Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pag-IBIG Fund link up with businesses to become more relevant

The Home Development Mutual Fund, more popularly known as Pag-IBIG Fun is set to link up with at least 19 business partners per region every quarter in up to 32 key cities in the country to make the Fund more relevant to the daily lives of its members.

“How do we make Pag-IBIG Fund more relevant to those who are saving but are not yet ready to borrow money for housing” was one of their concerns according to Pag-IBIG Fund president and CEO Darlene Marie Berberabe Wednesday.

Ms. Berberabe, who was in the city Wednesday for the signing of the memorandum of agreement with its partners, said the Fund now has 12 million members with up to 60,000 members borrowing every year. But what about the rest, she said.

She said the Pag-IBIG Privilege Cardholders Program, which will be officially launched and piloted in the cities of Cebu, Davao and Baguio, was conceptualized to make the Fund more relevant to members.

Among the first partners of Pag-IBIG’s new program in Davao are New City Commercial Corporation, Davao Doctors College and Penong’s Franchise Corporation. These companies have offered different discounts levels to cardholders every time they purchase or make payments at the stores.

NCCC offers a 5% discount for every P1,000 worth of purchase from their hardware and 5% discount for premium cakes bought at their Bakery during the cardholder’s birthday month. DDS has agreed to provide up to 15% discount on tuition fees of cardholders and their beneficiaries up to third degree of consanguinity or affinity upon full payment of the fees. Penong’s offer discounts and freebies for every P500 worth of transactions.

Pag-IBIG is still looking a partner and is yet to bid for the services of a company which will produce the Privilege Cards which will be made available to members for a minimal fee. Once issued hopefully before the year ends, users of the Privilege Card in various cities in the country can avail of the discounts provided by the partner companies.

“We are focusing on companies relating to health, education, groceries, schools and restaurants,” she said.

Ms. Berberabe said the target is to issue around 200,000 Pag-IBIG Privilege Cards once the program is official launched next year. She said they now have 32 partners in the pilot areas but are still looking for partners nationwide.

“I am sure we will get more partners because with Pag-IBIG’s 12 million members and the opportunity to get their stores marketed to these members, it is a good marketing strategy for these businesses,” she said.

Ace O. Cayonda, Penong’s Marketing head, said their restaurants cater to the lower A to C markets and since most of Pag-IBIG members are regular wage earners, they see the linkage as a good opportunity to promote their brand.

Ms. Berberabe said they are constantly looking for innovative ways to be more relevant to their members without increasing their contributions. Our marching orders from the vice president were to improve the benefits for members without increasing the monthly cost, she said.

To do that, she said, they increased their membership base from 8 million to 12.7 million. Pag-IBIG has doubled the maximum loan amount to P3.6 million while reducing the calamity interest rates from 10.5% to 5.95%, with the monthly contribution still at P100.

“But we are urging our members to voluntarily increase their monthly savings considering that after 20 years they will be able to triple their money,” she said. Pag-IBIG has paid a total of P9.3 Billion total dividends to its members last year and she said, these dividends are tax-free compared to the bank which imposes a 20% withholding tax.

New professions seek PRC regulation to prepare for Asean integration

Philippine professionals are in a mad rush to prepare themselves for the 2015 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration with several professions already seeking regulation with the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) for competitiveness.

“There are pending applications from new professions that want to be regulated by the PRC now,” PRC chairperson Atty. Teresita R. Manzala said during the Mindanao Pre-Summit Conference held at the Grand Regal Hotel last week. The Pre-Summit was a venue for the different professions to present the regional and national development that will impact on the competitiveness of the Filipino professionals.

Among the professions seeking PRC regulation are Microbiology, Instrumentation, Food Technology and Human Resources.

Ms. Manzala said the best time to prepare for the Asean integration is now. It is time to prepare and develop the different roadmaps for each profession now if Filipino professionals are to compete in Asean by 2015, she added.

She said the Philippines has to develop the Asean Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) by 2014, in preparation for 2015. “It is time to start putting in place our ABCs or Action, Branding and Communication,” she said.
The AQRF is the common reference framework which will function as a translation device to enable comparisons of qualifications across participating ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN is made up of 10 member-states, she said, and each one has different levels of development and education. There is a need to harmonize all these qualifications through the AQRF, she added.

AQRF is based on the 1995 ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) agreed upon by the ASEAN economic ministers in order to substantially eliminate restrictions to trades in services.

