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PLDT sets up data center for Subic BPOs

by Rosalie C. Periabras

Philippine Long Distance Co. (PLDT) said on Friday that it launched its VITRO Data Center in Subic, Zambales to help boost the development of the area’s business process outsourcing (BPO) industry as part of its 5-year information and communication technology (ICT) development plan.

“We see BPOs sprouting all over the Philippines but it still remains very underdeveloped here. We aim to increase our BPO seats here as we pursue a major program for this industry,” said Bobby Garcia, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

According to the PLDT, the VITRO Data Center in Subic provides companies the full information management and telecommunication services essential in business such as collocation, server hosting, disaster recovery/ business continuity, data security, network management, and other information technology services. These services minimize costs of running and managing their own data centers which are essential for BPO companies.

“Subic’s continuously developing economic zone is home to a growing business community, one that will reap the many benefits of having our data center services within easy reach,” said Eric Alberto, PLDT executive vice president and head of Enterprise and International and Carrier Business.

The company said that the opening of the Subic VITRO Data Center is also aligned with the SBMA objective of setting up a business operations resiliency zone in Subic. Garcia aims to declare Subic as a resiliency zone for companies in Metro Manila, especially for big multinationals, which are looking into setting up their disaster recovery centers.

“The VITRO Data Center in Subic assures stability, security, and reliability for the ICT demands of our clients, coupled by PLDT’s unparalleled domestic fiber network in the country as well as the robust wireless connectivity of Smart,” said Alberto.

Educators laud SBMA job program


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, May 11 (PIA) -- Industrial Technology educators have lauded the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s (SBMA) continuing efforts to generate jobs for Filipinos, especially skilled workers.

Around 250 senior officers, including presidents and directors from state colleges and universities in the country, attended the 10th National Conference of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities of Industrial Technology (PACUIT) recently.

“Your contributions to the socio-economic development of the country must be acknowledged,” said Dr. Feliciano Rosete, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Zambales and vice president of PACUIT-Luzon.

Rosete also cited the personal contributions of SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia, saying that the SBMA official has introduced innovative concepts to strengthen the institutional policies of the agency for the benefit of service-clientele, including workers and students.

PACUIT is an association of educators in industrial technology, which aims to better equip its members in steering industrial technology programs toward technological advancements and make them more attuned with national efforts in industrial development.

With the theme “Strengthening Response to the Emerging Industrial Technology Challenges,” the Subic conference was designed to solicit and discuss issues and concerns affecting PACUIT members, including the challenge for attendees to make local industrial technology education match with emerging trends in modern technology.

Garcia, who was invited as keynote speaker in the event, welcomed PACUIT delegates to Subic and acknowledged the role of his predecessors in turning this former military base into a successful free port and special economic zone.

“The Subic Freeport is a true manifestation of Filipino industriousness,” Garcia said, noting that after only 20 years since its creation, Subic is now one of the most successful free ports in the Asian region with US$8 billion worth of accumulated investment, and a record of more than 92,000 jobs generated.

Garcia said that Subic’s success could be attributed to the professionalism and dedication of workers to their respective jobs, which prospective investors appreciate.

“That is why my heart is very close to industrial technology. Our success is a manifestation of the strong quality-control program being implemented here in the Subic Freeport with the help and cooperation of the workers,” Garcia said.

He added that the SBMA would continue supporting industrial technology by accepting students as trainees in various offices of the agency under its on-the-job training program.

The program is in support of President Aquino’s vision of achieving progress through “Daang Matuwid,” Garcia also told members of PACUIT.

DFA: Chinese ships not barring Pinoy fishermen from Panatag Shoal

by Michaela del Callar /LBG, GMA News

The Department of Foreign Affairs belies claims Chinese ships in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal are barring Filipino fishermen from fishing in the disputed marine area off Zambales in the western side of Central Luzon.

“No, that’s not true, “ DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters Wednesday night in Makati City in reaction claims that Chinese ships guarding the shoal along with Philippine vessels are driving Filipino fishermen away.

For his part, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said that as of Wednesday, five Philippine fishing boats are inside the shoal’s lagoon.

“They are there and they are doing their job as fishermen,” Hernandez said.

Earlier, Zambales' Masinloc town Mayor Desiree Edora claimed receiving complaints Filipino fishermen were driven away by Chinese government ships guarding the shoal's lagoon entrance.

Edora said the Filipinos, fearing for their safety, had been forced to fish outside the lagoon.

Since April 10, Manila and Beijing have been locked in a standoff over territorial claims.

The Philippines calls the disputed maritime area as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, while Beijing calls it Huangyan Island.

Philippine and Chinese diplomats have resolved to find diplomatic solution to the territorial row.

Manila's claim on the shoal is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both China and the Philippines ratified.

Under the UNCLOS, coastal nations could to develop, exploit and explore marine areas within 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The disputed marine area is only 124 nautical miles from Zambales coast and 472 nautical miles from China’s southern Hainan province.

Olongapo conducts watershed study

by Allen M. Villa

OLONGAPO CITY, May 9 (PIA) -- The Olongapo City government has started its watershed characterization study with the help of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Subicwater, operator of the water system in the city.

The move is aimed at developing a master plan to wisely manage its natural resources. The said plan will include a comprehensive land use program.

City Supervising Agriculturist Jhobal Sebarrotin explained that through watershed characterization, primary and secondary data in relation to the watersheds’ socio-economic, biological and physical factors will be studied to come up with an integrated watershed management plan.

A watershed is an area of land from which all runoff drains or “sheds” to the same river, lake, or other body of water.

“Water systems are life supporting and a healthy water system is essential for a strong economy and a good quality of life so we must come up with an integrated watershed management approach to promote sustainable development,” mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. said.

According to CENRO Atty. Marife Castillo, watershed comprises around 70 percent of the city’s bounds and the results of watershed characterization study will be significant to the sustainable management of these resources, including land use development. CENRO provides the technical assistance needed in the study.

City Planning and Development Office Engineer Marivic Nierras pointed out that the survey includes study of the flora and fauna, vulnerability assessment, socio-economic profiles of the inhabitants and water and soil samples from the watershed areas.

It can be recalled that a watershed development study was also conducted in the city in 1985, results and recommendations of which are being used as guide in the present day survey.

Sebarrotin said that the watershed characterization study will be finished in May 2012, and based on the results, the necessary recommendations will be prepared immediately for the approval of the city mayor. (CLJD/AMV-PIA3)

Irrigation Up For Zambales Aetas

by Jonas Reyes

BOTOLAN, Zambales — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is fast-tracking a ram pump irrigation project that would provide a steady water supply for more than 890 Aeta families in this municipality. Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala formally launched the project at the Aeta community of Villar here with the assistance of Mayor Nerma Yap, Lubos na Alyansa ng mga Katutubong Aeta sa Sambales President Carlito Domulot, Villar Barangay Captain Palab Cabali, Education for Life Foundation President Larraine Abad-Sarmiento, and DA-3 Regional Executive Director Andrew Villacorta.

Army Zambales unit declared 1st 'territorial battalion'

by Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines - The Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion based in Zambales has been declared the military’s first “territorial battalion” or a unit that integrates reservists and militiamen with soldiers.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said the integration aims to provide reservists and CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (CAA) with the opportunity to join the military’s anti-insurgency efforts.

Burgos clarified though that tapping reservists and militiamen has nothing to do with the ongoing standoff in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which is 124 nautical miles from the nearest base point in Zambales.

Burgos said the 24th IB passed the evaluation conducted by an Army technical working group that assessed its effectiveness.

Lt. Col. Michael Samson, 24th IB commander, said reservists and militiamen will soon play a more active role in their security plan.

Industrial schools cite SBMA for job generation


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Officials of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities of Industrial Technology (Pacuit) recently lauded the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for providing jobs to Filipino workers, especially the skilled artisans and technicians from local communities.

Dr. Feliciano Rosete, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Zambales and vice president of Pacuit-Luzon, conveyed his group’s appreciation of the SBMA’s job generation program on behalf of the 250 presidents and directors of state colleges and universities who attended the Pacuit’s 10th National Conference here last week.

“Your contributions to the socio-economic development of the country must be acknowledged,” Rosete told SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia in his opening address for the convention.

Rosete said Garcia, as head of the Subic agency, has introduced innovative concepts to strengthen the institutional policies of the SBMA for the benefit of service-clientele, including workers and students.

Garcia, who was the keynote speaker in the Pacuit convention, said that after only 20 years since its creation, the Subic Bay Freeport has generated about $8 billion worth of investments and created more than 92,000 jobs.

“The Subic Freeport is a true manifestation of Filipino industriousness,” Garcia said, adding as he acknowledged the role of his predecessors in turning this former military base into a successful free port and special economic zone.

Garcia said the professionalism and dedication of local workers to their respective jobs had been a major contribution to Subic’s success.

“That is why my heart is very close to industrial technology,” Garcia said. “Our success is a manifestation of the strong quality-control program being implemented here in the Subic Freeport with the help and cooperation of the workers.”

The SBMA official also committed his agency’s support to the field of industrial technology by accepting more students as trainees under the agency’s on-the-job training program.

According to SBMA records, the agency has continuously generated job opportunities over the years despite a brief slowdown in 2009 because of the effects of the global economic crisis.

In 2005 some 12 years after the Subic Bay Freeport began operations, a total of 59,764 workers had been hired by various business locators here, including the SBMA.

Subic’s employment total reached 63,485 in 2006, then 74,181 in 2007, and 87,502 in 2008. In 2009, however, Subic’s work force slightly shrank to 87,226 because of the economic crisis. The following year, it again rose to 88,450 and at the year-end of 2011 was already at 88,957.

