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U.S. COMBAT PLANES, TROOPS TO STAY IN PH FOR CHINA SEA PATROLS


APRIL 15 -Philippine President Benigno Aquino (right) greets U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter PHOTO FROM JAPANTIMES.CO.JP
US DEFENSE Secretary Ashton Carter yesterday said several American aircraft that were used in the “Balikatan” exercises would be left in the Philippines to be used for further training and flight operations in the South China Sea where the two countries have started conducting joint patrols amid China’s increasing claims over the area.
Carter, during a joint press conference with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Malacañang, said the exercises and joint operations are part of the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the two countries in April 2014. He said the initial US contingent that would be left behind include five A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, three H-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, and an MC-130H Combat Talon aircraft, and 200 US airmen from US Pacific Air Forces would be at Clark Air Base, a former US Air Force base, through the end of the month. The new military initiatives consisting of rotations of US forces and equipment, he said, are designed so that the United States does not increase its permanent footprint in its former colony, but demonstrates that the two countries are increasing security cooperation amid joint concerns over China’s actions in the region’s disputed waterways. The first US-Philippines joint patrol in the South China Sea occurred in March and a second one happened early this month and would occur “regularly” in the future, the Pentagon said. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year. Gazmin said the joint activities with the US will help the Philippines realize its goal of developing its own maritime security and maritime domain awareness capabilities, and the building of a credible defense posture. A US defense official said the US expected there would be additional follow-on rotations of aircraft. Up to 75 US troops, mostly Marines, would remain in the Philippines “on a rotational basis” after the conclusion today of the joint “Balikatan” exercises. The troops would support “increased operations in the region,” the Pentagon said. READ MORE...RELATED, US warplanes in PH 5 attack jets, 4 other combat aircraft to stay at Clark Air Base ...

ALSO: China dispatches military plane to disputed man-made island


APRIL 18 -Image taken June 28, 2015 and provided by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative shows the construction of an air strip on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef. Right photo shows a Chinese naval vessel docked on the reclaimed land. File photo
BEIJING (UPDATE 2) — China's navy dispatched a military plane to one of the country's manmade islands in the disputed South China Sea, the Defense Ministry said, in what is believed to be the first openly acknowledged mission of its kind.
A brief statement on the ministry's website said the plane was on patrol when it was diverted to Fiery Cross Reef on Sunday morning to pick up three injured construction workers. The plane then flew to Sanya on China's southernmost island province of Hainan where it landed at Fenghuang International Airport, the ministry said. Details about the plane and where it was based were not given, although a photo accompanying the report showed a four propeller Y-8 transport being met by an ambulance. The Global Times newspaper said Sunday's flight marked "the first time a Chinese military plane has openly landed on Yongshujiao," using the Chinese name for Fiery Cross Reef. The speed with which the mission was accomplished was a testament to China's long-term policy of patrolling over the South China Sea, said the paper, a nationalist tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily. China completed the runway on Fiery Cross Reef last year and in January flew three commercial jets to the island as a test. READ MORE...

ALSO: AFP DISMISSES CLAIM THAT ISIS BEHIND THE BASILAN KILLINGS


APRIL 15 -This undated file image posted on Aug. 27, 2014, by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a fighter of the Islamic State group waving their flag from inside a captured government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa. Uncredited AP Photo  THE Armed Forces yesterday dismissed as mere “propaganda” the reported pronouncement of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that its forces were behind the April 9 killing of 18 soldiers in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan. “Propaganda as it is, we encourage everyone not to give this value because this is very inconsistent with what is really happening on the ground,” said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla. He said there is no verified link between the ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf which the troops engaged in a 10-hour gun battle last Saturday. A Reuters report quoted a statement of the Islamic State that said 23 soldiers died. “With the grace of god we were able to detonate seven trucks carrying soldiers,” the statement also said adding the ISIS suffered three deaths. Another Reuters report said “SITE Intelligence, a US-based group that tracks online activity of jihadi organizations, reported that Islamic State had claimed responsibility for killing nearly 100 Philippine soldiers and had blown up seven trucks transporting them.” Padilla said the claim is not consistent with what transpired on the ground. “In the news that came out, allegedly they said that they blew up seven trucks, they killed 23 soldiers and the attack was initiated by the ASG. These are not true and inconsistent with the real events on the ground,” said Padilla. The Abu Sayyaf has posted videos on social media pledging allegiance to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. “The statement that came out has many inconsistencies so it’s possible that they (ISIS) just scanned events happening around the world and took notice of this (Basilan fighting) and used it as a (propaganda) platform,” said Padilla. “If they really have a direct link with those (Abu Sayyaf) in the Philippines, they should be aware of what really transpired…This (firefight) was initiated by the Armed Forces, it was not initiated by the Abu Sayyaf,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Luzon placed on red alert status after tight power supply