Leandro a. Conti of the Board of Mechanical Engineering said the major professional services initiated the Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) to enable to qualifications of professional service suppliers to be mutually recognized by signatory member states. The Registry for Engineering started in 2005, ahead of the other professions like Nursing which started in 2006, Architecture in 2007, Dentistry in 2008 and Accountancy in 2009.

When the Asean integration happens, Ms. Manzala said, it will pave the way for the mobility of professionals within ASEAN as well as the exchange of information and enhance the cooperation in mutual recognition of practitioners.

Ms. Manzala said it is easier to assess the standards of professions with PRC regulation. “For unregulated professional they will have a hard time doing that,” she added.

By 2015, she said, there will be integration, transmigration and cross border connectivity among professionals. We have to plan our offensive and defensive strategies now as well as out safeguards if our professionals are to remain competitive in Asean by that time, she added.

Construction industry a big boost to Mindanao’s economy

The conduct of the 4th PhilConstruct Mindanao at the SMX Convention Center on September 5 to 7, 2013 (with over 100 exhibitors) has put into perspective the impact of the construction industry on Mindanao’s economic growth with an estimated worth of P40 Billion.

“We have 700 contractors registered with the Board and 60% are based in Davao,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Davao City Director Teolulo T, Pasawa said. The distribution of wealth is not trickling down, he said, so it is pulling its resources to the construction industry since it has a bigger multiplier effect.

Event Chairperson Engr. Ramon F. Allado said there may be a similar number of contractors not registered so it is possible that we have at least 2000 contractors here with close to half a million workforce. Mindanao, he said, is the single biggest producer of construction workers who are trained here and are sent to other parts of the country and of the world.

“The construction industry provides money for the local economy with a 15 times minimum multiplier effect in terms of suppliers, workers, lodging establishments and other support facilities,” he said.

Mr. Allado said there is a boom in Mindanao construction industry today, especially in Davao. There are two 300-MW coal-powered plants in full construction in the Region today, he said, with Therma South’s project 40% completed and SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation’s project in Malita just starting out. Two more coal-powered plants in Misamis and South Cotabato will start constructing soon, he added. “That’s only the power sector eh yung mining sector pa.”

He said the tourism sector is another big user of the construction industry with various tourism construction projects going on and many that are yet to be developed.

Mr. Allado said the Department of Education (DepEd) has completed the public-private partnership (PPP) bidding for 20,000 classrooms in Mindanao. Sector, which comprises almost the other half of Mindanao with 10,000 classrooms to be built in one and a half years.

“All of these spell at least P40 Billion for Mindanao alone,” he said.

The booming construction industry is one of the reasons why the organizers have decided to make PhilConstruct Mindanao a yearly event every September. With more than a hundred innovative suppliers of equipment, technology suppliers, materials and tools, the stakeholders of Mindanao’s construction industry need not go to Manila or Cebu to get the latest in construction technology, he said.

Mr. Pasawa said “Davao is a very good market for the construction industry with a 2.4% growth per annum, 1.5 million people and vast availability of land that is seven times larger than Cebu and three times larger than Metro Manila.”

He said the city has a very reliable 24/7 power supply which is also among the country’s cheapest at P6 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) (beaten only by Lanado del Sur) compared to the almost P8 per kwh in Cebu. The city has also consistently ranked at the top of the Most Competitive Cities Survey by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), he added.

Davao City has a very vibrant construction industry, he said, that DTI has established desks and officers for regulatory purposes including the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board which handles registration and the Construction Manpower Development Authority which handles arbitration cases.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kadayawan sa Davao not over yet

The City Tourism Office will only be able to quantify Davao City’s gains from the conduct of the Kadayawan Festival 2013 after August 31, 2013 since there are still festival-related activities that will be conducted up to the end of the month.

“We are still coordinating with the hotels as to their occupancy rate during the Kadayawan Festival but until the festival-related activities are over then that will have to wait,” City Tourism Officer Ma. Felisa Marques said. “We are also doing an exit survey on the airport arrivals but as of now me humahabol pa na tourists,” she added.

Marques said the main events of the Kadayawan namely the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan and the Pamulak Parade may be over but there are still many Kadayawan-related activities that are on-going and still to be conducted.

On top of this is the 2013 Phoenix Accelerate Vega Hot August Races slated at the Speed City Drag Strip in Maa Diversio Road on August 31 and September 1, 2013. This racing event is a battle among drag racers in the Pro Class, Sportsman Class, Clubman Class and Quick Eight.

