Friday, October 06, 2006

IMT Expresses Satisfaction on Ceasefire, Peace Process

CAMP ALAGAR, CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – (By Mike Banos / Oct. 5) - The International Monitoring Team 3 (IMT-3) overseeing the GRP-MILF Peace Process today expressed satisfaction over the progress of the peace process, and in particular on how the ceasefire mechanism has managed to keep the peace between the two factions.

Maj. Gen. Dato Md Ismail bin Ahmad Khan of Malaysia, head of mission, IMT-3, said his country remains committed to overseeing the peace process for the Philippines in general, and Mindanao in particular, to help Filipinos attain "everlasting peace."

Ismail was accompanied by Brig Gen Edgardo M. Gurrea, chairman of the GRP Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and his counterpart in the MILF, Mr Von Al Haq.

Gurrea said the purpose of the IMT-3's visit was to orient Ismael, who is the third head of mission of the IMT overseeing the GRP-MILF peace process since 2004.

"Our purpose is to orient Gen Ismail and introduce him to the various heads of the LGUs, AFP and PNP commands covered by the GRP-MILF conflict areas," Gurrea said. "Despite the impasse in the peace panel talks, we are happy to note the ceasefire mechanism at all levels is still in place and discharging its intended purpose to keep the peace."

The IMT-3 was on the second leg of its orientation tour which included the two Lanao provinces, Cagayan de Oro and was scheduled to visit Bukidnon province later the same day to meet with Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri,Jr. before proceeding home to Cotabato city. During the first leg of its visit, the team toured Cotabato city, Davao city and the Socsksargen region. The final leg of the tour will cover Western Mindanao including Zamboanga City and Sulu.

Gurrea clarified that while the ongoing peace talks were focusing on three main talking points (security, rehabilitation and development of conflict areas and ancestral domain, or the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity), the ongoing orientation tour was more focused on the former, including the monitoring of the peace and order situation in the identified conflict areas, to ensure that criminal activities of alleged mujahideen would be properly addressed by anti-crime elements of the AFP and the PNP and not deteriorate into a wider conflict involving forces of the GRP-MILF and possible jeopardize the ongoing peace talks.

Gurrea said that prior to the start of the peace process and the organization of the IMT, the GRP-MILF conflict areas had over 700 violence-related incidents. After the tour of the IMT-1, this was reduced to approximately 500, and went down further to only 10 last year under the tour of IMT-1.

"We are happy to note that there has been no incidents reported under IMT-3, and our fighting target is to maintain this zero level for the duration of the one year tour of Gen. Ismael,"he added.

Ismail also noted that the present areas of disagreement between the GRP and MILF peace panels were focused on "political and diplomatic" issues and not conflict related, which demonstrates that the CCCH mechanism is working to prevent violent conflict from breaking out between the AFP and MILF armed forces.

For his part, Al Haq expressed satisfaction that all parties involved in the peace forces were facing and working towards one direction, which is the attainment of a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

"The essence of Ramadan is sacrifice, and all of us should offer a measure of sacrifice for the greater good of a just and lasting peace," Al Haq said.

Not the least, Gurrea cautioned that despite the zero incidence of GRP-MILF violence-related incidents under IMT-3's stewardship, "We must continue to be vigilant against those who seek to disrupt the ongoing peace talks."

"What's important is the mechanism of the CCCH is holding and keeping the peace, to allow the GRP-MILF peace talks to continue under an atmosphere conducive to negotiation and settlement," he added.

Other members of the IMT-3 team accompanying Ismail were Lt.Col. Nazeri bin Ismail, Maj. Mustaffa bin Ibrahim, Lt. Cmdr. Muhd Shakir bin Salleh, Capt. Azuan bin Salehuddin, Capt (DR) Amran bin Amir Hamzah, Cpl. Zainal bin Othman, and Encik Hisham bin Rosle, all of Malaysia.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PNP Claims 19 of Militants Killings Solved

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MIKE BAÑOS / Oct. 4) - The Philippine National Police Task Force Usig claims it has solved 19 of the extrajudicial killings in the country, well ahead of the 10 cases target President Gloria Arroyo tasked them to solve by October 10, this year.

PNP Dir. Gen. Oscar C. Calderon said during a speech at the PNP Regional Office 10 yesterday: “On October 10, the 10-week deadline set by our President to solve at least 10 cases of militant and media killings will expire. With these, I am happy to announce that as of today (Tuesday, October 3, 2004), there are already 19 cases solved, way past our target.”

However, Calderon cautioned the PRO-X personnel present that they must remain vigilant and pro-active in preventing more slayings in order to restore order in the streets and maintain stability in peacekeeping and law enforcement.
During a press conference held later the same day at a local hotel, Calderon said by “solved”, he meant the appropriate cases have been filed and the suspects arrested.

