Stradcom vows full support for LTO


 

Stradcom Corporation vowed yesterday to continue giving its all-out
support to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) on the occasion of the
latter’s 99th founding anniversary celebration held at its main office
in Quezon City.

Stradcom President Cezar Quiambao made the assurance before Acting LTO
chief Racquel Desiderio and Transportation Undersecretary for Road
Transport and Public Information Dante Velasco at the LTO auditorium.

Quiambao said that Stradcom will continue to provide the LTO with the
systems necessary to increase the efficiency of its delivery of
services to the public, as well as its generation of revenues.

The Stradcom official made the pledge even if the company is still
awaiting payment for services it has already provided to LTO since
last year, amounting to over P1 billion.

For her part, Desiderio said that the LTO and the Department of
Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will honor Stradcom’s
contract as the owner and operator of the LTO IT facility that
computerized the agency’s systems.

Using the computerized system installed and maintained by Stradcom,
the LTO is now able to fast-track the processing of drivers’ licenses
and the processing of motor vehicle registrations.

The LTO now handles a minimum of 60,000 transactions per day, earning
revenues in the billions, thanks to Stradcom’s computerization
services which cut down the processing time of licenses and
registrations to mere hours.

Under the manual system used by the LTO in the past, the processing of
drivers’ licenses and motor vehicles used to take weeks and months,
respectively. Margaux Salcedo, Stradcom

“Trash Oil Deregulation Law” – Winnie Castelo


 

In response to the government’s threat to sue oil firms for overprice, Rep. Winnie Castelo has this to say, “Mere review of the Oil Deregulation Law will not lower oil prices, not even filing of charges against the three oil cartels cannot legally compel them to decrease their oil rates.  Unless we repeal the Oil Deregulation Law, major players could always argue pegging their prices against prevailing market forces.”

 

The QC Solon today joins other lawmakers who moved for the repeal of the oil deregulation law amidst a series of oil price hikes perpetrated by the three big companies.

 

In response to proposal to review the oil pricing formula, Castelo had this to say, “A mere review of oil prices cannot lower its cost.  It’s time to repeal the oil deregulation law to enable the government to regulate once again oil prices”.

 

Apparently, RA 8479 failed to yield the desired results of a truly competitive market that would result in fair prices and adequate supply of oil and petroleum products.

 

“As of now, we are at the mercy of the three big oil cartels in pegging prices of crude oil,” the QC solon pointed out.  According to Castelo, many stakeholders or 6 out of 10 Filipinos already favor the repeal of the oil deregulation scheme.

 

“With the strong positions in the oil industry of the top 3 players, Shell, Petron and Chevron and in fact, their possible collusion to dictate prices, the intent of the RA 8479 of a free market competition is systematically defeated.  We have produced oligopolies instead”, Castelo finally pointed out.

 

“The Filipino people in general are the principal stakeholders whenever oil prices keep on changing and therefore, government should step in to effect the necessary safeguards against cartel, monopoly and unfair market competition”,  the administration lawmaker said. 30

 

Paje appeals to parents to teach children on proper waste segregation


 

With almost all kids now on summer vacation, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is urging parents to make an effort of teaching their children on proper waste segregation.

 

“Throughout the year, our children get educated by teachers.  This summer vacation, I urge parents to take over and teach their children household chores, including the proper way of segregating household garbage,” Paje said.

 

“In fact, parents or the older children could come up with creative ways to make waste segregation fun and even income-generating by selling collected empty bottles and old newspapers and magazines to the neighborhood junk shop,”  Paje added.

 

Paje made the appeal as the agency begins its heightened campaign against the mounting garbage problem in Metro Manila by intensifying its information and education campaign with the distribution of easy-to-understand campaign materials in barangays in Metro Manila.

 

“As the family is the most basic unit of the society, it is but a must for proper ecological solid waste management to start at the households,” said Paje.

 

The DENR recently launched a number of information materials on solid waste management at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Mandaluyong City, where Metro Manila’s local environment officers  pledged to farm out the materials to households, in coordination with barangay officials.