The Drag Race may just be the biggest legal drag race in Visayas and Mindanao with around 80 participants from Cebu and major cities in Mindanao.

Marques said Dabawenyos and visitors can still enjoy the on-going Kadayawan-related activities and shows such as the Durian Festival at SM Premier Lanang up to August 25. The eat-all-you can durian festival at P150 is still on-going so those who want to indulge in durian can still try the King of Fruits, she said.

The Agri-Trade Fair at SM City Ecoland which features plants and a bountiful harvest of fruits in season is still on-going at the SM Car Park until August 27. She said “we should strengthen Kadayawan especially now that this is being replicated in many parts of the world including Japan.”

She said that even before the Kadayawan officially closes, they are already conducting meetings to prepare for the next festivals in the city such as the Paskuhan sa Davao and a bug summer festival which will be launched in conjunction with the Summer Fest.

Marques said Davao City’s strength lies in domestic tourists who make up 93 percent of the arrivals. One percent of tourist arrivals in the city are Balikbayans while only 6 percent are foreign tourists comprising of Americans, Australians, Japanese and Koreans.

DOH intensifies campaign with rise in Reg.XI dengue cases

The number of dengue cases in the Davao Region has increased from 5,900 in 2012 to 6,937 as of August 3, 2013 prompting the Department of Health (DOH) XI to intensify its campaign versus dengue.

“We may have a higher rate of dengue this year but we have less mortality this year compared to the previous year,” DOH Health Advocacy and Promotion Cluster officer-in-charge Divine Hilario said during Monday’s Kapihan held at SM City Annex.

A total of 63 persons died from dengue last year but this was reduced to only 47 this year, Hilario said.

Dengue is still on top of the Department’s priority list and they are intensifying their campaign again dengue. They have also enhanced the 4 o’clock habit to encourage people to clean their surroundings.

“It should not be taken literally that people should clean only when the clock strike but this is just a reminder to the people keep their surroundings clean,” she said.

Almost 50 percent of this year’s dengue cases were reported in Davao City with 3,822 cases and 23 dead. Like the past years, she said, Buhangin is still a hotspot maybe because it has a larger area of coverage.

Hilario said the following dengue cases were also reported: Davao del Sur with 932 cases and 12 dead, Compostela Valley with 846 cases and 7 dead, Davao Oriental with 736 with 2 dead and in Davao del Norte with 601 cases with 3 dead.

She said that while dengue and chikungunya are both mosquito-borne illnesses, people should watch out for dengue as it is more deadly. Both illnesses have the same vector mosquito and have the same symptoms though, she added.

“The bad thing about chikungunya is that it can last longer for a month or two—some people even suffer from arthritic pain caused by this illness for two years,” she said. However, she added, people can be inflicted with chikungunya only once but dengue can inflict them many times since there are four strains of dengue.(

DOH to conduct surveillance of stem cell facilities in Davao Region

The Department of Health (DOH) XI is set to conduct a surveillance of all establishments in the Davao Region that are offering stem cell treatments without the proper authorization.

“At present there are no facilities in the Region that have been authorized by DOH to perform stem cell treatments,” DOH XI Licensing Officer Alex F. Daba said during Monday’s regular Kapihan held at SM City Annex.

The move is in accordance with Administrative Order 2013-0012 providing the Rules and Regulations Governing the Accreditation of Health Facilities Engaging in Human Stem Cell and Cell-Based or Cellular Therapies in the Philippines which was released by Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona on March 18, 2013. However, the AO becomes effective only 15 days after its approval and publication.

“As with any new technology there is a need to regulate stem cell treatment in order to protect the public from unscrupulous people who might not be properly trained and authorized to conduct the procedure,” he said.

Secretary Ona’s AO indicated that stem cell-based therapies have existed for the past four decades and some have been proven to be effective in some medical conditions. “Stem cells that come from the bone marrow or blood gave already been routinely used in transplant procedures to treat patients with cancer and other disorders of the blood and immune system,” the AO said.

The AO was issued after a survey conducted by DOH-Bureau of Health Facilities and Services (BHFS) that five hospitals and some ambulatory clinics were providing stem cell services to patients for various indications.

Mr. Daba said they have received reports that even here in the Region, there are facilities including hospitals and clinics conducting the stem cell therapy. However, he added, they still have to verify those reports through the conduct of the surveillance.

