Stormy Christmas

The supervised low pressure area (LPA) is expected to become a storm in the Pacific Ocean and expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) four days before Christmas.

Because of this, the weather in the east of Visayas and Mindanao is constantly monitored by the weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

According to PAGASA weather forecaster Chris Perez, such bad weather is expected to enter PAR’s this coming Friday, December 21.

It is possible that the upcoming storm will pass through the provinces that were greatly affected by the typhoon “Pablo” in the first part of the month, December.

If the expected storm enters the country’s territory, it will be called typhoon “Quinta”.

‘Quinta’ Last Typhoon of 2012

One storm left is expected to enter the country before the end of the year and is named Quinta, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

There are currently no perceive any low pressure area by Pagasa and if we are experiencing rain it is caused only from northeast monsoon rains.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Pablo allegedly dissolved where it was became a low pressure area only while leaving the country day before yesterday of four o’clock in the afternoon after land fall in Ilocos Norte, according to Buddy Javier, weather forecaster of PAG ASA.

Even though it left the country already, the three regions in the North such as Cagayan, Ilocos, and Cordillera will experience more rain and lowering sky.

While in Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao will also continue to experience fleeting rain caused by the breeze.

State of Calamity, Declared by P-Noy

President Benigno “Noy-noy” Aquino III declared National State of Calamity yesterday in areas severely affected by the typhoon “Pablo”.

Based on Proclamation 522 signed by the president, Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are covered by National state of calamity due to the severe flooding and landslides storm resulted with the death of many victims.

With the declaration, hasten the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government as well as helping the private sector.

P-Noy ordered the major agencies and departments of government to implement rehabilitation medical assistance and relief works and also instructed the local government units to use their calamity funds to help their constituents.

Social Weather Stations (SWS) – Self-rated poverty down

Manila, Philippines – The latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) Fewer Filipino families consider themselves “mahirap” (poor) and “food-poor” in the past three months.

The SWS poll, taken from May 24 to 27, presented that 51 percent of the respondents or about 10.3 million households rated themselves poor, down by four points from 55 percent or around 11.1 million families in March.

Meanwhile, the same survey found that 39 of Filipinos (about 7.9 million families) said they are food-poor, lower by six points from 45 percent (9.1 million) formerly.

Self-rated poverty and food poverty slightly improved in all areas but it also noted that families had continued to tighten their belts said by the SWS.

In the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday the SWS poll result were issued.

Self-rated poverty was down by seven points to 65 percent in Mindanao. In Metro Manila it also dropped by five points to 41 percent, In Visayas  dropped by four points to 57 percent and by two points to 43 percent in balance Luzon.

A five-point drop in self-rated poverty to 61 percent in rural areas, while urban areas experienced a two-point drop to 42 percent recorded also by the survey research institution.

Self-rated food poverty dropped by 11 points to 53 percent in Mindanao said by SWS.

In balance Luzon and Metro Manila smaller developments were recorded, six points to 32 percent and five points to 25 percent, respectively. The score was hardly changed at 46 percent from 47 percent in the Visayas.

Self-rated poverty thresholds – the monthly budgets poor households need for home expenses in order not to consider themselves poor in general – remained sluggish despite higher inflation said SWS.

The median poverty threshold for poor households rose to P15, 000 in Metro Manila and P10,000 in the Visayas and Mindanao but dropped to P9,000 in balance Luzon compared to the previous quarter.

Median food-poverty thresholds, meanwhile, Metro Manila increased to P7, 000 and P5, 000 in Mindanao and the Visayas, but dropped to P4, 500 in balance Luzon.

SWS said the self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty thresholds as of May 2012 have already been surpassed in the past for all areas.

Face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide and has sampling error margins of plus or minus three percentage points for national and plus or minus six percentage points for area percentages  used by the SWS survey .

200-MW Shortfall Seen In Mindanao

The starvation of the province, Mindanao from electricity is in danger, suffering from another 200-megawatt (MW) shortfall for the succeeding years due to high demand and continues lacking of generation capacity.

It is said that the Department of Energy (DOE) is already banking on power charges and diesel-fired power plants to upsurge the available power in the region next year.