 

During the launch, some 5,000 copies of “Ecological Solid Waste Management for Households,” “Makakalikasang Pamamaraan ng Pamamahala sa Basura,” “Bawasan Ang Basurang Itatapon: Magsegregate,” “Solid Waste Management Made Easy,” and  “Proper Segregation of Solid Waste,” were distributed to the participants, including the 12-page “Basura Monster” coloring book written by TV news personality Christine Bersola-Babao

 

“We hope that we could even more effectively manage our wastes at home as we have made the information materials easy to understand as our primary goal is to make solid waste management understandable to all, even by little children,” Paje stressed.

 

Paje also called upon local executives to reproduce the materials as a step to widen and speed up the circulation of the printed materials within their respective constituencies.

 

The move came at the heels of studies made by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) showing that Metro Manila’s daily waste generation (DWG) has risen to 8,746 tons from 8,400 tons in 2010.

 

“With almost a 24-percent share in the national daily waste generation of 35,000 tons in 2010, getting 15.5 million residents of Metro Manila to segregate their waste ‘at source’ or at household level will definitely have a cascading impact on the overall effort in transforming our people into a nation of into environmentally-proactive, environmentally-concerned citizens of the land,” Paje stressed.

 

This point was supported by MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez who said that the DENR’s intensified campaign for mandatory segregation shores up MMDA’s efforts to bring down Metro Manila’s daily waste generation by 50 percent.  Ayda Zoleta, PAO-DENR

Paje details reforms to boost PH mining industry


Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the government is exploring avenues to address issues confronting the mining industry in the country, even as he stressed that various reforms were already being implemented to level the playing field, fight graft and corruption and improve environmental compliance by mining projects.

“We recognized that further reforms are needed,” Paje told the participants to the Asia Mining Congress 2011 held recently in Singapore, assuring them that the “government is bent on fully addressing the issues confronting the Philippine mining industry.”

Among the mining reforms being pursued by the government, Paje said, include the protection of mining investment, full implementation of the “use it, lose it” policy, upgrading of environmental standards, shift to value-adding activities, and strengthening of public-private partnership.

According to Paje, there is now an on-going effort to harmonize national and local policies affecting mining toward a more-friendly regime for the mining industry.  He cited the case of the Tampakan mining project, which the government has committed to pursue and to resolve all attendant issues prior to its implementation in 2016.

At the same time, Paje enlightened the participants composed mostly of representatives of mining companies of the on-going cleansing of non-moving and non-performing mining contracts in all regional offices of the MGB.  “This is based on the ‘use it or lose it’ policy that we have adopted recently to purge speculators and eliminate opportunities for graft and corruption,” he said.

But as the Philippine government works to improve the investment climate in mining, Paje underscored the upgrading as well of the environmental standards in the industry.  “Environmental standards, which ensure the mitigation of the impacts of mining, are being defined clearly and applied in all mining operations, nationwide,” he said.

According to him, the environmental track record of mining contractors has become a critical consideration and that only those who are able to strictly comply with environmental management requirements of the Philippine mining law shall be granted with mining rights.

Further, Paje said the government plans to limit the direct shipping of certain ores to encourage the development of downstream industries for value adding.   “This way,” he said, “we will be able to extract more benefits from the utilization of our mineral resources to the advantage of local governments and communities.”

Through the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC), Paje said the government intends to strengthen the public-private partnership not only in the development of government assets and in pursuing exploration activities, but also in the conduct of a sustained information, education and communication program to enhance understanding of communities and improve the acceptability of mining projects.

The DENR chief acknowledged the continuing opposition of some sectors of the Philippine society against the mining industry, which he attributed to past and current experiences on the negative impacts of mining on the environment and host communities.  “The industry continues to labor under the stigma of its ‘sins of the past’, which is aggravated by indiscriminate mining practices and the lack of a unified information campaign to address misconceptions about mining,” Paje said.

Relative to President Aquino’s efforts to fight graft and corruption, Paje assured the mining executives to expect full transparency in government transactions.  According to him, he has already directed the MGB to upload in its website all relevant mining information, including status of tenements, bidding guidelines and results, among others.