“As of now all we can do is to comply with the surveillance and then create a Master List of these facilities,” he said. They are set to meet with the different hospitals and clinics in Davao next week to inform these facilities about the new guidelines so that they will discontinue providing the said treatments.

With the issuance of Secretary Ona’s order, he said, all the unauthorized facilities providing stem cell treatment are unauthorized and should be advised to stop.

“The primary goal of the AO is to prevent the introduction, transmission and spread of communicable disease by ensuring a minimum quality of service rendered by hospitals and other health facilities in human stem cell therapies,” he said. This will also ensure that human stem cells and other cell-based therapies are safe and effective for their intended use, he added.

Mr. Daba said hospitals may already have licenses to perform the regular health services but they still need authorization from the DOH to perform stem cell therapy. Without such authorization, he said, these hospitals are not allowed to provide such services.

He said authorized hospitals and clinics are required to comply with the guidelines set by the Bioethics Advisory Board (BAB) which is chaired by the DOH Secretary. There are already two applicants for the region and once approved, DOH will release a Master List of facilities authorized to perform Stem Cell Therapy in Region XI.

One of the more serious proponents of stem cell therapy is Davao del Norte District 1 Representative Antonio del Rosario who is pushing for the establishment of a Stem Cell Research and Storage Facility in Mindanao through House Bill 5037.

Prior to the May, 2013 elections, del Rosario said the Bill has been approved by the Science and Technology Committee and is pending with the Technical Working Group.

“Stem cell technology is already available in the Philippines but only in private and expensive hospitals such as the Makati Medical Center and St. Luke’s,” he said. Mr. del Rosario is a survivor of stage-3 lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes.

Del Rosario said he has already met a leading stem cell expert working in the United States who happens to be a Filipino. But while the said expert is open to the possibility of heading the Facility, he is concerned about the financial support of the government to the Facility.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Davao is RP’s new gastronomic destination

The city has a reputation for being one of the best destinations when it comes to adventure tourism. However, no one will argue that it is also fast becoming one of the country’s top gastronomic destinations.

Those who have visited Davao City for the past ten years will tell you never to leave without trying Luz Kinilaw’s sinugbang panga and buntot. The budget-conscious foodies also raved about Taps and the fastfood’s famous vinegar and pepper sauce. And who can forget eating durian along the sidewalks of Uyanguren?

With the construction of malls in the city came the various specialty restaurants and fastfoods from Manila. While the newbies provided a variety of gustatory options for Dabawenyos and their visitors, the homegrown food providers still kept to their traditions and prevailed.

“We are becoming the country’s new gastronomic destination thanks to the many home-grown food entrepreneurs in the city,” Department of Tourism (DOT) XI Regional Director Art Boncato said. This, he added, has never been more emphasized than during the Kadayawan Festival which is a celebration of good harvest for Dabawenyos.
photo courtesy of DOT XI

Kadayawan street food festival

One of the very first components of the Kadayawan when it started in 1986 is the street food festival which was held at the junction of Roxas Avenue and C.M. Recto Street. “This was a Kadayawan staple which has been replicated every year,” Mr. Boncato said. The street food festival was actually an extended and a more glamorous version of the various barbecue stalls in the city.

Kadayawan, which is celebrated during the month of August every year, is itself all about the bountiful harvest of food including the fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits that abound in the city. After all, it is during this month and hereafter that you will see the streets with bukags (the native baskets) filled with colorful and delicious fruits in seas. During this month, it is natural to see trees alongside the streets teeming with luscious red rambutan and durian. It is easy to be tempted to just pick up the fruits from these trees as they hang beyond the gates.

Mr. Boncato said through the years, the city has developed its own unique blend of gustatory concoctions that can only be referred to as the Davao flavor. Kadayawan 2008 started featuring the local food choices through Ka-an Mindanao or the Indigenous Food Fiesta. This featured the indigenous cuisine of the city.

Durian Festival

Another Festival staple is the 15-day Durian Festival slated from August 10 to 25, 2013 at the SM Premier in Lanang. “We wanted to feature the different varieties of durian not only to let people taste these varieties but also to educate them,” Durian Industry Council of Davao City chairperson Larry Miculob said.

Visitors to the city can get their fill of fresh durian through the eat-all-you-can-durian at P150. For those who just want to satisfy their craving without overindulging, the P40 per kilo price for durian is good enough. The agricultural fair at Ecoland also features a durian booth where visitors can buy durian at P50 per kilo and eat the fruit at the durian tents provided by the exhibitor.