“We have arrested 12 suspects and 70% of the cases involving journalists have been solved,” he said.

Calderon attributed the relatively higher solution rate in the solution of the killings of journalists to the cooperation extended to the PNP by the victim’s families and the ability of the media community to encourage key witnesses to come forward to identify the perpetrators of the crimes.

“We have also found that most of the killings involving the media people are not job-related,” Calderon added, meaning the motives for the murders were not related to the stories published or investigated by the victims.

However, he admitted having a hard time getting the cooperation of the families of militants since they don’t trust the motives of the PNP in helping them solve the murders of their kin.
“There are presumptions already existing about the PNP so it is quite difficult to convince the families of militants’ victims we are here to help them, and protect their kin from being harmed,” Calderon said.

After a pass-in review at the PNP PRO-10 headquarters, Calderon also graced the groundbreaking for the housing project of the Cagayan de Oro Police Office (COCPO) at Bgy Canitoan and the blessing of the new Cugman police station donated by the Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Alwana Business Park, before proceeding to Bukidnon to continue his inspection.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jaraula pushes split of CDO into two districts

CAGAYAN de Oro Lone District representative Constantino Jaraula pushed House Bill No. 5658, an act creating a second congressional district in Cagayan de Oro City by splitting the present lone district.

Jaraula’s bill was recently approved in the House committee on local government.

But the National Statistics Office until now does not specifies whether the present population of the city has reached to at least 500,00. A new census that would justify creation of one legislative district, under constitutional provisions, is 250,000 population.

Jaraula’s proposed legislation aims to address the city’s phenomenal growth by providing more funds in addition to a more effective bureaucracy by establishing another representation at the house of representatives.

Jaraula clarified that he has been moving for the division of Cagayan de Oro into two congressional districts, and not two cities.

In his explanatory note, Jaraula said the Bill was filed with the 12th Congress and approved as House Bill No. 1195 but was not acted upon by the Senate at the time of its adjournment.

The City of Cagayan de Oro was chartered on June 15, 1950 under Republic Act No. 521. It has since become the center of commerce, economic growth, investments, and industrialization.

Jaraula said the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) rates Cagayan de Oro as having the highest percentage of growth throughout Mindanao.

House Bill No. 5658 under Section 1 states that “there is hereby created a Second Congressional District in Cagayan de Oro City by splitting the city into two districts, with the Cagayan de Oro River as the natural boundary running from north to south.”

The bill also states that the first district shall comprise the territory west of Cagayan de Oro River and all the barangays located therein, while the second district shall comprise of the territory east of the Cagayan River and all the barangays located therein; provided that those living within the islands or sandbars shall belong to the District where their Precincts are located without prejudice to the effects of dredging and reclamation.

Jaraula’s Bill also stated that the first separate election for each District shall coincide with the regular elections of 2007 and the incumbent Representative shall continue to represent the entire city until his term expires.

Jaraula also clarified that the city would be divided by two and not by CDO-1 and CDO-2, but two representatives and under one mayor and one vice mayor.

The Mindanao Gold Star Daily

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moreno hits Olano, calls Abbot an ingrate

MISAMIS Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, yesterday, repeateadly accused provincial board members Henry Clyde Abbot and Butch Olano of orchestrating an alleged demolition campaign against him even as he called Abbot a “traitor” and “ingrate” (walang utang na loob).

Moreno lashed out at Abbot after he received reports that his accusers - radio blocktimers Ronnie Waniwan and Eddie Dangcal - have been frequenting the latter’s office at Stronghold Insurance beside the Cagayan de Oro press club, for the past few days.

“I helped Abbot during the last elections, even campaigning for him just to make himwin. How come he still did all these things, “Wala syang utang na loob,” Moreno said.

Moreno challenged Abbot to “be man enough” and face him openly and prove all his allegations.

“Dangcal was seen at the office of Abbot yesterday (Sept. 29),” Moreno said adding that in the past few weeks Waniwan and Dangcal has allegedly been seen coming “in and out” from Abbot’s insurance office.

“If Abbot has evidences,” let him prove it and he should not use any dummy or other persons for his own personal interest,” said Moreno . He said Abbot should not hit him at theback. “He should face me openly, and squarely, “ Moreno said.

Abbot did nothing at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan until this time, according to Moreno.

“He (Abbot) got angry and offended after his name was not included at the billboard,” Moreno said adding Abbot’s name was not included as he was just one of the SP members who approved the project.

“Billboard is required by law, but placing names on the billboard has two meanings: Credit of the persons who really worked for the projects and the persons responsible of the projects in case of any irregularities,” Moreno said.