In the same forum, Pacuit officials vowed to help develop more capable workers to fuel the country’s industrialization program.

Rosete said the group aims to better equip themselves to push industrial technology programs toward technological advancements and make them more attuned with national efforts in industrial development.

The Subic conference was designed to discuss issues and concerns on how to match local industrial technology education with emerging trends in modern technology, Rosete said.

Zambales celebrates world’s best-tasting mango


IBA, Zambales—Summer may spell sea, sun and sand to most people, but in this province this time of sweltering heat means only one thing: the much-awaited festival held each year in praise of the world’s best-tasting mango fruit. Zambales’s golden fruit—revered by connoisseurs for its fleshy consistency and tarty taste—is reputed to be the best mango in the world. No less than the Guinness Book of World Records said that Zambales produces the sweetest fruits, specifically the Sweet Elena variety of “carabao” mango (Mangiferaindica) that is found in Santa Cruz town. The sweetest of the sweet reportedly came from a 108-year-old mother tree at a 5-hectare mango orchard in the village of Sabang.

Local growers swear that the best-tasting fruits come from orchards near the sea, which is why the fruits grown on San Salvador Island in Masinloc town are among the most sought-after by those in the know.

“It’s not actually the sweetness that makes Zambales mango flavorful; it’s the hard-to-describe linamnam that is the X-factor here,” said Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

“And if you want to know whether the fruit has this distinctive desired taste, you have to smell it. If it smells bland, then the fruit tastes bland. But if it has this flavorful smell, then it must be Zambales mango,” he added proudly.

In celebration of this sun-kissed fruit that has made Zambales hugely popular among fruit lovers, the provincial government organizes the Zambales Mango Festival each summer. Zambales tourism officer Tel Mora says it’s a trade fair, products exhibit and local fiesta rolled into one.

“We’ve been having this festival since year 2000, when the local Small- and Medium-Enterprises Development Council initiated it as a pilot project with the support of the provincial government and the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry]. The first time it came out, it was already a three-day event, with the street-dancing contest and the trade fair as anchor activities,” Mora said.

“Over the years, the festival has grown, and more events like fun games and LGU [local government unit] exhibits and competitions were added,” Mora said. And this year, when organizers transferred the festival to the Zambales Sports Complex, which is a bigger venue, after holding it in front of the Provincial Capitol building for the last 11 years, the event doubled the number of exhibitors to the fair. These included weavers from La Union, longganisa-makers from Vigan, woodcraft producers from Abra, pottery-makers from Tarlac, leather-makers from Bulacan and organic-herb growers from Laguna.

This year the Mango Festival included fun activities that were held during daytime: mango-eating challenges, T-shirt design contest and the “Pinaka” exhibit and competition, which showcased the best products from various LGUs. At night, the venue came alive, meanwhile, with the Invitational Dance Crew Competition on April 20; the Banda at

Zambales gov't moves to assist 'displaced' fishermen

by (PNA)


MANILA, Philippines - With the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal standoff entering its first month, the government started an inventory of fishing grounds in Zambales and nearby areas to assist local fishermen who have been displaced by the Chinese intrusion into their traditionally rich fishing ground, “Karburo.”

Karburo is the local fishermen’s name for Scarborough Shoal also known as Baja de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, a Philippine territory 124 nautical miles from mainland Zambales.

“We are conducting an inventory of fishing grounds outside of Panatag to help our displaced fishermen,” former defense secretary and Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said.

He added that the provincial government has also initiated the release of fingerlings to several bodies of water along the coastline of the province that have already been identified as a fishing ground.

Local fishermen have been out of Panatag Shoal since last April 15 due fears that the standoff between the Philippine and the Chinese vessels would end in a shooting war. The standoff started last April 10.

A fisherman who fished in Panatag Shoal usually earns P10,000 every four days out of their tons of first-class catch from inside the lagoon. Fishermen in the area usually stay inside the lagoon for several weeks with their catch being regularly shipped back to Zambales through a boat carrier.

This is the reason why, the local fishermen themselves are also appealing to the national government to fast track the peaceful resolution of the dispute.

Local fishermen said that before the standoff, there’s a peaceful co-existence between Filipino, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen while fishing inside the vast Panatag Lagoon.

Ebdane accused the Chinese fishermen of illegal fishing in the area leading to the slow destruction of Panatag lagoon.

He said that aside from cyanide fishing, Chinese fishermen use destructive activities in harvesting corals, giant clams and other rare marine species from inside the lagoon.

“These illegal fishing methods are also banned in China and these Chinese fishermen are conducting these destructive fishing activities because Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc is outside of their maritime domain,” Ebdane said.

The governor, meanwhile, supported the national government's tack in resolving the shoal standoff through the international legal arena. He admitted that the country could not win a military battle against China.

SBMA cited for job generation program

by (PNA)


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, May 3 (PNA) – Educators in the field of industrial technology have lauded the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for its continuing efforts to generate jobs for Filipinos, especially skilled workers.

This message was conveyed to SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia during the recent opening here of the 10th National Conference of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities of Industrial Technology (PACUIT), which was attended by about 250 senior officers, including presidents and directors from state colleges and universities in the country.

“Your contributions to the socio-economic development of the country must be acknowledged,” said Dr. Feliciano Rosete, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Zambales and vice president of PACUIT-Luzon.

Rosete also cited the personal contributions of Garcia, saying that the SBMA official has introduced innovative concepts to strengthen the institutional policies of the agency for the benefit of service-clientele, including workers and students.

Garcia, who was invited as keynote speaker in the event, welcomed PACUIT delegates to Subic and acknowledged the role of his predecessors in turning this former military base into a successful free port and special economic zone.

“The Subic Freeport is a true manifestation of Filipino industriousness,” Garcia said. He noted that after only 20 years since its creation, Subic is now one of the most successful free ports in the Asian region with US$ 8 billion worth of accumulated investment, and a record of more than 92,000 jobs generated.

Garcia said that Subic’s success could be attributed to the professionalism and dedication of workers to their respective jobs, which prospective investors appreciate.

“That is why my heart is very close to industrial technology,” Garcia said. “Our success is a manifestation of the strong quality-control program being implemented here in the Subic Freeport with the help and cooperation of the workers.”

He added that the SBMA would continue supporting industrial technology by accepting students as trainees in various offices of the agency under its on-the-job training program.

The program is in support of President Aquino’s vision of achieving progress through “Daang Matuwid,” Garcia also told members of PACUIT.

PACUIT is an association of educators in industrial technology, which ims to better equip its members in steering industrial technology programs toward technological advancements and make them more attuned with national efforts in industrial development.

With the theme “Strengthening Response to the Emerging Industrial Technology Challenges,” the Subic conference was designed to solicit and discuss issues and concerns affecting PACUIT members, including the challenge for attendees to make local industrial technology education match with emerging trends in modern technology.

Zambales municipality claims ownership of Scarborough

by Matikas Santos

MASINLOC, Zambales — The disputed Scarborough Shoal belongs to this municipality, its Mayor Desiree Edora said Wednesday, citing a resoltion passed by the local government in March 2011. In a talk with newsmen, Edora said the resolution was subsequently approved by the Zambales Provincial Board. The Shoal (Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc) is currently being disputed by the Philippines and China.

US commits to ‘minimum credible defense’


THE US has committed to assist the Philippines in pushing for maritime security to reach “a minimum credible defense posture” amid increasing Chinese military incursions in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the province of Zambales. Philippines and US diplomats and defense officials met on Sunday in Washington, D.C. to explore defense cooperation under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

The US promised to send its second navy patrol ship called High Cutter.

In their joint statement, Philippines and US diplomatic and defense officials vowed to “Cooperate on building the Philippines’s maritime security presence and capabilities, and strengthening its maritime domain awareness in order to contribute to national defense and enhanced regional security related to issues such as illegal fishing, transnational crime and natural disasters. To that end, the United States intends to transfer a second High Endurance cutter to the Philippines this year.”

Increasing Chinese military incursions in the Scarborough Shoal were tackled at the two-plus-two meeting held on Sunday between Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense secretaries Voltaire Gazmin of the Philippines and Leon Panetta of the US.

The two parties agreed to continue to conduct joint exercises and training activities on counterterrorism and maritime security.

The US promised to continue its counterterrorism efforts, including noncombat support to the Philippine security services in combating al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in southern Philippines.

The two staunch allies vowed to cooperate to resolve disputes in the Scarborough Shoal through rules-based approach and within the framework of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and transit of people across the seas.

Meanwhile, the two parties also agreed to push through with the Balikatan Exercises regularly being held in the Philippines to enhance military and police capability in combating terrorism and transnational crimes.

The Philippines and US senior officials, meanwhile, agreed to support the National Coast Watch System that seeks to expand joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities to respond to various situations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Phl, US holds search & rescue training in Subic

by Allen M. Villa

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, April 30 (PIA) -- The country’s elite search and rescue teams and the United States Armed Forces conducted a search and rescue exercise here recently as part of the 28th Balikatan exercises between the two countries.

The Hawaii National Guard, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) fire department held their exercises at the Collapsed Structure Search and Rescue Training Facility in this free port, a facility designed to simulate different scenarios during an earthquake.

Participants in the exercise demonstrated different rescue techniques such as high angle rope rescue, collapsed structure rescue, shoring, breaching, and breaking.

Capt. Aaron Blanchard, officer-in-charge of the Hawaii National Guard, stressed the importance of disaster preparation.

