Saturday, November 30, 2013

$14-B Green Fund to be operational by 2014

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

MALOLOS CITY—If there was any positive effect coming from Supertyphoon Yolanda, it would most surely be the operationalization by 2014 of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the Climate Change Consciousness Week conference at the SM Convention Center on Tuesday, November 26, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Yolanda (international name, Haiyan) has put more pressure on representatives to the recent 19th Conference of Parties (COP) held in Poland to implement the GCF.

“At least $14 billion will be operational by next year,” said Salceda, the elected co-chair for the GCF Board. He disclosed that European countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia
have expressed interest in putting the initial donations.

The GCF, Salceda explained, was first conceived in the COP held in Copenhagen in 2009 wherein developed nations were asked to contribute a total of $30 billion per year from 2009 to 2015; and $100 million from 2015 to 2020.

However, the GCF was not put into operation until it was formally created in Cancun, Mexico where the COP16 was held in 2010. The following year, the GCF was finally formed in Durban, South Africa. Salceda said operationalization of the GCF can be finally approved in the United Nations’ General Assembly (UN-GA) by September 2014.

“It is good news in itself, because it means that we are moving forward,” said the governor who also spoke during a parallel workshop on climate change for journalists. When asked by PromdiNews if the said fund can be availed of for victims of Yolanda, Salceda said that it is open for developing countries to address risks of climate

“GCF is an instrument of the family of nations to enable developing countries in performing their functions in adaptation and mitigation, so hindi lang sa calamity, risk based yan,” he said. At present, the GCF board is finalizing requirements for accreditation of countries interested in availing the fund.

In an earlier statement, Lawyer Mary Ann Lucille Sering, secretary of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, said the “the swift operationalization of the Green Climate Fund is critical to helping developing countries adapt to and cope with the worsening impacts of climate change.”
Sec. Sering (L) with Vice President Binay.
Sering added that “we are committed to exercising leadership and ensuring the essential requirements are fulfilled by September 2014 so money will start flowing to countries that are in need and most vulnerable.

Many of our countries have put in place policies and domestic financing strategies to make our economies resilient, rebuild communities better and in a transformational manner – but we need international support to help us bridge the gap and make this transition towards climate-resilient low-emission development.”

The GCF’s purpose is to make a significant contribution to the global efforts to limit warming to two degrees Celsius by providing support to developing countries to help limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Dino Balabo
Members of  Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NFA to looters: Share rice to other typhoon victims

by Dino Balabo
NFA warehouse in Malolos City, Bulacan. Photo by Shane Velasco, PIA.

MALOLOS CITY—The National Food Authority (NFA) vowed not to go after to those responsible in looting their warehouse in Alangalang, Leyte last week.

Instead, the food agency called on those involved to share the rice they took from the warehouse with fellow victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

In an interview with Radyo Bulacan yesterday, NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said that typhoon Yolanda left an extraordinary situation that left some people to do extraordinary steps.

He said that while NFA personnel in Leyte were able to get plate numbers of vehicles like jeeps, pick-up trucks and tricycles used in the looting, they will not file charges.

“Sa mga ganoong pagkakataon, hindi pases na gutom ka ay gagawa ka ng masama, pero ang pakiusap namin sa mga nakakuha, eh i-share na lang sa mga nabiktima rin,” Estoperez said noting that “ito ang panahon ng pagtutulungan.”

Based on records, NFA lost 33,000 bags of rice in the said looting, along with 16,000 bags of rice and another 96,000 bags of palay that got wet during the typhoon.

Estoperez, however , made assurance that despite the above loses, the NFA have enough inventory of rice for calamity stricken areas in Visayas,including in areas like Bohol which was hit by an earthquake, Zamboanga which suffered from an armed conflict and areas in Luzon damaged by typhoon Santi in early October.

The NFA spokesman also said that since November 14, the agency has been releasing an average of 15,000 bags of rice to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for repacking in Manila.

The said volume is in addition to 53,000 bags being re-packed daily in Tacloban City.

NFA will stop releasing rice to DSWD today (Sunday).

With regards to rice supply in the coming weeks, Estoperez said that the NFA Council has approved importation of 500,000 metric tons of rice which is expected to arrive in the country before the end of December.

For next year, he said that an initial 350,000 metric tons of rice will be imported.