“If I included the persons who are really not behind the project,’it loses the value of the recognition,” Moreno said.

Moreno also said that he lost his thrust on Abbot for claiming things that he is not. “I am not comfortable with his (Abbot) attitude anymore.”

Earlier Waniwan and Dangcal, known for buying radio airtime so they could broadcast stinging political commentaries, have filed two complaint for graft against Moreno before the ombudsman. They charged Moreno with graft and technical malversation of funds before the ombudsman here in connection with a controversial audit report. The report showed that the capitol spent some P12.6 million for fuel used by the private vehicles including the alleged shopping of medicine.)

Over DxIF-Bombo Radyo, Moreno denied any wrongdoing. He even reiterated his challenge on Waniwan and Dangcal including Abbot to show their proof instead of inventing stories.

Moreno also explained that copies of the COA findings now in the hands of his accusers are “no basis at all.”

“They are holding documents without exit conference,” Moreno said adding that capitol was already cleared and verified after the said “exit conference” with the COA officials.

Moreno said he had thought of bringing the findings to higher ups as the COA released their findings without any exit conference, but added that he has second thoughts because it would only be a waste of time.

“Many people need the Capitol’s support, and several projects have to be prioritized,” Moreno said.

Mindanao Gold Star Daily

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mindanao coal plant to operate in December

VILLANUEVA, Misamis Oriental (MIKE BAÑOS/Sept. 30) - Construction of the Mindanao coal-fired power plant is proceeding as scheduled and should be online by the end of the year, plant officials said.

"We are on the final stage of the power plant's commissioning. The first unit has passed the guarantee and efficiency test while the second unit is gearing-up for a reliability test in preparation for full operation by yearend," said Jerome Soldevilla, communications officer of Steag State Power Inc, (SPI), the project company of the Mindanao Coal-Fired Power Plant.

"Commercial operations will begin as planned not later than 31 December 2006 and we will have our official inauguration in January 2007" he added. "As of 27 September 2006, the power plant project attained a weighted progress achievement of 99%. Based on this figure vis-à-vis the timelines, we are on track and confident that it will commence commercial operations as committed."

Oliver Brock, head of Steag's commissioning team, has been working closely with his counterpart Y. Onishi, head of the Kawasaki Plant Construction, Inc. (a subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries) since the first quarter of the year for the commissioning of the first 105MW unit even as the second 105MW unit is being assembled nearby.

That may sound like good news for an island where demand is fast outstripping available power supply, but power supply in the island remains critical, as oil fired plants come down and repairs in its hydroelectric plants continue.

Emmanuel Abellanosa, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Mindanao, said they have been constrained to implement voluntary power curtailment or "power shedding" at various times last summer due to imbalances between the available power from National Power Corporation (NPC) and the demand from residential, commercial and industrial users.

"There's not enough spinning reserve in the Mindanao grid to address contingencies," Abellanosa said.

NPC figures show the system gross reserve in Mindanao from the latter half of 2005 to year end 2006 was already insufficient to meet the 11.9-percent load following/frequency and spinning reserve requirements.

NPC president Cyril C. del Callar, earlier warned that "recurring power shortages are expected especially during peak periods, when generators and or associated transmission lines are on forced outage."

Peak power demand in Mindanao last summer topped 1,100 megawatts but the NPC only managed to supply an average of 1,050 megawatts to the Mindanao Power Grid. As a result, whenever there's a glitch in the distribution system, power is cut in some areas as the grid seeks to balance the remaining available power throughout the delicately balanced system.

Abellanosa said NPC's total power generation was curtailed due to rehabilitation works in the 92MW Agus IV Hydro-Electric Power Plant at Iligan City, the 255-megawatt Pulangi IV Hydro Electric Plant in Bukidnon and the 25MW Iligan Diesel Power Plant in Ditucalan, Iligan City, turned over a few years back by independent power producer Northern Mindanao Power Corporation.

As a result, power supply to the Zamboanga peninsula and nearby areas was curtailed by 50MW causing up to three hour power outages although Cagayan de Oro city managed to get by thanks to the 18MW Mindanao Energy Systems (Minergy) power plant which augmented available power to the local utility (Cagayan de Oro Electric Power & Light Co. or CEPALCO).

Rufino T. Magbanua, communications officer for Transco NCMA, said at least 85 percent of Mindanao has already been tapping independent power producers (IPPs) and NPC power barges particularly in key areas.

That's for the short term. Over the medium and long term, even if only ongoing base load coal-fired power plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental comes online as scheduled by year end, it's merely going to patch things over but not fix it.

Although the grid is being weaned away from its traditional dependence on hydroelectric power plants, the bulk of generated power in the island is still being sourced from the Agus Hydroelectric Power Plants in Iligan City and Lanao del Sur and the Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plants in Maramag, Bukidnon.

