MANILA, June 6, 2008 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo has issued an administrative order directing government agencies and offices to reduce energy and fuel consumption with specific instructions on how to do it.

Administrative Order 228 “Addressing the Rising Cost of Energy,” which the President signed on June 2, orders all government agencies to reduce their transport fuel consumption in liters by 10 percent starting this month.

The AO further stated that all government buildings must turn off their air conditioning units at 4:30 p.m. Exempted from this order are offices on 24-hour work.

By next month, Mrs. Arroyo wants all government offices to implement plans to replace all incandescent lamps and by September, all agencies shall convert 20 percent of their vehicles in major cities to liquefied petroleum gas.

“Agencies shall install and/ or adopt other energy saving technology, with the help of the Department of Energy and/or the Department of Science and Technology,” the AO stated.

She also issued Executive Order 728 creating a top-level body that will formulate programs and strategies to assure adequate food and energy supply for the country over the next five years.

An EO was also signed on June 2 creating the National Food and Energy Council (NFEC).

“The NFEC is tasked with assessing the food and energy situation and prospects, and formulating, coordinating, undertaking, monitoring and/or adjusting major national long-term policies, programs and project as measures to ensure adequate, competitively priced supplies of food and energy for the nation, especially the very poor,” the EO stated.

The President will chair the NFEC, with the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as vice chair.

GMA orders NLEX to lower toll rates by June 30 Thursday, June 5, 2008

MINALIN, Pampanga – President Arroyo ordered yesterday the reduction of toll at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), effective June 30.

Mrs. Arroyo arrived here by helicopter at 10:15 a.m. to make the announcement before attending the First Egg Festival and Exhibit yesterday.

“I am here to make an important announcement and that is, I ordered the Regulatory Board through (Transportation) Secretary Larry Mendoza to review the NLEX toll fee rate,” she told a crowd of more than 15,000 people.

“By lowering the toll fee rate at the NLEX, the cost of produce such as rice, meat and other commodities will also be lowered.”

Mrs. Arroyo said officials of the Manila North Tollways Co. (MNTC) can now reduce their toll because of the dollar’s fall from P54 to P43.

“I ordered the Regulatory Board to approve the reduction of toll fees at the NLEX for all types of vehicles passing there,” she said, adding that the MNTC can greatly help reduce the prices of food if the NLEX toll is reduced.

No increase in toll will be made within two years and six months, Mrs. Arroyo said.

However, MNTC senior manager Kit Ventura told The STAR they could not immediately say how much the toll would be reduced.

“We have a new toll rate formula which factors in inflation, but not foreign exchange since we are converting our loan into peso,” he said.

Ventura said the present toll is P38 for the first 14 kilometers from Balintawak to Bocaue and P2.20 per kilometer for the rest of the NLEX for Class A vehicles.

The rate is higher for bigger vehicles, he added.

Ventura said the MNTC obtained a loan of $200 million to upgrade the NLEX.

About half of the loan has already been settled, he added.

Minalin town Mayor Edgar Flores led in welcoming Mrs. Arroyo, who was among some 10,000 visitors and local folk who received boiled eggs for snack during the egg festival.

Flores said 70 poultry owners belonging to the Minalin Poultry and Livestock Cooperative (Mipolco) donated 80,000 eggs to people affected by the recent storm “Cosme” in Pangasinan and Zambales.

Minalin now produces one million eggs a day, he added.

Mrs. Arroyo saw off some 15 trucks which formed a convoy to deliver the eggs to the disaster areas.

Founded by local poultry raisers in 1971, Mipolco became one of the country’s first millionaire cooperatives with assets worth P146 million as of December last year.

Mipolco manager Jon Juico Jr. said his cooperative manufactures about 36,000 metric tons of feeds for poultry, livestock and fishponds.

Mipolco has been allocating some P500,000 from its yearly income to build one classroom per year in the town, he added. – Ric Sapnu, Ding Cervantes, Marvin Sy

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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