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By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

THE Yuletide season is supposed to be a time for joyous celebrations and brisk business but lantern makers and firecracker makers are not exactly in a joyful mood.

 

Danilo Henson, president of the Arevalo Firecracker Makers Association, said there has been a major slowdown in firecracker sales.

 

“In previous years, retailers have been buying from us as early as October. But today it’s already December but the movement of goods is very slow and sales are very low. Gamay-gamay lang baklanay,” Henson said.

 

Henson said the slowdown could affect production of pyrotechnics “because the capital of manufacturers is dependent on their sales to retailers.”

 

Arevalo firecracker makers usually start manufacturing their stocks June or July but this year their production period began only in November due to lack of capital and materials.

 

This is the reason firecracker manufacturers put up a cooperative to help finance their members.

 

Another factor that affected the production and sale of Arevalo firecrackers is the lack of gunpowder supply in the market after the Chinese government regulated the sale of the item prior and during the August 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

 

Henson said the Chinese tightened the gunpowder supply to prevent terrorists and criminals from making bombing operations during the international sports spectacle.

 

“Because of low supply, gunpowder is expensive and not all of us can afford because most manufacturers are household based,” Henson said.

 

The entry of pyrotechnics made in Bocaue, Bulacan and China is also eating part of the market once enjoyed by Arevalo firecracker makers.

 

But Henson said they continue to innovate their products to keep up with the quality of “imported” firecrackers.

 

SAFETY ISSUES

 

Henson admits that most firecracker makers operate on a guerilla-type basis due to lack of government permits.

 

Oftentimes, these underground manufacturers are the cause of fatal explosions that kill their own workers and neighbors.

 

Henson said they are now pushing for the establishment of a manufacturing complex away from residential areas to avoid accidents.

 

The complex will be designed according to specifications provided by the PNP Firearms and Explosive Division and the Iloilo City government.

 

As regards the employment of minors, Henson said they are trying to convince their members to make their children stay in school instead of working in the factory.

 

“But we cannot avoid that some manufacturers will employ their children because this is basically a household industry. But we remind them not to let the children pack firecrackers or mix gunpowder which are dangerous part of our work. Maybe they can let their children cut the wrapping materials which is safer,” he said.

 

DIMMER SALES

 

Ilonggo parol or lantern makers also noted a decline in their sales this Christmas season.

 

Mas daku-daku sang una amon nga benta (Sales were much bigger previously),” said Rolyn Lindong of Aldren’s Parol Maker along Luna Street, La Paz, Iloilo City.

 

He said compared to the past three to five years, this year’s sales has not surpassed the profit the store made previously. 

 

Lindong cited the effects of typhoon Frank and the financial global crisis as to why Ilonggo consumers are on tight budget these days.

 

Unahon na ya nila ang pang adlaw-adlaw nila nga kinahanglanon (They will always prioritize their daily needs),” Lindong added.

 

With each lantern sold at P3,500, he said an Ilonggo consumer would rather spend the money for food instead of buying a four-foot parol.

 

Still, their sales are enough to sustain their three-month operation which began September.

 

He said Aldren’s biggest customer this year was the Atrium, which purchased 24 pieces of its four-foot parol.  The 24 colorful Filipino lanterns are currently on display inside the shopping arcade.

 

Lindong is hoping to dispose the remaining 20+ pieces of 4-feet parol before Wednesday next week.

 

Stores selling Christmas decorations and Christmas lights along J.M. Basa St. also noted big dip in sales this Yuletide season.

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BRIGHT SPOT Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. stresses Iloilo role as an IT investment destination during the investment forum of the Iloilo Information Technology Week at Amigo Terrace Hotel Tuesday. Listening are (L-R) Antonio Jon of ILED, Atty.  Giovanni Miraflores, Rex Drilon II of ILED, and Dr. Glenn Aguilar of IFIT.  (Photo by Tara Yap)

BRIGHT SPOT Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. stresses Iloilo role as an IT investment destination during the investment forum of the Iloilo Information Technology Week at Amigo Terrace Hotel Tuesday. Listening are (L-R) Antonio Jon of ILED, Atty. Giovanni Miraflores, Rex Drilon II of ILED, and Dr. Glenn Aguilar of IFIT. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Iled now confident of promotional campaigns

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

SELLING the city and province of Iloilo to potential investors is a cinch with the looming construction of a coal-fired power plant in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

Rex Drilon II, Iloilo Economic Development Foundation president, said they will mount a major investment forum in Metro Manila late this year to push Iloilo to serious investors.