APRIL 15 -A red alert signifies the power demand is higher than the available supply. PHILSTAR File photo
Luzon was placed on a red alert status Friday afternoon due to a shortage of power supply amid increased demand. No brownouts occurred, however, as some large power users stopped drawing supply from the grid and used their generating sets. Visayas and Mindanao were also on red alert with reserves at 26 MW and 196 MW below the required levels, respectively yesterday. Manila Electric Co. issued a warning Friday afternoon of a tentative manual load dropping schedule, which means some parts of its franchise area will experience brownouts. “Tentative manual load dropping is scheduled starting 1 p.m. Participants under the interruptible load program, however, have already been called to start deluding starting 1 p.m. [Friday] to reduce demand,” Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said. Meralco’s franchise area suffered a deficiency of 30 MW at 1 p.m., 200 MW to 220 MW at 2 p.m. and 160 MW at 3 p.m. Meralco persuaded large power users to deload, or stop drawing power from the grid, where demand is high in return for a certain level of compensation. Participants to the program have a total available capacity of over 800 MW. System operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines declared red alert from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday due to the generation deficiency. “Malaya has reduced capability from 350 MW to 130 MW. Projected demand was high at 9,746 MW versus latest capacity of 9,771 MW. No MLD but Meralco implemented ILP,” Energy Undersecretary Mylene Capongcol said. READ MORE...RELATED, Luzon, Mindanao power grids on red alert; brownouts start...  ALSO Heat index to climb to 44ºC up by May; Cabanatuan records 53.5 Celcius, Metro Manila reaches 36.4 Celcius...

ALSO: On Guam: Exploring an island paradise


APRIL 17 -Love Locks at Two Lovers Point 
If you ask people around you what they know about Guam, they’ll probably tell you about the world’s largest Kmart open 24 hours a day, the duty-free shopping, and the opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
But a trip with the media delegation for Cebu Pacific’s inaugural flight to Guam and the Guam Visitors Bureau revealed that there’s much more to the paradise island destination. Aside from sunsets, sea, and shopping, learning more about the history and traditions of Chamorro culture was one of the highlights of the Guam experience. Tourism is the US territory island’s top industry, but only 12,000 of the record-breaking 1.4 million tourists that visited Guam in 2015 were Filipino. Mark Manglona, the Guam Visitors Bureau’s marketing manager for the Philippines and Russia, believes the number of visitors from the Philippines may rise with Cebu Pacific’s new four-times-weekly flights from Manila to Guam. It’s the low-cost carrier’s first US destination and the first new flight for its 20th anniversary this year. At P7,203 all in, the lowest year-round fares are approximately 40 percent lower than other airlines’ flights. Alex Reyes, Cebu Pacific’s long haul division general manager, said that the airline hopes to make the island more accessible for Filipino travelers and also to serve Guam’s growing Filipino community. “Wherever Filipinos are, we fly there.”  Guam and the Philippines share a colonial history and were influenced by a similar blend of cultures, so it’s no surprise that Guam’s many Filipino residents (they make up over one fourth of the population) feel right at home there. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

US PLANES, TROOPS TO STAY IN PH FOR CHINA SEA PATROLS


Philippine President Benigno Aquino (right) greets U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter PHOTO FROM JAPANTIMES.CO.JP

MANILA, APRIL 18, 2016 (MALAYA) By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR April 15, 2016 - US DEFENSE Secretary Ashton Carter yesterday said several American aircraft that were used in the “Balikatan” exercises would be left in the Philippines to be used for further training and flight operations in the South China Sea where the two countries have started conducting joint patrols amid China’s increasing claims over the area.

Carter, during a joint press conference with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Malacañang, said the exercises and joint operations are part of the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the two countries in April 2014.

He said the initial US contingent that would be left behind include five A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, three H-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, and an MC-130H Combat Talon aircraft, and 200 US airmen from US Pacific Air Forces would be at Clark Air Base, a former US Air Force base, through the end of the month.

The new military initiatives consisting of rotations of US forces and equipment, he said, are designed so that the United States does not increase its permanent footprint in its former colony, but demonstrates that the two countries are increasing security cooperation amid joint concerns over China’s actions in the region’s disputed waterways.

The first US-Philippines joint patrol in the South China Sea occurred in March and a second one happened early this month and would occur “regularly” in the future, the Pentagon said.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.

Gazmin said the joint activities with the US will help the Philippines realize its goal of developing its own maritime security and maritime domain awareness capabilities, and the building of a credible defense posture.


