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DOE: No looming power crisis in PH

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) has allayed fears that the country will face power crisis soon amid a series of yellow and red alerts notices issued on Luzon grid.

DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella stressed in a press briefing on Thursday (April 11) that the potential causes of the current energy problems and its remedies have been identified.

Fuentebella said they have already prepared strategies for possible problems on demand, supply and distribution, adding that the DOE is prepared to face whatever crisis the country may be hit with.

Since last week, Luzon grid has been consecutively experiencing a drop in power supply reserves due to unplanned outages of several power plants.

Fuentebella said that instead of the expected removal of 827 megawatts (MW) from the system due to the scheduled maintenance shutdown of some power plants, the system actually lost 1,452MW after four power plants went into unplanned outages.

These power plants were identified as the Pagbilao Unit 3, which went out on April 2 after it experienced boiler sagging but is scheduled to resume operations on April 16; South Luzon Power Generation Corporation (SLPGC) Unit 2 which was offline since April 7 due to an issue in primary air fan but is set to go online on April 21;

South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation (SLTEC) Unit 1, which went out due to boiler tube leak on March 20 but is scheduled to resume operations on April 13; the Sual Unit 1 which is set to go online on April 17 after experiencing piping leak at its boiling circulating pump on April 9.

The operators of the said power plants have already been asked to submit a report on power outages, according to Fuentebella. DOE will also send personnel to validate these reports.

The energy official also assured that the power supply in the country remains adequate based on power outlook.

Power supply agreements between the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), 70MW Millennium Energy and 161MW Therma Mobile Inc. are also being finalized. These power plants, which are seen to go operational by April 26, are expected to help boost supply this month.

DOE earlier called on the public to conserve and use energy wisely to address power demand upticks amid intense heat this season. – Robie de Guzman

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Palace backs review of PH-Kuwait labor deal

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah sign the Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers on May 11, 2018 in Kuwait. Labor Secreatry Silvestre Bello III and other Philippine officials witness the signing. | Courtesy: DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday supported calls to review the country’s labor agreement with Kuwait in the wake of the death of a Filipina worker who died from alleged physical and sexual assault.

A group of migrant rights advocates made the call following the brutal killing of household service worker Constancia Lago Dayag in Kuwait.

“I think we should (support the calls) because according to (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello, there has been a breach in the agreement signed between the two countries,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing.

READ: Phl, Kuwait sign agreement over OFW protection

The governments of Philippines and Kuwait last year signed a memorandum of understanding to provide greater protection for Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

The deal provides domestic workers with food, housing, clothing and health insurance, and prohibits employers from confiscating their passports. Filipino workers shall also be allowed the use of cellphones and have at least seven hours of sleep and a day-off weekly with pay.

The labor deal was triggered by the spate of deaths of Filipino migrant workers in Kuwait, including Joanna Demafelis, whose remains were found in a freezer.

READ: Murder raps and death penalty await employers of OFW Joanna Demafelis

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last week reported it is closely coordinating with Kuwaiti Authorities in probing Dayag’s death.

Panelo said that concerned government agencies are now looking into the case.

“He (Bello) is investigating it and DFA is waiting for an autopsy report,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Tons of garbage from Canada were illegally exported to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered the recall of Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government failed to meet the May 15 deadline on shipping back tons of garbage it sent to the Philippines several years ago.

In a post on his Twitter account on Thursday, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order has been issued and the Philippine envoys to Canada are expected to be back in the country in a day or so.

“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so. Canada missed the May 15 deadline,” he said.

Locsin said the reason for the recall is to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

The DFA secretary said the move was triggered by Canada’s failure to show up at a meeting with the Bureau of Customs, as relayed to him by the Department of Finance (DOF).

“That the government may consider a 2 to 3 week delay DOES NOT EXTEND THE DEADLINE. Our diplomatic presence in Canada shall be de minimis,” he said.

“At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger,” he added.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents but he made no mention of any plans to recall envoys when he gave updates about the exported trash.

“According to the DFA, there might be a slight delay because of processing, documents are being prepared so it might take a little longer. The important thing is, they are taking it,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing.

He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it failed to move its illegally exported trash. He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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DOE assures steady power supply on election day, entire week

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 10th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) on Friday assured there will be enough power supply during the conduct of the midterm elections on May 13.

DOE spokesperson Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella said at a press briefing that a task force election has already been activated since February to ensure stable, uninterrupted and reliable energy supply before, during and after elections.

The task force, created under Department Circular No. DC2018-05-0014, has eight members including the National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Power Corporation (Napocor), National Transmission Corporation, Philippine National Oil Company, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and the Manila Electric Company (Meralco). Six other supporting organizations are also onboard.

Although measures on energy supply have already been laid out, the DOE said, the energy sector will continue to keep a tight watch in case of power fluctuations during the election day.

“Ina-assure po natin ang ating mga kababayan that the energy family is working 24/7 not only for monitoring but we’ve also deployed our personnel to make sure na yung mga kuryente galing sa planta papunta sa mga polling places at sa mga canvassing stations ay magkakaroon ng sapat na kuryente,” Fuentebella said.

The DOE is also set to open a command center in its headquarters in Taguig City to receive reports and complaints on the power supply, ensuring immediate power restoration in case of outages.

Meralco, for its part, prepared 300 flood lights and generator sets to be used in polling precincts in case of power interruption. At least 300 linemen will also be deployed to inspect Meralco’s power facilities.

READ: Meralco on general alert during elections

Meralco also inspected the electrical wiring and other facilities in voting and canvassing centers.

“We’re actually 100 percent complete in terms of inspecting ‘yung mga facilites ng Meralco especially those serving the polling and canvassing centers,” said Primo Alonzo, head of Meralco’s Energy Management.

The NGCP, meanwhile, assured to monitor the power supply situation in case yellow and red alert notices will be issued over the Luzon grid.

“In case na mayroong disturbance na mangyayari, na hopefully ay wala, mayroon kaming naka-deploy na resources, tao, tsaka available na equipment, to mobilize doon sa site para ma-minimize yung disturbance,” said Santiago Dimaliwat, Vice President and Head of NGCP systems operations.

NEA, on the other hand, told provincial electric cooperatives to defer any power plant preventive maintenance works to avoid power interruptions in their franchise areas.

“We have also advised the electric cooperatives not to conduct preventive maintenance a week before and after the elections in order to ensure continuous power sa kanilang franchise areas,” said Artis Nikki Tortola, NEA Deputy Administrator.

In case a power interruption is inevitable, the energy sector said, polling centers will be spared from manual load dropping to ensure that polling and counting of votes will not be disrupted. (with details from Joan Nano)

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