IGLESIA NI CRISTO MAKES HISTORY 

As many as two million people gathered to mark the 100th anniversary of a powerful homegrown church, showcasing the conservative group’s discipline and influence.
Some of the faithful waited overnight in the pouring rain to attend the centennial celebration of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), in an event designed to show off the religion’s stunning success at home and abroad. Government officials monitoring the gathering estimated that 1.6 to two million people gathered for the INC centennial, packing out a massive new arena built to mark the occasion and the nearby 20,000-seat Philippine Stadium, as well as huge tents erected on the grounds for the event.
Eduardo Manalo, leader of the Iglesia, known as the INC, said in a special sermon broadcast live to the faithful that the swift completion of the new Philippine Arena near the stadium was proof of the group’s divine support.
“The Philippine Arena was finished in two years and nine months when it should have taken five years. This is the work of God,” he declared at the sprawling compound being developed by the church. The occasion was also used as an attempt to set world records, with the 55,000-seat arena certified as the world’s biggest mixed-use theater and the INC’s 4,745-member choir declared the world’s largest by an adjudicator from Guinness World Records. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Will education get priority over debt payments?

By Tita Valderama --When I embraced teaching as a career two years ago, all I had in mind was to have the opportunity to share my basic knowledge and years of experience as a journalist to those aspiring to enter the journalism field. There were times when disappointment, frustration and depression hit me because of the poor quality of many students from various universities that I came across with, especially those who went through public schools and were pursuing tertiary courses in state colleges. There were times I was wondering how some students passed basic English and Filipino subjects in the elementary level and even reached the collegiate level. Was it because of the students’ individual capacity to absorb lessons, or was it about the quality of teachers?
For sure, education will certainly be among the many issues that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will report on when he delivers this afternoon his second to the last state of the nation address (SONA), granting he is not unseated or impeached before July 27 next year.

Every administration has put special premium on education, regarding it as the cornerstone of national development. However, the constitutional mandate for the state to assign the highest budgetary priority to education has not been followed over the years. Having education the top budgetary priority is mere lip service all through the years.
Article XIV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides: The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels. Section 5, paragraph 5 stipulates: The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment. The annual budget for education and government’s total education expenditures have been increasing, starting with P79.4 billion in 1991 to P241.4 billion in 1998 and further to P255.9 billion in 2013. In his budget message to Congress last year, the President said: ”Through the years, we have steadily increased the budget for DepEd to close the critical gaps in the supply of teachers, classrooms and others that we have inherited; and to prepare for increased needs brought about by the K-12 basic education reform program.” * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy weighed, found wanting 

Getting ready. Congress workers fold the old flag used during President Benigno Aquino III’s
State-of-the-Nation Address last year after replacing it with a new one for his address today.
“We have lost faith in him. We no longer have illusions on his administration. It seems that the slogans ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path), ‘kayo ang boss ko’ (you are my boss) and ‘kung walang kurap, walang mahirap’ (no one will remain poor if no one is corrupt) were all just campaign gimmicks,” said George San Mateo, president of the transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston). On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, United Nationalist Alliance and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco gave Aquino a grade of zero in terms of respecting the Constitution. He was not being truthful to his oath of office – to uphold and defend the Constitution – when he implemented the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),” Tiangco said. The Supreme Court has ruled that several acts under the P144.37-billion DAP were unconstitutional. Aquino has consistently attacked the 13-0 ruling of the magistrates even as the government already filed a motion for reconsideration seeking to overturn the decision. * READ MORE...