Mr. Boncato said the Davao Fruit Craze also opened at Abreeza Mall just in time for the Kadayawan. “Visitors will get the chance to enjoy all their favorite fruits including pomelo, mangosteen, banana and other fruits in season right at the mall,” he said. This is clearly a proof that August is indeed a season of harvest in Davao, he added.

One of the events that showcased Davao as a real gastronomic destination not only during the Kadayawan Festival but all throughout the year is the three-day Gourmet Collective which opened at SM Lanang Friday.

“This is the first effort to gather the gourmet chefs of Davao to showcase their tastiest specialties,” Mr. Boncato said. Among the food choices on display are the concoctions of Bangkok Wok which showcased Thai Cuisine, Cellar de Boca which served Spanish-inspired food using Davao’s very own brown rice and Monica Floirendo which served Mexican-inspired food.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

AWS certification in Davao to make RP welders world class

Filipino welders are known for their world-class skills but the establishment of the American Welding Society (AWS) Test Facility Center in the city will make them more competitive in the world market.

“The ASW Certification is recognized by companies in the Middle East so a welder who has this certification can immediately get employment there without retesting,” Technical Education and Skills Development Authority(Tesda) XI Regional Director Gaspar Gayona said in an interview.

The Testing Center was established after the signing last year of a
memorandum agreement between Tesda and the Middle East Industrial Training Institute in the United Arab Emirates (MEITI-UAE). AWS has accredited MEITI-UAE as an international agent for AWS certification and as a certified welding fabricator.

“This is the only center in the Philippines so even those from Luzon and Visayas who want to get AWS Certification can get tested here in Davao,” he said.

Mr. Gayona said Dabawenyo welders, or even Filipino welders who get hired in Middle East countries only have their NCII (National Certification II) which is not enough. What happens, he said, is that they are still retrained outside and their skills reassessed in the Middle East.

“We want our welders to be ready for employment when they reach the Middle East and the other countries requiring welders so we asked our partner in Abu Dhabi to bring the assessment agency here in Davao City,” he said.

The AWS Accredited Test Facility possess all the minimum test facilities required by AWS when it comes to the personnel, equipment and the accreditation test for welders.

Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva said the MOA between Tesda and MEITI-UAE aims to upgrade the skills of Filipino graduates of technical-vocational education trainings like welding. Up to P20 million worth of training equipment was provided by MEITI-UAE to help welders become world-class.

Among the first trainees of the 10-day free American Welding Society-Certified Welding Inspector (AWS-CWI) Preparatory Examination Seminar held in the city last May are Dabawenyos. Mr. Gayona said all Tesda trainors all over the country were among those who took the certification exam last July 29, the results of which are yet to be released.

“The result of the exam will help us determine if we need to make changes in our curriculum so that our welders can level up to the global standards,” he said. The AWS-CWI certification is recognized by the world’s welding industry so welders with AWS certification will have an edge over the others, he added.

Mr. Gayona said welders are highly in demand all over the world including the construction industry, shipyard industry and fabricator industry. He said the various technical and vocational trainings provided by Tesda aside from welding open new world of opportunities for Dabawenyo workers.

Tesda XI is eyeing 62 thousands graduates under the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program year after it achieved its target of 58 thousand graduates in 2012. Out of the 58,000 TVET graduates last year, around 85 percent were expected to get certification assessment.

However, Mr. Gayona said not all of the TVET graduates will take an assessment exam for a variety of reasons.”Some will undergo more training since they are not yet confident about their skills while others will be concerned with their finances,” he said.

He said 65 percent of their graduates last year got certified and 60 percent of those who were certified are now employed mostly in the metals and engineering industry. Tesda XI conducted a profiling of priority industries last year to help solve the problem of job mismatch and came up with five priority industries for the region including metals and engineering, tourism, agriculture, information and communication technology and construction.

Mr. Gayona said the profiling will help ensure that the graduates of the TVET program will find jobs after their graduation. Tesda is also closely working with the priority industry clusters to determine the available jobs and compare these with the existing skills of the graduates.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

World’s largest croc national museum bound

After several hours of land travel from Davao City to Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, Lolong, the largest saltwater crocodile in the world at 20 feet and 3 inches is now home.

The Guinness Book of World Records declared Lolong the world’s largest crocodile in captivity after it was measured by Dr. Adam Britton of the National Geographic in May 2012.

