrel was avoided in the 2014 budget.

The absence of the term PDAF, however, was merely "illusory," Santiago said, since P25.4 billion was transferred to five agencies with legislators still in control of the projects.

Santiago believes that the same thing is happening in the 2015 budget.

"Let me raise a BIG question about the 2015 budget. Last summer, why were representatives asked to submit lists of projects they endorsed for their districts? I understand that the form distributed did not bear any letterhead," the senator said.

She explained that the 2015 budget, at least P37.3 billion worth of projects are allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Commission on Higher Education.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARDS

Senate OKs P2.6t budget with deletions, inclusions By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz | Nov. 27, 2014 at 12:01am

Penalizes non-reporting of lump sum funds use

VOTING 13-0, the Senate approved on third and final reading the P2.6-trillion proposed national budget for 2015.

Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the finance committee, said they deleted the phrase “at any time” in the definition of savings as proposed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

When acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III questioned Escudero on the definition of “savings” the Senate will adopt, he said they deleted the said phrase to ensure that the bill’s intention is clear.

Santiago earlier said the redefinition of savings introduced by the House of Representatives was unconstitutional for being vague and too broad. In a privilege speech, she said the redefinition diminishes the congressional power over the purse.

Escudero also said they included in the budget a provision that would penalize the head of agency for failure to give a report on their use of lump sum funds.

“As soon as they avail of it, we will see it. We provided a penalty of six months suspension or imprisonment of one year, or a fineequivalent to six months salary if they fail to submit,” he added.

In the House, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said lawmakers would pass the P23 billion supplemental budget that the Palace requested before Congress goes on Christmas break.

“It is not with us yet, I hope we will be able to file it on Monday and certainly hope to approve it before we go on Christmas break,” Belmonte told reporters at the sidelines of Wednesday’s meeting of members of the House of Representatives and the Joint Foreign Chambers and Philippine Business Groups at Batasan Complex in Quezon City.

Belmonte also said both the House and the Senate are scheduled to approve into law the P2.606 trillion 2015 budget before the year ends.

Malacañang sought a supplemental budget for the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by super typhoon Yolanda and other projects such as the rehabilitation of the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2.

Belmonte said Congress needs to pass the supplemental budget on time to ensure that the government would continue the implementation of several government projects funded under the

Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which were declared unconstitituional by the Supreme Court.

“Some of DAP projects were already completed but were not paid, so those are among the items included. Some of them were about to be completed when the Supreme Court stopped [the DAP] and we should complete those,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte said the passage of the supplemental budget would not be railroaded and would go through the regular legislative process.

He also brushed aside allegations of House deputy minority leader and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares that the supplemental budget is another form of pork barrel to reward Palace allies in the House of Representatives this Christmas.

He said he was not surprised that Colmenares, a staunch critic of the administration, would make such a statement.

Belmonte also maintained that the national budget for next year was not loaded with pork barrel, explaining that the Supreme Court only barred lump sump appropriations in its decision against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

“A lot of projects of congressmen are there but were listed. What the Supreme Court said in its decision against PDAF was that there was no indication where these would be used,” Belmonte said.

“The Supreme Court itself said there’s absolutely nothing wrong. It is the function and duty of Congress to itemize projects and as you can see from our former two-volume budget, we have now a six-volume budget, full of itemization. I hope you can read what these projects are,” he added.

In approving the 2015 budget, senators said the spending plan would spur development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which had a 24 percent increase in its allocation to P24 billion, and provide accessible health services throughout the country.

Escudero noted that as the ARMM prepares for its transition to the Bangsamoro regional government, the Department of Public Works and Highways received P10.642 billion to build roads and bridges, water systems, ports, lighthouses and harbors and flood control systems there.

He said the money earmarked for various ARMM programs amounted to P12.394 billion, which will be used for the agency’s administrative operation, provision of staff support, and budget for

regional departments, Legislative Assembly and the Offices of the Governor and Vice Governor.

