USAID launches P1.6 billion project to promote clean energy in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   June 29, 2021   •   357

MANILA, Philippines — The United States (US) government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a P1.6-billion ($34 million) project to support a more competitive, secure, and resilient Philippine energy sector, its embassy said.

In a statement, the embassy said the five-year Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) project will promote the country’s key energy sector priorities and support its climate mitigation goals.

“Through the Energy Secure Philippines Project, the U.S. will work with Philippine government and private sector partners to improve the performance and efficiency of energy utilities, deploy renewable energy systems, enhance competition in the power sector, and address energy sector cybersecurity,” it said.

The U.S. government will also mobilize more than P36 billion ($740 million) in private sector investment and help develop at least 500 megawatts of clean energy generation capacity.

“We look forward to building and sustaining new partnerships with diverse stakeholders across the energy sector whose collective efforts are required for a more competitive and advanced energy sector,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law.

Law also announced the “Energy Evolution Challenge,” a grant facility that will fund proposals to advance research and deployment of innovative energy systems.

The Philippines and the US signed a memorandum of understanding for the said project. The virtual MOU signing was attended by Law, USAID Philippines Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan, and Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Also, present to witness the event was Energy Regulatory Commission Chairperson Agnes Devanadera.

The United States and the Philippines are celebrating their 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

Philippines, Malaysia to boost bilateral ties amid easing pandemic situation – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to bolster its ties with Malaysia amid improving COVID-19 situation in Southeast Asia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DFA said that the department’s Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Neal Imperial met with Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Norman bin Muhammad last Oct. 18.

Among the things discussed by the two officials were initiatives seeking to revitalize the two nations’ relations across all areas amid easing coronavirus pandemic situation, it added.

“The two officials exchanged views and proposals on how to further boost bilateral trade and investment, address the COVID-19 pandemic, and roll out post-pandemic recovery initiatives, including the careful reopening of borders to gradually revitalize business and two-way tourism,” the DFA said.

The department said that both parties have also discussed counterterrorism cooperation, the promotion of moderate Islam in predominantly Muslim areas, as well as Malaysia’s support for the development of Mindanao.

The two officials also agreed to continue working together to further enhance Philippines-Malaysia bilateral ties, and explore the possibility of reconvening high-level bilateral meetings early next year.

Despite the effects of the pandemic, Malaysia remains one of the Philippines’ top trading partners and investment sources.

During their meeting, Imperial also conveyed the congratulations of the Philippine Government to Malaysia’s newly elected government, the DFA said.

PH to raise daily vaccination target to 1.5 million doses

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is eyeing to raise its daily vaccination target to 1.5 million jabs amid the arrival of more COVID-19 vaccine doses.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte in a taped public briefing aired late Tuesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the continuous delivery of vaccine supplies in the country will allow the government to shift its focus to inoculating as much of the willing general population.

Galvez, who is also the National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer, said that for the first half of October alone, 20 million vaccine doses have already been delivered under government and private sector procurements, as well as donations.

The World Health Organization-led COVAX facility delivered 7.3 million doses for this month, which is one of its biggest vaccine donations to the Philippines to date, he added.

Galvez also reported that apart from the COVAX facility, the United States also donated 6.4 million Pfizer jabs while Germany gave 884, 800 AstraZeneca doses.

Both the US and Germany have committed to donate more in the coming months, he added.

At this rate, the vaccine czar said that achieving 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses delivery before end-October is “on track” and that vaccine supply shortage “is no longer an issue” with more than 38 million doses are safely stored in cold chain storage warehouses.

With the abundance of vaccine supply, Galvez said the government can now shift its attention to recalibrating its vaccine deployment strategy to inoculate the general population, including children, before the year ends.

The national government is aiming to vaccinate at least 50 million individuals this year.

As of Monday, a total of 24,498,753 have been fully vaccinated or 31.76 percent of the total vaccination target.

Philippines hailed as Asia’s leading beach and dive destination

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has been hailed as ‘Asia’s Leading Beach Destination’ by the World Travel Awards 2021.

The other nominees are India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The country also bested other contenders for Asia’s Leading Dive Destination, leading against Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat welcomed the said recognition and expressed her gratitude towards the government and the citizens who continue to promote the country’s tourist attractions.

“We share this recognition with our tourism stakeholders, local government units, partner agencies, and all Filipinos who have been helping us promote our country’s attractions, products, and culture,” she said.

This is the fifth time the country has been recognized as Asia’s Leading Beach Destination, and the third time as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination. AAC

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