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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) and various fraternities in Iloilo City sued for peace through a tree planting activity in San Joaquin, Iloilo Sunday.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said the activity is designed to promote camaraderie and goodwill among police officers and various fraternities that are sometimes involved in bloody rumbles.

Around 60 police officers and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Alpha Kappa Rho (AKRHO) and Scout Royale Brotherhood (SRB) Fraternities went to Brgy. Bolobogo, a village 20 kilometers from San Joaquin.

The tree planting was organized by the ICPO’s Police Community Relations Section. A total of 60 mahogany seedlings were planted in a hilly portion of the barangay.

The participants then ate lunch a la “boodle fight,” a military style of eating with bare hands food placed on a long table covered with banana leaves.

The tree planting activity is the second project initiated by the ICPO involving different fraternities in Iloilo City.  The first one was conducted last July 2009 involving the same fraternities. 

“This endeavor aims to restore our natural resources and to organize our fraternities and to channel their efforts into more developmental and wholesome activities that will promote solidarity, camaraderie and enhance better interrelationships between and among fraternities,” Mongcal said.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GO renewable, get tax perks.

The Iloilo City Council approved Wednesday an ordinance that entitles residents using renewable energy to real property tax (RPT) incentive.

The ordinance seeks to encourage households to use renewable sources of energy in exchange for 20% discount on RPT payments.

Councilor Eldrid C. Antiquiera, author of the ordinance, said the measure is in keeping with the country’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol which seeks to minimize global carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate global warming.

“This ordinance shall cover incentive on real property tax imposed on residential units where renewable energy as a source of electric power is used or consumed,” Antiquiera said.

 Antiquiera said households can avail the RPT discount regardless of the capacity or volume of renewable energy consumed.

According to the ordinance, those qualified for the tax perks are households who own (in whole or in part) and lease/rent residential units as classified by the Iloilo City Planning Office.

Applications for the tax incentives must be submitted to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) which shall coordinate with the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) which shall inspect if a house is using renewable energy sources and issue a certification of compliance to the applicant.

The household owner must present the certification and an endorsement from CENRO to the City Treasurer’s Office to avail of the 20% discount.

The house owner must renew its application every year to continue availing the tax perk.

The 20% RPT discount is non-transferable, the ordinance states. 

Aside from environmental benefits, Antiquiera said the measure will also reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels such as oil.

“To a certain degree, we can help reduce our oil imports and the savings can be used for social and infrastructure programs,” Antiquiera added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HALF a century of history and memories were lost after more than 40 pieces of various tree species were cut to give way to the second vehicular flyover along Gen. Luna Street, Iloilo City.

A total of 42 trees, including 12 old grown pine trees, were turned to stumps when personnel of the City Engineer’s Office cleared the center island of the street starting from the University of San Agustin.

Other tree species that were cut down include eucalyptus, gmelina and mahogany, according to Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin village.

Divinagracia said the pine trees were part of Iloilo’s history since these were planted sometime in 1955 right after the construction of Gen. Luna Street.

Divinagracia said the fallen trees are stockpiled near their barangay hall and will be made into furniture and other items they could use.

“During December, some of these trees grow red flowers and are decorated with lights and ornaments. These trees evoked fond memories among former students of San Agustin and old Ilonggo residents. But these had to be cut to give way to development,” he said.

Iloilo City Jerry P. Treñas said the trees will be replaced by planting more trees in the Maasin watershed.

“For every tree that was cut, three more will be planted as replacement,” he said.

Treñas said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which will undertake the flyover project, consulted the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) as regards the cutting of trees.

“The DPWH sought clearance from the DENR and CENRO before cutting the trees and that was granted,” the mayor said.

Bernabe Garnace, CENRO-Iloilo City chief, said they allowed cutting of the General Luna trees as the species involved are not endangered or regulated by the DENR.

As regards the rehabilitation of Gen. Luna Street, Treñas said the CENRO and city nursery have started a seedling bed of pine trees which will be planted along the highway stretch.

The mayor said the old pine trees were found to have hollow trunks already and should be cut down to pave the way for the planting of new trees.

Gen. Luna Street, which connects Iloilo City proper to Molo and Arevalo district, was the first concrete highway built in Western Visayas during the time of the late mayor Rodolfo T. Ganzon.

Built along the swamp lands near the Iloilo River, the highway was planted with pine trees and ornamental plants in the center aisles to aesthetic color to the avenue. 