Drilon, the chief operations officer of Ortigas Co. and Limited Partnership, said they have been planning to mount the forum “but various problems, especially in the power sector, stopped us from going all-out.”

Drilon said the issuance of the environmental compliance certificate to two coal-fired power plants proposed by Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) and DM Consunji, Inc. will put Iloilo in an attractive position in the eyes of investors.

“We can now go full steam ahead with our marketing efforts for Iloilo. With these two power plants combining for more than 200MW of power, we have more than enough and investors will surely flock the city and province,” Drilon said.

GBPC, the mother company of Panay Power Corp. which is the sole power supplier of Iloilo City, is the proponent of the coal-fired power plant at Brgy. Ingore, LaPaz.

DMCI is proposing to construct a similar plant in Concepcion, Iloilo.

During the IT Investment Forum at Amigo Terrace Hotel Tuesday, Arman Lapus, GBPC executive vice president for commercial, assured businessmen that their company will deliver the plant in 2010.

“Cheap and reliable power supply will be available in time for the projected boom in the information technology sector. With the issuance of the ECC, we can deliver the plant by end of 2010,” Lapus said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has set several conditions for the proponents of the 164-MW coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City to mitigate any adverse effects of the project on the community.

The conditions are spelled out in the environmental compliance certificate issued by DENR Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza to Panay Power Corp. (PPC), proponent of the power plant which will be constructed on the PPC property at Brgy. Ingore, LaPaz district.

Atienza signed the ECC September 1, almost nine months after PPC, which is a subsidiary of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), submitted its environmental performance report and management plan (EPRMP) and environmental management plan (EMP).

The top condition set by the DENR is the continuous conduct of an “effective information, education and communication (IEC) program to educate stakeholders of the mitigating measures of the project.”

The IEC will also inform contractors, workers and local residents on the conditions set by the ECC and the environmental and human safety features of the project “for greater awareness, understanding and sustained acceptance” of the undertaking.

The IEC program will be implemented in the form of quarterly consultation with affected residents, farmers and fishpond owners.

Environmental training for the staff, contractors and workers will also be conducted to help them understand the mitigation, monitoring safety measures of the power plant.

The DENR also directed the project proponent to continuously implement the comprehensive social development program for the affected community. The program must be submitted to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) central and regional offices 30 days after receiving the ECC.

The proponent was also required to establish and maintain a 5-meter buffer zone planted with appropriate local species along the plant’s periphery.

Another condition is the installation of additional automatic sensor for monitoring temperature and other relevant parameters prior to the discharge of cooling water from the coal-fired power plant while maintaining the existing one.

As a general condition, the proposed plant shall conform with the provisions of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990), RA 8749 (Clean Air Act of 1999), RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) and RA 9275 (Clean Water Act of 2004).

The existing memorandum of agreement on the environmental guarantee fund (EGF), environmental monitoring fund (EMF) and multipartite monitoring team (MMT) shall be revised to include the coal-fired power plant.

The revisions will include the increase in EGF and EMF for the cleanup and monitoring of the plant operations.

Also, the action/management program for the protection and enhancement of the Jaro River and the existing mangroves/aroma stands in the area shall be implemented continuously and regular monitoring of said river to include aquatic biota shall be continuously undertaken. The results of the monitoring shall be submitted to the EMB central and regional offices.

Engr. Adrian Moncada, PPC assistant vice president, said they will install the display of the continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS) at the DENR regional office “so that the public can see that we follow the standards set by the law.”

“The CEMS will operate 24 hours, seven days a week and it will be open to the public. We want our operations to be transparent to the community,” Moncada said.

Moncada said they will also continue to help rehabilitate the Maasin watershed area and plant a buffer zone around the plant to address concerns about greenhouse gases.

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