Sunday, June 30, 2013

Duterte sets 5 priority areas in oath-taking speech

Rodrigo R. Duterte, who has taken his oath of office as Davao City Mayor for the 7th time Sunday, has unwittingly identified the five focus areas of his administration for the next three years including peace and order, environment, informal settlers, corruption and tourism.

While he mentioned the successful programs of the city in terms of the firecracker ban, smoking ban and curfew, Duterte reiterated the need to maintain the peace and order in the city by going after drug pushers, and other criminals.

“You can stop or leave the city vertically or horizontally,” was his warning to criminals.

Duterte said while the people could not fight and prevail against nature, he said Dabawenyos should take a deliberate action by de-clogging the canals, acquiring the needed rescue and weather monitoring equipment and continuing the conduct of barangay-based education campaign to prepare people.

“We should put a stress on the management of solid waste because these clog our canals and drainage systems resulting to floods,” he said.

He said the city has acquired relocation sites to accommodate those who live in danger zones. “There is no other option, you have to leave the place,” he added.

However, he said that relocation of informal settlers will only be allowed when the site is ready for habitation which means the people’s sources of livelihood should be accessible.

He said they plan to ask the business sector to relocate their businesses along these areas. Environment-protection and economic development should complement and not clash with each other, he added.

While he made mention of his plan to continuously promote Davao as a tourism destination, Duterte said he is deadest on stopping corruption in the city.

He asked the Ombudsman to fasttrack the appointment of a city Ombudsman to investigate corruption issues in the city. Duterte asked everyone to create a city where “opportunities abound and where every house is secured and every person is safe.”

PBGEA fears P4B in losses due to closure of Iran market

The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) is seeking the support of the government in the wake of the possible closure of the Iran market due to the stoppage of operation of shipping companies bound for Iran effective this month.

“This could translate to losses of more or less P4 billion for our banana exporters who have not yet even recovered from the devastation caused by typhoon Pablo,” PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig said.

Antig said they have received an advisory from Mercury Steamship Agencies, Inc., an agent of the Pacific International Lines which ships bananas to Iran, about the suspension of its operations.

“We regret to inform you that Mercury Steamship Agencies, Davao will suspend the acceptance of cargoes into Iran effective June 16, 2013,” the Agency wrote in a letter sent to its valued clients. The letter further said that the last acceptance of cargoes bound for Iran was last June 15, 2013 on board Tilly Russ.

The shipping companies are suspending their operations to Iran, Antig said, as part of its commitment to comply with foreign trade regulations. It can be recalled that the United States has imposed economic and other sanctions against Iran as a result of the latter’s nuclear program. The sanctions are aimed to cut off Iran’s access to critical sources of revenue and to make its money useless outside the country.

Antig said the Iran market is one of the biggest banana markets in the Middle East, accounting for 50 percent of the Middle East market. If the shipping companies will no longer bring our bananas to Iran then what are we going to do with our products, he said.

“This is a potential man-made typhoon that will add to the burden of the Philippine banana industry,” Antig said. PBGEA, he said, has already informed the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Foreign Affairs about the problem and is waiting for their response.

With the suspension of operation of shipping companies bound for Iran, only APL or the American Presidential Line will be shipping good to Iran. However, APL will only load bananas bound for Iran if the exporter has a license from the US Treasury.

“This is very difficult to get and majority of our exporters here do not have this license,” he said. So now that our banana growers have rehabilitated their banana plantations after Pablo, where are they going to sell their bananas with this development?

Antig said that once again, the Philippines is suffering from an economic embargo which it is not a party to. He said the suspension will have tremendous effect on the region’s banana industry which can lead to the closure of 10,285 hectares of land planted to banana and potential job loss for up to 21,000 people.

1.7% rise in poverty, 95% employment rate In Davao Region a big puzzle for RDC XI

Outgoing Regional Development Council XI (RDC) chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio said poverty incidence in the Davao Region was the lowest in Mindanao but was saddened by the high poverty incidence of 28.8 percent as of the first semester of 2012 which is a 1.7 percent increase from 2006.

However, she noted that the Region has sustained the 95 percent employment rates for both 2011 and 2012 which is evident of the expansion of the region’s absorptive capacity for employment.

“Pero pag medyo mataas ang poverty incidence and mataas ang rate ng employment, it makes you wonder and we have to look into this,” she said,

Duterte-Carpio said the planned targets for 2010 and 2011 were not achieved because of identified risks and external shocks including the slower recovery of the US and European economies that limit market options for banana exporters, high oil and energy prices and the selling by the small-scale miners of their gold produce in the black market.

“But the Gross Regional Domestic Product levels had been increasing and the Region has rebounded as the top economy among the six regions in Mindanao for 2011,” she said.

She admitted that the statistics on increasing poverty incidence is however evident of the non-inclusive growth. But on the other hand, the creation of jobs aimed at reducing poverty is an indication of inclusive growth which is why the two conflicting statistics of increasing poverty incidence and employment growth continue to puzzle economic workers in the region.

The RDC XI has identified the remaining challenges for the region in the remaining three years (2013-2016): slow decline in poverty incidence, unsustained economic growth levels, low productivity levels in almost all major sectors, slow growth in employment generation.

Friday, June 28, 2013

One-stop-shop for small renewable energy projects to help Minda-Mayor Sara

Davao City Mayor and Regional Development Council (RDC) XI chairperson Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio cited the establishment of a one-stop-shop for small renewable energy projects in Mindanao as one of her favorite accomplishments.

“We are trying to find a solution to Mindanao’s power problem just like the hydropower electricity plant project and establishing a one-stop-shop will hopefully encourage the implementation of small renewable energy projects here,” Duterte-Carpio said in an interview held after her State of the Region Address Wednesday.

She said smaller renewable energy projects that can produce 5 to 10 MegaWatts usually find it very time-consuming to go to Manila to process their papers and get approval for their projects. With the establishment of the one-stop-shop, she said, the proponents of these projects need not go to Manila anymore because “inter-agency na ang maghatag sa ilaha diri sa Mindanao (the different agencies will take care of the permits and papers which will be issued to them right in Mindanao).”

She said she is first a mayor before she is an RDC chairperson and her stand has always been for renewable sources of energy. “I prefer renewable sources of energy,” she said, and it is because of them that this one-stop shop has been established.

While she admitted that climate change might change the water source and can result to drought or overflowing, she reiterated that the development of renewable energy source “is our thrust.”

Without exactly saying it, Duterte-Carpio remains steadfast about her preference for renewable energy source and her doubts about other energy source like the coal-powered electric plant.

“More than the environmental degradation of coal-fired power plant, we also have to consider the health risks to people in the area,” she said. The negative effects of coal-fired power plants has already been experienced even by first world countries and we don’t want our people to experience that, she added.

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