“Obviously when disaster happens, there’s no time to train then, and the only time to train is when you get opportunities like this,” said Blanchard.

Blanchard also said that the Subic exercise gave them an opportunity to work with different agencies.

“It’s a learning experience for everyone. We have learned techniques and procedures and we shared our experiences, too,” he said.

During the simulation, the participants also used the incident command system (ICS), an emergency system designed for planned and unplanned events.

According to Capt. Ranny Magno, SBMA fire department chief, the ICS is a very flexible emergency response system that is being used in other countries.

“One of the features of ICS is that it is flexible and modular. In other words, its use depends on the situation. You can adjust it,” Magno said.

Magno also took note of the preparedness of the SBMA in responding to emergency situations.

“If there is a disaster, the SBMA is ready to respond, to give assistance,” he said. “In many cases, when neighboring municipalities, towns and cities request for our help, we respond immediately. We have the equipment, the manpower, plus the kind of discipline of responding immediately because time is the very essence in any emergency, especially in natural calamity.”

The Philippine National Red Cross along with the Olongapo City Disaster Risk Management Council also participated in the activity.

The Balikatan is a combined joint military exercise conducted under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries. This year, the joint military exercises focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) Training. (CLJD/AMV-PIA3)

4Ps help young people realize their dreams - DSWD

by Joelyn G. Baluyut

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Zambales, April 29 (PIA) -- The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) helps youth realize and achieve their dreams.

Thus said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 3 director Adelina Apostol during the signing of Memorandum of Agreement with 27 mayors in Central Luzon for the implementation of the said program in their respective localities. The signing was held in Subic recently.

“I remember one beneficiary when I asked what he wanted to be in the future and he responded that he wanted to be like his parents, a garbage collector. But when he was enrolled in 4Ps, his dream changed and now he gets to study through the help of this program,” Apostol said.

“The program doesn’t only focus on giving money to the poor but it will also make them believe that they could go beyond what they are now, that they have to power to reach for their dreams and live a better life,” she explained.

Apostol also noted that “through the implementation of the 4Ps in each barangay, city and provincial level, the solid partnership between them and the DSWD has been established, and now, we are still continuing this because many people would benefit from the program.”

4Ps is a human development program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of infants and children aged 14 years old and below.

Its objectives include Social Assistance which is to provide cash assistance to the poor to alleviate their immediate need (short term poverty alleviation) and Social Development that is to break the intergenerational poverty cycle through investments in human capital. (WLB/JGB-PIA3)

BoI okays power projects

by Julito G. Rada

The Board of Investments has approved P62.3 billion worth of power projects in Batangas and Zambales, managing head Adrian Cristobal told reporters Friday.

Cristobal, who also serves as Trade undersecretary, said these projects are the P12.87-billion plant of South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. in Calaca, Batangas, and the P49.45-billion expansion project of Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd. in Masinloc, Zambales.

“The two projects will help address the country’s energy supply requirements. The BoI’s goal is to ensure that approved investment projects contribute to long-term inclusive economic growth,” Cristobal said in a news briefing.

The South Luzon Thermal project will use a modern clean coal technology and involves a 135-megawatt coal-fired power plant. It is set to start commercial operations in August 2014.

The expansion of Masinloc project involves the construction of two additional 300-MW units to boost the whole project’s total capacity to 1,200 MW.

PHL gives P62B worth of power projects the green light

by VS, GMA News

Two power projects to address the Philippine energy shortfall were approved this week by the Board of Investments, Trade Undersecretary and BOI managing head Adrian Cristobal said Friday.

The projects worth P62.32 billion would be built in Batangas and Zambales, Cristobal told reporters in a briefing.

One is the P12.87-billion South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. power plant in Calaca, Batangas, and the other is Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd.’s P49.45-billion expansion project in Masinloc, Zambales.

"The two projects will help address the country's energy supply requirements,” the trade and investments official said, noting “the BOI’s goal is to ensure that approved investment projects contribute to long-term inclusive economic growth."

The South Luzon Thermal’s power plant would use clean coal technology that includes a 135-megawatt (MW) coal-fired facility that should start commercial operations in August 2014.

Masinloc Power Partners, meanwhile, would build two 300-MW units to boost its total plant capacity to 1,200 MW.

These projects are aligned with government’s 2011 Investment Priorities Plan to attract investments in key industries and achieve inclusive growth, said Cristobal.

The BoI earlier approved the P1.4-billion agribusiness project of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp. in Pampanga and Tarlac, which would include raising hog parent stock.

According to the BOI chief, the board is now reviewing the procedures investors go through in registering with the agency with a view making the process as simple as possible by lowering the number of required data items to 14 from 52.

The current process "partly contributed" to low approvals in the first quarter of 2012, he said, noting that applicants find the data gathering quite tedious and gave them second thoughts about pursuing the registration.

"Currently, we are pilot-testing the simplified procedures in three sectors, namely agribusiness, housing, and tourism," Cristobal said, noting these sectors are less complicated than the other sectors.

With the simplified procedure in place, BOI "sees an increase in the number of project approvals from April onwards," according to him.

At ‘Karburo,’ Filipinos fish, laugh, eat, drink with Chinese, Viet fishermen

by Inquirer Central Luzon, Robert Gonzaga

MASINLOC, Zambales—In a place 12 hours away by motorized outrigger from this town’s coastline, which locals call “Karburo,” fishermen from the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Taiwan peacefully coexist and share the bounties of the sea. On several occasions, Mario Frones, 54, said he and his fellow Filipino fishermen, after a hard day at sea, would board foreign fishing vessels to share stories, food and even a drink or two with the foreigners. “We have no problems with them. Sometimes we even go aboard each other’s boats to drink and have a little fun,” Frones said in Filipino. Karburo is internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, a group of half-submerged rock formations 124 nautical miles (223 kilometers) west of Zambales province that both China and the Philippines claim is part of their territory. The Philippines calls the area Panatag Shoal. China refers to it as Huangyan Island. On April 14, Frones, as he had done in the last 12 years, set out to sea with fellow fishermen. They steered their boats toward Karburo, the place nearest to the coast that abound with fish. It’s only money But the following day, at about noon, they were greeted at the shoal by a small flotilla of boats carrying Philippine Coast Guard troops. “They said we shouldn’t stay there anymore. They said there was going to be trouble with the Chinese,” Frones said. “Tensions with the Chinese had happened before, but this was different,” he said. Frones owned three of the fishing boats in the shoal. He ordered them to go home. “I didn’t want to risk drawing the ire of the Chinese, or be caught in the crossfire,” Frones said. “Besides, it is only money. We’ll just go back later, when things return to normal.” Frones’ boats and the others left the area without any catch, forgoing tens of thousands of pesos, and returned to their village here. “It was like a procession,” Frones said. “There were nine of us, with about 70 fishermen on board. Nobody stayed behind, except the foreign fishermen.” Asked why his group chose the 12-hour run to Scarborough, risking being blocked by Chinese patrol vessels in the area, Frones said: “It’s the only place around where you can catch tons of fish. And that’s for sure, so long as the weather is good. If we stay around Masinloc Bay, we won’t catch much.” Sharing sea’s bounty Frones said proof of the shoal’s richness as a fishing ground was the catch of two to three tons of different varieties of fish for each boat on trips that would last for at least a week. On good days, the boats would unload large talakitok (jacks), tanigue (Spanish mackerel), maya-maya (red snapper), lobster and a fish known here as taringan. From January to April, Frones said, fishermen from Zambales, Bataan and Pangasinan provinces converge on Scarborough Shoal, along with fishermen from China, Vietnam and Taiwan, to share the sea’s bounty. But from May to December, only a few risk going there. “That’s when there are storms, and the weather is generally bad,” Frones explained. “You won’t catch much.” He said Filipino fishermen used spears to catch fish and compressors to breathe under water. “We put the fish in ice during transport. We have people who stay there for weeks on end, and the others transport the fish haul back to Masinloc,” he said. “This has been our way of life for a long time. I’ve been doing this for more than 12 years, but some of my men have been doing this all their lives,” he said. The trip back to Masinloc, when their boats are heavy with the catch, takes 15 to 18 hours, he said. No animosity No Filipino fishermen have gone to Scarborough since the standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels began nearly a month ago, Frones said. “My men say the Chinese marine surveillance vessels are around most of the time. In the past, they rarely, if ever, came near Karburo or stayed long,” he said. “They just usually made their rounds and then left. They never interfered with our fishing there before,” he said. Frones said he believed Scarborough Shoal belonged to the Philippines, but he and his men felt no animosity toward foreign fishermen coming to the area. “We hope this will be resolved soon because our families rely on Karburo to make a living. We have done so for a very long time,” he said. Cyanide fishing Dario Diaz, 58, head of Masinloc’s Bantay Dagat (sea patrol), said the only problem with some foreigners fishing in the shoal is their use of sodium cyanide. “Fishermen who have been there say that some foreigners use drums of this stuff to stun the fish, and then haul them out when they float,” Diaz said. “This is harmful to the environment. The corals are destroyed; the cyanide bleaches them,” he said. “Our fishermen only use spears, but they come back with tons of fish every time,” he said. Diaz said Masinloc fishermen, who have been prohibited from returning to the shoal until the standoff is resolved, had to be satisfied with fishing in Masinloc Bay. ‘Bajo de Masinloc’ Masinloc Councilor Helen Ebilane said old maps and documents show that Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines. “It was named Bajo de Masinloc by the Spaniards, and in Madrid, they have maps showing that place within Philippine territory,” she said. Ebilane said the shoal is only 120 nautical miles from the town of Palauig. “Batanes is even farther out to sea than Scarborough, so how can the Chinese claim that it belongs to them?” she said. Masinloc, she said, was one of the earliest towns of Zambales. The towns of Candelaria and Palauig were former villages of Masinloc. “That’s why when the distance between Zambales and Scarborough was measured, they used Palauig as a reference. Palauig was still part of Masinloc then,” she said. Historic claim A resolution passed by the town council in March last year stated that Masinloc has a “historic claim” to Scarborough Shoal, which was cited in Republic Act No. 9522, the law that defines the archipelagic base lines of the Philippines. The Masinloc resolution, which the Zambales provincial government has endorsed, read: “Scarborough Shoal/Reef, or Panatag Shoal (its Philippine name), more correctly described as a group of islands and reefs, is an atoll shape than a shoal, which is located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon, Philippines, in the [West Philippine Sea] and as with most of the landforms in this sea, sovereignty over the area is disputed. “Most references exclude this atoll from inclusion in the Spratly Islands, of which the closest is 350 km to the southwest,” the resolution said. The resolution described the shoal as “a triangle shaped chain of reefs and islands (but mostly rocks) 55 km around with an area of 150 km. It has a lagoon with [an] area of 130 sq km and depth of about 15 meters.” It said many of the reefs are “just below water at high tide, while near the mouth of the lagoon are ruins of an iron tower, 8.3 meters high.” Support from Zambales Vice Governor Ramon Lacbain II said the people of Zambales and Masinloc supported the claim of the Philippine government that Scarborough Shoal is part of the Philippines. Lacbain said the dispute should be settled through diplomacy and not through arms. If China and the Philippines cannot settle the dispute by themselves, then the best solution is to go the international court, Lacbain said.