He explained that decision if the country will import more rice next year depends on the fourth quarter assessment of rice harvested in the country.

“The NFA will still to decide on whether to import more rice or not for next year,” he said noting that arriving imported rice in December was meant to address needs in calamity stricken areas.

Citing NFA records, Estoperez said that rice producing areas in the country were affected by calamities.

This includes Samar and Leyte provinces which he said produces a third of rice produce in the country.

Other rice producing areas are Cagayan Valley in Region 2, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan in Regon 3, along with provinces in regions 4, and five and areas in Mindanao. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Journalist recalls Yolanda ordeal

How Samar Weekly Express' Editor -in-Chief Ricky Bautista survived Yolanda's onslaught is a miracle. How he will continue his job as a journalist is another story.

MALOLOS CITY—Days before Super Typhoon Yolanda pummeled the island of Samar with devastating ferocity, 39- year old journalist Ricky Bautista of the Philippine Star was busy reinforcing his house located at Sitio Bangon, Barangay Canmanila in Basey town.

At 7 a.m. on November 8, Yolanda unleashed her wrath on Basey and nearby areas leaving indescribable damage aggravated by 10- to 30-meter- high storm surges. In a series of text messages sent to this writer, Bautista described his experience noting that his reinforced house felt like being massively pelted by stones and sand when Yolanda passed through.

“Sa lakas nito (Yolanda) parang buhawi na anytime ay pwedeng liparin ang bahay ko,” he said noting that he secured his wife and two boys aged 5 and 7 by staying under their dining table, praying.
Days after Yolanda.
Bautista was reached by PromdiNews on Sunday after getting his contact number from Ariel Sebellino, the executive director of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI).

A journalist for 18 years who covered a number of disasters including the aftermath of an earthquake in Bohol, Bautista said that Yolanda was different and its devastation comparable to hurricane Katrina in the United States.

“This is the most tragic and devastating natural intervention I have seen, it can be compared to (hurricane) Katrina in the US,” he said Bautista’s description of devastation left behind by Yolanda is not without basis.

He said that in his village, only four houses were left standing, including his. “In my village at least apat lang bahay na natira nakatayo including mine. Sa coastal Barangay ng Bacubac and San Antonio, both facing Tacloban City, 90 percent of houses, of light materials and concrete were wiped out. In Barangay New Road, ganun din, in Jinamic island, it is reported na konti lang ang naka-survive,” he said.

The devastation came despite the preparations of local government units. Bautista said: “Obviously our town and the rest of Samar are prepared for the typhoon Yolanda. All LGUs and local DRRMC have readied rescue, relief, evacuation centers.

But we were caught off guard by the storm surge with waves as high as 10 to 15 meters or lampas pa sa taas ng niyog or kasing-taas ng two-storey building.” He added that if not for the storm surge, Basey would have less damage and casualties. “Kung lakas ng bagyo lang, baka walang ganoong patay.

Pero dahil sa storm surge or tsunami-like waves, marami ang namatay. Our town of Basey was wiped out by water. Public market, tourism office, municipal hall, PNP building, evacuation centers, commercial establishments were all wiped out,” he said.

Indeed, Basey and the rest of Samar island are still mourning but the agony is far from over, more than a week after the storm. Bautista said, “it’s been more than a week, dead victims are still left untouched in some areas, some are buried like dogs in Basey. No proper accounting of dead bodies, some areas are still asking for relief from government.”

Bautista (L) with fellow journalist and survivor Rommel Rutor (R).
He also said that not only residents fell victim to the storm, as it also took its toll on community press and journalists. He himself was not able to send any stories for the Philippine Star after November 7 because power lines were down, which might take three to six months to restore.

This means, community newspapers and radio stations will have to wait a little longer to resume operations.

“Local papers and radio are still off to this time. They have problem on management personnel, working press, office supplies, machines, and electricity,” he said.  Dino Balabo

Sunday, November 17, 2013

US-based company vowed to match Fil-AMs donations

MALOLOS CITY—As the number of victims of super typhoon Yolanda climbed to 4,460 in the Visayas, a US-based power company vowed to match donations of its Filipino-America employees.

But donations are not limited to Filipinos living in California, but to other nationalities as Southern California Edison (SCE) joined the relief campaign by its Filipino staffs.

The campaign was even posted on SEC’s website and facebook account along with a story encouraging people to donate.