People from the local government of Bunawan pulled out Lolong from the Davao Crocodile Park at 2 PM Monday. However, those who were instructed to fetch the crocodile’s preserved body have no idea about the crocodile’s fate as they were just told to get Lolong from Davao and bring it back to Agusan.

“We have no idea about the LGUs plan for Lolong,” Davao Crocodile Park operations manager Sergio A. Acquiatan said. He added they are also not part of the arrangement between the Bunawan local government and the national museum.

CrocodilePark President Philip S. Dizon, who has previously urged the Bunawan Ecopark officials to get Lolong back since the crocodile needs a more modern preservation method, said the world’s largest crocodile will soon be sent to the National Museum to undergo the process of Taxidermy.

Taxidermy is the process of preserving and preparing the skins of animals especially vertebrates for stuffing. Lolong’s taxidermy specimen will be displayed at the National Museum but will be brought back to Bunawan later on, Mr. Dizon said.

Lolong, a certified celebrity at the Bunawan Ecopark and Wildlife Reservation Center where it was kept after it was caught in a local creek on September 3, 2011, was brought to the park in February this year after it died from pneumonia and cardiac arrest.

A team of investigators from the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) and the National Museum was sent to Agusan del Sur last February to look into Lolong’s death and assist in the preservation of the reptile.

DOE more concerned about oversupply of power in Mindanao

Mindanaoans may be worried about having enough power supply now and in the future but the Department of Energy (DOE) seems to be more worried about the oversupply rather than shortage of power in Mindanao once all the power plants are completed and operating by 2015.

“The companies, when they see an oversupply of power and lesser demand then they will delay the implementation of the projects,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said in a press conference at SM Convention Center in the city Friday.

Even President Benigno S. Aquino III was confident when he announced Thursday during the opening of the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference that “Right now, we are on track to end the energy deficit by 2015—during which we foresee Mindanao to already have a surplus.”

The recurring power problem in Mindanao is one of the main concerns of the business sector which confirmed that this is one of the issues that has always been included in the annual business conference. Minbizcon conference director John Gaisano said that “unless the national government addresses this concern this will be a recurring theme in the next business conferences.”

Petilla said unless the power investors delay their projects when they see an oversupply, Mindanao will definitely have a power supply surplus by 2015.  Most of the power projects eyed by the government to solve Mindanao’s power woes are reliant on coal.

Among the major projects being eyed by the government to provide surplus power supply in Mindanao is the 300-megawatt Aboitiz (Therma South) owned coal-power plant in Davao City. First phase of the project, with a 150-MW output, is expected to be completed by third quarter of 2014.

Coal power plant
Petilla also mentioned the 200-MW power plant being built by the Sarangani Energy Corps (Alsons Group of Companies) in Maasim, Sarangani Province which can supply the power demands General Santos City, South Cotabato, Sarangani and other Mindanao areas.

“Filinvest is also set to come up with a 270-MW plant but we are not counting them yet until they submit their papers,” he said. Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC) is set to construct a P30-billion coal power plant at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental which is expected to initially general 270 MW of power by 2016. The second phase of the project eyes the production of 135 MW by 2018.

The government owned and controlled corporation Phividec Industrial Authority has signed a 28-year contract with the FDC in April this year for the lease of 84.4 hectares of land where the coal power plant will be located.

Petilla said SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation (San Miguel Corp) is also set to build a 600-MW coal power plant in Malita, Davao del Sur but will start with an initial output of 150MW by 2015. SMC president Ramon S. Ang informed the Philippine Stock Exchange last month (July) that SMC Global project just broke ground in time for the completion of the plant by 2015. Petilla however said SMC has not really started out full-blast.

He suggested the setting up of a smart and effective forecasting system taking into consideration the behavior of the people and their electricity consumption considering that power plants are big investments and they take some time to build.

Coal production in the Philippines

When asked about the possibility of the ban on open pit mining affecting the coal power plant projects, Petilla said that the ban is more of a local government unit policy than a DOE policy.

“We are not banning open pit coal mining,” Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairperson Lualhati R. Antonino said. She added that Semirara (Semirara Mining Corporation) is an open pit mine and supplies a huge percentage the total coal production in the country.

The country has scattered coal deposits in Cebu, Surigao and Zamboanga but the largest is in Semirara Island in Antique. As such, Semirara has been identified by the DOE as the largest coal producer contributing up to 92 percent of the local coal production. The Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) reported in 2006 that coal production has increased by 34 percent the 2003 level of 2.0 MMMT (million metric tons) to 2003 level of 2.7 MMMT.