Journalist gets death threats

by Anthony Bayarong/Sunnex

OLONGAPO CITY -- A local journalist received a barrage of death threats after covering the filing of charges against Olongapo’s police chief before the Office of the Ombudsman and Philippine National Police headquarters on Monday.

Alex Galang, a correspondent of Pilipino Star Ngayon, said he received several text messages the evening after covering the filing of charges against Olongapo City Police Director Christopher Tambungan.

Randy Datu, another Pilipino Star Ngayon correspondent, filed criminal charges against Tambungan after allegedly being harassed by the police chief during a hostage-taking incident in Barangay West Tapinac, Olongapo City early this month.

Galang said the night after the filing of charges, he received several threatening text messages, saying, “Ituon mo na ang mga natitirang araw na kasama mo ang anak mo! Tapos na ang palugit na binigay sau…lasapin mo ang natitira mong oras (Spend your last days with your children! Your time is nearing its end…make the most of your time),” from a sender whose mobile number is 09127611634.

Another text message from the same number said, “Sayang naman hindi ka na makikilala ng bunso mong anak…ang liit pa ng mga anak mo, mararamdaman mo ang paniningil sa mga darating na araw (Too bad your youngest child will no longer see you…your children are still young, you will feel the revenge in the next days).”

Galang, however, has no clue as to who sent the text messages but said he only received the said messages after the filing of charges against Tambungan.

Datu said Tambungan called on local reporters inside the staging point of the scene in which Datu and other journalist obliged. A few minutes later, Tambungan allegedly accosted him by saying “Hoy, ikaw! Anong pangalan mo (Hey, what is your name)?”

Datu said he was surprised by Tambungan’s question as they are no stranger to each other. Nevertheless, he introduced himself again politely. But Tambungan demanded, “Anong papel mo rito (What is your role here)?”

When Datu responded that he was there to cover the hostage-taking, Tambungan dismissed him and said, “Hindi ka kailangan dito. Lumabas ka dito (We don’t need you here. Leave.)!”

In a statement released by the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines Olongapo City Chapter, it said Tambungan allegedly raised his fist as if to punch Datu in the face, but grabbed the journalist’s shoulder instead and pushed him towards the exit of the premises.

Datu also claimed that he was maltreated by the city police chief in one instance inside Camp Cabal in Barangay Barretto a few months earlier.

Subic collects P1.79-B taxes

by Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, April 24 (PIA) -- Tax collections by revenue and customs offices in Subic Freeport for first quarter of the year again has surpassed previous records, leading to combined remittances of P1.79 billion.

The total collection remitted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) represented an increase rate of 10.83 percent, or P174.8 million, over the P1.61-billion aggregate collection for the same period last year, records from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) show.

SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia noted that the first quarter collections this year are record highs for both the Subic customs office, which netted a total of P1.46 billion, as well as for the district revenue office, which collected P328 million.

SBMA records also revealed that the uptrend in first quarter revenue collections here began in 2003, when a total of P665.18 million was generated. Over the succeeding years, this record was constantly topped by higher revenue collection figures.

P1.79-billion first quarter 2012 collection alone is already 22.76 percent more than the revenue collections made in the entire 1998, which amounted to P1.46 billion.

The BOC's P1.46-billion collection was derived from duties and taxes from ship calls, transhipment operations, and the importation of various products and general merchandise.

Customs collection for the first quarter slightly exceeded last year's P1.37-billion record by 6.47 per cent, or 88.76 million. However, the bureau also slightly missed its P1.52-billion target for Q1 2012 by 3.75 percent, or P53.14 million.

The slight variance, however, was more than made up for by the BOC's total non-cash collection of P191.44 million, indicating a 151 percent increase compared to the first quarter last year.

Meanwhile, the P328-million cash collections by the BIR reflected a 35 percent increase compared to the P241.97 million in the same period last year. This also surpassed the district's first quarter goal of P274 million by 19.34 percent.

It was also noted that the BIR's overall performance for the first quarter still improved despite the 2010 implementation of a new tax collection scheme allowing the SBMA to directly receive two percent of corporate taxes being paid by locators. The two percent went to the revenue shares of eight local government units that are contiguous to or affected by the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. (CLJD with reports from SBMA/PIA 3)

Zambales trains locals to international-level lifeguarding

by Joelyn G. Baluyut

IBA, Zambales, April 23 (PIA) -- Zambales Resort Owners Association, in partnership with the Philippine Life Saving Society, recently trained 77 local lifeguards in Botolan and San Antonio towns here on international-level surf life-saving and pool lifeguarding.

According to the organizers, the training was aimed at making Zambales the safest destination for aquatic recreation by upgrading the skills of its lifesavers that is at par with their global counterparts.

The training consisted of three sessions with experts from the Australian Surf Live Saving Society serving as facilitators. Its highlight was the “Great Titan Challenge” where participants showcased what they had learned.

Zambales Resort Owners Association chief Roger Bound said, “This happening was a good experience for our newly formed organization and the life guards that had received training for them to be able to demonstrate those acquired skills.”

“We are doing this to make Zambales the safest place for water leisure where tourists won’t be worrying about anything for they are confident that the lifeguards of Zambaleños are well trained,” Bound added. (CLJD/JGB-PIA3)

Tourists Swarm Zambales Mango Festival


IBA, Zambales — An estimated 10,000 merrymakers participated in the Mango Festival here in the capitol of the province as Zambales showcases the sweetest mangoes in the country.

According to the Zambales Tourism and Investment Promotions Office, the three-day event gave tourists a glimpse of how to live and breathe mangoes.

The festival had a street dancing competition, Zambales town’s largest produce competition, and a float competition.

Known to have the best mango in the world, Zambales is where the sought after carabao mango varieties are grown.

In 1995, the World Guinness Book of Record listed the province as producer of the sweetest mango in the world, specifically the Sweet Elena (Mangifera indica) variety in Sta. Cruz town which is said to be descended from a 108-year-old mother tree at a five-hectare mango orchard in the village of Sabang.

Consumption of mangoes during the festival have rendered most of the stalls there empty as people bought sacks of mangoes while other ate mangoes on the streets of Iba, Zambales.

RPEI distribute relief goods to 250 families in Sitio Agusuhin, Subic

by Subictimes

Some 250 families from Sitio Agusuhin who was demolished by Pamana Inc., two weeks ago received basic food packs from Redondo Peninsula Energy Incorporated last April 20, 2012 as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility program.

Official statement of DFA: The Philippine position on Bajo de Masinloc and the waters within its vicinity


Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of the Philippine territory. It is part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Philippine Continental Shelf.

A Philippine Navy Surveillance aircraft monitored eight (8) Chinese fishing vessels anchored inside the Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal) on Sunday, 8 April 2012, in the conduct of its maritime patrols and its enforcement of the Philippine Fisheries Code and marine environment laws. On 10 April 2012, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, in accordance with the established Rules of Engagement, dispatched an inspection team that reported that large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks were found in the compartments of these fishing vessels.

The actions of the Chinese fishing vessels are a serious violation of the Philippines’ sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction. The poaching of endangered marine resources is in violation of the Fisheries Code and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

Ebdane: Small-Scale Mining Beneficial


IBA, ZAMBALES — “While I may have chosen not to respond to the bait, I now choose to speak to you, my province-mates, because I am accountable to you.”

This was the response by Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. after news articles and columns focused on the supposed irregularities happening in the small-scale mining sector in the province.

He said, “Small-scale mining contributes to the goal of a progressive Zambales. We have improved fiscal viability in our first year in office, mainly because we implemented the rules, especially in the mining sector.”

In a recent State of the Province Address (SOPA), Ebdane said that the fees collected from the mining activities amounted to P43 million, almost triple of what was collected in the previous fiscal year.

According to Ebdane, small-scale mining contributes to the improvement of basic services for his constituents. He added that the fees collected for small-scale mining are shared with the community with 40 percent going to the barangay, 30 percent to the municipality, and 30 percent to the province.