The road soon ushered development in the southern part of the city as commercial buildings, schools and posh residences sprouted along the highway. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

RESIDENTS of five villages in San Remigio, Antique must be relocated least they will be buried alive in a landslide.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued the recommendation following the occurrences of cracks and landslides in the said area.

In a report, the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said Brgys. Panpanan I, Panpanan II, Sumaray, Walker, and Insubuan are considered landslide prone areas.

The MGB evaluated the villages upon request of San Remigio Mayor Elizabeth C. Coloso.

Residents in the said barangays observed mass movements (cracks and landslides) and artificial damming at the headwaters of Maninila River after a landslide.

Landslides had occurred in the area in September to early October at the headwaters of Maninila River. The landslide was 70 meters long with about 7,000 cubic meters of debris deposited at the narrow river channel below, creating an artificial dam.  

“The rain water was accumulated by the artificial dam upstream and when the artificial dam broke up the accumulated debris flowed downstream and although it did not cause flooding, water had subsided within the severely weathered rocks. This action had softened the rocks and caused a mass movement,” the MGB said.

The MGB recommended that residents and structures such as elementary schools and houses at Panpanan I and Sitio Libudon in Insubuan must be relocated to areas with flat to gently slopin terrain.

Residents must also avoid relocating near creeks, rivers and mountain foot slopes.

“These residents and structures, if not relocated, are facing real danger of landslides,” the DENR-MGB report said.

MGB geologists also advised communities along Maninila, Sibalom, Tipulu-an Rivers and other large creeks to be wary of the situation and prepare for evacuation during heavy rains or storms.

“The local officials of San Remigio must conduct continuous disaster preparedness training for barangay officials and residents to avoid victims of landslides in the future,” the agency said.

Brgy. Panpanan I and surrounding villages have rugged and mountainous topography with a steep slope angle, almost vertical to the headwaters of the Maninila River. The river is also the headwaters of other rivers and large creeks with waterfalls within the barangay.

The danger zone is also located 4 kilometers away from the West Panay Fault which is a major cause of earthquakes in Panay Island. If an earthquake occurs, the villages are at risk of disastrous landslides.

“At the time of evaluation, it was observed that there are several large landslides at the headwaters of Maninila River,” the MGB said.

The MGB evaluation also showed that majority of San Remigio town lies on the Antique Ophiolite Complex and late Oligocene and early Miocene bedrock.

This bedrock is composed of basalt with intercalated sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and conglomerate and other stone formation with cracks that could be penetrated by water thereby making it soft and prone to erosion and landslides.

“At the headwaters of Maninila River, the main rock types consist of severely weathered and highly jointed basalt-sandstone, siltstone-mudstone conglomerate called Panpanan Formation that is also prone to erosion,” MGB added.

It was observed that during heavy rains, rainwater and accumulated groundwater seeped through numerous joints/cracks of the severely weathered rocks. These rocks are made up of broken fragments, cemented particles of sand, silt, mud and loose soil.

“The presence of large volume of water separates these rocks/soil into its individual particles or fragments that makes it highly susceptible to mass movement. A mass of broken rocks and soil oversaturated with water located at the steep slopes will just naturally move or flow downward causing landslides.”

MGB Regional Director Leo Van Juguan said these conditions pose danger to communities below the mountain slopes, thus the local government should act at the earliest possible time. 

Juguan said residents of the five barangays must monitor their areas and immediately report ground movements to the MGB-DENR.

DENR Regional Director Benjamin T. Tumaliuan urged provincial and municipal government officials to review the geo-hazard maps provided by the MGB-DENR for inclusion in their disaster preparedness plans.

“The experience of flooding and landslides in Quezon and Leyte were the awakeners for all of us and it would be futile to blame any agency in case of disaster because of our unconcerned attitude to the havocs of nature,” Tumaliuan said.

But City Hall assures gradual phase-out of 2-stroke tricycles

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TRICYCLES with two-stroke engines will be gradually phased out from the roads of Iloilo City to avoid displacing drivers and operators, according to a City Hall official.

Noel Z. Hechanova, Iloilo City environment and natural resources officer, said RA 8749 mandates that two-stroke engines should be replaced with four-stroke engines which have cleaner emissions.

The phase-out is in compliance with Republic Act (RA) 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999.

“The problem with two-engines is its inefficient fuel combustion. These engines burn only 70% of its fuel while the remaining 30% ends up as smoke and particulates which are pollutants. We are inclined to implement the phase-out as the law requires but we are also concerned with the effects of this move on the livelihood of tricycle drivers,” Hechanova said.