Three ongoing ARMM projects got P11.906 billion or 48.9 percent of the region’s total budget allocation. Appropriations for Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Synergy (HELPS) almost

doubled to P1.02 billion to finance construction of barangay halls, community learning centers and multipurpose buildings, public markets and terminals. About P76.5 million was set aside for the implementation, monitoring and supervision of the projects.

Another project, the ARMM BRIDGE (Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development for Sustainable Growth with Equity), was allotted P120 million to serve as the transition program for the Autonomous Regional Government to prepare communities for the Bangsamoro government.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on health and demography, noted that the Health Department will get a P90.21 billion allocation for 2015.

Some P37.06 billion of this would be used to pay the full health insurance premiums of poor families under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; poor and low-income persons other than those identified by the DSWD; indigent barangay officials; and senior citizens.

Guingona said P1 billion will also be allocated to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center to ensure the structural integrity of its facilities and to improve the delivery of services to children needing special health care.

To address the need for additional medical personnel in government health institutions, the 2015 budget will set aside P4.3 billion to hire 398 doctors, 13,500 nurses, 2,700 midwives and 480 dentists.

A total of P129.03 million is allocated to fund the payment of Philhealth premiums of former rebels identified under the PAMANA and the Sajahatra Bangsamoro programs of the government.

The 2015 budget will also allocate P500 million for the Quick Response Fund, which will serve as a standby fund to be used for the repair and rehabilitation of health facilities and equipment, as well as to provide emergency medical assistance in areas stricken by calamities, epidemics and catastrophes.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

PH economy slows to over 5-yr low, public spending scandal hurts by Reuters November 27, 2014 (updated) Share this:

The Philippine economy posted its slowest growth in more than five years in the third quarter, hurt by a decline in public spending and backing views the central bank will hold rates for an extended period before resuming its tightening cycle.

Compared with the previous quarter, gross domestic product rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in the September quarter, undershooting expectations of 1.4 percent growth. It was the weakest pace of growth since the first quarter of 2009 when GDP contracted 2.4 percent.

From a year earlier, the economy grew 5.3 percent in the July-September period, well below the 6.6 percent predicted by economists.

“Relative to expectations, this is a big miss. It looks like the slowdown was led by the service sector. Manufacturing and construction seems to be holding up in line with what we are expecting,” said Euben Paracuelles, economist at Nomura in Singapore.

“There should be a rebound in Q4, although for the full year the risk is the government doesn’t meet its target, even the low end of the range.

Manila has a growth target of 6.5-7.5 percent this year.

Growth for January to September averaged 5.8 percent, the government said on Thursday.

The Philippine peso and the stock market turned down on the disappointing data.

A July ruling by the Supreme Court declaring parts of an economic stimulus fund illegal “is putting a chilling effect in the bureaucracy,” Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said, adding the scrapping of the fund could have contributed to slower state spending.

The controversy has slowed spending because officials are subjecting decisions to more scrutiny, putting big infrastructure projects at risk.

A slower quarter-on-quarter growth and cooling inflation make it almost certain the central bank will leave interest rates on hold for a second straight month in December before resuming its tightening cycle next year.

Some analysts expect the central bank to resume raising interest rates as early as in the first quarter of 2015 to prepare for an eventual policy normalisation by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Inflation has averaged an annual 4.3 percent in the 10 months to October, within the central bank’s 3-5 percent target.

The Philippine peso turned weaker after the GDP data release, with the currency now quoted at 44.955 per dollar from its Wednesday close of 44.92.

The stock market was 0.76 percent lower in early trades.


FROM PHILSTAR

Disappointing GDP growth pummels index By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 28, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - A disappointing third quarter gross domestic product growth dragged the local benchmark index into the negative territory yesterday.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) failed to hold on to Wednesday’s momentum as it plunged 1.24 percent or 91.25 points to close at 7,265.34 on Thursday, with the All Shares index likewise following the drop as it lost 1.05 percent or 45.42 points to end at 4,279.97.

