08 Jan 2016
  • President Aquino inaugurates Aboitiz power’s new coal plant in Davao
  • President Aquino: It is highly likely the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed
  • Government capable of providing jobs for Filipinos who could be displaced by Saudi-Iran conflict
  • Consensus is growing on need for peaceful resolution of South China Sea dispute

President Aquino inaugurates Aboitiz power’s new coal plant in Davao
(STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur) President Benigno S. Aquino III inaugurated here Friday Aboitiz Power Corporation’s 300-megawatt (MW) base load power plant that aims to address Mindanao’s concerns for stable power supply.In his speech during the inauguration of the new coal plant, the President said the situation in Mindanao has made it obvious that the region needs more base load power.

He admitted that while he believes in developing renewable energy, the country at this point cannot wean itself completely from relying on coal-fired power plants to stabilize the supply of electricity.

However, he said, the ultimate goal is to achieve the right energy mix with no less than 30 percent of the country’s energy source derived from renewables.

“When this plant becomes fully operational, we can count on it to consistently produce 300 megawatts of base load power, which means that this capacity can be tapped into anytime, rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations,” he said in his speech.

“To emphasize just how significant this is, this plant’s dependable capacity is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of the Mindanao grid’s highest peak demand in 2015—and it is already delivering power to areas at the end of the grid, such as Sarangani, General Santos, and the Zamboanga peninsula.”

The President further said that apart from all the projects that have come to fruition during the current administration, the private sector has committed to undertake at least another 11 power projects in Mindanao that will come online between 2016 and 2020, which are envisioned to produce at least 675.30 MW, more than enough to cover the projected increase in demand for those years.

President Aquino thanked Aboitiz Power and Therma South Inc. “for being an early believer in the potential of Mindanao”.

Noting that he has less than six months in office, the Chief Executive vowed to fulfill his government’s promise to leave Mindanao in a better situation by maintaining its commitment to peace and by developing the region’s infrastructure to attain inclusive growth.

“If we continue working together—both public and private sector alike—we can truly give rise to a Mindanao that reaches its full potential, and prove, once more, that nothing is impossible to a united Filipino people,” he said.

The P35-billion power plant currently supplies base load power to more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao, providing electricity to the cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga, Butuan, Kidapawan, Tagum, Koronadal, Digos, Pagadian and Cotabato.

It also supplies energy to the Davao region, the provinces of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan and Surigao; the Zamboanga Peninsula; and parts of Bukidnon and Misamis.

Aboitiz Power is the holding company of Aboitiz Group’s investment in power generation, distribution, retail and power services. PND (as)

President Aquino: It is highly likely the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed
(STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday that it is highly probable that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed by Congress as congressmen work towards voting on the legislation that aims to bring lasting peace to Mindanao. “May meeting kami, if I’m not mistaken, next week with the House of Representatives, precisely to push for the passage of the BBL. Si Congressman Rufus Rodriguez tells me na patapos na sila doon sa tinatawag na stage ‘turno en contra’ at pagkatapos ‘noon pagbobotohan na. So, maganda pa rin ang pag-asa na maipasa ‘yung BBL,” the President told reporters during a media interview held following the inauguration of Aboitiz Power Corporation’s base load power plant here.

On how the administration would sustain peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) despite the non-passage of the BBL, the President said his government has been carrying out initiatives that open up economic opportunities for MILF combatants.

Even before both sides began drafting the BBL, the government has been implementing the Sajahatra program, which provides skills training to former MILF combatants so they would become fruitful economic players, he explained.

“Meron na rin ‘yung governance courses na pinasukan ng mga ilang miyembro ng MILF para by the time that they are given a mandate, they have the skill,” he added.

When asked to comment on the reopening of the Senate investigation on the Mamasapano incident, President Aquino said the move is obviously highly politicized.

“Alam naman nating malapit na ‘yung campaign period. Sa ating mga katunggali, nakita nila na ito ‘yung parang pinakamabigat na dagok sa akin simula nang ako’y namahala. Siguro sinusubukan nilang samantalahin na naman ‘yung pagkakataon,” he said, adding however that he will not be emotional in responding to the issue.