ALSO: P-Noy is urged: Make ‘bosses’ feel growth  

The economy is improving. Now it’s time to make the majority of President Aquino’s “bosses” feel the benefits of growth. This is the message of business groups to the President as he delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) today at the joint opening session of Congress. Inclusive growth has eluded Asia’s second fastest growing economy, as even the President’s economic managers have admitted, and poverty incidence under his watch has not significantly eased. Aquino addresses his “bosses” the people today with his approval ratings at record lows in recent surveys as his administration grapples with rising consumer prices and criticism of his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Investors acknowledge that Aquino’s focus on good governance to drive economic growth is working, but they want more reforms. Malacañang has kept the contents of the SONA under wraps, except to say that Aquino would certify as urgent the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

There was speculation yesterday that Aquino would announce some changes in his Cabinet, whose members have come under fire for poor performance and even allegations of misusing public funds. “Good governance or anti-corruption has created the foundation for change in the business climate and international recognition of the opportunities the Philippines offers, but we have to be aware that economic growth is basically consumption-led. The focus during the last two years has to be on inclusive growth, which can only happen if manufacturing and agribusiness will be supported and encouraged with priority,” European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines vice president Henry Schumacher said in a text message. Schumacher said infrastructure projects should be intensified to push economic growth. He called for economic liberalization and incentives to attract more foreign investors. Last week business groups submitted to Malacañang a “wish list” of measures that they want implemented in what the President has described as his “last two minutes” in office. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Power firms fear summer shortage

Power generators said it would be difficult to provide up to 500 megawatts in additional capacity next year, which Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said is what the country needs to avert a power crisis. Petilla proposed the declaration of a state of emergency in the power sector by invoking Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to give the government the authority to put up additional generation capacity. “It would be difficult for anyone to put together 500 MW in such a short time. It’s going to be difficult,” according to Ernesto Pantangco, executive vice president of First Gen Corp. and chairman of the energy committee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) Pantangco, however, said power generators have yet to come out with their position on Petilla’s proposal. He said MAP and the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association (PIPPA) are still studying the proposal to invoke Section 71 of the EPIRA.

“We are still consulting with various members,” Pantangco said. He explained it would be difficult for any power company to come up with an additional capacity of up to 500 MW in time for the summer of 2015 due to delays in permitting and other concerns. The declaration of a state of emergency would allow the government, through the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) to tap additional power capacity for the summer of 2015. Petilla said there is a projected deficit of 200 MW for some days of April and May 2015. Under the plan, the government through PSALM will rent diesel-fired power facilities on short-term contracts of two years if possible.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

INC makes history


Members of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) gather outside the Philippine Arena Dome as fireworks are set off during their 100th anniversary in Bocaue, Bulacan. AFP PHOTO

BOCAUE, BULACAN, JULY 28, 2014
(MANILA TIMES)
As many as two million people gathered to mark the 100th anniversary of a powerful homegrown church, showcasing the conservative group’s discipline and influence.

Some of the faithful waited overnight in the pouring rain to attend the centennial celebration of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), in an event designed to show off the religion’s stunning success at home and abroad.

Government officials monitoring the gathering estimated that 1.6 to two million people gathered for the INC centennial, packing out a massive new arena built to mark the occasion and the nearby 20,000-seat Philippine Stadium, as well as huge tents erected on the grounds for the event.

Eduardo Manalo, leader of the Iglesia, known as the INC, said in a special sermon broadcast live to the faithful that the swift completion of the new Philippine Arena near the stadium was proof of the group’s divine support.

“The Philippine Arena was finished in two years and nine months when it should have taken five years. This is the work of God,” he declared at the sprawling compound being developed by the church.

The occasion was also used as an attempt to set world records, with the 55,000-seat arena certified as the world’s biggest mixed-use theater and the INC’s 4,745-member choir declared the world’s largest by an adjudicator from Guinness World Records.

* Although the INC is a minority in the Philippines, where 80 percent of the 100 million people are Catholics, the Iglesia has considerable clout.

Media reports have estimated membership at around two to three million, with a rapid spread in scores of countries beyond the Philippines.

Outsize influence

The Roman Catholic Church has for centuries been the dominant religious force in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony.

The INC is at odds with the Church on many fundamental issues of doctrine, and numerous outsiders perceive it as a much more conservative brand of Christianity.

The INC’s teachings are based on a rigid following of the Bible, and it insists only its members qualify for salvation.
Members are required to marry within the church and must give it a portion of their salaries as well.

