MANILA, JULY 21, 2010
(MALAYA) BY REGINA BENGCO - MALACAÑANG yesterday said President Aquino will be delivering the "true" state of the nation in his first state of the nation address on July 26, and without any gimmicks.

Aquino said his first SONA before a joint session of Congress would be an inventory of the country’s problems, their solutions, and the proposals for the real needs of the country, especially infrastructure, equipment and other big-ticket items.

He said the proposals are "overwhelming" but it is only now that there is "significant" investor confidence and willingness to undertake major infrastructure projects.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said Aquino’s SONA would also be a report card of what his Cabinet members have found out during their two-week study of the lay of the land in their departments.

But Ochoa was careful about calling some deals as "irregularities."

"We want to really be so sure they are irregularities first. So as you said, we have to have more time for that to really determine how it is," he said.

Ochoa said Aquino’s SONA will be bereft of gimmicks, like the "Bangkang Papel" boys of former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

"We don’t do gimmicks…By this time you know the style of the President. We are more or less very frank in what we say to the media. I don’t think we have changed as yet," he said.

He said Aquino’s team of speech writers are working on his SONA but the President is also hands-on about his speech.

Lacierda said the Cabinet meeting today would take up Aquino’s SONA, which would be based largely on the reports of its members.

Noy says Luzon, Visayas power crisis over this year

PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday said there is an energy crisis in Mindanao and the power supply in Luzon is not yet stable.

"There’s a crisis in Mindanao. Visayas should have a surplus by this year. By the end of this year, Luzon should not have a crisis," Aquino said in an ambush interview after administering the oath on the officials of the League of Cities of the Philippines.

Aquino said a major sub-station in San Jose del Monte in Bulacan, whose transformers have a capacity of 2,400 megawatts, is being rehabilitated and the slack is being taken up by the grid in Southern Tagalog.

He said a power plant in Metro Manila is also helping generate power but it uses bunker oil, which is more expensive. He said the rehabilitation will be finished in September.

"Ang issue dito, there is a suspicion that these transformers have never been replaced from the time of installation. There’s supposed to be oil fill (but) they’re not sure if the oil is still present since it’s never been replaced. There’s a question also of reliability given the fact na pagkatagal-tagal na ngang nandiyan iyan," he said.

He said he is reviewing the briefing papers on energy and so far, he has seen a "significant gap" between the peak and the dependable power supply.

As for water, Aquino said there is no water shortage yet despite the water level in Angat Dam being below critical level. He said the proposal to allow the entry of private investors to fix the leaks in Angat Dam would solve the funding problem.

If that happens, he said he will only allow a build-operate-transfer scheme, but no sovereign guarantee.

"From the middle of last week, e tapos araw-araw meron pang dumarating na nag-i-indicate both foreign and local investors willing to undertake all of these needs of our country," he said.

He said tapping the Laiban Dam in Quezon for the needs of Metro Manila is also an option but there is a strong opposition to it. He said another proposal is to tap the Laguna de Bay.

He said a study must also be done on what to do with the fish pens in Laguna de Bay, Rizal, Manila Bay, and Bataan in the interest of majority of the people. – Regina Bengco

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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