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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE British government will continue to partner with the Philippines in environmental protection and energy security, according to the United Kingdom’s top envoy in the country.

British Ambassador to Philippines Stephen Lillie said the business partnership between the United Kingdom and the Philippines is focused on climate and energy security.

Lillie said are facing shared challenges in climate and energy sectors which can be addressed through strategic partnerships.

Lillie was the guest of honor during a dinner tendered by Green Power Panay Philippines Inc. (GPPPI) which will construct a 17.5-megawatt biomass power plant in Mina, Iloilo.

GPPPI is a part of Global Green PLC Corp, which is the Philippine company of UK-based Global Green Power PLC.

Global Green is a major investor in renewable energy sources, particularly biomass power plants.

Lillie said the Global Green’s investment in the Philippines, especially in Iloilo, is an indication of the strong bond between the two countries.

Lillie also praised the Philippine Congress for passing the Renewable Energy Law (Republic Act 9513).

“You have a fantastic Renewable Energy Law which could serve as a benchmark for the rest of the world,” Lillie said.

RA 9513 seeks to promote renewable sources of energy by providing perks and other privileges to investors.

Grace Yeneza, GPPPI director, said their Mina project is one of the quickest as they have secured an environmental compliance certificate in just six months.

Yeneza said they have also bidded out the vital equipment, particularly the boiler and turbine generator, to their potential suppliers.

Yeneza said they will buy agricultural residues such as rice stalks which will fuel the power plant.

GPPPI has signed 25-year electricity supply agreements with Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (Ileco) 1 and 2. The agreement will be presented to the Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.

Aside from clean and stable energy source, GPPPI said its investment in Mina will generate 900 direct and indirect jobs in the host community.

To date, the power firm has invested P200 million for the project. The investment could balloon to P2 billion upon commissioning of the plant.

A total of P9 billion will be injected into Iloilo’s economy once GPPPI’s supply agreements with Ileco 1 and 2 are implemented.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AROUND 200 drainage pipes are spewing wastes into the Iloilo River, according to a group of lawyers pushing for the enforcement of environmental laws in Iloilo City.

Atty. Norberto Posecion said their recent survey of the Iloilo River showed that more or less 200 pieces of 600-millimeter pipes are jutting out of the river and discharge liquid wastes.

Posecion said their survey covered the areas of Muelle Loney in Iloilo City proper to Carpenters Bridge in Mandurriao-Molo districts.

“It is possible that there are more pipes down there which will only be visible during low tide. And we believe that these drainage pipes disgorge pollutants into the river,” Posecion said.

Posecion, along with members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo headed by Atty. Marven Daquilanea, is leading the legal offensive to implement ecological laws in Iloilo City.

The Iloilo River survey was conducted in preparation for the filing of mandamus case against the Iloilo City government.

The mandamus suit seeks to force City Hall to clear the Iloilo River of obstructions and all types of pollution.

Posecion said they have to force the city government to clean the river as the problem has been there for a long time already.

“When do we act? When the river is already dead?” he added.

The Iloilo City government had said that untreated waste from no less than 100 of the 180 barangays of the city is being discharged into the river.

A recent study by the University of the Philippines-Visayas showed that the Iloilo River has been experiencing low dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen is a measure of a water body’s ability to support aquatic life. Low dissolved oxygen can lead to fishkill and loss of other aquatic organisms.

The study also showed a high prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections among children living in urban slums along the river.

Thirty other barangays from the nearby towns of Leganes, Oton and San Miguel, Iloilo also drain their sewerage into the river.

Engr. Noel Hechanova, City Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said some half a million gallons of wastewater drain into the river every day.

The IBP earlier filed a mandamus case against the city government relative to the conversion of the Calajunan dumpsite in Mandurriao into a sanitary landfill.

The lawyers said the conversion of the open dump should have been implemented sometime in 2006 in keeping with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001.

The law stipulates that open dumpsites must be converted into landfills three years after its implementation.

Five years after the enforcement of the law, only sanitary landfills will be allowed.

Daquilanea said the Calajunan dumpsite emits offensive odor that assault residents of the district.

Leachate or liquid discharges from the dumpsite also pollute the aquifer which is the source of groundwater.

The mandamus case impleaded the Office of the City Mayor, Sangguniang Panlungsod, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Health.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

NEW power plants must be constructed in Panay to address the projected power shortage in Visayas.

This was the stand of Senator Francis Escudero even as he urged for the completion of the coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Citing the Power Development Plan of the government, Escudero said Visayas region will require an additional 2,283 megawatts in the next five years on top of the current power demand of 967MW.

Escudero said the forecast might not be met as only two major power plants are being constructed in Visayas in the next two years.

The proposed plants are in Toledo City, Cebu with a 436MW capacity and the 164MW coal-fired power plant in Brgy. Ingore, LaPaz, Iloilo City.

“These plants can only provide a combined 601MW, leaving a power deficit of 715MW,” Escudero said.

The senator from Sorsogon said Iloilo City and the rest of Panay needs energy to power sunshine sectors such as tourism and information communication technology.

“It is important for the coal plant to be established in Iloilo because you need that,” he added.

As regards the perceived pollution from power plants, Escudero said available clean-coal technologies that conform to national and international emission standards can be used to allay fears of sectors opposing the plant.

“This clean-coal technology must pass the emission standards of the Clean Air Act of 1999 which was based on EU standards. The EU standards are even stricter than the standards used by the US Environmental Projection Agency,” Escudero said.

Environmentalists said coal-fired power plants contribute to greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and the so-called global warming.

But Escudero said the Philippines’ contribution to carbon dioxide emission is only 0.29%.

“Our carbon dioxide emission is way lower than that of the US which contributes 29% and China with 28%. And 60% of the 0.29% that we contribute to carbon dioxide emission comes from vehicles, not stationary sources such as power plants,” Escudero said.

The senator said there must be balance between environmental protection and embracing additional power sources.

“We don’t need to choose between the two. What we need is to strike a balance between our need for more energy and protecting the environment,” he added.

July 2020

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