Reynaldo Beso, president of the Metro Iloilo City Federation of Tricycle Drivers and Owners Association, said the phase out will affect an estimated 15,000 tricycle drivers and owners of 10,000 tricycle units.

“Some of the operators have yet to pay up for their tricycles. If two-stroke engines are phased out, a lot of us will lose our livelihood,” Beso added.

Hechanova said only 4,000 tricycles are registered with the Iloilo City Hall. He said the ban on two-stroke engines will affect around 24,000 to 30,000 drivers.

Hechanova said they have adopted several measures to help tricycle drivers such as retrofitting of their engines to improve fuel burn efficiency.

“But the prohibitive cost of the retrofitting kit which is P14,000 to P16,000 a piece discouraged the drivers who are still paying for their tricycle mortgage,” he said.

The city government also introduced LPG-run tricycles Mr. Hechanova said the drivers complained that the engine overheats most of the time.

“The most practical method is to retrofit the engines but the cost is still an issue. That’s why we encouraged drivers and owners to form a cooperative, borrow money from Land Bank of the Philippines or other government financial institutions so they can buy the retrofitting kit,” Hechanova added.

Beso said they are mulling to use part of the Road Users’ Tax to either retrofit or acquire 4-stroke engines for their members.

“In the Road Users’ Tax, some 7.5% is allocated for road transport pollution control programs like the current Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (SPVCF) of the Department of Transportation and Communications. We will see if we can use that fund,” Beso said.

Beso said the government could tap the road user’s fund to create a proposed TricyClean fund for the tricycle sector, which also contributes substantially to the fund.

Hechanova said they also plan to attach the phase out program to the Clean Air for Smaller Cities in the Asean Region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and German Federal Agency for Technical Cooperation or GTZ.

He said GTZ is willing to provide technical aid to the tricycle drivers and the city government as regards the phase out of 2-stroke engines.

“It’s up to the tricycle groups to decide on what to do. They have committed during the conference with GTZ that they will police their own ranks and join in the phase out program,” Hechanova said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

VARIOUS sectors in Iloilo have joined efforts to bring relief to victims of Typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

The Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Jaro has begun accepting donations of used clothing, bed sheets, food and medicines for typhoon victims.

Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said it is time to help displaced residents of Luzon who also helped Ilonggos when Typhoon Frank hit the city and province of Iloilo in June 2008.

Lagdameo also issued an Oratio Imperata or obligatory prayer to all parishes under the Jaro Archdiocese to spare typhoon victims from other calamities.

The Iloilo Business Club, Inc. (IBC) is set to meet to discuss relief efforts for Ondoy’s victims.

“The board of directors and officers will meet on Friday to discuss whatever help we can extend to our fellows who were displaced by Typhoon Ondoy,” said Victoria Lea E. Lara, IBC executive director.

Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. has requested the provincial board to allow the release of P1million from the province’s 5% calamity fund to be donated to typhoon victims.

“We cannot just watch on the sidelines and pray for the victims,” Tupas said.

Tupas also ordered the deployment of a team of doctors to Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the next few days to provide free medical services to victims of Typhoon Ondoy, especially children and elderly who are vulnerable to diseases in evacuation centers.

Initially, Governor Tupas is organizing a team of six doctors for this medical mission to lend a helping hand to overworked government and private doctors now attending to these flood victims.

“We are looking for fund sources to cover the plane tickets and food of these doctors, and if our resources will allow it, we will send a bigger team,” said Tupas.

Media outlets in Iloilo also launched their respective donation drives.

Troy J. Camarista, public relations officer of SM City mall in Iloilo, said SM Foundation, Inc. put up an Operation Tulong Express booth inside the mall.

“We accept donations whether financial or in kind such as clothing, food and medicines,” Camarista said.

Lawyer Daniel V. Cartagena, an organizer for Senator Benigno C. Aquino III, said they suspended their political activities to focus on relief efforts.

“We have asked our volunteers to gather donations which will be sent to the office of Sen. Aquino,” Cartagena said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City government will put up a temporary treatment pool at the Calajunan dumpsite in Mandurriao, Iloilo as part of its mitigating measures to protect residents around the dump.

Mayor Jerry Treñas gave the commitment during a conference at the sala of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 28 Judge Lodia Diestro-Maputol Tuesday at the Hall of Justice.

The conference is relative to the petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo to stop the City Hall from disposing garbage in the dump.

The IBP, led by its president Marven Daquilanea, Norberto Posecion and Hector Teodosio, claimed that the continued use of the dump violates the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

During the conference, Treñas said the city government will put up a temporary water treatment pool at the Calajunan in 15 days.

