Waste-to-energy facility highly impossible for the Philippines – Experts

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2018   •   12054

An MMDA personnel during a clean-up drive at Estero de Magdalena in Manila collects garbage that clogs the city’s waterways. 

 

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The National Solid Waste Management Commission in 2016 recorded an average daily collection of over 40,000 tons of waste materials in the country.

To date, the volume of garbage being collected every day is continuously increasing with the National Capital Region as the largest source of domestic wastes.

Debates on how the Philippines can achieve zero-waste status are ongoing as well as whether or not the government would put up a waste-to-energy facility in the country.

This is in consideration of environmental advocates and experts’ claim that facilities like incinerators and waste-to-energy plants both produce toxic fumes that are harmful to human health and would definitely damage the environment.

 “Incinerators and the newer versions of waste to energy plants all produce the most poisonous and toxic substances,” said Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, an energy technology specialist from Siliman University.

 

Environmental advocates

 

Also, the Clean Air Act clearly prohibits the use of incinerators.

Senate Committee on Energy Chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said his Committee has been pushing for a number of proposals regarding waste disposal in the country.

The Senator, however, admitted that a large-scale facility for waste to energy conversion is highly impossible for the Philippines, noting that the process would require amendment of the existing laws aside from the high cost of the facility’s installation and overall operation.

“Ang waste to energy will be impossible to implement here in the Philippines primary because of economics,” he concluded. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo

 

Ban on expiry dates of prepaid internet, phone load credit sought in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Senate to start discussions on the bill which seeks to lift the validity of the period of prepaid load credits for phones and internet services.

Gatchalian is referring the Senate Bill No. 365 or the Prepaid Load Forever Act which proposes to prohibit all public telecommunications entities (PTE) and information and communication technology (ICT) providers from imposing an expiration date on the validity period of prepaid load credits, regardless of the amount involved, unless fully consumed.

“The harsh reality in this era of coronavirus pandemic is that we rely on information and communication technologies (ICT) in our daily life. And for those with limited resources, every peso counts. Forfeiture of unused prepaid load credits due to expiration period is somehow unconscionable under the current situation,” Gatchalian said in a statement on Sunday.

The senator said such policy by telecommunication companies is unwarranted as subscribers should be made to consume the load credits and avail of the services they have paid for.

“To restrict them due to expiration periods is rather anti-consumer. Unlike in other goods that are edible and have efficacy, this kind of commodity depends on the subscribers’ usage and they should be given the choice whether or not to make full use of the services,” he said.

Gatchalian, the vice chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, said it’s high time that such policy imposed by PTEs and ICT providers be subject to a review.

His proposal covers prepaid cards and electronic loads for services that offer voice, short messaging system (SMS) or text, mobile data, value added services (VAS) and those loaded to devices that make use of the internet such as tablets, Wi-Fi dongles or mobile hotspots.

The bill imposes a fine of up to P2 million and imprisonment of two to six years plus an immediate revocation of license to engage in business for those who will violate the acts covered in the measure.

“The ICT devices have played an essential role in dealing with the challenges that have emerged within a socially distanced environment. In continuing our daily grind under the new normal, we’re highly dependent on telecommunication and ICT services,” he said.

“For ordinary folks, losing their load credits paid by their hard-earned money is a big deal. They should be afforded with the services they have paid for,” he added.

Currently, prepaid load credits worth P300 have one-year validity while those with higher value have a longer expiration period. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Senators give mixed reactions on Sinas’ appointment as new PNP chief

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2020

Police Major General Debold Sinas

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday gave varied reactions to the appointment of Police Major General Debold Sinas as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Earlier in the day, Malacañang announced that Sinas has been designated by President Rodrigo Duterte to lead the country’s police force.

For Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, Sinas is a “good choice” for the top PNP post.

“Barring any controversy that Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas got entangled with in the past, he is a good choice for the top Philippine National Police post,” Lacson said in a post.

“I’ve known him as a performer, always mission-oriented and undoubtedly will lead the police institution the way it should be led,” he added.

Sinas faced criticisms earlier this year for holding a “mañanita” or a pre-dawn birthday serenade in May that allegedly violated quarantine restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The incoming PNP chief has since apologized for the incident.

“That said, the birthday mañanita event was a hard lesson that I hope he has learned from, and which he will surely remember whenever he will be confronted in making decisions affecting the PNP as well as his personal reputation,” Lacson said.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, also a former PNP chief, congratulated Sinas for his appointment, he is a “good choice,” and has a “proven track record.”

Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian advised Sinas to take this opportunity to prove that he is the best man for the job.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also urged Sinas to reorient cops, especially those belonging to the anti-carnapping group, of the police protocols in dealing with suspects.

On the other hand, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Duterte’s choice of next PNP chief was not surprising at all.

“With all due respect, hindi na sorpresa na ang mga kakampi o kaalyado na nasasangkot sa mga kaso o katiwalian ay hindi pinaparusahan, kinokonsinti o di kaya ay promoted pa,” he said in a statement, referring to the alleged treatment by the president to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and former Customs Commissioners Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña who were linked to various issues.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also hit Duterte’s decision on Sinas’ appointment, saying the president “could have made a more meritorious choice for Philippine National Police Chief.”

“While Debold Sinas was my late husband’s underclassman and an old friend, unfortunately, the poor manner in which the PNP has acted on the waves of violence as well as minimized the risks of the coronavirus pandemic under his previous commands betrays his level of competence for this new role,” she said.

Sinas will be replacing PNP chief General Camilo Cascolan who is set to leave the police service on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Malacañang earlier assured that Sinas is not yet off the hook over the mañanita mess despite his installment as PNP’s top cop.

Gatchalian urges gov’t to improve quality of teacher education, training

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday reiterated his call for mechanisms that would help improve the quality of education and training of teachers in the country.

In a statement, Gatchalian said that he finds the low passing rates of the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) alarming and in need of improvement.

During a Senate hearing, the Professional Regulation Commission Board for Professional Teachers said that from 2014-2017, the passing rate was 48.86 percent for first-time LET takers for the secondary level.

At the elementary level, the passing rate among first-time LET takers for the same period was 30.65 percent while 43.44 percent for both elementary and secondary levels.

Gatchalian said that last year’s passing rates were equally dismal with 27.29 percent passing rate for elementary level LET takers in March 2019 and 31.34 percent for those who took the licensure exams in September 2019.

For the secondary level, the passing rate for LET takers in March 2019 was 25.95 percent and 39.69 percent for those who took the September 2019 licensure exams.

“At the end of the day, what we want is better outcomes for our learners. Better outcomes come from better inputs, and teacher quality and teacher education are part of those better inputs,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, also pointed out that the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and second lowest in Science and Mathematics in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among 79 countries.

He also cited a study by the World Bank Group and Australian Aid which showed that except for English elementary teachers, the average elementary or high school teacher in the Philippines could correctly answer fewer than half of questions on subject content tests.

Gatchalian Senator Sherwin Gatchalian noting that it is the primary end-user of graduates of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

Pre-service education refers to teachers’ training before they become classroom teachers.

The senator said his Senate Resolution No. 526 seeks to ascertain the challenges and limitations affecting the quality of teacher education and training and the performance of TEIs so that efforts can be directed towards strengthening the pre-service and in-service programs that are responsive to the demands of the 21st century.

“DepEd has almost 85 percent of our students and close to 75 percent of our teachers. So my analysis is that if we fix and strengthen our public school system, we strengthen the entire country,” Gatchalian said.

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