Energy Secretary, Jose Rene Almendras, mentioned that, “If we do not have additional generation in Mindanao by the dry season next year, we will have a shortage.”

“I am looking at least 100 MW, almost 200 MW. It also depends on the rainfall next year,” Almendras added.

Up to the present time, the hydroelectric power plant is responsible for 53 percent of the total power supply in Mindanao.

The Mindanao network, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which is in need of at least an average of 1,300 megawatt (MW) during peak hours, lacked 50 MW to 300 MW, resulting in two to four hours of rotating blackouts in the first quarter.

“In Mindanao, the situation has significantly improved. What is being reported to us is that there are no more blackouts,” Almendras said.

As an update, last week, there was still no power outage in Mindanao which follows the completed repair of the 200 megawatt (MW) Pulangi IV hydropower plant in Bukidnon.

The DOE released a circular outlining effort last March needed from numerous government agencies and private firms to lessen power outages in Mindanao.

But, Almendras said that Mindanao is running on bare requirements and is without any emergency reserves. A failure in any of the power generation equipment will thus automatically result in a shortfall and blackouts.

Almendras said that the situation might worsen next year when demands increases and there is insufficient rainfall for the hydropower plants.

The DOE recommends that the resumption of operations and rehabilitation of the 100 megawatt (MW) Iligan diesel power plant and the rehabilitation and transfer of 120 megawatt (MW) of privately owned power barges, and the transfer to Mindanao of the 96 megawatt (MW) of power barges presently operated by National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), in order to solve the power supply concerns.

The DOE is in talks with private firms for the transfer of several power barges, Almendras said.

The Commission on Audit (COA) review is ongoing regarding the Iligan plant issue.

“The COA has requested for some additional documents from the local government unit and from the bidder to substantiate their offer, their process and pricing,” Almendras said

The 100-MW plant, which was last operated in 2010, was sold to Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc. (ACR) subsidiary Conal Holdings Corporation after the local government acquired it due to tax delinquency.

However, the power plant also needs COA clearance before it can be sold to ACR and resume operations.

Almendras said that the DOE wants the plant to start operations within the year for it to reach the maximum capacity ahead of the dry season next year.

Lastly, DOE is reviewing its plans following the failed bidding of four 32-MW power barges of Napocor.

The bidding of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management for the diesel-fired Power Barges 101-104 failed last week as only one of seven qualified bidders submitted an offer.

Under the bidding rules, winning firms should immediately transfer these power facilities to Mindanao and would have to stay there until 2014.

The DOE has been giving some warnings last 2010 with regards to Mindanao that it needs additional baseload generating capacity through private investor participation.

But the DOE said there were delays in securing permits from local government units.

For instance, Aboitiz Power Corporation, Sarangani Energy Corporation, and San Miguel Corporation are planning to put up coal-fired power plants in Mindanao but host communities opposed these plans due to environmental concerns.

Bandits Kill Six For Revenge In Southern Mindanao

Regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said, about 10-15 gunmen attacked some homes at a farm on the southern island of Mindanao, targeting relatives of a police aide and killing six of them.

The attack on Tininghalang Village was a revenge for the death of bandit leader Samang Andi whos was killed by the police with the help of Police aide Dencio Tabayag in February 11, 2012.

Military Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang told the reporters that “The Tininghalang victims are relatives of Tabayag who helped the police get Samang Andi.”  Cabangbang added that the attack on the village was led by the brother of the bandit chief. Police accuse the Samang gang of being behind a range of lawless activities in the area, but Cabangbang did not cite specific crimes.

Samang Gang was engage in extortion, highway robbery, and kidnapping across Mindanao as the security forces fights decades-old Muslim and communist insurgencies as well as Islamist militants.

Sendong’s deathtoll still rises up to thousand.

As the wrath of Typhoon Sendong is still with us Filipino’s especially on the CDO people, the death toll is now reached at 1,080 while 1,079 others remained missing, as per the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said today.

In its 6 a.m. update, the disaster agency computed a total of 1,979 injuries and 28,049 damaged housing structures. Seven regions in Mindanao and Visayas were affected in the devastation, comprising 13 provinces, eighth cities, 52 towns and 766 barangays, with over 600,000 affected populations, the NDRRMC added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Health, Philippine Coast Guard, and Philippine Red Cross deployed over 1,000 personnel in the badly-hit cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

Estimating over P1.03 billion cost of damages in infrastructure and agriculture. Thousands of residents in CDO and Iligan are still have to homes to shelter this coming Christmas.