“With the sharing of fees, the baranggays where small-scale mining activities are allowed receive a portion of the fees. These fees in turn can help in improving or upgrading basic facilities and services in the community,” Ebdane said.

The authority to regulate small scale mining on the provincial level is bestowed on the governor under the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Section 42), Republic Act No 7076, and the Local Government Code of the Philippines (Section 17 and Section 465 [iv] and [v].

“We have followed the laws and the rules and regulations on small scale mining activities in issuing the corresponding permits. All the permits that have been issued under my leadership have complied with the legal requirements, as well as the environmental restriction,” Ebdane said.

“In the interest of transparency, we have laid down the progression of events and circumstances for all to see,” he said.

“Our interest is in boosting the mining sector and bringing in the much needed income for the province. The question we should ask those who oppose us and fabricate stories is this: What is your intention and whose interest are you serving?” the governor asked.

In another development, residents from the northern half of Olongapo city will experience increased water pressure and wider service coverage with the formal commissioning of the new filtration facility of Subic Water and Sewerage Company Inc. (SUBICWATER), the private utility serving this area and the Subic Bay Freeport.

SUBICWATER Chairman Herbert Consunji, who led the inauguration rites yesterday, said the P50-million project has increased the water treatment capacity of the Mabayuan Water Treatment Plant (MWTP) by 36-percent or ten million liters per day (MLD), and can now operate on a maximum capacity of 38 MLD.

The MWTP supplies water to more than 18,200 households and business establishments in the northern part of this city, which comprises barangays Kalaklan, Mabayuan, East and West Bajac-bajac, Sta. Rita, Gordon Heights, and Old Cabalan.

“With more water in the distribution network, pressure inside the pipes will increase. This allows SUBICWATER to reach more households and establishments in MWTP’s service area of seven barangays, which are mountainous for the most part,” Consunji said during the simple ceremony held at the MWTP compound.

Attendees included Olongapo City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr., Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Director Anne Gordon, Castillejos Mayor Jose Angelo Dominguez, and other SUBICWATER top brass, officials of the Subic Bay Water Regulatory Board (SBWRB) led by Executive Regulator Marcelino Arreola, and staff of Barangay Mabayuan led by Robert Ferrer.

Zambales mobile clinic program launched

by (Anthony Bayarong)

IBA, Zambales – The Provincial Government of Zambales launched Tuesday its first mobile clinic in an effort to further boost its medical program for the province.

Two fully air-conditioned vehicles - a bus outfitted with X-ray, ultrasound and electrocardiogram (ECG) and a cargo van with dental equipment are the firsts of their kind in the Philippines.

In a ceremony at the Capitol grounds, Governor Jun Ebdane said the project is an important aspect of the province’s program to deliver health services in remote places where medical attention is needed.

“If the patients aren’t well enough, or are too poor to go to the hospital, then we will bring the hospital and the doctors to them,” Ebdane said.

He said under the mobile clinic program, medical and dental teams will be scheduled to visit the barangays.

From the mobile clinics, doctors and dentists from the Provincial Government, as well as volunteer private practitioners, can conduct examination of patients even in remote villages, while nurses and technicians can perform X-ray, sonology, and electrocardiograph checks.

Ebdane also said the mobile clinic services will be rendered for free to the indigent population. But he also urged his constituents who are well-off to avail themselves of the regular health services at government clinics and hospitals.

He also said the mobile clinics and equipment were sourced out privately thus, will remain under the care and maintenance of a private group.

“But as long as I’m the governor, these will be used by the Provincial Government for its health projects,” he said.

Lawmakers push Epira law review

by Mar Arguelles

Inquirer Southern Luzon

LEGAZPI CITY—Two legislators and a former member of the House of Representatives are calling for a review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), particularly its “anticonsumer” provisions. Representatives Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay of Zambales and Jack Enrile of Cagayan, and former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri of Bukidnon said the Epira Law had not resulted in lower electricity rates and greater power supply for the country because it had failed to encourage greater competition and more efficiency in the power industry. Magsaysay was here on April 1 for a visit. Enrile and Zubiri came here on April 10 for the Magayon Festival in Albay. All three hope to run as senatorial candidates of the new coalition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in next year’s elections. Magsaysay, Enrile and Zubiri said the Epira provisions on the privatization of government power producers like the National Power Corp., the imposition of value added tax (VAT) on energy and fuel products, and the deregulation of the power industry needed to be reviewed. The “VAT on oil is too good for the government but too bad for consumers, as it triggers spikes [in] fuel [prices], driving up agricultural and other commodity prices,” Zubiri said. Zubiri urged Congress to scrap the 12 percent VAT on petroleum products, as the tax pushes fuel prices up at the pump. Zubiri observed that after 10 years of the Epira Law, the prices of fuel have more than doubled, instead of coming down. Magsaysay said she disagreed with the proposal to scrap the VAT on fuel. She said she preferred to look at “loopholes that weakened the [Epira] law.” She proposed a 3 percent to 4 percent discount on VAT to reduce the impact of price spikes on consumers. Enrile said he favored a review of Epira, and urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to find ways to solve the energy crisis in Mindanao. Enrile called for the development of alternative sources of energy.

Tension flares up anew at Scarborough

by Joyce Pangco Panares

TENSION flared up again following last week’s naval standoff between China and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea after the Chinese deployed a second ship and an aircraft that hovered over the area, Filipino officials said Sunday.

The new incident came on the eve of the joint military exercises involving 6,800 Filipino and American soldiers near the disputed area of the South China Sea.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country’s largest warship, tried to arrest several Chinese fishermen who were accused of illegally entering and collecting endangered coral, giant clams and live sharks Tuesday at the disputed Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines. Two Chinese government ships arrived and prevented any arrests, sparking the standoff.

Chinese officials said their fishermen sought refuge at the shoal, which they said was part of Chinese territory, due to bad weather, but they were harassed by the Philippine Navy ship.

The Hamilton-class cutter later sailed away and was replaced by a Coast Guard vessel. All Chinese fishermen later slipped away from the shoal, diffusing the standoff.

But tensions flared again on Saturday after China deployed a second surveillance ship, along with a Chinese aircraft that briefly flew over the Philippine Coast Guard vessel at the shoal, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

One of the Chinese ships also ordered a Philippine-registered yacht, which was carrying French nationals involved in an archaeological survey, to leave the Scarborough, which lies about 230 kilometers off the province of Zambales, Philippine officials said.

“The stalemate remains,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Sunday.

Del Rosario, who left for a week-long trip to the United States on Sunday, said he would continue to oversee the negotiations with China to end the impasse.

In the Palace, deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the Chinese should not view Monday’s Balikatan war games as a further provocation, saying the venue for the exercises was determined well ahead of last week’s standoff in the Scarborough Shoal.

Some 4,500 American and 2,300 Filipino troops are expected to participate in the annual war games, which represent the biggest combined military exercise between the Armed Forces and the US Pacific Command.

Carlyle Thayer, a South China Sea expert at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said the Scarborough standoff was the latest reminder of an urgent need for China and other claimant countries to come up with arrangements to ensure disagreements, like fishermen straying into disputed waters, would not become violent, while the territorial disputes remained unresolved.

Such an arrangement, Thayer said, could be included in a proposed “code of conduct” being drafted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes four nations involved in South China Sea conflicts, and China.

China and rival countries like Vietnam and the Philippines had bolstered their maritime forces to protect the islands, reefs and potentially oil- and gas-rich offshore areas they claim in the South China Sea, increasing the possibility of confrontations, he said.

“If the South China Sea can be compared to a bathtub, it is only a matter of time before there is a collision in this congested space,” Thayer said.

“The incident at Scarborough Shoal is a harbinger of what is to come. Unless this matter is effectively addressed ... the future portends more confrontations and possible clashes at sea.” With AP

Ebdane hit for small-mining permits

by Robert Gonzaga

OLONGAPO CITY—A mining firm has assailed Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. for allegedly allowing small-scale mining firms in the province to gather and export the firm’s chromite stockpile in Masinloc, Zambales. In a statement, Benicio Eusebio, the president of Consolidated Mines Inc. (CMI), accused Ebdane of abusing his authority to issue small-scale mining permits that encroached on the Sitio Coto mineral reservation of CMI, which has been conducting business in the country for more than 20 years. “The value of CMI’s losses so far … may soon double at the rate the chromite stockpiles are being depleted with the use of backhoes and huge cargo trucks,” Eusebio said. In a separate statement in February, CMI said more than 35,000 metric tons of chromite, valued at P81 million, had been hauled by six small-scale mining firms to a newly constructed port owned by another firm. Eusebio said three vessels loaded with chromite, totaling 20,000 MT, had sailed out to China. The Inquirer tried to get Ebdane’s reply to CMI’s accusation but he and his information officers and staff members neither took calls nor replied to text messages. No stake But in an interview at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City in February, Ebdane said he had no stake in mining activities in his province, for which his administration has been criticized. His only task, he said, was to push operators to secure environmental licenses, including those for black-sand operations. “They’ve been trying to pin me down about the operations of large-scale mining. But large-scale mining is beyond the authority of the governor. I told the people if they don’t comply with environmental requirements, then so be it, we close it. It’s okay with me because mining offers little benefit to the province,” said Ebdane, a former Philippine National Police chief. He said the provincial government received only 2 percent from large-scale mining proceeds and only the national government benefited from the operations. Small-scale mining activities, he said, have been helping improve the economy, particularly the retrieval of black sand for export. “We have no problem like [the black sand quarrying in Pangasinan, La Union and the Ilocos] because for us black sand is waste and pollutes the rivers,” he said. CMI said the problem started in November last year when Ebdane issued several small-scale mining permits, supposedly without clearances from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as required by the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7076). “What’s strange was the permits covered areas where CMI’s huge chromite stockpiles are located, which are well within the CMI’s exclusive mineral reservation,” Eusebio said. Cease-and-desist order Documents showed that the DENR had issued cease-and-desist orders (CDOs) for at least five small-scale miners conducting operations in the Coto mines in January and February. Lormelyn Claudio, the Central Luzon director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau, had stopped their operations for lack of environmental compliance certificates, violating the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1586, or the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System Law. Eusebio said the permits granted to small-scale miners were also declared illegal by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board headed by Danilo Uykieng, also regional director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). But Eusebio said this did not stop the small-scale miners from gathering the chromite stockpile. “The cancellation did not affect the daily plunder of the chromite stockpiles. Neither that nor the issuance of CDOs by the MGB and the EMB stopped the small-scale miners from slicing off big chunks of the stockpiles,” he said. “As a legitimate corporation that dutifully pays its taxes, we certainly resent the shabby treatment from the office of the governor,” Eusebio said.