More significantly, they are required to vote as a bloc for political candidates given the blessing of INC leaders. As a result, many politicians are quick to pay it their respects.

Ramon Casiple, head of the Manila-based Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said Sunday’s massive gathering also served to project the INC’s influence on society at large.

“It cannot be denied that they are making use of the occasion to flex their muscles,” he told Agence France-Presse.

“Their message is: We are here, you have to deal with us, particularly during the 2016 [national] elections,” Casiple said.

Although President Benigno Aquino 3rd is not an INC member, he paid tribute to the group when he attended the opening of the Philippine Arena on July 21.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Iglesia ni Cristo for the sympathy you have shown your brothers. You have truly displayed sympathy, not just in words but also in deeds,” he said, citing the aid provided to victims of frequent natural disasters that hit the country.

“Thank you also for the support you have shown my administration in furthering good governance,” Aquino added.

Will education get priority over debt payments? July 27, 2014 9:59 pm
by TITA C. VALDERAMA


Public school teachers from Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila hold a protest at the Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila on Sunday. The public school teachers, including those who belong to the Teacher’s Dignity Coalation, made their assessment on the four years of the Aquino administration’s performance and gave President Benigno Aquino3rd a failing mark. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI


TITA C. VALDERAMA

When I embraced teaching as a career two years ago, all I had in mind was to have the opportunity to share my basic knowledge and years of experience as a journalist to those aspiring to enter the journalism field.

There were times when disappointment, frustration and depression hit me because of the poor quality of many students from various universities that I came across with, especially those who went through public schools and were pursuing tertiary courses in state colleges.

There were times I was wondering how some students passed basic English and Filipino subjects in the elementary level and even reached the collegiate level. Was it because of the students’ individual capacity to absorb lessons, or was it about the quality of teachers?

For sure, education will certainly be among the many issues that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will report on when he delivers this afternoon his second to the last state of the nation address (SONA), granting he is not unseated or impeached before July 27 next year.

Every administration has put special premium on education, regarding it as the cornerstone of national development. However, the constitutional mandate for the state to assign the highest budgetary priority to education has not been followed over the years. Having education the top budgetary priority is mere lip service all through the years.

Article XIV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides: The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels. Section 5, paragraph 5 stipulates: The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.

The annual budget for education and government’s total education expenditures have been increasing, starting with P79.4 billion in 1991 to P241.4 billion in 1998 and further to P255.9 billion in 2013.

In his budget message to Congress last year, the President said: ”Through the years, we have steadily increased the budget for DepEd to close the critical gaps in the supply of teachers, classrooms and others that we have inherited; and to prepare for increased needs brought about by the K-12 basic education reform program.”

* For 2014, the Department of Education (DepEd) alone has a P336.9 billion allocation, the highest among all other government agencies.

Having a huge budget allocation for the construction of school buildings, hiring of teachers, purchase of books and other school paraphernalia should only be secondary to providing quality educators.

Were these enough? Certainly not. The Constitution did not say that education should be given the highest budgetary priority only among government agencies. For as long debt payments eat up a large chunk of the budget pie, the constitutional mandate cannot be considered being followed.

Paying our debts is given more priority than providing quality education. The billions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other monies released through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) would have been put to better use had those been channeled to education. Even half of those monies going to educators’ training would certainly bring about positive results.

Training programs should be designed to introduce modern ways of teaching the new generation of students, and not as junkets.

What is disheartening is that the government borrows money to pay for its own debts. We may never get out of this vicious debt cycle unless government re-defines its utmost priorities, and education should always be on top.

Last year, Senator Ralph Recto noted that the government’s interest and principal payments on its debts will climb to an all-time high of P791.5 billion this year. This translates to a daily disbursement rate of P2.17 billion.

Recto said total interest payments on national government debts for 2014 were at P352.7 billion, or 15.6 percent of the P2.268-trillion budget. Principal amortization amounted to P438.8 billion.

In 2013, the interest payment was P333.9 billion and P312.8 billion in 2012. The total appropriation for education (from basic to higher education to technical/vocational) pale in comparison at only P255.9 billion in 2013 and P221.4 billion in 2012.