“To assist the people in the Philippines, SCE’s parent company Edison International will be kicking off a Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Relief Campaign on Nov. 15 in which the company will match each employee-donated dollar up to $25,000. The campaign will go through Feb. 28, 2014. There will also be a Facebook campaign through Nov. 21 for the community where Edison International will match “likes” up to $5,000,” the story said.

The story which was posted on the SCE website added, “contributions from employees and customers will be donated to Doctors Without Borders,  Gawad Kalinga USA and American National Red Cross, nonprofits equipped to help with the immediate needs of those devastated by the typhoon including providing food, water, shelter and medical care.”

It also quoted Janet Clayton, the senior vice president of Corporate Communications for Edison International and SCE saying  “we have a strong Filipino presence in our employee base who may have family and friends impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. It is in times like these that we are reminded that natural disasters can occur anytime and so we need to be prepared.”
Dela Cruz (R) with Vice Gov. Fernando (L) and ex-Vice Governor Plamenco
For Filipino employees of SCE like engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, the images of the devastation Typhoon Haiyan has brought to his home country of the Philippines is heart-wrenching.

However, Dela Cruz is thankful his family resides in Bulacan in the northern part of the country, and was spared any major loss.

A senior engineer with SCE who for the past four years has been working with the Philippines government on dam safety, Dela Cruz was quoted saying  “the magnitude of [the typhoon], it’s really surprising “I was not expecting it — it’s mind-blowing.”

Another employee identified as Antonio Manimbo, a telecommunications engineer was also mentioned in the story.

It said that Manimbo was watching a Filipino news channel, when reports started coming in about “the biggest storm ever” to hit his homeland. When the video footage started pouring in, he immediately made calls to his family back home.

Fortunately, his family lives in northern Philippines and were not affected.

But sadly, some of his fellow members in FilBarkada, an SCE Filipino American employee resource group, have still been unable to reach family members back home.

“They still can’t get in touch with them,” said Manimbo, who also serves as president of FilBarkada.

As this developed, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that as one of the largest catastrophes to ever hit the Philippines, super typhoon Yolanda has displaced over 900,000 people and affected more than 11.8 million people.

Citing reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the OCHA said there were a reported 4,460 deaths as of November 14.

However, Malacanang said the next day that casualties are below than what OCHA reported. Dino Balabo

Revive Robredo's vision on disaster preparedness

MALOLOS CITY—Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s vision on disaster preparedness must be revived, a Balik-Scientist Program (BSP) awardee said in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda.

It is a very good program and I think it will be the key in community resilience against disaster,” said Engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, a lead dam safety engineer of the Southern California Edison (SCE) in the United States.

A BSP awardee earlier this year, Dela Cruz was referring to the unimplemented Seal of Disaster Preparedness (SDP) for Floods launched by Robredo at least three months before his death in 2012.

The SDP was meant to motivate local government units to put disaster preparedness on top of their priority development agenda.

If implemented, SDP,dela Cruz said could have improved capabilities of local government units in addressing and mitigating impacts of disaster, along with creating greater awareness and conscious on the ranks of community members.

“In the US, the Federal Government have established disaster preparedness program  enjoining not only government units but business corporations as well to comply,” Dela said in an Skype interview yesterday.

The said program, he explained is implemented all year round and government along with members of the business community are given certificate of compliance every year.

“It is very similar to what Robredo would like to achieve,” he said referring to the late secretary’s vision of institutionalizing disaster preparedness for floods.

As a dam safety expert who provided free consultative services to Bulacan Provincial Government and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on the proposed Angat Dam rehabilitation, Dela Cruz highlighted Robredo’s focus on floods.

“I think the late secretary understood that the biggest risk to us Filipinos is water, that’s why he focused SDP on floods,” he said.

He explained that water related disaster risks in the Philippines have manifested in recent calamities.

This includes typhoon induced flood in Metro Manila in 2009, Bulacan from 2011 to 2013, in Mindanao in 2011 and 2012; and more recently in the Visayas which was hit by super typhoon Yolanda.
“We really have to put our heads on how to address water risks,” Dela Cruz noting that even landslide is triggered by heavy rainfall, along with possible dam break.

He said that while earthquake is one of the leading causes of dam break in the world, data showed more cases of dam break due to overtopping caused by heavy rainfall.