The pool will treat water from the dumpsite until the City Hall has finished the bidding process of the water treatment plant to be installed in the area.

The treatment pool will process seepage or leachate from the dump before it is thrown into the nearby Dungon Creek.

In return, Judge Maputol will not issue a TRO against the City Hall but it will continue to hear the plea for an injunction against the continued use of the dumpsite.

Prosecutor Jeremy Bionat, one of the petitioners in the case, said the water treatment plant is one of the urgent installations that must be put up in the dump.

“There are 22 violations committed by the city government which we cited in the petition and water treatment is one of them,” Bionat said.

The IBP is at the forefront of compelling the City Government to comply with environmental laws by filing mandamus suits and petitions for injunctions.

The lawyers’ group is also set to file a mandamus case against the City Hall to compel it to clean the Iloilo River.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) must secure permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the clearing of the Dungon Creek banks in Iloilo City, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Treñas said the DPWH, which is implementing the P50-million Dungon Creek dredging, may have forgotten to secure a permit from the DENR to clear the creek of mangroves as part of the project.

Last week, residents of Sitio Sooc in Brgy. Bolilao, Mandurriao slammed International Builders Corp. (IBC), a sub-contractor of the project, for uprooting 20-30 mangroves and other trees from a portion of the creek in their village.

Members of the Bolilao Empowerment of Neighborhoods Association (BOENAS) fear that the creek banks will be eroded and endanger residents if all mangroves are uprooted.

Initial report by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in Iloilo said an estimated P30,000 worth of mangroves were destroyed.

The contractor and the DENR have suspended the dredging project because of the issue. Another factor that delayed the project implementation is the relocation of squatters from the creek’s banks.

Treñas said the DPWH has sent a letter to DENR Sec. Lito Atienza to resolve problem.

The mayor said the project will resume when the snags are resolved to prevent flooding in Iloilo City.

Cenro head Bernabe Garnace said IBC should have used a barge to excavate or dredge the river bank of silt to prevent overrunning the mangroves and other endemic plants in the creek.

“The backhoe should have been placed in one barge while the other barge will haul the excavated materials. Placing a backhoe in the easement area will destroy the mangrove areas,” Garnace said.

The main contractor of the project is Cebu-based WT Construction which won the bidding conducted by the DPWH regional office.

Garnace said if proper procedures were observed, minimal destruction was done on the mangrove areas.

He added that the environmental destruction caused by the incident is bigger compared to the commercial value of the damaged mangroves.

“The environmental assessment is still ongoing in the affected mangrove site. What happened is uncalled for,” Garnace said.

Garnace said the DENR will call a technical conference to determine IBC’s liabilities on the destroyed mangroves. (With reports from PNA)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

RESIDENTS of a barangay in Mandurriao, Iloilo City demand immediate action against a sub-contractor of the P50-million Dungon Creek dredging project after the firm uprooted more or less 30 mangrove trees in their village.

Members of the Bolilao Empowerment of Neighborhoods Association (BOENAS) based in Brgy, Bolilao, Mandurriao said they were aghast to learn that International Builders Corp. (IBC) uprooted 25-30 mangroves on the banks of the creek.

Bolilao is covered by the dredging project as Dungon Creek runs through the village, particularly Sitio Sook where mangroves and nipa abound.

BOENAS president Jess Siva said they thought IBC would only scour the creek to allow more water to flow and prevent flooding in the future.

“But from what we saw, they are doing clearing operations on the bank, not dredging,” Siva said.

Barangay Kagawad Arsenio Pedrosa, who is also an adviser of BOENAS, said they fear that the clearing of mangroves will result in more floods as the creek banks might be eroded during heavy rains.

“The mangroves protect the banks from erosion aside from serving as breeding ground for fish and other life forms in the river. This will only worsen the flood problem,” Pedrosa said.

Pedrosa said some of the mangroves are at least 100 years old. Some of the mangrove species uprooted in the project are bungalon, bakhaw, pagatpat, lipata aside from nipa and acacia trees.

Punong Barangay Nenita Juson of Bolilao said she was also surprised by what happened.

Juson said IBC began deploying its heavy equipment August 22 while actual works began August 24.

“I was later surprised when the residents complained that the contractor uprooted the mangroves. We already brought the matter to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” Juson said.

Cenro forester Christopher Lastica said they have conducted initial assessment of the damaged area.