U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, talks with his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin during their joint press conference at the Malacanang INQUIRER FILE

A US defense official said the US expected there would be additional follow-on rotations of aircraft. Up to 75 US troops, mostly Marines, would remain in the Philippines “on a rotational basis” after the conclusion today of the joint “Balikatan” exercises. The troops would support “increased operations in the region,” the Pentagon said.

READ MORE...

Carter reiterated that the US is not taking any sides in the dispute and it remains firm in its stand that the maritime row should be resolved peacefully and lawfully. “That’s why the UNCLOS (United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea) decision, which is expected sometime sooner, is so important. And we in the United States we’re fully behind a lawful settlement of these kinds of disputes,” he said.

He added that countries, especially across the Asia Pacific, have raised concerns over China’s land reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea.

Prior to the joint press conference, Carter made a courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacañang, during which the South China Sea dispute was also discussed.

Vice Adm. Alexander Lopez, chief of the AFP Western Command and Balikatan director on the Philippine side, said it is high time the Philippine military acquire a high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) which saw action in the Balikatan exercise.

He said the HIMARS can be deployed in any part of the Philippines and can address any threat.

Lopez supervises all military operations in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea, where the disputed Spratly Island is situated. The Spratlys is being claimed by Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

One of the two HIMARS brought in by the Americans for this year’s Balikatan fired six reduced-ranged practice rockets during a live fire exercise at the gunnery range Crow Valley yesterday morning. – With Victor Reyes and Reuters

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

US warplanes in PH 5 attack jets, 4 other combat aircraft to stay at Clark Air Base by Dow Jones April 16, 2016 (updated) Share2 Tweet2 Share2 Email4 Share50


An F/A-18F fighter jet launches off the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. Credit REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Benjamin Crossley

The US and the Philippines began joint patrols of the South China Sea last month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday on a visit to the Philippines, a US treaty ally that is among the five governments whose territorial claims overlap with China’s in those waters.

Tensions have been escalating as a United Nations (UN)-backed arbitration panel in The Hague prepares to rule in a case brought by the Philippines against China’s maritime claims.

Mr. Carter’s announcements came after he scrubbed a planned visit to Beijing as part of his Asian tour due largely to US concerns over China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea and its recent deployment of weaponry on another disputed island. Defense officials cited scheduling difficulties as the official reason for cancelling.


(Photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

They also came after China summoned diplomatic envoys from the Group of Seven nations to protest over a statement they issued at a meeting in Japan this week opposing “coercive or provocative” action in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

US allies have been bolstering defense ties with the Philippines, with Australia sending troops to participate in joint exercises with US and Philippine forces, and Japan sending a submarine and two destroyers to visit a Philippine naval base this month.

Australian warning

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to warn Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing on Friday that their recent muscular posture in Asia risks harming China’s economy and international relations, according to people familiar with his plans.

China claims sovereignty over all South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters and has pledged not to “militarize” the structures it has built. But US officials say it has recently deployed fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles on another disputed island to the north.

There is also concern in Washington and Manila that China, having almost completed seven artificial islands in the disputed Spratlys archipelago, is planning to build a military outpost at a disputed reef less than 200 nautical miles from Manila.

‘Cold War mentality’

“In the South China Sea, China’s actions… are causing anxiety and raising regional tensions,” Mr. Carter told reporters in Malacañang, where he met President Aquino. The US deployment is designed “to tamp down tensions here” and wouldn’t provoke a showdown with Beijing, he said.

China’s Defense Ministry strenuously objected, saying the latest US-Philippines military cooperation would exacerbate tensions. It said the joint-patrol plan “promotes the militarization of the region” and called the strengthened military alliance and joint exercises “the embodiment of Cold War thinking and not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The US and the Philippines have been holding 10 days of joint drills that ended Friday. Mr. Carter said five American A-10 Thunderbolt ground-attack jets, three H-60G Pavehawk helicopters and one MC-130H Combat Talon special forces infiltration aircraft will remain behind at Clark Air Base north of Manila along with 200 crew members.

Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he hoped the US moves would “deter uncalled-for actions by the Chinese.”

Last month, the Philippines said it would make five military bases available to US forces under the terms of a new defense pact signed in 2014. Earlier in the week, Mr. Carter visited India, which is also upgrading its security ties with Washington.


PHILSTAR

China dispatches military plane to disputed man-made island (Associated Press) | Updated April 18, 2016 - 2:22pm


Image taken June 28, 2015 and provided by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative shows the construction of an air strip on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef. Right photo shows a Chinese naval vessel docked on the reclaimed land. File photo

BEIJING (UPDATE 2) — China's navy dispatched a military plane to one of the country's manmade islands in the disputed South China Sea, the Defense Ministry said, in what is believed to be the first openly acknowledged mission of its kind.