According to Edgardo Ollet, Chief of NDRRMC-Office of Civil Defense, over 276,400 persons are staying in evacuation centers as of this morning. He also said that a cluster was formed composing of Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Housing Authority, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and local government units (LGUs) to take in charge of the relocation procedures to ensure that survivors will have a humane living condition after the incident.

After shock Magnitude 4.7 earthquake Moro Gulf Area in Mindanao

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was recorded at 9:40 p.m.,the epicenter 50 km southwest of Cotabato.

It is said that three hours after a magnitude-6 quake rocked the area, a magnitude-4.7 quake hit the Moro Gulf area in Mindanao. No casualties and damage was recorded.

The USGS traced the epicenter traced to 45 km southwest of Cotabato; 115 km south southeast of Pagadian; 160 km northwest of General Santos City; or 915 km south southeast of Manila.

Radio dzBB reported the quake was felt at Intensity IV in Pagadian and Cotabato; Intensity III in Zamboanga City; and Intensity II in Kidapawan. It was tectonic in origin.

MILF awaits tack of Aquino in Mindanao peace efforts

MANILA, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be watching how the new administration of incoming President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will pursue the peace process in Mindanao, the Muslim separatist group said.

The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim separatist rebel group pushing for the establishment of an Islamic state in large parts of Mindanao.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the MILF, said the next stage of the protracted peace talks will depend on how the Aquino administration intends to deal with the issue.

“The peace process depends on them, whether they want to talk or whether they will adopt the war policy. If they adopt the war policy, we will defend ourselves,” said Iqbal.

Previously, Iqbal expressed doubts about a peace pact with the new administration, citing that Aquino is surrounded by people who are “spoilers” of the peace process, including vice-presidential running mate Manuel “Mar Roxas II, and former North Cotabato vice governor and losing gubernatorial candidate Manny Piñol.

“Piñol is no longer in position, but Roxas is still influential. Ultimately, what will matter here is the interest of big businessmen, warlords and mining companies,” he said.

Roxas and Piñol both strongly opposed the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which would have been a major breakthrough in the peace talks with the MILF.

Iqbal said it is normal for a revolutionary group like the MILF to wage its cause through war, but the negotiation track is a better option.

“In war, we cannot win over the government, we also cannot be beaten by the government. It is very destructive to both sides, so it is better if we go for a negotiation track. I hope that negotiations do not take forever, there should be an effort to accelerate the peace process and finally resolve this,” he said. 

While the MILF claims it has the arsenal to sustain an all-out war against the Philippine armed forces, the group, for now, prefers to wait for the next step that will be taken by the Aquino administration.

“We have already proven that we can sustain war, we can resort to highly mobile tactics which will be difficult for the government if a confrontation ensues. We can dictate the terms of the war, when we will attack, where we will attack, and what arms to use,” Iqbal said.

The Philippine military estimates the MILF forces to number around 12,000, but Iqbal, refused to confirmed this.

Last week, the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald said the EU has agreed to participate in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) assisting the peace process in Mindanao.

MacDonald said the details of EU’s participation will be firmed up as soon as the terms of reference have been agreed with the parties in the peace talks.

The IMT, with peace talks broker Malaysia as head of the team, was initially deployed in 2004. It later added Japanese economic experts as part of the team.

Mindanao power shortage worsens

MANILA, Philippines – The power deficiency in Mindanao has doubled, raising fears of longer blackouts as well as massive business disruptions.

The surge in Mindanao’s power deficiency to 578 megawatts (MW) came as electricity supply in Luzon and the Visayas started to normalize yesterday.

Mindanao’s worsening power situation has also intensified calls for the government to allow the immediate establishment of new power plants.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said generation deficiency was only 315 MW on Monday before it deteriorated to 578 MW.

Available capacity stood at only 822 MW compared to peak demand of 1,400 MW.

The NGCP attributed the rising generation deficiency to the declining capacities of the island’s hydropower plants as a result of the ongoing dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon.

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