“Cenro has sent a letter to the DENR regional official asking its help to stop the dredging for the meantime while we assess the damage and come up with measures relative to the problem,” Lastica said.

When asked if IBC has secured an environmental compliance certificate, Lastica said the DENR central office has issued the document to the contractor.

Atty. Ian Feliciano, BOENAS legal counsel, said they will let DENR act on the problem before making their own moves.

Feliciano said he has reported the incident to the legal aid committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines which is currently pressuring the city government to preserve the Iloilo River.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-6), which implements the project, said they have suspended the dredging works pending discussions with the DENR.

Engr. Rolando Asis, DPWH regional director, said they met with DENR officials to look for solutions to the problems and prevent similar incidents in the future.

Asis said revisions to the programs of work will depend on the outcome of their dialogue with the DENR.

“The project is already delayed because informal settlers on the Dungon Creek banks have yet to be relocated. This problem could be another cause of delay,” Asis said.

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City government and Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) have laid down the plans for the sewage and septage management plan to stem the pollution of the Iloilo River.

The planning stage took off with a sewage and septage management forum Tuesday between the city government, MIWD and other water districts in Western Visayas.

The forum is part of the Iloilo River Week celebration spearheaded by the Iloilo City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) and MIWD.

Noel Hechanova, Cenro head, said there is a need to proceed with the sewage and septage plan in keeping with the provisions of the Clean Water Act of 2004.

Septage management refers to desludging septic tanks regularly and treating the waste before disposal.

Jay Tecson, senior project coordinator of the Philippine Sanitation Alliance (PSA), provided the framework and techniques in drafting the management plan.

The USAID-funded PSA project is working in partnership with the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) to advance the National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP) as part of the country’s overarching National Sustainable Sanitation Plan.

The NSSMP was envisioned to provide technology interventions and institutional and financial frameworks to guide local governments, water districts, and other project proponents through the process of developing infrastructure projects for managing wastewater in cities.

Tecson said sewerage management remains a concern in the country despite the passage of the Clean Water Act.

“The NSSMP is slated to take effect next year but there is still a lot to be done for lack of information and funding of local government units and water districts that are tasked to come up with their respective sewerage and septage management plans,” Tecson said.

The Iloilo River Development Council reported that 120 of the 180 barangays in Iloilo City drain their sewage in the river.

The report also said that villages from the nearby towns of Leganes, Oton and San Miguel, Iloilo also drain liquid wastes in the river.

A two-year study conducted by the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) showed that the Iloilo River has been experiencing low dissolved oxygen, leading to fishkills and death of aquatic organisms.

Wastewater from households and business establishments along the river is said to be responsible for the low dissolved oxygen in the river, the UPV study said.

The UPV study said disease-causing organisms are found in large quantities of feces and urine that are present in the wastewater. It also noted high prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections among children living in urban slums along the river.

Because of the high cost of a central waste water treatment system, the city government encouraged establishments along the river to put up low cost water treatment plant to treat some half a million gallons of waste water draining into the river everyday.

According to the World Bank, more than 90% of the sewage generated in the Philippines is not treated, resulting in a high incidence of water-borne diseases. It causes an estimated 55 deaths per day and P78 billion in annual economic losses.

Water borne diseases in the country cause 500,000 morbidity and 4,200 mortality cases a year, with avoidable health costs of Php3.3B annually.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

RESIDENTS and businesses will be entitled to real property taxes incentives if they use renewable energy sources, according to a proposed ordinance pending in the Iloilo City Council.

Eldrid Antiquiera, committee on environment chair and main proponent of the ordinance, said the measure seeks to promote the use of renewable energy sources in households and businesses.

Antiquiera said his proposed ordinance will complement the Renewable Energy Act which was enacted December 2008.

“While we still need traditional sources of energy such as diesel and coal-fired power plants, we should push for renewable sources in response to challenges posed by climate change,” Antiquiera said.

Antiquiera said the approval of the ordinance does not mean that the City Council is against the proposed coal-fired power plant in LaPaz district.

Antiquiera said he has conducted public hearings on the proposed ordinance and will deliver a committee report during their regular session Wednesday.

“I am positive that the measure will be passed this Wednesday. After the passage of the ordinance, the committee on ways and means will discuss the incentive scheme,” he added.

Antiquiera said renewable energy sources such as solar and wind technologies are still expensive “but users will save a lot on their power consumption in the long run aside from helping ease climate change.”

Antiquiera will also propose another ordinance for carbon dioxide emission offsetting schemes for traditional energy sources.