Based on data posted on the DILG website, it cited records from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and River Basin Control Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that 1,127 out of 1,634, or 69 percent of cities and municipalities are susceptible to river or flashfloods.

The said data also noted that from 2009 to 2011 alone, more than P55-billion worth of infrastructure and properties were damaged water related risk due to typhoons like Ondoy, Pepeng and Sendong.

It added that around 1,200 people, mostly in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City, also perished during due to flooding caused by typhoon Sendong in 2011.Dino Balabo

Bulacan braces for possible Angat Dam break

EdCop's Noel Ortigas during the TWG meeting.

MALOLOS CITY—Recent disasters in the Visayas kept dam operators and local officials in Bulacan preparing for possible Angat Dam Break.

Liz Mungcal, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) said that before the Bohol earthquake struck, they have been meeting with dam operators.

This includes operators of the Angat, Ipo and Butos Dam, along with officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), and the Common Purpose Facilities (CPF).

“We have to prepare in anticipation for disaster that will be brought by possible break of the Angat Dam,” said Muncgal in the sidelines of the meeting of members of the Angat Dam break technical working group at the La Mesa Dam in Novaliches, Quezon City on Tuesday, November 12.

Mungcal noted that Angat Dam break can occur anytime if  case of movements in the  Marikina West Valley Faultline (MWVF).
La Mesa Dam watershed
The same was echoed by members of the TWG who noted that the disaster woild be unimaginable.

To prepare for such possibilities, Mungcal said the provincial government in coordination with the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and the Engineering Development Corporation of the Philippines (Edcop) had prepared an emergency action plan (EAP).

The said EAP will be presented to Bulacan and Pampanga mayors and disaster officers next week.

Some of the inputs on the said EAP is the establishment of early warning system (EWS), evacuation routes and possible mass evacuation center.

Some of the evacuation areas identified are located in the upland areas of Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

Based on simulation study conducted by Tonkin & Taylor International and Edcop, a wall water rising to 10 to 30 meters will rush out into the Angat River within hours in case of a dam break.

The said on rush of water is said to wipe everything on its path that will make damages left by earthquake in Bohol and typhoon Yolanda in Visayas as a thing of the past.

Disaster officials said that it will initially damage Bulacan, but the long term effect will be in Metro Manila which will ran out of water for months.

This is due to the fact that Metro Manila is drawing 97 percent of its potable water requirement  from Angat Dam.   Dino Balabo

Bulacan to send medical team to typhoon hit areas

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan is sending a 54-man medical team to coastal towns of Leyte and Samar in an effort to assist victims of typhoon Yolanda which has not be reached by humanitarian groups and other government agencies.

Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said the medical team will be composed of 24 doctors and 24 nurses from 21 towns and three cities of the province, along with six medical specialists from the Bulacan medical center.

The said team will leave Bulacan on Sunday, along with relief goods collected from Bulakenyos and will be delivered to victims of typhoon Yolanda.

The governor said that the medical team and relief goods will be transported using a ship owned by a member of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

The said ship will also serve as temporary residence and clinic of the medical teams as there is hardly a hotel to accommodate them in the typhoon hit areas.

“Our medical team will ride along with the first batch of PMA members that will be sent to the coastal towns of Leyte and Samar,” he said.

Alvarado explained that many coastal towns of Samar and Leyte are still to be reached by humanitarian groups and government personnel delivering assistance and relief goods.

With regards to relief goods, Alvarado called on Bulakenyos to bring their donations to the provincial capitol in this city, where a donation center was established since Tuesday.

However, he drew flak when asked in a live interview by Radyo Bulacan on how much will be the pledge of the provincial government to victims of calamity in the Visayas.

Alvarado answered,” hindi na ninyo dapat alamin kung magkano ang ibibigay ng kapitolyo.”

He then said that the provincial government will spend money for the medicines and other supplies that will be used by the medical team, but did not specified the amount.

Alvarado also said that for the victims of typhoon Sendong in Mindanao in 2011, they collected a total P1.5-Million donation from Bulakenyos, and the provincial government gave a total of P2.5-Million as counterpart.

Despite the governor’s recitation of facts from previous relief efforts of Bulacan, Bulakenyo social media users demanded transparency on the amount that the provincial government will spend.

Some noted that the funds of the provincial government are actually peoples’ money and the government must account for every cent spent. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flash floods hit 13 Bulacan villages on a sunny weekend

PDRRMO-Bulacan filephoto take at San Ildefonso, Bulacan last October. 

