[PHOTO - President Aquino is welcomed by his cabinet secretaries upon his arrival at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Wednesday night from his participation in the 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo by Benhur Arcayan, Malacañang Photo]

MANILA, APRIL 7, 2012 (BULLETIN) President Benigno S. Aquino III is committed to implement long-term measures, “not band-aid solutions,” to boost the supply of energy in Mindanao, a Palace official said Friday.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte stressed this to dispel speculations that public satisfaction with the President may further decrease due to his alleged habit of procrastination in dealing with the power deficiency in the south.

“First of all, we cannot say for sure that this will have an effect on the surveys because even survey firms can't definitely say that this singular event is the cause of this drop or this increase,” Valte said in Filipino.

“On the President's alleged procrastination, that's not true. We have been explaining the efforts of the government to eliminate the deficit in power supply in Mindanao,” she said. “These steps being implemented are not band-aid solutions but to have long-term solutions to the problem of power shortage in Mindanao,” Valte added.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez had earlier warned of the President's sliding popularity if he continues to procrastinate and resort to “pothole-patching” in addressing the country's woes, particularly the power shortage in Mindanao. Suarez reportedly criticized Aquino for deferring a major summit on the Mindanao power crisis after the Holy Week instead of holding the dialogue now.

Aquino, who has been fighting allegations of “noynoying” or practicing do-nothing leadership, recently suffered a slight dip in his public satisfaction rating based on the survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Valte, however, took pride that the power deficit in Mindanao has been reduced to 100-160 megawatts from 360 MW last month following the Department of Energy's efforts to rationalize supply in the region. At least 16 areas in Mindanao reportedly no longer experience power outages, she added.

Other relief measures to mitigate Mindanao's power problems are the temporary deployment of power barges, repair of Agus 6 hydroelectric plant, and construction of coal-fired power plants. The power barges, however, may cause a slight increase in the electric bills of the Mindanao residents and businesses.

Valte said the energy department has started to consult with stakeholders in Mindanao regarding efforts to improve the region's electricity supply.

The President is also expected to attend a summit of concerned sectors on the Mindanao power situation in Davao City next week.

Aquino recently said he intends to get the consensus of the people of Mindanao on steps to address the supply problem, particularly which among coal-fired plants and renewable energy sources will be pursued in the upcoming summit.

The President has acknowledged there are no quick fixes to the problem in Mindanao, adding that “any of the solutions will have a price.”

He said there are concerns the hydroelectric facility, which can be built in five to 10 years, may not be feasible due to changing rain patterns. Other renewable energy sources like solar energy may also be expensive, he added.

“These are the solutions, these are the prices that will accrue, not only the peso price but the price on danger on the ecology. The people will decide. What will be tolerable for you?” Aquino said during a recent media interview in Cambodia.

The President, however, lamented criticisms published in news reports that his government supposedly neglected the power problem in Mindanao.

“I want to produce energy tomorrow but the plant cannot be set up tomorrow,” he said, citing the long process before a power plant is built.


[PHOTO - President Benigno Aquino at Cambodia, joins other leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh. AFP PHOTO]

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno S. Aquino III Thursday vowed to end the reign of the “Herods” and hold accountable the “Judases” in government who have been betraying public trust.

“Now that it is clear the government is the nation’s partner in effecting reforms, we are also ending the reign of Herod-like people in government and holding accountable the Judases who betrayed public trust,” he said.

The President also reminded the nation not to forget that Lent is a time for reflection not just vacation, while Vice President Jejomar C. Binay called on Filipinos to spend the Holy Week fasting and praying to God to spare the country from powerful storms, earthquakes, and other natural calamities.

Upon arriving in Manila Wednesday night after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Cambodia, President Aquino urged Filipinos to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and repay this by extending kindness and compassion for others this Holy Week.

While monitoring security measures for the Holy Week observance, Aquino himself will take a day off on Good Friday for some Lenten reflection. He is expected to join his family in hearing mass on Easter Sunday.

“While we are on vacation and observing the Holy Week, let us remember the eternal sacrifice of the Lord's resurrection. Let us also not forget to offer help and compassion to the people and the country,” the President said in Filipino in his arrival statement. “Our bayanihan will certainly bring the much-needed change in the country,” he added.

In his Lenten message, the President called on Filipinos to emulate the Lord's selflessness by helping the poor and needy. He noted that the Lord sacrificed his life to save mankind.

“Let us renew our faith in the Lord. Like Christ, I hope that alongside our prayers and vows, we will look after the welfare of the needy,” the President said.

Binay asked Filipinos to pray that the country would not suffer from powerful storms and earthquakes like what had happened in different parts of the country.

“Ito ho ay linggo ng pangingilin. Tayo ay magdasal, lalung-lalo na sa hinaharap ng ating bayan... Makaiwas tayo sa maraming kalamidad pa na katulad ng naranasan natin noong nakaraan,” Binay said. (This is a time for fasting. Let's pray that our country would not be hit by calamities like what happened last year.)

Last year, Central Luzon and Northern Mindanao were inundated because of heavy rains while a powerful tremor struck the Visayas early 2012.

The disasters left hundreds of people dead and homeless.

“I'm not a religious individual but I always pray when I wake up in the morning and before I sleep at night,” Binay, whose first name Jejomar was derived from “Jesus,” “Joseph,” and “Mary” of the Holy Family, related in a previous interview.

The Vice President is also expected to join “Pabasa” and processions during the Holy Week in his home province of Batangas.

“It has been our family's tradition to join the processions,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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