Analysts have their fingers pointed to a single culprit for Thursday’s sour mood – and that is the country’s lower-than-expected third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

The government reported yesterday that the Philippine economy grew 5.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, way below consensus forecast of 6.5 percent.

“All eyes and ears were trained on the release of the third quarter 2014 GDP numbers,” said Justino Calaycay Jr., analyst at Accord Capital Equities Corp.

As such, the local market reflected the disappointing GDP results with all counters in the local bourse ending in the red led by the property firms which dropped 2.87 percent or 83.76 points.

Market breadth was negative as decliners dominated advancers, 129 to 53, while 39 stocks were unmoved.

The PSEi was fresh from Wednesday’s 7,356.59 finish, a 2014 record close that eclipsed the year’s previous high of 7,355.29 recorded last Sept. 24.


FROM ABS-CBN NEWS

SM North EDSA is now world's biggest solar-powered mall by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 11/24/2014 12:39 PM | Updated as of 11/25/2014 2:38 PM


VIDEO NEWS SCREENGRAB--ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines -- SM City North EDSA in Quezon City is now the world's largest solar-powered mall, after its rooftop solar power project was switched on, Monday morning.

President Benigno Aquino and SM Prime president Hans Sy led the switch-on ceremony at the rooftop of SM North's multi-level car park, where the 5.760 solar panels are installed.

"This is significant in light of the challenges that will confront our energy sector," Aquino said.

Solar Philippines, led by 21-year-old Leandro Leviste, partnered with SM Malls to build the solar panels that could generate up to 1.5-MW power. This is SM's second solar power project after it installed a 1.1-MW project at its SM City Xiamen mall in China.


Solar panels are seen at the rooftop of SM North EDSA mall’s parking building on Monday. The mall activated its solar powered rooftop which is expected to provide savings for around 30% to 40% of its power consumption. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

Solar power projects underway at MOA, Dasmarinas

SM Supermalls president Annie Garcia said the 1.5-MW of electricity generated by the solar panels can power 16,000 light fixtures, 59 escalators and 20 elevators of SM North at the same time. This represents 5 percent of the mall's total electricity requirements.

She said using the solar panels can generate up to P2 million in savings every month for SM North.

Garcia said SM has two rooftop solar power projects by Solar Philippines in the pipeline --in SM Dasmarinas in Cavite and SM Mall of Asia in Paranaque.

SM Dasmarinas will have a capacity of 0.8MW using 3,740 solar panels. It is expected to be operational by May 2015.

SM Mall of Asia will also have 10,500 solar panels installed, as part of the mall's expansion. Garcia said the project, which will generate 2.7-MW, may go online by the end of 2015.

Asked if more SM malls would have solar power projects, Garcia said it would depend on the studies conducted by Solar Philippines.

"We've started with them and we would like to partner with the best," she said.


President Aquino switches on the solar powered rooftop at the SM City North EDSA mall on Monday. He is accompanied by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste and SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

PNoy urges Congress to OK emergency powers

Amid a looming power shortage in Luzon in the summer of 2015, Aquino noted SM has committed to de-loading 57.9MW during critical times when supply falls short of demand next summer.

"This might not be enough to address the shortage but it is a very significant step forward... Government is doing everything to address this challenge," he said.

The President also urged the House and Senate to approve the joint resolution giving the government additional powers to address the looming energy crisis in the summer of 2015.

"We are hopeful both the House and the Senate would approve the joint resolution we requested sooner rather than later in order to give the national government enough time to contract the necessary reserves," Aquino said.

The House energy committee had earlier voted to approve House Joint Resolution 21 granting Aquino additional powers.


PHILSTAR OPINION

Metro Manila pollution worse than ever SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 25, 2014 - 12:00am 1 5 googleplus0 0


By Babe G. Romualdez

Traffic in Metro Manila is usually the heaviest on Fridays and weekends especially now with the approaching holiday season as people from the provinces start trooping to Metro Manila to shop for Christmas gifts.

