DOE chief Cusi invites US firms to invest in PH energy development

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2021   •   545

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi has called on the American business community to look into opportunities in the Philippine energy sector, particularly in renewable energy, as the country continues to seek the accelerated attainment of a secure and sustainable energy future.

Speaking at the Virtual Economic Briefing organized by the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. on Thursday, the Energy chief gave a brief rundown on the country’s energy landscape, including potential areas for enhanced bilateral energy cooperation.

“We are doing all we can to ensure that the country’s current energy requirements are met without compromising the ability of future generations to secure theirs,” he said.

Cusi, however, noted that US investments, especially in the area of energy and power generation, have dwindled in the past years.

“It is unfortunate that the US seems to have forgotten us, so I hope our American friends in the business community will again take a look at our new initiatives that aim to make the Philippines rife with many investment opportunities,” he said.

Given the urgency of establishing a sustainable global energy future, Cusi said the DOE is encouraging the further development and utilization of renewable energy without the Feed-In-Tariff (FiT) subsidies.

He said the government stopped the implementation of FiT because it “proved to be a big mistake.”

“It forced electricity prices in the country upwards. We cannot have our consumers shoulder the financial burden of such subsidies any longer. This holds true most especially since RE technologies and their markets’ competitiveness have significantly progressed in the past decade,” the DOE chief explained.

When asked which particular area of renewable energy he would like to see more private sector participation, Cusi cited the development of the country’s geothermal sector.

“Geothermal energy is an area that we would really like to tap and develop. That’s the kind of power we need, and we’d like to see investors from the US doing a 100% participation in the development of our geothermal energy,” he said.

The DOE chief also took the opportunity to brief the US investors on the updated Philippine Energy Plan or PEP for 2018-2040, which contains the necessary adjustments undertaken by the government in light of recent global developments, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By 2040, we envision that the Philippines would have a reliable and sustainable energy supply that will foster a balance between economic growth and the protection of the environment. Investments would be key to transforming this vision into a reality,” he said.

Cusi also mentioned other programs that the US business community may be interested to invest in, such as the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP), where clean energy advocates can source their clean power requirements through our Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES); the Green Energy Auction Program (GEAP), which provides an additional market for RE Developers with the end view of accelerating greater entry of renewables in the power industry; and the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP) that facilitates the exploration and development of the country’s indigenous resources and revitalize the upstream oil and gas sector.

There may also be investment opportunities in the future in the areas of nuclear energy and hydrogen, he added.

“The Philippines is ready to embrace the New Normal. We have been preparing for it and we are now steadily reopening our economy to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The virtual economic briefing, held to celebrate the 75 years of PH-US bilateral relations, brought together PH and US government officials and private sector representatives to chart the way forward for two-way trade and investments in the context of both countries’ pandemic response and recovery plans.

9,928 children with health risks vaccinated vs COVID-19 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The number of minors with co-morbidities who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 has reached 9,928, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday.

In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that ten among the minors experienced reactions to the vaccines.

“Tatlong mga bata ay nagkaroon ng allergic reactions but were all managed. Tatlo po ay nagkaroon ng anxiety-related reactions, at ‘yung apat po mga minor lang po, masakit po mga vaccination site,” she said.

“So far, wala pa po tayong serious at adverse reactions that were noted. But of course, we are still monitoring these children,” she added.

Vergeire assured that children who were inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine will be continuously monitored.

“Katulad ng sabi natin, hindi lang natatapos ang monitoring namin pagkatapos lang ng bakunahan. We will monitor them this whole month para makita natin if there will still be other reactions na mangyayari,” she said.

The COVID-19 vaccination for the pediatric population was launched on Oct. 15 in eight hospitals in Metro Manila.

It was then expanded to 13 more hospitals and facilities when the DOH rolled out the program’s second phase on Oct. 22.

Vergeire said they consider the vaccination program a success and assured that the process has been orderly.