Chinese fishing boats leave; PH fails to seize catch


MANILA, Philippines - All Chinese fishing boats have left the disputed Scarborough Shoal near Zambales province with the Philippines failing to "confiscate" fish harvested "illegally," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday.

In a statement following talks on Friday night between Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing, the DFA said "all Chinese fishing vessels had left the lagoon," without the Philippines getting "their illegal harvest."

Philippine officials earlier said that giant clams, coral and live sharks were illegally harvested from waters surrounding Scarborough Shoal, which both countries are claiming.

Del Rosario described the development as "regrettable."

He said the number of "white Chinese civilian ships," which had intervened to prevent the Philippines from arresting Chinese fishermen it had caught illegally fishing, "had been reduced to one." Two Chinese civilian ships had initially blocked the Philippines from making the arrests.

"I had stated that we would be willing to allow the Chinese boats to return to China following the confiscation of their harvest of endangered species by our authorities. There was no clear agreement as Ambassador Ma had asserted that Chinese fishing vessels would be subject to inspection by their own authorities," he said.

"We had later learned that the Chinese fishing vessels had left the lagoon, a development which we had been working towards except for our not being able to confiscate their illegal harvest pursuant to the Fisheries Code, which was regrettable."

He said Friday night's talks had ended in a "stalemate as we had demanded of one another that the other nation’s ship be first to leave the area."

Del Rosario said he and the Chinese ambassador "had been trying to reach an understanding on the Chinese fishing vessels along the path of our providing a gesture of goodwill in the spirit of the Years of Friendly Exchanges launched in Beijing last April 11 and previously in Manila on March 20."

He said the Philippines will "continue to monitor the situation in coordination with concerned agencies."

Problems began last Sunday when Manila dispatched its largest warship, a U.S. Hamilton-class cutter, to Scarborough Shoal, a group of rocky outcrops off the main Philippine island of Luzon, after it spotted eight Chinese fishing boats anchored in the area.

The shoal, which is crossed by major shipping lanes, is believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves as well as fish stocks and other commercially-attractive marine life.

Beijing is asserting its sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan continue to claim that portions belong to them.

Appeal for calm

The overseas edition of Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily called for calm, accusing unnamed Western countries and media of exaggerating the seriousness of the situation to sow discord between China and its neighbors.

"China does not want to see the stand-off which has developed between Chinese and Philippine ships over Huangyan Island," it wrote in a front page commentary.

In March last year, Chinese navy ships threatened to ram a Philippine survey vessel in another disputed area, the Reed Bank. In response, the Philippines scrambled aircraft and ships.

Ill-equipped to patrol waters across the archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines has sought closer cooperation with its chief ally, the United States, which has refocused its military attention on Asia.

Manila has offered Washington greater access to airfields and its military facilities in exchange for more equipment and frequent training to enhance its military capability.

Philippine and U.S. forces are due to hold a military exercise near the Reed Bank this month. - With Reuters

Coast Guard moves in

by Jaime Laude

MANILA, Philippines - A Coast Guard vessel steamed into Scarborough Shoal off Zambales yesterday to relieve a naval warship, which pulled out of the area after facing off with two Chinese vessels that had prevented the arrest of Chinese poachers.

A third Chinese vessel arrived yesterday in Scarborough, which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal, 120 nautical miles off Zambales. The Philippine military said the third vessel is from the Chinese ministry of agriculture.

Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, chief of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) whose jurisdiction covers Scarborough, clarified that Coast Guard ship BRP Pampanga merely “relieved” the Navy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which had been in a standoff with the Chinese “surveillance” ships since Tuesday.

“Our Coast Guard is supposed to enforce maritime law,” Alcantara explained.

He said the Navy ship was ordered to sail to Poro Point in La Union.

“We are seeking a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the area,” Alcantara said.

The withdrawal of the Gregorio del Pilar came only hours after Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama declared that the flagship would remain in the area. Later, Pama said the flagship had to be withdrawn so it could load more supplies and provisions.

“It’s definitely not a retreat. There’s another ship from the Philippine Coast Guard to continue to enforce what we have started,” Pama said referring to the Pampanga.

“Their fuel is already on a critical level and their food supply is only good until tomorrow,” Pama explained.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also said the warship’s pullout was “due to operational reasons.”

PCG spokesman Lieutenant Commander Algier Ricafrente said the mission of the 56-meter Pampanga “is to show our presence and flag in the area.” Also on board the vessel were three representatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Panatag Shoal, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is an integral part of the Philippines since it falls within the 200 nautical miles of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“The PCG is looking for a diplomatic way to settle this issue,” Ricafrente said, stressing that PCG’s function is civilian in nature.

The Pampanga, skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vincent Fiesta, is expected to remain at the shoal for five days.

Philippine and Chinese diplomats scrambled yesterday to find a possible compromise to end the standoff and save face for both sides and ease tensions. Philippine officials proposed an arrangement to break the impasse, but details have yet to be released as of press time.

Officials said the proposal was a pragmatic way to solve the standoff. The Chinese fishermen were not expected to be able to stay at the uninhabited shoal for a long time because they may run out of food and other provisions.

“We have an issue here that we’re trying to address in a civilized and friendly way. I’m hopeful that our long-standing friendship will make us arrive at a diplomatic solution faster,” Del Rosario said.

He also said Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing did not inform him of the arrival of the third Chinese vessel in the shoal.

“We’re moving forward but it’s (negotiation) still a work in progress. We’re trying to see if we can arrive at a consensus in terms of some of these issues that remain outstanding,” he said.

The Chinese embassy said the fishing boats had taken shelter from a storm in the lagoon and accused Philippine troops of harassment.

“Two Chinese marine surveillance ships are in this area fulfilling the duties of safeguarding Chinese maritime rights and interests,” it said in a statement. It said the shoal “is an integral part of the Chinese territory and the waters around it the traditional fishing area for Chinese fishermen.”

In the Communist Party’s mouthpiece the People’s Daily, Major General Luo Yuan said it’s the Philippines “last chance” to resolve its territorial disputes with China.

“The biggest miscalculation of the Philippines is that it has misestimated the strength and willpower of China to defend its territorial integrity,” Luo said in a commentary also published in the Global Times newspaper.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank, said on the other hand that it is “vital for the US to continue supporting the Philippines as a strong Philippine position in the South China Sea is the best way to ensure peace and prevent Chinese adventurism.”

“After all, the cutter we provided them last year is in the thick of this standoff—without it, the Philippines would never have known of illegal Chinese fishing. Bolstering the Philippines’ flagging ability to defend its territorial sovereignty, at least to a position of self-sustainability, is essential,” Robert Warshaw of the Heritage Foundation said. “If shots are fired, the US is treaty-obligated to begin formal consultations with the Philippines on how best to support it.”

Environmental issue

Malacañang said the Chinese incursion is also an environmental issue and not just territorial.

“That’s the reason why it’s more than a discussion of territory, it’s also a discussion of our environmental concern,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters in a chance interview.

“That (exploitation of the seas) is our concern as well. Part of what they (Chinese fishermen) collected were big clams and corals. And these corals as you know, we value our environment,” he stressed. “That’s one matter which we are also concerned with, the corals being part of (our territory). We are one of the countries with the richest flora and fauna, and it’s a concern for us also that the corals were taken and collected,” Lacierda added.

He also said the Navy observed the rules of engagement when its personnel informed the foreign vessels of the intrusion. He also said the deployment of the BRP Pampanga was not a provocation because the vessel performs only civilian functions.

“There are rules of engagement in boarding a vessel and those rules of engagement I believe were observed by our Navy. That’s the reason why there is no truth that they were harassed, rules of engagement were followed by our Navy personnel,” he said.

“As far as the Philippines is concerned, we observed the rules of engagement, that’s the reason why we are very confident there was no harassment on the part of the Chinese fishermen,” Lacierda maintained.

But as the Chinese poachers remain free, 20 Vietnamese fishermen were arrested for illegal fishing yesterday in Balabac, Palawan after a long night chase by a Philippine Navy gunboat.

Maj. Niel Estrella, spokesman and intelligence chief of the Western Command (Wescom) said that the Vietnamese vessel was found to be carrying 20 live sea turtles.

“The apprehended 20 Vietnamese fishermen along with their fishing vessel are now being escorted by a Naval gunboat PG-383 to Puerto Princesa City for the filing of appropriate charges,” he said.