The Regional Development Council in Region 10 (RDC-10) has sounded the alarm over the deteriorating power situation in Mindanao.

Arsenio L. Sebastian III, RDC-10 vice-chairman and Dr. Modesto Babaylan, RDC 10 infrastructure committee co-chairman, disclosed recently that Pulangi is producing only 100-120MW of its 255MW rated capacity due to accumulated siltation in the Pulangi River feeding its catchment basin.

Besides the lack of available funds to dredge the Pulangi river, Sebastian said they also have no place to dump the dredged silt taken from it.

Sebastian is also concerned the Mindanao Coal –Fired Power Plant might not be sufficient to meet energy demand in the island, citing Department of Energy statistics show a rising demand for power that the present supply might be unable to meet even with the new base load plant online.

NPC President del Callar earlier said that from 2007 to 2008, power supply in Mindanao would be stable as the system gross reserve remains sufficient to meet the LFFR and spinning reserve with the scheduled commissioning of the 200 MW coal plant.

The average power supply reserve margin in the Mindanao grid from 2005 to 2008 is 7.26% with 2008 having the lowest projected power supply reserve margin of 3.93%. By 2009, peak demand for power in Mindanao will start to exceed the existing power capacity, with additional new capacity of about 57 MW to be needed for the year and an average of 116 MW every year thereafter.

But the environmental advocacy group Task Force Macajalar (TFC) has called on the NPC to review its projections.

TFM spokesperson BenCyrus Ellorin said Mindanao can sustain its power needs without resorting to fossil fuels like oil or coal because its existing hydropower plants are sufficient to meet the island's needs if their full potential of 12,000MW is tapped.

Latest NPC figures only show an existing power band of 982 –1,500 MW with independent power producers (IPPs) capable of another 543 MW.

NPC expects power demand in Mindanao to grow 11.8 percent from 2005-2011 and would need an installed capacity of 2,830MW by the end of this period with the Mindanao Coal-Fired Power Plant filling the gap.

Ellorin believes Mindanao would be better off if it rehabilitates its present hydroelectric power plants and reforest the watersheds that support them or inter-connect with the rest of the Philippine grid with the Leyte-Mindanao Inter-connection project.

The Mindanao grid is divided into three sub-grids - North, West, and South Mindanao. Of these, only North Mindanao enjoys an excess capacity while the West and South Mindanao grids have to import from the North Mindanao sub-grid to sufficiently address peak power demand in their respective areas.

The country's Power Development Plan for 2005 to 2014 stresses the importance of putting up more power generating plants in order to avert a power shortfall in the major islands of the country, particularly in Mindanao since the previous surplus has been effectively erased with the reopening of the National Steel Corporation (NSC, now Global Steel International, Inc. or GSII) steel plant in Iligan City.

In a recent forum to determine just how real the Mindanao Power Crisis is, CEPALCO Sr. Vice President David Tauli said there's no large power plant (e.g.., 100MW or larger) scheduled for construction in Mindanao from 2007-2011 after STEAG State Power Inc's 210MW coal-fired power plant goes online this year end.

By 2009, Tauli's projections show Mindanao's energy demand at 9,150 gigawatt hours while dependable power supply, SPI's coal-fired power plant included, would only be 9,200 GWh, way below the 11.9-percent load following/frequency and spinning reserve requirements of Transco and a generating system that's no longer "N-1" reliable.

Tauli said this would result to widespread and lengthy brownouts when a section of the transmission system goes on the blink. A drought like the one expected to hit the island soon would worsen this situation.

In the same forum, former National Power Corp. President Guido Alfredo Delgado concurred with Tauli's observations, citing how energy prices in Mindanao are too low, hence the lack of an economic incentive to add new capacity to the island's power grid.

"There are no creditworthy off-takers and no long term market, hence no long term funds available in the local market for investments in power generation, which by its very nature calls for long-term funds," Delgado noted. "On top of that, there are the stranded costs of Napocor and distribution utilities Mindanao power consumers are mandated to pay under the EPIRA."

Tauli, Delgado and Ellorin all agree the passage of the Renewable Energy Bill which has been languishing in Congress to include a mandatory "renewable power supply portfolio" for distribution utilities should lead to investments in renewable sources of electricity, but chances of the bill's passage before Congress goes into recess next month look dim.

MIKE BAÑOS501 V. F. Cabaraban St., Cabaraban Subdivision,Puntod, 9000 Cagayan de Oro CityPhilippines Primary Mobile 0906-889-8484 (Touch Mobile)Secondary Mobile 0921-469-6305 (Smart)IM mike_banos_2000@yahoo.comalternate email :