“We have been studying the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, of which the Philippines is a signatory, on carbon dioxide emission in drafting the ordinance,” he added.

By Tara Yap

 

COMMEMORATING the tragic effects of typhoon Frank has taken a festive twist.

Barangay captains of Jaro district in Iloilo City, which was hit hardest by the flashflood brought about by typhoon Frank June 21, 2008, will mount a fiesta to show that they have overcome the tragedy.

Jonas Bellosillo, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC)-Jaro chapter, said the fiesta will celebrate the fighting spirit of the Ilonggos amid the damage and deaths caused by typhoon Frank.

Bellosillo told The Daily Guardian that nightly food festival and live bands in Jaro Plaza started Thursday until this Sunday night.

The event is one of the sidelights of the week-long commemoration spearheaded by the Iloilo City government in partnership with San Miguel Corp (SMC).

Bellosillo invite residents of Jaro and the rest of Iloilo City to come to Jaro Plaza and celebrate the resilience of the Ilonggos in the aftermath of typhoon Frank.

The typhoon Frank experience also brought to fore the importance of being prepared for natural and manmade calamities.

ABC Jaro and the City Crisis Management Office will mount a rescue drill in Jaro River Saturday morning and a commemorative program at the plaza Sunday.

The drill will feature the skills and equipment of the city in responding to calamities, especially flood.

Bellosillo said Bayani Fernando, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair, is expected to arrive June 22.

Fernando will turnover donations of essential rescue gears including searchlights, bolt cutter, ax, and a stretcher to carry an injured person.

The MMDA helped clear and rehabilitate Iloilo City after typhoon Frank by sending a cleanup team. 

Frank destroyed P500-million worth of crops and P1.7-billion worth of properties in Iloilo.

In Iloilo City and province, 135 were reported killed while scores missing.

The flood engulfed around 80% of Iloilo City, affecting 48,836 families or 244,090 persons. The worst hit district was Jaro, where the flood waters were reported to have reached a high of 2 meters, submerging almost the entire district.

In Iloilo Province, among the most affected towns include: Oton, Miagao, Leganes, Pavia, Zarraga, Leon, Janiuay, Leon, Pototan, Dumangas, Barotac Nuevo, Ajuy, and Carles.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council said at least 91,183 families or 177,700 persons were affected by the typhoon.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said typhoon Frank’s damage to roads and bridges accounts for P2.3 billion, most of them in Aklan, Iloilo and Capiz.

Damage to school buildings was at P455 million mostly in the Panay region, the Calabarzon Region, the Mimaropa region and the National Capital Region.

Damage to other facilities, including hospitals, was estimated to reach P2.3 billion.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo Chapter will badger local government units to enforce dormant environmental laws, particularly solid waste management.

 

Atty. Marven Daquilanea, IBP-Iloilo president, yesterday gave a demand letter to the Iloilo City government through Community Environment and Natural Resources officer Noel Hechanova.

 

The letter asked Mayor Jerry Treñas provide within 24 hours a list of city barangays that failed to implement Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).

 

Environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa said the demand letter is one of the legal instruments they will use to force LGUs to enforce environmental laws.

 

“Nothing personal. The things we are doing now could have been done decades ago. We need a legal revolution to save the environment. The Philippines is most vulnerable to climate change and rising sea level,” Oposa said.

 

Oposa said they will also file collective petitions, environmental audits, notice to sue and administrative actions against local officials who fail to implement environmental laws.

 

Henchanova said they are disappointed with the implementation of RA 9003 because some barangay officials are apprehensive to enforce even just the anti-littering ordinance.

 

“These are realities that we have to face in our work. Barangay officials fear to cross their relatives who violate the law,” Hechanova said.

A case for mandamus needed to compel City govt to save Iloilo River

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City government can be sued and compelled to clear the banks of Iloilo River of illegal structures and obstructions.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion cited the successful mandamus case filed against the Manila City government which demanded the immediate clean up of the Manila Bay.

 

Ventilacion told The Daily Guardian on Air over Aksyon Radyo that residents of Iloilo City can file a similar suit against the City government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources which has the primary task of protecting the environment.

 

Ventilacion said the Iloilo Integrated Bar of the Philippines can help file the suit if only to help save the already dying river.

 

Engr. Edwin Domingo, assistant director of the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), earlier urged the Iloilo City government to check the unbridled developments on the banks of the Iloilo River to prevent further pollution and floods.

 

Domingo said many structures and developments are sprouting right on the banks of the river in clear violation of existing laws and regulations.