UN help sought

For administration lawmakers, it might take an intervention from the UN to end the standoff.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the government must exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve the standoff “without giving up our legal claim over Scarborough Shoal.”

“If necessary, the UN should step in because what is being violated by the Chinese fishermen is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Evardone said.

“The UN should assert that its international laws should be observed and respected by its member-nations,” he said.

Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said running to the UN and invoking the UNCLOS “is an available remedy that we have under international law.”

“We can still continue with the amicable diplomatic negotiations with China. That way, we will not heighten the belligerency between our country and China on this issue,” Tugna said. “But our government must have a deadline on how long it will resort to bilateral/multi-lateral negotiations with China and other countries that are also interested in this territory.”

He said that if the impasse drags on, the Philippines “can file a case in the UN against China for violation of international laws.”

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said the government may also invoke the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“From all indications, the Chinese are hell-bent in intruding on our territory to get to our resources especially natural gas, fisheries and others, we must ensure that we will continue to defend what is ours,” Colmenares said.

“We must also be wary of US entry into the picture as it will only worsen the situation and even escalate it. Furthermore it would just put us in a situation of one invader substituting for another,” he said.

The Kabataan party-list group blamed the previous administration for the situation in Scarborough Shoal.

Terry Ridon, spokesman for the party-list group, said the Arroyo administration declared Scarborough Shoal as a “regime of islands” under the UNCLOS, rather than part of the country’s territorial waters

“By declaring the Scarborough Shoal as a mere regime of islands, the country had effectively lost full sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan Group of Islands, thus subjecting our claim over these islands to mere diplomatic resolution,” Ridon said.

“We are thus constrained to merely explore and exploit the resources found therein, instead of being able to exercise full political, economic and military sovereignty over these waters,” he said.

He said the Arroyo administration fully knew that it had passed the Baselines Law from a “position of weakness and fear of China, instead of valiantly staking our historical claim over these islands.”

ASEAN card

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said the Philippines can count on its allies, particularly from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in dealing with China on the Scarborough issue.

Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said that China was apparently posturing to assert its claim on what clearly does not belong to it.

“There’ll be a lot of posturing and this is one of those, ordering the Philippine authorities to leave the contested islands,” Lacson said. “We can’t go up against them but we always have the ASEAN. We will always lean on the stronger countries.

“What is happening in the West Philippine Sea is not just an interest of the Republic of the Philippines, it is an international issue,” Lacson said. “We can just hope that this does not escalate into something more serious that would have dire consequences.”

Lacson maintained that the issue stemmed merely from an enforcement of local laws. He said the Chinese fishermen were found poaching in Philippine territorial waters and thus should be held accountable, he said.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan said the Philippines did the right thing when it filed a diplomatic protest against China. He also stressed that diplomacy is still the best approach to the impasse.

“I agree with actions taken by DFA’s (Secretary) Del Rosario. We mount a diplomatic protest, communicate the incident to the government of China, and hope there will be a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to this,” Honasan said.

He also called on officials to talk with the country’s allies such as the United States, Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN and let them know “that there is that situation in Scarborough Shoal... how they intend to help us, this is not only a regional issue but a global issue.”

“Let’s ask them if there is substance to all these agreements, security economic that we have signed with them, otherwise, what’s the use,” he added.

In Butuan City, a new group called Filipinos for Real Change (FRC) said militant groups like Bayan and Gabriela should explain their silence on the issue.

“Militant groups are always in the forefront in every protest rally in front of the US embassy in Manila protesting against what they claimed US imperialism, What about China’s continuing bullying against us when it is very clear Scarborough Shoal is within Philippine territory? Where is their nationalist spirit? Why the continued silence over this direct intervention of China to our sovereignty?” FRC said in its statement. With Pia Lee-Brago, Christina Mendez, Marvin Sy, Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla, Evelyn Macairan, Ben Serrano, AP

P60 million irrigation project to benefit the Aetas in Zambales


With a new irrigation system, members of the Aeta community in Barangay Villar in Botolan, Zambales now have more reason to return to their ancestral land after being displaced for years after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991. The irrigation system—featuring a novel ram pump and water reservoir—is part of several agricultural projects involving equipment and input totaling P60 million that the Department of Agriculture has initiated for the benefit of the Aetas or indigenous peoples (IPs), farmers, rural folk, and local government units in Zambales. Secretary Proceso J. Alcala announced this during his visit to Zambales on March 23 and 24, 2012. The ram pump will irrigate some 200 hectares, benefiting more than 890 Aeta families, who plant mostly root crops such as taro (Luko variety) and sweet potato; and vegetables like squash, tomato and eggplant; and fruits such as banana. Secretary Alcala will also provide the Aeta community with two carabaos, complete with farm implements. The DA chief said the bulk of the P60-million allotment will be used to construct and repair eight communal or pump irrigation projects (CIPs/PIPs, respectively), which include the Naglabusan PIP in San Marcelino; East Danita CIP in San Antonio; Lipay-Cabatuan and Marangla PIPs in Iba; Libertador PIP in Candelaria; Grullo and Paete-Balincaguing CIPs, in San Narciso; and Salaza-San Lorenzo CIP, serving Masinloc and Palauig. Secretary Alcala also attended three separate forums with farmers, fisherfolk, and local government officials in the towns of Botolan and San Felipe, where he distributed various farm and fishing implements and inputs to farmers’ and fisherfolk’s groups. He said the DA will also establish a community seed bank where farmers can source their seed requirements if their crops would be damaged by typhoons. In addition, the DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), will put up a crab hatchery. He instructed BFAR Region 3 Director Remedios Ongtangco to finish the hatchery before the end of April. During a series of dialogues with the IPs, farmers and local government officials, led by Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr., Secretary Alcala said “we would like to sit down with you to fine tune a master development roadmap for Zambales that will complement the DA’s road map for the entire country. This way, our joint programs will be effectively implemented and reach the right beneficiaries.”

Red Tide remains up in Bataan and Zambales –BFAR


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, April 11 (PIA) -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has identified that the provinces of Bataan and Zambales are positive to paralytic shellfish poison or most commonly known as Red Tide.

Affected municipalities in Bataan are the coastal waters in Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Orani, Abucay, and Samal, and Masinloc Bay in Zambales.

According to BFAR, “all types of shellfish and Acetes ap or alamang from the areas mentioned are not safe for human consumption based on the latest shellfish bulletin issued last April 3.”

“Fish, squids, shrimps and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking,” BFAR added.

Also affected provinces are Dumanquilias Bay in Zamboanga del Sur, Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte, and Misamis Occidental.

Olongapo journalists denounced harrasment by local police head, calls for suspension

by subictimes

OLONGAPO City: The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines Olongapo City-Subic Bay Chapter denounced the recent harassment of one of their members by the head of the Olongapo City Police Office.

In a statement signed by its members headed by Ansbert Joaquin of they said that one of their members identified as Randy Datu, a correspondent of Pilipino Star Ngayon (PSN) was harassed by Olongapo City Police Director Sr. Supt. Christopher Tambungan while covering a hostage taking incident in Arthur St. in Olongapo last week.

Based on Datu’s account of the incident, he arrived in the area as other media practitioners were already covering the hostage taking. After which, a policeman asked for media personnel to initiate communications with the hostage taker, upon the latter’s request.

Obliging the policeman who requested for assistance, Datu and other journalist entered the compound where the hostage taking was going on.

Tambungan deliberately singled out Datu among all the reporters who responded to the police’s request for assistance and accosted him by saying. “Hoy, ikaw! Anong pangalan mo?,” the statement added.

Datu said he was surprised by Tambungan’s question as they are no stranger to each other. Nevertheless, he introduced himself again politely. But then, Tambungan angrily demanded, “Anong papel mo rito?” When Datu responded that he was there to cover the hostage taking, Tambungan dismissed him and said, “Hindi ka kailangan dito. Lumabas ka dito!”

Tambungan raised his fist as if to punch Datu in the face, but grabbed his shoulder instead and pushed him towards the exit of the premises in full view of other journalists in the area.

Not contented with this, the statement of Datu said Tambungan pushed and shoved him all the way out of the compound. When nearing the exit, Tambungan then struck Datu with a blow to the back, which almost caused the latter to lose his balance and hit the pavement.

The group of journalist representing both local and national dailies called on PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome to investigate the incident and suspend Tambungan to insure fair investigation.

The statement added that “In light of Tambungan’s abuse of authority and lack of respect for press freedoms, NUJP-Subic asks PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome to immediately mete out sanctions against Colonel Tambungan for his misconduct.”

“At the very least, Tambungan should be suspended from discharging his duties as Olongapo City’s PNP Director immediately, to guarantee a fair and impartial investigation of his actions by the PNP hierarchy, while charges are being prepared against him by Datu and various media organizations.

“His suspension will go a long way to salve the wounds inflicted by Tambungan’s violent behavior, irresponsible actions and blatant violation of press freedoms,” the group said.

“Tambungan’s abusive behavior cannot go unpunished, or else it will set a negative example for all prospective violators in the PNP to follow,” they added.

Other media organization in Pampanga and Manila has also called on for an investigation of the harassment made by Tambungan against Datu.

Zambales gets more health equipment

by Anthony Bayarong

ZAMBALES, Philippines – The provincial government of Zambales further beefed up its medical and health programs with the donations of three brand new ambulances and three new incubators recently.

Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the new medical equipments will boost the provincial government’s health and medical services to the barangay.

This as the province is finalizing the mobile clinic program in order to reach out to as many residents as they can, he said.

“A bus to be outfitted as a mobile clinic and equipped with a portable X-ray machine and maybe an ultrasound machine, is our next project in our agenda to establish better health and medical services in our province,” he added.