Paje concluded his presentation by reiterating the President’s declaration in his inaugural speech that the Philippines “will be a predictable and consistent place for investment.” -30- DENR, PAO

Government gains ground in drive for cleaner air


The government has gained ground in the fight for cleaner air as Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje reported that the quality of air in Metro Manila has “considerably improved.”

Citing data gathered from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Paje revealed that the level of air pollution in the metropolis for the first six months of the Aquino administration, or during the second half of 2010, was reduced by 20%.

In 2009, Paje said the level of total suspended particulates (TSP) in Metro Manila was at 130 micrograms per normal cubic meters (μg/Ncm), or 44% more than the standard of 90 μg/Ncm.

For the first half of 2010, air pollution worsened to a level of 166 μg/Ncm, or 84% beyond the standard.  But during the second semester of 2010, the TSP level declined to 133 μg/Ncm.  Paje said that while the recorded TSP level remains still above the standard, it showed “significantly better air quality.” Seventy percent (70%) of air pollution in Metro Manila is attributed to vehicular emissions.

Paje attributed the improvement in the air quality to an invigorated partnership with other government agencies, such as the Land Transportation Office, the Metro Manila Development Authority, local government units, civil society and the private sector. In particular, he noted the partnership in the effort to rid EDSA of smoke belchers, including taking pictures of smoke belchers along the country’s busiest thoroughfare.

The environment chief further stated that under the present administration, the government was able to strengthen the regulation and enforcement of rules on air pollution, particularly with the setting of more stringent standards in air emissions.

Concerned government agencies have also been working together in implementing measures to reduce traffic, as well as to ensure compliance with emission testing prior to vehicle registration.

“All these we do, as we believe in the UN declaration that access to clean air and clean water is a basic human right,” Paje stressed.

Paje said that, having “inherited” polluted air in Metro Manila, the Aquino administration has always batted for cleaner air since day one because, as World Bank studies show, the exposure of 18 million Filipinos to air pollution causes health problems that lead to lack of productivity, translating to an annual loss of income amounting to P7.6 billion.

“We have always maintained that environmental protection is not the monopoly of government, and the current improvement in air quality is proof that the concerted efforts within a network of the government, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders have borne fruit.  Certainly, everybody should inhale clean air and drink clean water,” said Paje.

President Aquino himself had observed the improvement when, during one of his speaking engagements at a local university, he noted that there are nights that he could look at the sky and already see gleaming stars. He said that the darkened city skies indicated the level of pollution in the city, and that, although the reduced air pollution may not be “dramatic… we’re improving kahit papaano.” -30- DENR, PAO

Earth Day 2011 brings together 33 barangays to save Diliman Creek


Yesterday’s (April 19) advanced celebration of Earth Day at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, saw the unity of local leaders of 33 barangays traversing Diliman Creek and its tributaries, as well as officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Quezon City government and non-government organizations  to save the creek and improve its deteriorated state.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P.  Paje, who led the signing of the memorandum of agreement, said the partnership will strengthen the rehabilitation of Diliman Creek, which is one of the major tributaries of Pasig River.

“Maintaining clean waterways is a collective priority. The first MoA we signed for Diliman Creek was with the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association, and this time we are strengthening the participation of the barangays surrounding the creek to prevent garbage from clogging the waterway and floating these downstream,” Paje said.

Other signatories to the MOA were Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) President Louie Sarmiento, and Sagip Ilog Pilipinas Movement Executive Director Myrna Jimenez. Serving as witnesses in the signing were local officials of the 33 barangays, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel Cuna, EMB-National Capital Region Director Roberto Sheen, and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Rodrigo Cabrera.

Part of the strategy to ensure the minimization of garbage that are dumped in Diliman Creek is the simultaneous clean up of Diliman Creek and its tributaries by 33 barangays traversing it every fourth Sunday of the month. This will start on April 24.

In preparation for the upcoming clean up, PMSEA will distribute cleaning implements such as gloves, shovels, and other cleaning materials to each of the 33 barangays.

The undertaking forms part of the “Adopt-an-Estero Program” which encourages the private sector, national and local governments and the civil society to extend support in cleaning up waterways in urban centers.