MALOLOS CITY—At least 13 villages in San Miguel, Bulacan were hit by flash floods twice on Sunday, and local officials blamed it on alleged mining operations in Sierra Madre mountains in the eastern part of the province.

The flash floods came on a sunny weekend, a day after Supertyphoon Yolanda moved out of the Philippine area of responsibility. Mayor Roderick Tiongson of San Miguel said they were surprised by the flash floods because it was sunny in Bulacan since Saturday morning.

“We believe it is due to on-going mining operations in Sierra Madre,” he said referring to a company involved in extraction of iron ore in Barangay Camachin in the mountain town of Donya Remedios Trinidad (DRT).

Tiongson also lamented the sorry state of Sierra Madre on the east side of his town noting that for years it has been subjected to marble quarrying, and iron ore mining.

“The damage has been done and our kababayan in San Miguel are suffering, especially the farmers,” he said referring to flash floods from Sunday morning to evening. He said that 13 of the 49 villages of San Miguel were inundated by flash floods which reached chest high deeep.

The flooded villages included Baritan, Cambio, Maligaya, Barias, Salacot, Balite, Bantog, Sta. Lucia, King Kabayo, Penambaran, Ilog Bulo, Pulong Duhat and Bagong Silang. Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) of Bulacan allayed fears over possible flood with the water discharges from Angat, Ipo and Bustos Dams.

Raul Agustin, head of special operations of PDRRMO, said that its effect would be minimal noting that there is no back flood coming from Pampanga, while sea water rise is low. He also said that since Saturday, they recorded little or no rainfall in most parts of the province.

As of Monday morning, Angat Dam increased its water discharge to 265 cubic meters per second through its spillway, while Bustos Dam is discharging a total of 285 cms. Agustin said there is nothing to worry over the water spilled from the dams.

“If they are spilling 600 cms and above, we should start to worry,” Agustin said. On Sunday, Angat Dam started spilling 130 cms as water elevation climbed to 213.65 masl. Yesterday morning, water elevation dropped to
213.51 masl.

Engineer Rodolfo German said they will continue to spill water until the water elevation dropped to 210 masl which he described as “comfortable level.” Dino Balabo

Monday, November 11, 2013

Angat Dam breaches 213 meter level, spills water

By Dino Balabo

Angat Dam's spillway as photographed by Napocor while discharging water on Sunday.

MALOLOS CITY—Water elevation at the Angat Dam climbed to 213 meters above sea level (masl) on Sunday, leading the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to discharge water through its spill way for the first time this year.

This came a day after Super typhoon Yolanda move out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) but left heavy rainfall infl ow into the dam reservoir.

Gladys Sta. Rita, president of the Napocor, told PromdiNews that Angat Dam started discharging a total of 190 to 200 cubic meters per second (cms) of water. She said that Napocor opened its floodgate by one meter to discharge at least 130 cms through its spillway.

In addition to that, Napocor is also discharging 61 cms through its tunnels to power its hydroelectric turbines that generate electricity. As of yesterday morning, water discharged by Napocor through Angat Dam’s spillway was raised to 265 cms, while Bustos Dam on the Angat River downstream is discharging 285 cms.

The discharge through the dam’s spillway is the first this year, after months of clamor from Bulacan officials for Napocor to start “pre-emptive release” of water. On Saturday, water elevation at the dam climbed to 211.25 masl, but Engineer Rodolfo German said they would not spill water yet.

German is the general manager of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (ARHEPP) of the Napocor which manages the Angat Dam. German later said that they can spill water anytime, while the Napocor central office issued an advisory within the next 24 hours as they monitored situation at Angat Dam.

Based on data gathered by PromdiNews on Saturday, Yolanda’s rains left an infl ow of at least 568 cms, while the regular discharge of Angat Dam towards Ipo Dam is only 61 cms. This means more than 500 cms of inflow that caused water elevation to climb.
Angat Dam's spillway. Photo from Tonkin & Taylor
Yesterday, the inflow dropped to around 300 cms, and water elevation dropped to 213.51 masl from Sunday’s 213.65 masl. As this develop, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Offi ce (PDRRMO) of Bulacan allayed fears of possible floods.