A brief statement on the ministry's website said the plane was on patrol when it was diverted to Fiery Cross Reef on Sunday morning to pick up three injured construction workers.

The plane then flew to Sanya on China's southernmost island province of Hainan where it landed at Fenghuang International Airport, the ministry said.

Details about the plane and where it was based were not given, although a photo accompanying the report showed a four propeller Y-8 transport being met by an ambulance.

The Global Times newspaper said Sunday's flight marked "the first time a Chinese military plane has openly landed on Yongshujiao," using the Chinese name for Fiery Cross Reef. The speed with which the mission was accomplished was a testament to China's long-term policy of patrolling over the South China Sea, said the paper, a nationalist tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.

China completed the runway on Fiery Cross Reef last year and in January flew three commercial jets to the island as a test.

READ MORE...

That move drew complaints from Vietnam, which along with four other governments is enmeshed a heated dispute with Beijing over large parts of the South China Sea. Hanoi accused China of threatening the safety of civilian flights by failing to properly inform its aviation authorities of the flights beforehand.

The U.S. also complained that the flights raised tensions and reiterated its calls for a halt to land reclamation and militarization of outposts in the area. The Philippines, which also claims islands and reefs controlled by China, criticized the move.

Tensions have risen in the last two years after China transformed Fiery Cross and other coral reefs in the Spratly Island chain into islands that could be used to project its military might far from the Chinese mainland. Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim territory in the South China Sea that China says belongs to it.

The new islands in the South China Sea have become a source of tension between Beijing and Washington, which refuses to view them legally as islands entitled to territorial seas and special economic zones. While the United States is not a claimant state, it says it has a national interest in the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea and in freedom of navigation in waters that are critical for world trade.


MALAYA

MILITARY DISMISSES ISIS CLAIM THAT ISIS BEHIND BASILAN KILLINGS By VICTOR REYES April 15, 2016


This undated file image posted on Aug. 27, 2014, by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a fighter of the Islamic State group waving their flag from inside a captured government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa. Uncredited AP Photo

THE Armed Forces yesterday dismissed as mere “propaganda” the reported pronouncement of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that its forces were behind the April 9 killing of 18 soldiers in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan.

“Propaganda as it is, we encourage everyone not to give this value because this is very inconsistent with what is really happening on the ground,” said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

He said there is no verified link between the ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf which the troops engaged in a 10-hour gun battle last Saturday.

A Reuters report quoted a statement of the Islamic State that said 23 soldiers died. “With the grace of god we were able to detonate seven trucks carrying soldiers,” the statement also said adding the ISIS suffered three deaths.

Another Reuters report said “SITE Intelligence, a US-based group that tracks online activity of jihadi organizations, reported that Islamic State had claimed responsibility for killing nearly 100 Philippine soldiers and had blown up seven trucks transporting them.”

Padilla said the claim is not consistent with what transpired on the ground. “In the news that came out, allegedly they said that they blew up seven trucks, they killed 23 soldiers and the attack was initiated by the ASG. These are not true and inconsistent with the real events on the ground,” said Padilla.

The Abu Sayyaf has posted videos on social media pledging allegiance to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

“The statement that came out has many inconsistencies so it’s possible that they (ISIS) just scanned events happening around the world and took notice of this (Basilan fighting) and used it as a (propaganda) platform,” said Padilla.

“If they really have a direct link with those (Abu Sayyaf) in the Philippines, they should be aware of what really transpired…This (firefight) was initiated by the Armed Forces, it was not initiated by the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

READ MORE...

On the continuing operations against the Abu Sayyaf, Padilla said government troops seized an enemy camp last Tuesday in Barangay Baguindan.

He said the camp has 25 well-fortified bunkers. Seized from the lair were 25 sacks of rice and dried food capable of sustaining 100 men, and medical paraphernalia.

Also found in the camp was a “sizeable number” of improvised explosive devices which Padilla said are believed to have been used as teaching materials by Moroccan terrorist Mohammad Khattab, who was slain in the fighting last Saturday.

Padilla said the camp was seized following a skirmish, which also resulted in the capture of three captured Abu Sayyaf men. One of them died while being brought to a hospital. The three yielded a pistol and rifle grades.

Another person was also collared in the area but it turned out he is a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which signed a peace accord with government in March last year. He said the man was turned over to the MILF after it was confirmed he is indeed a member of the group.

“We are discussing and talking with the MILF now on why this individual was in the battlefield at the time our troops were there,” said Padilla.

SAYYAF DEATH TOLL NOW 31

Padilla said the number of Abu Sayyaf fatalities in last Saturday’s fighting and in the succeeding days has increased to 31 as of yesterday. He admitted that “less than half of that number is for further validation.”