Should the two phases of the pediatric vaccination be successful, the campaign will be expanded to other regions.

“So ‘yan po ay pinagplaplanuhan, pinag-uusapan na at magbibigay tayo ng information in the coming days,” Vergeire said.

The following medical conditions would make children aged 12 to 17 years old eligible for vaccination against COVID-19:

  • Medical complexity
  • Genetic conditions
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic/endocrine
  • Obesity
  • HIV infection
  • Tuberculosis
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Renal disorder
  • Hepatobillary

Vergeire earlier said that children participating in the pilot COVID-19 vaccination program should be well-informed and must get clearance from their physicians.

Philippines detects 380 more Delta COVID-19 variant cases; first B.1.1.318 case

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has detected 380 more cases of the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant and its first case of the B.1.1.318 variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In DOH’s biosurveillance update, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the latest run sequenced comprised of 746 samples collected in March, April, September, and October.

Based on data she presented during a virtual briefing, 380 were found positive for the Delta variant, 166 were Beta variant carriers, while 104 were positive for the Alpha variant.

The country’s first case of B.1.1.318 case was also detected.

“Please note that the B.1.1.318 was not designated yet as a variant under monitoring during the time of sample collection,” Vergeire noted.

B.1.1.318 is a COVID-19 variant under monitoring based on the classifications of the World Health Organization.

“This was initially identified or detected in Mauritius. Mayroon silang naging cluster of 120 cases doon at nung kanilang na-sequence ay ito po ang lumabas. Itong variant under monitoring na ito,” Vergeire said.

“It has 14 mutations in its spike region, kasama po dito yung mutations na nakita din natin sa Delta variant at saka sa Beta variant,” she added.

Vergeire, however, stressed that the variant is still being studied and that there is no reason for the public to panic over the presence of the said variant in the country.

“Ibig sabihin, pinag-aaralan pa ito ng maigi ng WHO, ng mga international experts, dahil ito pong mga mutations na ito ay maaaring maka-apekto rin sa efficacy ng bakuna, maaari ding makaapekto sa transmission ng sakit,” she said.

“Let me just reiterate, it’s a variant under monitoring. Lahat po pinag-aaralan sa ngayon. Wala po tayong cause to panic. Kailangan lang po maging vigilant pa rin tayo lahat and follow our minimum public health standards,” she added.

As of Oct. 24, the Philippines has sequenced a total of 17,893 samples, of which 88.76 percent or 15,882 are assigned lineages, the DOH said.

House panel supports DOE’s appeal to amend oil deregulation law

Maris Federez   •   October 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Energy supports the suggestion of the Department of Energy (DOE) to amend the oil deregulation law.

The DOE believes that amending the law is the only solution to curb the consecutive increases in the price of petroleum products.

The panel also wants the government to closely look into the reasons for the price hikes being implemented by oil companies.

It also wants the government to be given the power to solve such price hikes.

House Committee on Energy chairman Representative Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo said oil companies should not use the oil deregulation law as a blanket authority to increase the price of their products at the expense of the consumers.

“I welcome the proposal of the DOE to amend the Oil Deregulation Law after oil prices escalated over the past eight weeks. As chairman of the House Committee on Energy, I have long pushed for a special mechanism to prevent overpricing in emergency situations,” Arroyo said.

“The Oil Deregulation Law does not give oil companies blanket authority to take advantage of consumers,” he added.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate, meanwhile, urged the DOE to support House Bill 4711 which aims to amend the said law.

“We now challenge Department of Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi to ask Pres. Duterte to certify House Bill 4711 to again regulate the downstream oil industry as well as the unbundling of oil prices that we called to be done since 2018,” Zarate said.

In an interview, Cusi said that he had already written the Department of Finance to suspend the imposition of the excise tax on petroleum products.

The House panel said it will set a hearing on the said amendment and would invite representatives from the DOE and the DOF. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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