Liz Mungcal of the PDRRMO said that the 130 cms discharge to Angat River is almost negligible noting that there is not much rains in the last 24-hours and that rivers are shallow because of low tide. For his part, Engineer Precioso Punzalan of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said that Bustos Dam can accommodate water spilled from Angat Dam.

Operated by NIA, Bustos Dam is an after bay regulator dam of the bigger Angat Dam. Punzalan said they have been discharging 60 to 90 cms from Bustos Dam since Thursday in preparation for the Angat Dam discharge.

On Saturday, Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado expressed disappointment over the refusal of Napocor to spill water despite the fact that its 210 spilling level was breached on Friday night. But Napocor officials like Engineers Romualdo Beltran and Russel Rigor explained that the 210 masl is not their spilling level but the normal high water level during flood season.

As head of the Dams Management Division of the Napocor, Beltran noted that the month of November normally marks the end of rainy season and the start of the summer. However, he said that Napocor is also considering typhoons that can hit the country between the end of November to December and January next year.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Angat Dam breaches 210 meters water level, but wont spill yet

By Dino Balabo
Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

MALOLOS CITY—Water elevation at the giant Angat Dam climbed by 2.65 meters in 24 hours breaching its spilling level of 210 meters above sea level (masl) due to rains brought by super typhoon Yolanda.

However, the National Power Corporation which manages the dam said they will not spill water yet; and added that 210 meters is “normal high water level during flood season.”

Records showed that water elevation at the Angat Dam climbed to 211.25 masl at 9AM yesterday, from 208.60 masl on Friday.

According to Engineer Rodolfo German, Angat Dam which supplies 97 percent of Metro manila’s potable water requirement can hold up to 217.4 masl.

German is the the general manager of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (ARHEPP) of the Napocor.

He stressed that they will only spill water if there is another typhoon coming towards dam and will bring more rains.

“Malaki pa ang factor of safety, but we can spill water anytime,” he said.

As of Saturday, he said there is no coming weather disturbance based on latest weather forecasts.

With regards to stability of structures of the 47 year old dam, German expressed confidence.

He also said that water inflow coming down Sierra Madre mountain is estimated at 568 cubic meter per seconds (cms) while outflow through their power tunnels that feeds water to Arhepp’s power turbines is only 61 cms.

German also estimated that water elevation at the dam will further climb to 214 masl in the next 24 hours.

For his part, Engineer Russel Rigor, head of the flood forecasting division of the Napocor explained that the 201 masl is not necessarily the spilling level.

He described it as the normal high water level.

With regards to the Umiray Angat Transbasin Tunnel (UATP), German and Rigor said they don’t know if it is still open.

German earlier said that it will be closed once water elevation at the Angat Dam reached 210 masl, but Rigor added that it is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

The 13-Kilometer UATP divert water from Umiray River in Quezon Province to Angat Dam.

With regards to decision on spilling water in the Angat River, German admitted that when water elevation at the dam claimed to 210 masl, it is the Napocor’s decision.

He said that National Water Resource Board (NWRB) only makes decision on water release when elevation is below 210 masl.

As this develop, Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado reiterate his call for preemptive water release of dams in the province including Angat Dam.

In his weekly broadcast aired over Radyo Bulacan on Saturday, the governor expressed apprehension on possible flooding in the province in case Angat Dam spill water.

“Hindi na natin dapat hintaying umapaw, pagkatapos ay biglaan silang magpapatapon ng malaking volume, tiyak na babahain na naman ang Hagonoy at Calumpit,” Alvarado said.

He also expressed concerned over the stability of the dam noting that President Aquino have allocated P5.7-Billion for its rehabilitation.

The said rehabilitation is mean to improve stability of Angat Dam in case of possible magnitude 7.2 earthquake that will be generated by the possible movement of the Marikina West Valley Faultline (MWVF).

But sources recently disclosed that the possible earthquake was used in justifying the rehabilitation of the dam whose main purpose is to increase its water holding capacity to meet the increasing needs of Metro Manila. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MNTC to confer safety awards to outstanding drivers, firms

MALOLOS CITY—The Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), builder of and concessionaire of the 90-kilometer North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) is set to confer recognition to outstanding companies that pursues road safety in using the expressway.

Dubbed as the NLEXcellence Safety Awards, 15 awardees will be feted next week at the SM Mall of Asia Convention Center (SMX). Rodrigo Franco, president and CEO of the MNTC, said the awardees include bus and trucking companies who share the same values on road safety as the NLEx.