 

“In urban areas, the more establishments and people you put near the river, chances are they are going to use the river as garbage dump,” he said.

 

While it may take some time, Atty. Daniel Cartagena, another legal consultant of The Daily Guardian On Air, said a mandamus case might be imperative to compel local officials to clean the river.

 

“The Iloilo River has the biggest tourism potential if developed properly. We don’t have to look far when looking for tourism sites in the city. We can develop the area like the Marikina River in Metro Manila and other rivers in the world,” Cartagena said.

 

Cartagena said the city government lacks political will to protect the river from unbridled developments.

 

“Our national and local leaders belong to the same party and they have the ears of the President. We can develop this river if we have political will,” Cartagena said. He was referring to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. and City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

 

The Iloilo Business Club, city government, Unites States-Asia Environmental Partnership Program and Asia Foundation completed the Iloilo River Development Plan in 2003 yet.

 

The masterplan identified development strategies and policies in the areas of land use and urban design; socio-economic improvement; infrastructure facilities, environmental protection and institutional mechanism. But lack of funds has put the masterplan in the doldrums.

CONTRICTED  The banks of Iloilo River are dotted with buildings and development which could trigger floods. (Photo by Tara Yap)

CONTRICTED The banks of Iloilo River are dotted with buildings and development which could trigger floods. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AN environment official warned the Iloilo City government to check unbridled developments on the banks of the Iloilo River to prevent pollution and flooding.

 

Engr. Edwin Domingo, assistant director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said they noticed that many buildings and land developments are sprouting on the river banks.

 

“From what we saw in satellite images, a lot of your buildings and structures have been developed practically on the bank of the rivers. There should be allowances between the buildings and the river banks,” Domingo told The Daily Guardian.

 

Domingo said unchecked developments could constrict the river which could trigger floods.

 

“Your river system (Tigum-Aganan) follows a straight line from the mountain. But when it reaches the lower area, the river becomes winding. When the portion of the river in the lower plain is constricted, it would be hard to contain the rushing water which could lead to flooding of Iloilo City which sits on a river delta,” Domingo said.

 

Domingo added: “In urban areas, the more establishments and people you put near the river, chances are they are going to use the river as garbage dump.”

 

The Iloilo City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) had said that the 180 barangays in the city have virtually made the once beautiful and majestic Iloilo River as giant septic tank.

 

Cenro chief Noel Hechanova said household wastes and wastewater discharges from hospitals, hotels and commercial establishments are polluting the river.

 

Fishkills have become a regular occurrence at the river because of the unabated pollution it absorbs.

 

“There’s a problem of low dissolved oxygen caused by organic load from human wastes. The impact is fish kill and death of aquatic animals and plants. Septic tanks should serve as partial treatment of human wastes considering the city has no centralized sewage treatment facility,” Hechanova told The Daily Guardian in an earlier interview.

 

Domingo also stressed the need of a good drainage in the city saying some local government units build roads and pavements without a viable drainage system.

 

“Even if you get flooded, it will recede quickly if there is good drainage system,” he added.

 

Domingo arrived in Iloilo City along with officials from the National Disaster Coordinating Council, PAG-ASA, Philvolcs, Office of the Civil Defense, Red Cross, Namria and MGB-DENR to launch READY Project.

 

READY Project aims to map hazard zones in the country to prepare for disaster and avoid losses in lives and properties.

 

Domingo said the local government should work on its comprehensive land use plan which should jive with the geo-hazard maps which will be produced by READY Project.

 

“With the geo-hazard maps, the local officials will know where to locate residential, commercial and industrial zones,” Domingo said.  

Banias fears repeat of historic floods if Paglaum Fund is doomed

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ANOTHER massive flooding might devastate the city and province of Iloilo if critical infrastructure projects under the still unfunded P8-billion Paglaum Fund are not realized.

 

This was the grim scenario painted by Dr. Raul Banias, presidential assistant for Western Visayas, during the Western Visayas Regional Planning Summit at Iloilo Grand Hotel Thursday morning.

 

“It would be a disaster if the Paglaum Fund is not released before the summer season ends because critical works such as repair and replacement of bridges damaged by typhoon Frank, river and flood control projects and dredging of heavily silted rivers and creeks will be stalled. These projects are important to prevent another flash flood brought about by typhoons,” Banias said.

 

Banias said he and other Ilonggo leaders have been asking Malacañang to release at least P460million for the repair of vital bridges and dredging of major bodies of water in Panay.