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they have received reports that Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama has died. Indama was initially reported injured in the Saturday firefight.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Padilla announced the death of Indama last Tuesday. Hours later, Padilla took back the statement, saying Indama was merely critically wounded.

“We received report from two sources (Indama died) but it still needs further confirmation. We have to see the cadaver or the remains so it will be 100 percent confirmed. As of now, it’s not yet confirmed,” said the source. – With Reuters


MANILA STANDARD

Luzon on red alert status after tight power supply posted April 15, 2016 at 11:50 pm by Alena Mae S. Flores


A red alert signifies the power demand is higher than the available supply. PHILSTAR File photo

Luzon was placed on a red alert status Friday afternoon due to a shortage of power supply amid increased demand. No brownouts occurred, however, as some large power users stopped drawing supply from the grid and used their generating sets.

Visayas and Mindanao were also on red alert with reserves at 26 MW and 196 MW below the required levels, respectively yesterday.

Manila Electric Co. issued a warning Friday afternoon of a tentative manual load dropping schedule, which means some parts of its franchise area will experience brownouts.

“Tentative manual load dropping is scheduled starting 1 p.m. Participants under the interruptible load program, however, have already been called to start deluding starting 1 p.m. [Friday] to reduce demand,” Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said.

Meralco’s franchise area suffered a deficiency of 30 MW at 1 p.m., 200 MW to 220 MW at 2 p.m. and 160 MW at 3 p.m.

Meralco persuaded large power users to deload, or stop drawing power from the grid, where demand is high in return for a certain level of compensation.

Participants to the program have a total available capacity of over 800 MW.

System operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines declared red alert from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday due to the generation deficiency.

“Malaya has reduced capability from 350 MW to 130 MW. Projected demand was high at 9,746 MW versus latest capacity of 9,771 MW. No MLD but Meralco implemented ILP,” Energy Undersecretary Mylene Capongcol said.

READ MORE...

Actual demand peaked to 9,455 MW at 1 p.m. Friday against the capacity of 9,771 MW, while operating reserves were 44 MW below the required levels with generation deficiency at 333 MW.

Industry data showed Kalayaan hydro power plants units 3 and 4 (180 MW each) were put on emergency shutdown.

The Quezon Power plant with a capacity 289 MW also tripped.

Other power plants that are still out are the Malaya 1 (300 MW), Botocon 2 (10 MW) and Magat units 3 & 4 (95 MW).

The Pagbilao unit 1 power plant with a capacity of 382 MW also went offline but came back online in the afternoon.

Other power plants were also on limited capability, such as Calaca 1 which dropped to 190 MW from 200 MW and Calaca 2 to 220 MW from 300 MW.

Other power plants were on maintenance shutdown but were expected to come back online by end April in preparation for the May elections.

Capongcol said the red alert status was lifted for Luzon at 3 p.m. but yellow alert was still imposed at 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. due to insufficient operating reserves.

Visayas, meanwhile, was forecasted to have a peak demand of 1,784 MW against the available capacity of 1,758 MW.

Mindanao’s demand was projected to reach 1,436 MW against an available capacity of only 1,297 MW.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Luzon, Mindanao power grids on red alert; brownouts start April 16, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share2 By PNA and MYRNA M. VELASCO

The Luzon and Mindanao grids were placed on red alert yesterday due to reduced capacity at some hydropower units and some power plants.

Energy Undersecretary Mylene Capongcol said in a text message yesterday that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) declared red alert for Luzon from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. while Mindanao grid was on red alert from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A red alert signifies that power demand is higher than the available supply.

The red alert in Luzon prompted power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to schedule rotating brownouts starting at 1 p.m. It also alerted its participants under the interruptible load program (ILP) to switch on their generating sets so grid demand can be eased.

“Participants under the ILP have already been called to start de-loading at 1 p.m. to help reduce demand,” the utility firm reiterated.The ILP participants have a total demand of 826 MW.

As of press time, Meralco noted that the areas affected with rotating brownouts include portions of Cavite, Laguna, Quezon province, Rizal and Quezon City in Metro Manila.

Capongcol noted state-owned Malaya oil thermal decreased its power output from 350 megawatts to 130 MW.

She also disclosed three hydropower units also went offline namely: Ambuklao unit 3, Kalayaan unit 3 and 4. The three power plants have a capacity of 395 MW.

Capongcol said the power demand totals 9,746 MW, while the supply amounts to 9,771 MW.

The power firm further stressed it has tapped Interruptible Load Program participants to start de-loading their demand at 1 p.m. The ILP participants have a total demand of 826 MW.

Meralco said its power deficiency at 1 p.m. was 30 MW; 200-220 MW at 2 p.m.; and 160 MW at 3 p.m.