This was already a remarkable improvement compared to about 10 years ago when debt service used to eat up one-third or 30 to 35 percent of the annual national budget.

The government introduced the K to 12 program to improve the dismal picture of the quality of education in the country by institutionalizing pre-school and adding two more years of high school in the basic education cycle.

It is unlikely that the Philippines will meet its commitment under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to achieve 100 percent net enrolment rate in primary education by 2015.

When the K to 12 goes on full swing by 2016, we would see if DepEd was right in claiming that the 10-year curriculum for basic education was to be blamed for the deteriorating quality of education in the country.

I hope that in my lifetime, I would see the day when improving the quality of education in the country truly gets priority over other concerns.

Somebody said that “until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society.”

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

PNoy weighed, found wanting By Joyce Pangco Panares | Jul. 28, 2014 at 12:01am


Getting ready. Congress workers fold the old flag used during President Benigno Aquino III’s State-of-the-Nation Address last year after replacing it with a new one for his address today.

Critics rate his actions on key issues since 2010

WHEN he ran for office in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III convinced the public that the nation was at a crossroads, and that his “straight path” was the correct way forward.

Four years later and with less than two years left in his presidency, the people have judged Aquino’s performance, and many have found him wanting.

“We have lost faith in him. We no longer have illusions on his administration. It seems that the slogans ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path), ‘kayo ang boss ko’ (you are my boss) and ‘kung walang kurap, walang mahirap’ (no one will remain poor if no one is corrupt) were all just campaign gimmicks,” said George San Mateo, president of the transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston).

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, United Nationalist Alliance and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco gave Aquino a grade of zero in terms of respecting the Constitution.

He was not being truthful to his oath of office – to uphold and defend the Constitution – when he implemented the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),” Tiangco said.

The Supreme Court has ruled that several acts under the P144.37-billion DAP were unconstitutional. Aquino has consistently attacked the 13-0 ruling of the magistrates even as the government already filed a motion for reconsideration seeking to overturn the decision.

* Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon gave the President a grade of three for his anti-corruption promises in his past State of the Nation Address speeches.

“For as long as the president remains stubborn and arrogant in his defense of the DAP, he can kiss his legacy goodbye,” Ridon said.

The roots of DAP, in fact, can be traced to Aquino’s promise to “eradicate wrong projects and plug leakages” during his first SONA in 2010, leading to underspending and slow economic growth that the administration used to justify the DAP.

“Aquino gets a five for his anti-corruption drive because of the selective prosecution and for having a bigger pork barrel himself through the DAP,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

“Aquino’s stubborn defense of the unconstitutional and illegal presidential pork barrel, a.k.a DAP, is clear proof that he refuses to dismantle the corrupt pork barrel system,” he said.

He has cynically used the people’s indignation against the pork barrel plunder to selectively investigate and prosecute members of the political opposition while allowing his allies to remain scot-free,” Reyes added.

For those in the labor sector, the President got a failing grade for legalizing contractualization, refusing to give workers tax breaks, and increasing SSS and PhilHealth contributions.

“If we can give him a grade lower than one, we will go for that,” Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino national chairman Leody de Guzman said.

De Guzman likened Aquino’s labor policies to a “burdensome yellow cross” which he said was “the most apt image to symbolize the plight of ordinary wage-earners under this four year-old deceitful and outright elitist regime of Aquino.”

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairperson Rafael Mariano also shrugged off the credit rating upgrades being bannered by the Aquino administration as a sign of inclusive economic growth.

“He scored zero in terms of food security, land reform and coco-industry development,” Mariano said.

In his SONA speech last year, Aquino boasted of the P1.75 billion government investment in the booming coconut industry.

Last month, the President had to issue several emergency response measures to the scale insect infestation that has affected more than a million coconut trees and about 500,000 lanzones and mangosteen trees.

“Even as he was making these promises in 2013, the cocolisap infestation was already wreaking havoc on tens of thousands of hectares of coconut plantations. His government failed to respond quickly enough,” Aliance of Concerned Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said.