Under the MoA, the parties will undertake expanded environmental improvement of Diliman Creek as well as conduct information and education campaigns, community mobilization activities, and trainings for concerned stakeholders in support of the program.

For its part, the DENR, through LLDA and EMB, will intensify the monitoring of industrial and commercial establishments, and undertake, among others, regular water quality monitoring and provide the necessary technical assistance to concerned leaders and stakeholder groups in the area.

In addition, the concerned parties also agreed to determine the necessity of, and to the extent possible, plan for more dredging and de-silting of the creek, introduction of interventions such as phyto-remediation through constructed wetlands, planting of bamboo and other plant species along the river banks, rip-rapping or coco-matting, construction and greening of linear parks.

To date, a total of 58 MoAs have been signed with various private companies nationwide to help revive water bodies in different portions of the country.  -30- DENR, PAO

DENR steps up river clean up through partnership with LGUs, private sector


 

A vision of Filipinos jumping into clean rivers may actually be in sight as the government reported headways in cleaning up major waterways.

Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reports that, in the first six months of the Aquino administration (July-December 2010), water pollution in 10 of the country’s 19 priority rivers was reduced by 10 percent compared to the first semester of the year (January-June 2010).

 

The 10 priority rivers with reduced water pollution include the Meycauayan River, Marilao River and Bocaue River, all in Regio 3; Calapan River in Region 4B; Anayan River in Region 5;  Iloilo River in Region 6; Luyang River and Sapangdaku River in Region 7; Balili River in the Cordillera Administrative Region; and Paranaque River in the National Capital Region.

Data culled from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) showed that the level of water pollution in the 10 priority rivers, generally measured by the biochemical oxygen demand or BOD, for the second half of 2010 was at 26.08 milligrams/Liter (mg/L) on the average, down by 10 per cent from the level measured in the first semester of the same year at 28.84 mg/L.

 

BOD measures the amount of oxygen consumed by microorganisms in decomposing organic matter in the water. For class C waters – ideal for fisheries, non-contact recreation and manufacturing processes – a level higher than the standard or ceiling of 7 mg/L indicates the presence of more bacteria that deplete the oxygen in the water for other higher forms of aquatic life. In 2009, BOD levels reached as much as126.27 mg/L, or 1,700% beyond the standard.

 

Paje cited the unprecedented show of confidence and support in the government’s programs as the leading factor in reducing water pollution. So far, 77 corporations have extended human and other resources in the Aquino administration’s initiative to clean up the country’s esteros and other waterways using the public-private partnership approach through the “Adopt-an-Estero” program. These include the Manila North Tollway Corporation, San Miguel Corporation, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), Skyway Corporation, SM Shoemart, Nestle Philippines, GMA Network, San Miguel Foundation, Petron and  Lamoiyan Group.

 

Additionally, the Philippine Plastics Industry Association (PPIA) has been required to retrieve, collect and recycle plastics in esteros and dumpsites, while an association of supermarkets and retailers has started the “Reusable Bag Campaign for a Greener Environment” as part of concrete efforts to reduce solid wastes dumped along waterways, particularly plastic bags.

 

The government has also issued Cease and Desist Orders (CDO) to eight polluting companies, and fined 22 polluting firms to the tune of P22.6 million. This, Paje said, shows the seriousness of government to improve water quality, especially in light of a report by the World Bank that the cost of water-borne diseases amounts to P6.7 billion a year.

 

Among the companies issued with CDOs were Tiffany Mansion Condominium, Eisenhower Condominium Corp., Batangas Sugar Central Inc., Waltermart, Medical Center Paranaque, Cebu Hybrid Farms Corp., Superstar Coconut Products, Inc., and Focus Ventures, Inc.

 

President Aquino had earlier noted that lack of clean water was a “critical constraint to economic growth” as it threatened national development through the spread of diseases. In his speech during the celebration of World Water Day 2011 in March, he underscored the importance of private-public sector partnerships in improving water quality, and vowed to come up with more water-related projects “to allow people access to what is rightfully theirs.” Ayda Zoleta, PAO-DENR