For sure, this will be exacerbated by the spike in the number of arriving balikbayans who are not only spending the holidays here, but also to wait for the arrival of Pope Francis in January next year.

Exhaust from idling vehicles stuck in traffic make it difficult to breathe, and the condition is made worse by the cool weather since the dense air cannot circulate upward – trapping carbon particles that make the ground level atmosphere thick and heavy with pollutants. Respiratory ailments have increased by 30 percent since last year, according to records from Metro Manila hospitals.

We received photos taken on Saturday morning and yesterday at noon, and as one can readily see the pollution has become worse than ever – with a grayish shadow covering the metropolis like an ominous shroud.

The air quality has become so bad that a multisector group calling itself the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates (Philippines), composed of health professionals, business leaders, the religious sector and civil society organizations came out with a full page ad in the Sunday edition of this paper, making an urgent appeal for the president to fully implement Republic Act 8749, otherwise known as the Clean Air Act of 1999.

Citing data from the DENR, the group stressed that the air quality in Metro Manila and other urban centers has reached internationally unacceptable levels that pose a “clear and present danger to human health.”

Data shows that 80 percent of air pollution is caused by motor vehicle emissions, yet a lot of carbon-spewing vehicles still manage to pass the mandatory emission test prior to registration – due to the unfortunate practice of “non-appearance” that some corrupt DOTC-LTO employees have allowed to proliferate.

It’s been 15 years since the passage of the Clean Air Act law yet to this day, it hasn’t really done much to combat pollution or improve air quality.

Corruption in both the public and private sector has been identified by the Clean Air advocacy group as critical in the implementation of the Clean Air Act, and among their proposals is to impose stiffer penalties for those that take part in “non-appearance” testing plus the automation of emission testing protocols – which might entail changes in DENR specifications with regard to equipment and test data gathering.

The group is also advocating the development of more mass transport system and the designation of more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly lanes to lessen he use of motor vehicles when commuting, and the introduction/commercialization of clean fuels or other fuels that will lessen carbon and particulate emission.

While Metro Manila is not in The Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland’s list of the 10 most polluted cities in 2013, an expert from the World Health Organization told us we will soon have the dubious honor of joining that list if the quality of air continues to deteriorate. Clearly, we all have to do our part in improving the air quality in Metro Manila.

SM Prime(s) up for solar energy use

The use of renewable energy like solar is now a major factor being considered by planners and designers who advocate “clean cities,” saying that electricity from coal and fossil fuel account for much of the carbon dioxide emissions that are responsible for pollution.

In Germany for instance, the government has passed legislation encouraging the use of solar energy by providing incentives for homes that invest in solar or wind energy to generate their own electricity. This has resulted in a major shift towards solar energy that has not only resulted in lesser electric consumption but has contributed in reducing pollution.

In the Philippines, retail and property giant SM Prime Holdings has marked another milestone in its commitment to achieve sustainability in its operations as seen in the activation of the solar powered rooftop at its SM City North Edsa Mall.

SM Prime president Hans Sy led the switch-on ceremony yesterday with President Noynoy Aquino as guest of honor, with the event witnessed by environment champion Loren Legarda, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, DENR Secretary Mon Paje and Speaker Sonny Belmonte.

SM Prime worked closely with Solar Philippines to put up over 5,700 solar panels that have the capacity to generate up to 1.5 megawatts (MW) of energy – enough to power 1,000 homes or charge over 200,000 cellular phones. The power generated by the solar panels could offset 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide – almost like planting 6,000 trees per year. The solar panels installed at the rooftop can power up the lighting fixtures and elevators at the mall.

Time and time again, the SM Group has displayed its commitment in making its operations sustainable and environment friendly especially now that the country faces a power shortage next year. With the solar rooftop project, the mall developer has shown it walks the talk – doing what it can to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing the consumption of electricity.

Hopefully, other groups will also follow suit not only to make business sustainable but to help ensure a cleaner, greener environment for the future.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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