It expected the alert to return to yellow after 4 p.m.

Meralco said other plants on shutdown during Friday’s rolling brownouts include the Quezon Power plant that took out 289 MW from the grid; the Botocan plant, 10 MW; Pagbilao unit 1, 382 MW; and Magat units 3 and 4, 95 MW.

The two units of the Calaca coal-fired power plant in Batangas were also reported on de-rated capacity at just 190 MW for unit 1; and 220MW for unit 2 – from their original capacity rating of 300 MW each.

Mindanao grid

The NGCP said that as of 6 a.m., it forecast a power supply of 1,324 megawatts and a demand of 1,381 MW.

It further cited the contingency reserves fell short of the “required levels with a generation deficiency of 100 MW.”

The NGCP also urged distribution utilities in Mindanao to “observe their adjusted load allocation in accordance with the National Power Corp. and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management to maintain matrix.”

The first unit of Aboitiz Power subsidiary Therma South, Inc., which has a capacity of 150 MW, was on forced shutdown since April 6. It targets to restore the unit by April 20.

The hydropower plants of Mindanao also have less power generation due to the lower water elevations.

Palace assurance

These developments in the power sector has raised fears of a “blackout-marred voting process” which may put in question the integrity of the May 9, 2016 elections.

But Malacañang assured that the government is taking steps to ensure there will be no power outages a week before and after the May 9 automated elections.

“The government is determined to ensure adequate and uninterrupted electric power supply especially during the election period,” Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Coloma said Energy Secretary Zenaida Monzada has travelled to Cebu to meet with power suppliers and other stakeholders to ensure ample supply during election day. The DOE team has also conducted similar inspections and coordination meetings in Luzon and Mindanao, he added.

Coloma said the main goal of the energy department is to ensure “zero disruption” of power supply one week before and one week after May 9 polls.

He explained that tight supply in electricity is due to the combination of the rising heat index and the maintenance of power plants.“The DOE will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure attainment of supply adequacy and reliability objectives,” he said.

Re-electionist Senator Ralph Recto had earlier called on the government to act immediately to stop power interruptions, especially in Mindanao during the May elections.

Recto said there must be contingency measures such as sourcing locally available portable generators to power voting precincts. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)


MANILA BULLETIN

Heat index to climb to 44ºC up by May by Chito A. Chavez April 16, 2016 Share5 Tweet2 Share0 Email1 Share42


A skimboarder tests his skill at Elmolina Beach Resort in Olongapo City, which has lately been the go-to area for tourists who love the sun, sand, and sea. (MB-FileJonas Reyes)

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday that there is a strong chance that the heat index in the country will range from 42 to 44 degrees Celsius up to May. PAGASA Impact Assessment and Applications Section (IAAS) chief Thelma Cinco also warned that the high heat index may inflict heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke on some individuals, citing that the elderly and sick children are more prone to these. The temperature in Metro Manila reached 36.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the highest so far this year which was recorded at the Science Garden in Quezon City at 1:50 p.m., Thursday.

PAGASA weather forecaster Samuel Duran said the latest reading surpassed the previous high of 36.3 degrees Celsius that was recorded on Tuesday. He noted the heat index in Metro Manila was recorded at 43.2 degrees Celsius, but so far the highest heat index recorded this year was 52 degrees Celsius in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija on Wednesday.

The heat index is the human discomfort index that gives the “apparent” temperature or what humans perceive or feel as the temperature affecting their body. High air temperatures and high relative humidity will give high apparent temperatures or indices. Full exposure to sunshine can increase the heat index by nine degrees Celsius. Based on the PAGASA’s climatological record, the hottest temperature in Metro Manila was recorded on May 14, 1987 at 38.5 degrees Celsius.

But so far, the hottest temperature in the country for this year was recorded in General Santos City at 39.3 degrees Celsius on April 12, followed by Tuguegarao City at 38 degrees Celsius last April 8 for Luzon, and Catbalogan in Visayas at 35.3 degrees Celsius last April 8.

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The hottest temperature ever recorded in the country was in Tuguegarao, Cagayan at 42.2 degrees Celsius on May 11, 1969. Duran said that due to easterlies or warm winds from the east affecting the Visayas and Mindanao and the of ridge of high pressure area (HPA) affecting Luzon, both weather systems will bring high temperatures and good weather conditions to the country in the coming days.

Earlier, PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said residents of places directly affected by the heat of the sun, particularly those without trees and are surrounded by concrete roads would be hotter. He said that other parts of Luzon including Metro Manila may experience hotter days due to a ridge of high-pressure area (HPA) which will be the dominant weather system in the country resulting in more humid weather.