 

The money, which will be released through the Department of Public Works and Highways, will be used to repair the bridges in Cabatuan and Leon, Iloilo and dredging of the rivers in Libacao, Kalibo and Iloilo City.  

 

Banias said he observed that some rivers in Panay are heavily silted which could cause flashfloods in surrounding communities.

 

“In Libacao, Aklan, we cannot see the 3-meter boulders in the rivers because these are already covered by silt. The same is true in Aklan River in Kalibo and the Iloilo River in the city and its creeks. If we don’t dredge these rivers before the rainy season, we might experience the same thing when typhoon Frank hit June last year. Half of the rain that fell during Frank’s height is enough to trigger another massive flooding,” he added.

 

The release of the Paglaum Fund, which is intended to rehabilitate areas of Panay devastated by typhoon Frank, hit a snag with the delay in the passage of the Simplified Income Taxation Scheme (Snits) bill in the Senate.

 

The bill is pending with the committee on ways and means chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

 

Snits bill, which is the accompanying revenue measure of the Paglaum Fund, limits the expenses that may be deducted from gross revenues earned by professionals and individuals running their own businesses to arrive at their taxable income.

 

Some P9billion is expected to be raised from the Snits bill which will fund the Panay rehabilitation efforts, according to Banias.

 

If Snits is approved next month, it would be too late as the payment of individual income tax is set April 15. If no other sources of funds are found, the Paglaum Fund will be released next year.

 

Banias said they continue to coordinate with Malacañang to look for other funding sources to start the critical projects.

 

Undersecretary Joaquin Lagonera of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office called Banias the other day to discuss the possible release of only P460million.

 

Iloilo Jerry Treñas said they asked Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Lagonera to ask President Gloria Arroyo to look for other sources.

 

Treñas said he is worried with the damaged bridges and heavily silted bodies of water which can cause another flooding.

 

“I need not go far. I will just look at the Dungon Creek behind our house and I can see that it is heavily silted. We are worried that if there are heavy rains again, the flood will rise once more,” Treñas said.

 

Treñas said he is the least concerned about the political backlash of the non-release of the Paglaum Fund “because I am graduating already.”

 

“We are more concerned about the effects of the flood on the people and properties. Among the local leaders in Panay, I was most affected because my house was inundated, my children stayed on the roof and my cars were flooded,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHERE are the greens?

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas yesterday hit some environmental activists who claimed that there is no power supply shortage in the city and the rest of Panay.

 

Treñas was reacting to the formal turnover of Panay Diesel Power Plant (PDPP) to SPC Power Corp. March 25.

 

SPC took ownership of the Panay and Bohol Diesel Power Plants after paying US$5.77 million to the national government.

 

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) received the payment for the 146-megawatt (MW) Panay and 22-MW Bohol diesel power plants in a turnover ceremony at the Psalm office.

 

The Panay plant is located in Dingle, Iloilo and composed of PDPP 1 and PDPP 3, formerly the Pinamucan diesel power plant which was transferred from Batangas to augment power supply in Panay.

 

The turnover of PDPP to SPC caused uproar among electric cooperative officials who raised fears that SPC might not operate PDPP because it will not supply power at subsidized rates offered by the government.

 

It was also learned that the power supply contract of the National Power Corp., (NPC) the former owner of PDPP, and the electric cooperatives was not included in the sale. SPC also does not have transition supply agreements with Panay electric cooperatives. 

 

SPC is also planning to rehabilitate PDPP before resuming operations.  SPC president Dennis T. Villareal said they will improve the Panay and Bohol plants and triple their capacities at a cost of P100 million to P200 million.

 

National officials later decided to let PDPP run provided NPC will provide fuel subsidy to avert more massive power outages in Panay. This setup, however, is seen as a mockery of the privatization effort of the energy sector.

 

Treñas said the debacle caused by PDPP privatization reinforced previous forecasts by energy officials that Panay will suffer from acute power shortage if no new power plants are built.

 

“We have foreseen this before and we are now feeling its effects already. Don’t we have friends who said there is no power shortage? Where are they now?” Treñas said at the sidelines of the Western Visayas Regional Planning Summit at Iloilo Grand Hotel Thursday morning.

 

Treñas is also ambivalent about the proposed Visayas Supply Augmentation Auction (VSAA) program of the Department of Energy (DoE).

 

The NPC subsidy of PDPP operations will last until VSAA, which will tap embedded power capacities in the region, kicks in.

 

“When will VSAA kick in? They are saying there is 25MW capacity in Visayas. The DoE should point the players who have such capacities,” the mayor added.

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