The new ambulance, donated by RP Energy during its medical caravan project last week, has brought the total number of medical emergency vehicles here to seven.

The governor was able to source out donations of four brand-new ambulances in November last year, while two other brand-new units were donated by friends in January.

“After introducing these necessary improvements to our health care system, we should now proceed to the next logical step of carrying out a mobile clinic program to pursue our goal of providing efficient and effective health services to every Zambaleño,” Ebdane added.

On top of its donation, RP Energy, which is the proponent of the 600MW coal power plant in Subic Bay Freeport, also gave 50 wheelchairs and 80 nebulizers.

The health caravan, according to RP Energy representative Grant Smith, was initiated as part of the firm’s corporate social responsibility program.

“We are launching this program in line with the provincial government’s thrust to establish a broader and more effective health service system in the province,” Smith said.

“We hope that as we take a more holistic approach to conducting our business operations, we can make use of empowering technologies, our leadership, and our access to resources, to create innovative solutions to address bigger challenges,” he added.

SBMA leads relief operations for 235 displaced families

by (PNA)


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, April 8 (PNA) -- The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has spearheaded the distribution of relief goods to some 235 families who were recently displaced in Cawag, Subic when the land they were occupying was claimed by a private corporation.

With the SBMA Public Relations Department in the forefront, the relief operation provided foodstuffs for the former settlers of Sitio Agusuhin, who have now temporarily camped out along the road going to the Hanjin shipbuilding facility.

The relief goods include rice, sugar, coffee, milk, canned goods, and instant noodles.

Representatives from Hanjin also joined the relief operation and handed out some construction materials to help the displaced residents in building their shelter.

Armie Llamas, manager of the SBMA Public Relations Department, said the families used to be residents of Sitio Agusuhin before they were relocated to give way for the construction of the Hanjin shipyard.

Korean shipbuilder Hanjin is now the biggest business locator in the Subic Bay Freeport and the fourth largest shipbuilder in the world. It started full operations here in 2007.

Llamas added that in 2006, the original Agusuhin settlers were brought to a 14-hectare lot in the nearby village of Cawag, where Hanjin initially spent P2.7 million for the construction of a public school, church and other public facilities for the relocated families.

Two weeks ago, these residents were again displaced from their homes when Pamana Inc. claimed the land, which is apparently being eyed to develop into a resort.

The residents lamented that after they have been relocated to make way for Hanjin, their supposed relocation site now turned out to be owned by another entity.

At present, the displaced families have built makeshift houses by the roadside at Barangay Balaybay, a village in Castillejos, Zambales.

Reports indicated that the municipal government of Subic have already identified another site for the relocation of the 235 displaced families, and that ground works have already started in preparation for their transfer.

Aquino allies should take lead in tackling power crisis—lawmakers

by Gil Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

A lawmaker has urged the House committee on energy to hold public hearings during the congressional break to tackle the power crisis in Mindanao and the looming one in Luzon. Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teodoro Casiño said Batanes Representative Henedina Abad, energy committee chair and a member of the administration Liberal Party, should take the initiative and hold public hearings before Congress resumes sessions on May 7. Zambales Representative Milagros Magsaysay said the President’s congressional allies should take the lead in crafting solutions to the country’s energy problems. “I find it very offensive that deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte would ask the public to choose between a high price for electricity or no electricity at all. That is the reply of a lazy person,” Magsaysay said. The lawmaker noted that in the previous Congress, the allies of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took the initiative to pass the Renewable Energy Act to encourage private corporations to invest in alternative fuel sources. “We knew then the timeline for the shortage in the power supply and we prepared for it. It’s up to this administration to pursue these plans now that the power shortage is a reality,” she said. Casiño said the hearing should come up not only with near-term solutions to the power problem but long-term solutions like establishing cheap and clean energy supplies such as from solar power. Casiño has filed a bill pushing for solar-powered homes. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a similar bill in the Senate. Casiño said he was hopeful President Aquino’s allies would prioritize the bills. For her part, Abad said she was amenable to holding hearings during the break. “If there is a real need for it and we can muster a quorum, why not? In the meantime, there is a scheduled meeting of the joint congressional power committee on April 19 with the Mindanao power crisis as the principal agenda,” she said. There is the proposed Mindanao Summit on April 13 in Davao, so there are a number of venues for those proposing solutions to present their proposals,” she added. On Sunday, Magsaysay criticized the Aquino administration for “flip-flopping” on the power and oil crisis, noting that the President had no quick solution to the electricity shortage in Mindanao and other parts of the country. At a press conference in Legazpi City, Magsaysay, a member of the House minority, said she could not see any solutions to the crisis from the economic managers of Mr. Aquino. With a report from Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

NLEX, SCTEX sets special lane for Subic-bound motorists


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, April 3 (PIA) -- To ease the traffic going to the Subic Bay Freeport this Holy Week, a special lane for motorists bound to the free port will be provided this Holy Week.

The Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) shall open the lane on Holy Wednesday, April 4, up to Holy Thursday, April 5.

The dedicated Subic lane will begin at the Balintawak toll plaza and the Mindanao Avenue link of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) toll plaza in Dau, Tipo Exit and the Tipo Expressway toll plaza.

Under this scheme, motorists would only make a one-time payment of P408 at the Balintawak toll plaza, which would cover the toll fees for the rest of the trip. They will be given stubs which will be collected at each successive tollway exit.

However, the dedicated Subic lane will only be good for a one-way trip to the Subic Bay Freeport. Normal toll rates will apply for trips going back to Manila.

According to Raul Marcelo, deputy administrator for business and tourism of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), this scheme initiated by the MNTC will save motorists’ time in travelling.

“When you pay P408 at the dedicated Subic lane in Balintawak, you get your stubs, and when you exit at Dau, you simply hand back the stub. So there’s no need for you to pay, there’s no need for you to wait for change, and there’s no need for you to get your receipt. You just hand over the stub. This would save you a lot of time,” Marcelo elaborated.

Marcelo also said that the unified toll fee will help ease traffic congestion at Subic, which has long been recognized as a tourist destination.

“The MNTC is now focused on the problem regarding motor vehicle traffic to Subic, meaning they know that Subic is a major destination especially during holidays and long weekends. The dedicated lane in Balintawak is ample proof that Subic, as a summer getaway, is really a certified hit,” he added.

Marcelo also said that although the unified toll fee plan for Subic is a new development, he is hoping that this would be made a permanent arrangement.

“I’ll definitely be pushing for this, especially when we have major events in Subic,” he stressed.

He pointed out that last year, close to 30,000 motor vehicles came to Subic via the SCTEX, bringing in some 120,000 tourists during the Holy Week.

Anti-illegal logging team set to inspect Pangasinan and Zambales forests

by (JCR/VHS-PIA1 Pangasinan)

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan, April 2 (PIA) -- The National Anti-Illegal Task Force is set to inspect the extent of illegal logging activities in the forest areas of Mangatarem, Pangasinan and some parts of Zambales province, on April 3.

The task force, led by Ret. MGen. Renato Miranda and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office will join the task force to personally view the national concern on illegal logging.

Two weeks ago, the DENR and residents of Mangatarem discovered fallen trees and an unpaved road that traverses the mountain boundary of Pangasinan and Zambales.

Provincial Environment Chief Leduina Co quoted reports as saying a resident of Mangatarem funded the construction of the road’s 19-kilometer section in Pangasinan and allegedly built deep into the forest for easier hauling of logs.

DENR Regional Executive Director Samuel Peñafiel said a press conference where the task force will issue a statement on the matter, will also take place on the same day at 2 p.m. at the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office in Bugallon town.

Subic Bay hosts 2012 Commodore’s Cup Regatta on April 10-14

by (PNA)


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, April 1 (PNA) -- Thirty international yachts will set sail in Subic Bay on April 10-14 to vie for glory in the Fifth Commodore’s Cup Regatta 2012, one of the most prestigious sailing events in the Philippines.

The event, which is under the auspices of the Philippine Sailing Commission, will involve international yachting teams from the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and host country Philippines.

The Commodore’s Cup this year was officially commissioned recently with the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for sponsorship between the organizer Subic Bay Yacht Club (SBYC), represented by general manager Jose Maria Vargas, and sponsors PLDT, represented by vice president Renato Castañeda; Subictel and Clarktel, represented by president Dennis Magbatoc; Lighthouse Marina, represented by president Jesus Avecilla, who is also chairman of the Saturday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailing Club; Watercraft Ventures, represented by president Federico Sandoval II; and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), represented by deputy administrator for tourism Raul Marcelo.

Prior to the Commodore’s Cup Regatta, the prestigious Rolex China Sea Race 2012, which is Asia’s top blue-water racing offshore sailing event, will finish at the Subic Bay Yacht Club on April 8. The race is a 565-nautical mile race from Hong Kong to Subic Bay.

Sandoval said the two events will showcase the Philippines with its clear waters and fine sand beaches, as among the world’s top sailing destinations.

Meanwhile, Marcelo said the regatta will not just be about sailing, as organizers have also lined up more on-shore activities in the Subic Bay Freeport.

“Of course, we will start with the required registration, and skippers’ briefing. But after that, participants and crew will be treated to a welcome party,” he said.

After the race on April 11, evening socials will be held at the SBYC, while the daily race awards and socials nights will take place at the Lighthouse Marina Resort here.

The perpetual trophy will be awarded to the over-all winners and to the champion in each racing class, including the IRC Racing Class, IRC Cruise/Racing Class, IRC Premier Cruising Class, and Cruising Class.


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