He said the ingrained culture of safety by both the MNTC and Tollways Management Corporation (TMC), the operator of NLEx, is what sets NLEx apart.

However, joint MNTC-TMC advocacy and mission for road safety cannot be successful without the support and cooperation of drivers and operators of vehicles using the expressways, he added.

As a tribute to responsible partners in road safety, the MNTC has been giving recognition to outstanding companies. However, they restructured the award’s mechanics and criteria this year to further highlight NLEx’s strong advocacy on road safety.

Franco said that in the NLEXcellence award, bus and truck companies will be recognized for exemplary performance in ensuring safety on the road.

“The NLEXcellence Safety Awards demonstrates how deeply we recognize safety as shared value between the awardees and ourselves,” he said. Franco further said “the awards is touted to be a testament of the company’s strengths and capabilities, the quality of its personnel, products and services.

It redounds to the companies reliability and dependability, generates client’s trust and confidence, industry respect and prestige which could lead more business and opportunities for the awardees.”

The awards will have the following categories: vehicle quality, driver’s professionalism, and company operational excellence. Nominees in the vehicle quality category are assessed based on vehicles’ roadworthiness, specifically the condition of vehicle’s engine, tires, breaks, lights, the presence of safety devices and emergency tools, presence of required documents, as well as vehicles’ cleanliness and comfort of the driver and his assistant.

In the driver’s professionalism category, nominees are evaluated based on their skills in driving, knowledge of traffic rules, regulations and signs, physical fitness, health and presentable appearance, apprehension record, their regulatory compliance, and driving qualifications.

In the company operational excellence category, companies are assessed on the basis of their safety record, company policies, and programs physical examination of drivers that may include drugs and alcohol tests, regular skills training, and behavioral workshops, close management supervision.

The company should also have an extensive vehicle care program such as regular pre-emptive maintenance, mandatory replacement of tires and other wearing parts, like break-pads, clutch, belts, filters, and others.

The vehicle should also be washed and cleaned regularly. The garage or motorpool should also be clean and adequately equipped to handle most if not all repair and maintenance work by a qualified mechanic.

Franco said that criteria for each category follow a track towards building an expressway environment where travelers will have peace of mind, as they travel safely, comfortably and conveniently.

Bulacan legislator to file charges vs.DPWH

MALOLOS CITY—A Bulacan provincial board member warned of filing charges against the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for improper implementation of infrastructure projects in the province.

This came as DPWH officials drew flak for the road-widening project along the MacArthur Highway here while public utilities posts have not been transferred.

Records showed that about 1,000 electric and telephone posts have encroached on the road right of way of the Manila North Road or the MacArthur Highway from Meycauayan City Calumpit town.

“I will definitely file charges against the DPWH if they will issue certifi cate of completion to their contractors,” Board Member Michael Fermin said. He said that implementation of road widening project along the MacArthur Highway is “improper.”

Fermin said that over 200 posts are still on the way of drainage canals being constructed or within the road right of way. “That’s a clear misuse of public funds and bad stewardship of people’s money,” he said.

The Senior Board Member also noted that more than a week ago, the said drainage canal was repaired even if the project is not completed yet. “They upgraded the canal and if they spent P2 million with it the first time  constructed the canal, they spent the same for the repair,” he said.

Fermin also blamed the DPWH for lack of consultation with local government units before implementing the project. He also expressed dismay over the lack of monitoring and assessment by provincial and city engineering offices on the said project.

“I wonder why,” Fermin said and added, “they should have the last word before the implementation.”

For his part, Engineer Glenn Reyes, head of the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) said they conduct monitoring on the said projects. But when asked if PEO conducts on-site monitoring and ocular inspection during the implementation of the project, Reyes said they only receive reports from the DPWH.

With regards to relocation of public utilities posts along the MacArthur Highway, Engineer Ruel Angeles said they have been coordinating with public utilities companies, but their requests to relocate posts were disregarded.

He added that since they started implementing road widening along the MacArthur Highway in 2005, they had already sent requests. However, Fermin and Gov, Wilhelmino Alvarado said public utilities companies responded by relocating some of the posts in Guiguinto town and in Barangay Dakila in this city.

Fermin stressed that lack of [proper coordination in the implementation of said road widening project will cost the government a lot money.