HPA is the opposite of the low-pressure area – a weather system consisting of warm air circulating over the Pacific Ocean. He also credited the hot temperatures to the penetration of the direct heat of the sunlight into the earth’s surface, and cloudless sky in the past days. He advised the public to avoid heat exhaustion by staying indoors as much as possible from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Aurelio said people should wear clothing made of light materials with light colors, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and avoid eating food high in protein as this can increase body heat. (With a report from PNA)

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Cabanatuan records 53.5 Celcius, Metro Manila reaches 36.4 Celcius by Chito A. Chavez April 15, 2016 (updated) Share1.6K Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share1.6K image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ga3.jpg


A skimboarder tests his skill at Elmolina Beach Resort in Olongapo City, which has lately been the go-to area for tourists who love the sun, sand, and sea. (MB File — Jonas Reyes)

The state weather bureau said that the highest heat index of 53.5 degrees Celsius in the country this year was registered in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija while the temperature in Metro Manila reached 36.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said that the effect of El Nino had a tremendous influence on the increased heat index in Cabanatuan.

The heat index indicates the heat felt by an individual.

The increased temperature and relative humidity or moisture contributed greatly to the soaring heat index.


Intramuros, Manila April 15, 2016 (MB-M. Burgonio) Intramuros, Manila April 15, 2016 (MB-M. Burgonio)

PAGASA Impact Assessment and Applications Section (IAAS) chief Thelma Cinco said that there is a strong chance that the heat index would range from 42 degrees Celsius to 44 degrees Celsius up to May.

The agency warned that the high heat index may inflict heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke on some individuals citing that the elderly and sick children are prone to this effects.

PAGASA said the next few days will continue to be warm and humid in most parts of the country as the ridge of a high pressure area and the easterlies continue to dominate.

It added that a high pressure area (HPA) a system consisting of warm air circulating over the Pacific Ocean associated with warm weather is the opposite of the low pressure area which normally brings rains.

Localized thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening should bring some respite from the heat.

PAGASA said the convectivity brought about by intense heat triggers the formation of the cumulonimbus clouds associated with thunderstorms.


MANILA STANDARD

On Guam: Exploring an island paradise posted April 17, 2016 at 08:05 pm by Patricia Romualdez


Love Locks at Two Lovers Point

If you ask people around you what they know about Guam, they’ll probably tell you about the world’s largest Kmart open 24 hours a day, the duty-free shopping, and the opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

But a trip with the media delegation for Cebu Pacific’s inaugural flight to Guam and the Guam Visitors Bureau revealed that there’s much more to the paradise island destination. Aside from sunsets, sea, and shopping, learning more about the history and traditions of Chamorro culture was one of the highlights of the Guam experience.

Tourism is the US territory island’s top industry, but only 12,000 of the record-breaking 1.4 million tourists that visited Guam in 2015 were Filipino. Mark Manglona, the Guam Visitors Bureau’s marketing manager for the Philippines and Russia, believes the number of visitors from the Philippines may rise with Cebu Pacific’s new four-times-weekly flights from Manila to Guam. It’s the low-cost carrier’s first US destination and the first new flight for its 20th anniversary this year.

At P7,203 all in, the lowest year-round fares are approximately 40 percent lower than other airlines’ flights. Alex Reyes, Cebu Pacific’s long haul division general manager, said that the airline hopes to make the island more accessible for Filipino travelers and also to serve Guam’s growing Filipino community. “Wherever Filipinos are, we fly there.”

Guam and the Philippines share a colonial history and were influenced by a similar blend of cultures, so it’s no surprise that Guam’s many Filipino residents (they make up over one fourth of the population) feel right at home there.

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The Western Pacific island territory was claimed by Spain in 1565, ceded to the US in 1898, and occupied by Japanese forces during World War II. The US reclaimed Guam after the war and expanded its military interests. Strategically located between Asia and the mainland US, Guam became a center for economic and commercial development and a popular destination for visitors from both sides of the ocean.


Two Lovers Point (Puntan Dos Amantes), a cliff with a stunning view of Tumon Bay

Around 71 percent of its annual visitors are from Japan, though Manglona says Korean tourism has increased 100 percent in the past year. Asian tourists like the balmy, fairly predictable weather; scuba diving and snorkeling; and the tax-free shopping.

The island is accessible to neighboring Asian countries and the two- or three-hour time difference makes it ideal for a quick family getaway. Just 30 miles long and four to 12 miles wide, Guam can be easily navigated by rented car or tourist trolley, though the roads aren’t pedestrian-friendly and public transportation and taxis can be hard to come by. For those who believe a new place is best explored on foot, there’s a two-mile, 17-stop Heritage Walking Trail through Guam’s historical sites.