The DOE website pegged the country’s coal consumption at 9.5 MMT in 2006, 73 percent went to power generation, 22.5 percent used in cement production and 3.75 percent for other industries.

While the coal power plants are facing opposition not only from environmentalists but also even from the LGUs with local legislations banning open pit mining, Mr. Petilla said that “if there is a national significance then the national government can step in.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Get a Cloudfone with Globe's mySUPERPLAN and meet Xian Lim

Want to get the chance to see Xian Lim up-close and personal? Then check out Globe's newest promo.

Globe Telecom is extending a special and exclusive offer to its subscribers in Davao as part of the Kadayawan Festival, Davao’s biggest annual festival that celebrates life, culture and thanksgiving.

“Davao will always be an important market for Globe so we’re very excited to offer this exclusive promo to our subscribers in the region in celebration of the Kadayawan Festival,” said Raul Macatangay, Head of Globe Postpaid.

All Davaoenos who avail of a Cloudfone 352g and Cloudpad bundle FREE at Plan 499 with the Best-Ever mySUPERPLAN from August 1 to 15, 2013, will get a chance to win an exclusive Meet and Greet session with one of today’s hottest heartthrobs and Cloudfone endorser Xian Lim. 

You can also choose from other Cloudfone handsets bundled with a Globe postpaid plan. Just visit any participating Globe Stores in Davao  particularly at Ayala Abreeza, SM City Davao, SM Lanang Premier or Gaisano Mall Davao and apply for a Best-Ever mySUPERPLAN with the Cloudfone your choice.

Once your postpaid application is approved, you get to pick prizes like
  • Grand Prize-Meet and Greet Session with Xian Lim
  • Major prizes-Xian Lim’s autographed “It’s So You” CDs
  • Minor prizes-Globe premium items  

Eighty (80) grand prize winners or twenty (20) winners per participating Globe Store will have the privilege to meet Xian up close and personal. Meanwhile, there will be forty (40) winners of the limited edition autographed CDs and one hundred (100) winners of Globe premium items.

The popular actor, singer and model will fly to Davao on August 18, 2013 to celebrate the Kadayawan Festival with Davaoenos and will visit the four (4) participating Globe Stores in the region to meet the lucky winners of the promo.

Globe Best-Ever mySUPERPLAN is a next-generation postpaid plan with fully-customizable plan components, a plan value almost twice the value of prepaid load, and more contract periods to choose from, ranging from 6, 12, 18, to 24 months. With the Best-Ever mySUPERPLAN, subscribers get the ultimate flexibility in creating a postpaid plan that best fits their needs, lifestyle, and budget. To know more about the Best-Ever mySUPERPLAN, visit or call 730-1010.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pnoy’s presence in Minbizcon spells Renewed confidence for Mindanao

The presence of President Benigno S. Aquino III, as well as 10 Cabinet Secretaries during the opening of the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference at SMX Convention Center in Davao City Thursday (Aug 8) spelled renewed confidence to Mindanao after the series of bombing in Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) on July 26 in Cotabato City on August 5 and Datu Piang, Maguindanao on August 7.

The President, who arrived almost on time for his 10:30 AM keynote address to the over 1,000 business and government delegates to the Minbizcon, did not waste time and immediately addressed the top concerns of Mindanao today--peace and security as well as the power problem.

“We gather today at a turning point in the history of Mindanao—where this region’s complete transformation from the Land of Promise to the Land of Promises Fulfilled is close at hand,” Mr. Aquino said. However, he enumerated three reasons why this promise has remained elusive to Mindanao: greed over land which has led to the cycle of violence, lack of foresight which led to the power problem and adherence to old solutions which led to the “vicious cycle of impunity and corruption.”
peace and order

While he proudly announced the milestones achieved by his administration in addressing the peace and security issues in Mindanao including the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the signing of the second annex of the agreement last month, he also admitted the existence of “challenges to our stability”. He was referring to the CDO bombing.

“This is a desperate act by a small sector dead set against the attainment of peace in Mindanao,” he said. The government, he added, have been working for a long time to neutralize these elements and have had quite a few successes.

While the President refused to reveal more information about the ongoing investigation on the CDO and Cotabato bombings until he has conferred with his security group, he took a hard stand against the culprits.