The President also failed to fulfill his SONA promise of rice self-sufficiency, resulting in importation from 2 million metric tons in 2010 to only 350,000 metric tons last year.

Prices of rice, along with other basic commodities such as garlic and ginger, rose this year, prompting Aquino to approve an additional importation of 200,000 metric tons from Vietnam to ensure ample supply.

“The Department of Agriculture is incompetent in maintaining buffer stocks, making price of rice vulnerable to manipulation by private traders and leading to the current spike in prices,” Tinio added.

According to political analyst Ramon Casiple, the President deserves a grade of 6 when it comes to the peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and defense modernization.

The government and the MILF, however, have failed to meet its self-imposed deadline of submitting a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress today (July 28) amid language problems as well as some unconstitutional provisions that need to be removed or remedied in the proposed legislative measure.

But for Bayan’s Reyes, the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will condemn Aquino to a legacy of having “sold out” the country’s sovereignty.

“His puppetry to US imperialism only matched the first Aquino regime (the late President Corazon Aquino) who in 1991, led the failed lobby to retain the US bases in the country,” Reyes said.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said despite what critics have said, there are concrete SONA promises that the Aquino administration has already fulfilled, but he declined to grade the President’s performance.

“May I respectfully decline giving a performance rating as this would be self-serving. Let the concrete facts be the actual gauge of performance level,” he said.

Coloma said among the SONA promises that have been delivered are as follows:

- expanding the coverage of the conditional cash transfer program to 4 million to include families with children up to 18 years of age to ensure that they are able to finish high school;

- closing the backlog for public school classrooms and chairs as well as reducing by half the backlog for water and sanitation facilities;

- raising the Department of Health’s budget to P84 billion through revenues from the Sin Tax Law;

- installation of doppler radars, tsunami detectors and alert sirens as part of disaster preparedness; and

- generating 3.2 million jobs for the past two years.

Gabriela partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus, however, insisted that most of the revenues from sin tax did not go to public hospital operations.

De Jesus also downplayed the Palace official’s information on classroom shortage.

“Our mothers are proving that public schools remain overcrowded and have no sufficient rooms. The DepEd is also busy removing the requirement of books for some subjects, according to our member reports, that may explain the sudden increase in books to students ratios,” she said.

Coloma acknowledged that critics will always see the situation as half-empty instead of half-full, but he said this will not hinder the administration from moving forward and implementing projects and programs that will redound to the benefit of the Filipino people.

But for Reyes and other disgruntled militant groups who will troop to Congress for their counter-SONA, Aquino’s failure to deliver on his previous promises can be summed up in the hashtag that they will be using today: “#NoynoyPH Category 5 pork abuse.

Flood of lies. Epic incompetence.”

FROM PHILSTAR

P-Noy urged: Make ‘bosses’ feel growth By Louella Desiderio and Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 28, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The economy is improving. Now it’s time to make the majority of President Aquino’s “bosses” feel the benefits of growth.

This is the message of business groups to the President as he delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) today at the joint opening session of Congress.

Inclusive growth has eluded Asia’s second fastest growing economy, as even the President’s economic managers have admitted, and poverty incidence under his watch has not significantly eased.

Aquino addresses his “bosses” the people today with his approval ratings at record lows in recent surveys as his administration grapples with rising consumer prices and criticism of his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Investors acknowledge that Aquino’s focus on good governance to drive economic growth is working, but they want more reforms.

Malacañang has kept the contents of the SONA under wraps, except to say that Aquino would certify as urgent the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

There was speculation yesterday that Aquino would announce some changes in his Cabinet, whose members have come under fire for poor performance and even allegations of misusing public funds.

“Good governance or anti-corruption has created the foundation for change in the business climate and international recognition of the opportunities the Philippines offers, but we have to be aware that economic growth is basically consumption-led. The focus during the last two years has to be on inclusive growth, which can only happen if manufacturing and agribusiness will be supported and encouraged with priority,” European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines vice president Henry Schumacher said in a text message.