One of the must-see landmarks is Two Lovers Point (Puntan Dos Amantes), a cliff with a stunning view of Tumon Bay. The sightseeing highlight is named for an ancient Chamorro legend in which the daughter of a wealthy Spanish landowner fell in love with a Chamorro warrior.

When her father demanded that she marry a Spanish captain, the girl ran away and met her Chamorro lover at the high point of the shore. Her father, the captain, and Spanish soldiers pursued them until they were trapped near the edge of the cliff. Because they couldn’t bear to leave each other, the lovers tied their hair together into a single knot and threw themselves off the cliff and into the sea. This story is important to the Chamorro people because it symbolizes their devotion, strength, and resilience.

Travel from the highest cliff to the depths of the ocean by crossing the 1000-foot wooden boardwalk in Piti Bay to enter Fish Eye Marine Park, an underwater observatory 12 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. Descend a long spiral staircase to peer through the 24 windows that allow you to view over 200 species of tropical fish swimming through coral reefs. More water activities in this area include kayaking, snorkeling, and the SeaWalker underwater walking tour.


At the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market visitors can enjoy turkey sticks made from a three-foot long sausage

On Guam (according to a Guam Visitors Bureau representative, they say “on Guam” not “in Guam” because it’s an island), the fiesta is considered a national pastime, and food plays a big part in bringing people together. Kelaguen is a signature Chamorro dish that is served as an appetizer, side, or main dish at almost every meal.

Similar to ceviche and kilawin, kelaguen is made of chopped seafood, broiled chicken, or meat cooked in lemon juice, grated coconut, salt, and hot peppers. The peppers deliver a satisfyingly spicy kick that goes well with the tanginess of the citrus juice. Guamanians are also justifiably proud of Chamorro ribs and chicken barbecue, a fiesta staple served with red rice cooked with achote, garlic, peas, and bacon fat.

Visitors can enjoy these dishes and more along with a cultural presentation of authentic Chamorro dance by Pa’a Taotao Tano at a beachside buffet at the Sheraton Laguna Resort & Spa. The group will perform at the upcoming 12th Festival of Pacific Arts, a two-week cultural event held every four years that will bring 2,500 performers, artists, and scholars from the remote island communities in the Pacific region to Guam to celebrate their cultures and exchange ideas. The festival will run from May 22 to June 4.

For another glimpse of Chamorro culture and community, the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market is an event to plan a vacation around (the village is open every day but the night market only happens on Wednesdays). The scent of barbecue wafts through the air as live music entertains the crowded dance floor from the center court.

Stalls and boutiques sell handmade jewelry and souvenirs next to food vendors showcasing the best of local cuisine. One of the most popular items with a prominent place at the entrance of the market is a whole smoked turkey leg. Those who don’t want to gnaw on a bone may opt for the more low-key turkey stick made from a three-foot long sausage. There’s also coconut sashimi, a unique street food that’s been featured on television in Korea and Japan. The thinly sliced young coconut meat is served with soy sauce and wasabi. Expect long lines for skewers of barbecued chicken and beef from Kris BBQ. For extreme eaters, there are indulgent American food fair favorites like deep-fried Oreo cookies and candy bars. Wash it all down with refreshing fruit slushies that blend the best of local produce in one cold beverage.


Fort Santa Agueda

Of course, shopping is still an important part of visiting Guam. If you’re a serious shopper and you start early enough, it’s possible to visit five malls in one day. Some of the stores at Guam Premier Outlets open at 8:00 a.m. for bargain hunters who want to make the most of their time on the island. T Galleria by DFS, Guam – which houses international luxury brands Celine, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent and beauty brands La Mer, MAC, and Kiehl’s – closes at 11:00 p.m. Drop by the Macy’s department store in Micronesia Mall (owned by Lucio Tan) for one-stop shopping. For late-night last-minute souvenir hunting and drugstore product hoarding, there’s the aforementioned 24-hour Kmart.

Shopping on Guam is so huge that there’s even an annual shopping event, the Shop Guam Festival, which runs from November 1 to February 15 and is the largest festival of its kind in the region. Last year, the Guam Visitors Bureau recruited YouTube sensation Mikey Bustos for an online video promoting the island as a shopping destination set to the tune of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”

The festival also launched a free mobile app with maps, promos, and exclusive offers. The next Shop Guam event is bound to be even bigger. With that and the upcoming 12th Pacific Festival of the Arts, plus music festivals, culinary fairs, and sporting events lined up to attract new visitors, 2016 is set to be another record-breaking year for Guam tourism.

Cebu Pacific flies from Manila to Guam four times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday) for as low as P7,203. Visit cebupacificair.com to book a flight.

Go to visitguam.com for more information about Guam’s activities and events.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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