He noted that the report on the Mamasapano incident, while it has been signed by several senators, is not yet a formal Senate report because it has not reached the plenary.

“So, kung tutuusin, hindi pa siya actually Senate report. Magandang pagkakataon ito para makumpleto natin ‘yung picture, ‘yung nangyari sa Mamasapano, mailagay na tama ‘yung record,” he said.

The President further said that recommitting the committee report hammered by Senator Grace Poe is an insult to her, as returning the report to her committee makes it appear that it is flawed.

“Palagay ko sa lahat ng mga pangyayari, nakikita natin na malaking bagay ang pulitika. Huwag nating kalimutan ‘yung pasimuno nito, siguro maiintindihan natin na malamang may sama ng loob sa aking administrasyon,” he added. PND (as)

Government capable of providing jobs for Filipinos who could be displaced by Saudi-Iran conflict
(STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday assured that the government could help provide employment to Filipinos who might be displaced by the row between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

President Aquino told reporters during a media interview here that according to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, the government could help these workers gain employment in case they get repatriated.

The Chief Executive estimated that 23 percent of these workers are employed in households and they can be given new jobs, for instance in Japan’s special economic zones.

“Walang pangamba si Secretary Baldoz na kung kakailanganin ay makaka-provide ang gobyerno ng retraining at saka job placement for these returning countrymen of ours,” he said.

President Aquino however noted that there is still no assessment that the current situation in the Middle East could deteriorate further.

Nonetheless, he said, Philippine embassies and consular offices in the Middle East are reviewing their respective contingency plans.

He said he has instructed foreign affairs officials during a recent meeting to ensure an open and effective line of communication between the embassies and different organizations working with the government in case of evacuation.

Philippine embassies in the Middle East have ample experience on handling mass repatriation, he said, citing their handling of the evacuation of 20,000 of 26,000 Filipinos from Libya by chartering a ship to take them and other nationals out of the North African country.

He however emphasized that what the government wants is to help restore peace in the Middle East.

“Talagang hinahabol natin na makatulong doon sa panunumbalik ng katahimikan sa Gitnang Silangan dahil malaki talaga ang epekto nito, ‘yung refugee problem, ‘yung ating economy—world economy, bumabangon pa lang,” the President noted.

“Handa tayong dumamay at tumulong, at matagal na tayong tumutulong din doon para nga magkaroon ng kapanatagan sa Gitnang Silangan.”

The recent Saudi-Iran crisis stemmed from the execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric that prompted angry Iranian protesters to storm the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran.

Iran has also accused Saudi Arabia of deliberately bombing its embassy in Yemen, injuring some members of its diplomatic mission there. PND (as)

Consensus is growing on need for peaceful resolution of South China Sea dispute
(STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur) China cannot ignore the growing call from the international community on the need to resolve the South China Sea issue by adhering to the rule of law, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday.

Such call is in line with the Philippines’ case filed at the international Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague, the President said during a media interview here.

“Ngayon, puwede ba ma-ignore ‘yung sa arbitration? Tandaan ninyo, lahat ng bansang may inaangkin dito sa tubig na ito, parating sinasabi, ‘We want to adhere to international law, and this is in conformity with international law,’” he said.

China needs other countries to fuel its economic growth, he said, underscoring the importance of goodwill among nations.

“Umaasa tayo na pragmatic ang ating mga kapatid na Tsino, makikita ang ikabubuti kapag mas maliwanag na entitlements at obligations sa lahat,” he said.

The President further said that the country has done everything to advance its interest in protecting its sovereignty.

Aside from filing a case at the international tribunal, the Philippines has also pushed for the conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said, noting a major progress as the elements of the Code of Conduct are expected to be drawn up next month.

The regional bloc has made some progress since coming up with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea back in 2002, the President said.

China has recently reported landing aircraft on its reclaimed island in the South China Sea, a move that has drawn rebuke from other claimants, such as the Philippines and Vietnam. PND (as)