Schumacher said infrastructure projects should be intensified to push economic growth. He called for economic liberalization and incentives to attract more foreign investors.

Last week business groups submitted to Malacañang a “wish list” of measures that they want implemented in what the President has described as his “last two minutes” in office.

* Makati Business Club executive director Peter Perfecto said in a text message that apart from inclusive growth, business groups are hopeful the President would consider the recommendations to institutionalize good governance and integrity.

“It may be best for the President to support the passage of an FOI (Freedom of Information) law as an urgent priority and to issue an EO (executive order) in support of the Integrity Initiative,” Perfecto said.

Launched in 2010, the Integrity Initiative is a formal expression of commitment by companies to abide by ethical business practices and support a national campaign against corruption.

By signing the pledge, companies commit to prohibit bribery as well as uphold and maintain a unified code of conduct.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines senior advisor John Forbes said business groups are also interested to hear Aquino’s plans on ensuring energy security and price competitiveness, increasing foreign investments and addressing smuggling.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Alfredo Yao said the group is interested in government plans on infrastructure, reforms in governance to curb smuggling and corruption, and transparency through public-private partnerships. The PCCI also wants better coordination between the national and local governments for consistency in the application of laws.

The group also wants reforms in labor policies and practice to attract more investments and create jobs, as well as reforms for internationalization of small and medium enterprises.

Management Association of the Philippines president Gregorio Navarro said they want to hear about legislative reforms such as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, fiscal incentives rationalization, customs modernization, tax reform and land use. The MAP is also hoping for judicial reforms and the creation of a department of information and communication technology.

Navarro said the problems caused by the truck ban in Manila should also be resolved.

Upbeat President

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday that despite the recent plunge in approval ratings, Aquino was in “high spirits” and was looking forward to delivering the SONA.

Coloma said Aquino had been focused on the proposed national budget for 2015 and was unfazed by criticism of the DAP.

House Minority Leader and San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora noted that Aquino would deliver his SONA as the House of Representatives is set to tackle the impeachment complaints filed against him in connection with the DAP, which the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional.

Zamora will deliver the minority’s “counter-SONA” in the coming session days.

He said Aquino is taking his various setbacks, including unfavorable rulings from the SC, “not in the right way.”

“I don’t think the President should engage in this all-out, burn-the-bridges approach where what happens is you raise the tension all around,” the lawmaker said.

He said Aquino should state clearly how his administration could ensure inclusive growth in the last two years.

“He mentioned (inclusive growth) two years ago, but this is going to happen only if you have specific programs,” Zamora said.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc, said Aquino must stop the “blame game” for the problems faced by the nation.

Members of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) want more clarification from Aquino on the way DAP was used.

The TUCP said Aquino squandered opportunities to improve the lives of workers. The KMU said they expect nothing but lies from Aquino in his SONA. – With Paolo Romero, Mayen Jaymalin

Power firms fear summer shortage By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 28, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Power generators said it would be difficult to provide up to 500 megawatts in additional capacity next year, which Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said is what the country needs to avert a power crisis.

Petilla proposed the declaration of a state of emergency in the power sector by invoking Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to give the government the authority to put up additional generation capacity.

“It would be difficult for anyone to put together 500 MW in such a short time. It’s going to be difficult,” according to Ernesto Pantangco, executive vice president of First Gen Corp. and chairman of the energy committee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)

Pantangco, however, said power generators have yet to come out with their position on Petilla’s proposal.

He said MAP and the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association (PIPPA) are still studying the proposal to invoke Section 71 of the EPIRA.

“We are still consulting with various members,” Pantangco said.

He explained it would be difficult for any power company to come up with an additional capacity of up to 500 MW in time for the summer of 2015 due to delays in permitting and other concerns.

The declaration of a state of emergency would allow the government, through the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) to tap additional power capacity for the summer of 2015.

Petilla said there is a projected deficit of 200 MW for some days of April and May 2015.

Under the plan, the government through PSALM will rent diesel-fired power facilities on short-term contracts of two years if possible.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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