“To those willing to partner with us for peace, we welcome you as brothers; but to those who want to challenge the authority of the State, you will feel the full brunt, depth, and might of the State’s response. You will not get in the way of the peace and the stability that will help fulfill the potential of Mindanao.

During the press conference held immediately after his Keynote Speech, Mr. Aquino said the initial assessment of the security group on the bombings is that “three small and loose groups have joined forces and are now desperate to block the Mindanao peace process.”

He said the country’s security groups have been tasked to implement a “hard stand” against these threats. “We are a democratic country but we have many freedoms that they can exploit,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said even Davao has received reports of the intention of these threat groups to sow terror “pero umiiwas sila ditto dahil sa magandang pamamalakad ni Mayor Duterte (they are avoiding Davao because of Duterte). They are now looking for areas that are easy to target.

“I am calling on greater citizen involvement to act as force multiplier to our security services,” he said, He said greater involvement from the people will discourage terrorism.

power crisis

While he admitted that some parts of Mindanao were experiencing eight-hour brownouts a few months ago, he said the government did everything, from rehabilitating existing power plants to purchasing or renting generator sets and setting up a loan facility for electric cooperatives, to tide Mindanao over until 2015 when the government will be able to address the power deficit.

“Right now, we are on track to end the energy deficit by 2015—during which we foresee Mindanao to already have a surplus,” he said. However, he chided those who are opposing the generator sets, saying that they are either too expensive or harmful to the environment now that it is the rainy season. “Come the dry season, will we expect the litany of complaints about brownouts to resume?” he asked.

Mr. Aquino blamed Mindanao’s power problems to “the years of complacency and short-sightedness” which came as a result of the island having the best of both worlds.

“As much as we wanted to, we could not solve this problem overnight. 200 megawatts of power cannot be bought in a corner hardware store. It takes a minimum of three years to build a coal power plant, which is why the moment we stepped into office, we worked to enact the structural changes necessary to attract more investors in the power sector in Mindanao,” he said.

Sebastian Angliongto, another pillar in Davao and Mindanao’s business sector, said he is very confident that all the peace and security problems will be addressed in due time. However, he said, Mindanao has many concerns including power which should be addressed by the Aquino administration in preparation for the Asean economic integration.

Former Davao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. President Joji Ilagan Bian said Aquino’s presence in the Minbizcon is a boost to the confidence of Mindanao’s business sector. She said most Presidents have attended the Conference during their first year in office but Aquino failed to do that. However, she added, he made up for it by being here during his third year.

“The President addressed Mindanao’s economy, infrastructure problems and logistics and these are very important issues for business people in Mindanao,” she said. If you are doing business here in Mindanao, she added, then power is a very serious concern and he has managed to focus on that. However, she said, “I wished he also mentioned the aquaculture and marine industries since we are very rich with this.”

By being here today, she said, the President managed to tell Mindanaoans that “Mindanao is on top of the list.” 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pre-registered delegates to 2013 MinBizCon highest in Congress history

The number of delegates who have pre-registered for the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference slated in Davao City from August 8 to 10, 2013 is the highest so far compared to the past conferences.

“Filipinos do not really pre-register their attendance to conferences since they prefer to go directly to the event but I tell you that the pre-registered participants for this year’s MinBizCon is the highest ever,” 22nd MinBizCon Conference Director John Gaisano, Jr. said during Monda's Kapihan at SM City Annex.

Gaisano said they aim to gather a thousand participants for the Conference, mostly coming from key industries all over the country and from the economic growth area of the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area).

The organizers have previously consulted around 250 businessmen and industry leaders in five Mindanao regions as to the economic concerns they want to be presented during the Conference. “What makes this year’s MinBizCon different is the expected participation of 11 cabinet secretaries who will address the specific cluster of concerns identified by Mindanao business players and leaders,” he said.

He said there is a need to prepare Mindanao’s business sector for bigger markets abroad considering that the Philippines is set to enter into the Asean Economic Community (AEC). The AEC aims to merge members of the ASEAN community into a single market economy. Among its members are the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Singapore, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

However, Mindanao Development Authority’s (MinDA)Romeo Montenegro said that recurring issues on power problems, rotating brownouts as well as the short and long-terms measures which will be undertaken by the government will also be discussed during the MinBizCon.

Gaisano said Mindanao produces 40% of the country’s food production requirement and generates 60% of the country’s exports amounting to P130 Billion. However, Mindanao also has the greatest number of population and the greatest number of poor people.

“If they really care for the island then they will actually come here and address these issues,” he said.

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