Monday, July 27, 2009


We wanted to find out what the President would say about energy and the environment. We waited and waited but apparently she concentrated on past accomplishments rather on future plans. Here are two paragraphs taken from her almost one-hour speech today:

"Iyong power rates, ang EPIRA natin ang pangmatagalang sagot. EPIRA dismantled monopoly. But minana natin iyong power purchase agreements under preceding administrations, so hindi pa natin makuha iyong buong intended effect. Pero happy na rin tayo, dahil isang taon na lamang iyan. The next generation will benefit from low prices from our EPIRA. Thank you.

Samantala, umabot na sa halos lahat ng barangay ang elektrisidad. We increased indigenous energy from 48% to 58%. Nakatipid tayo sa dollars tapos malaki pa ang na-reduce pa iyong oil consumption. The huge reduction in fossil fuel is the biggest proof of energy independence and environmental responsibility. Further reduction will come with the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act.and the Biofuels Act..again, thank you."

Towards the middle of her speech she discussed the climate and natural calamities:

"International authorities have taken notice that we are safer from environmental degradation and man-made disasters.

As a country in the path of typhoons and in the Pacific Rim of Fire, we must be as prepared as the latest technology permits to anticipate natural calamities when that is possible; to extend immediate and effective relief when it is not….The mapping of flood- and landslide-prone areas is almost complete. Early warning, forecasting and monitoring systems have been improved, with weather tracking facilities in Subic, Tagaytay, Mactan, Mindanao, Pampanga.

We have worked on flood control infrastructure like those for Pinatubo, Agno, Laoag, and Abucay, which will pump the run off waters from Quezon City and Tondo flooding Sampaloc. This will help relieve hundreds of hectares in this old city of its age-old woe.

Patuloy naman iyong sa Camanava, dagdag sa Pinatubo, Iloilo, Pasig-Marikina, Bicol River Basin, at mga river basin ng Mindanao."

We are hoping that she will try to achieve at least even half of what she promised.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Going Around the Clean Air Act

I read an article in regarding rather ingenious ways that scrupulous persons and firms are trying in order to go around the provisions of the Clean Air Act. Indeed it has been ten years since the law was passed. I think it is high time that we look back, pause and try to take stock of what the law has achieved.

Here is the article:

Activists slam 'greenwashing' of companies
By Katherine Adraneda Updated June 21, 2009 04:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A local waste and pollution watchdog today criticized some waste management companies for undermining the true intent of the Clean Air Act (Republic Act 8749) through what it called “greenwashing.”

This as the EcoWaste Coalition urged for the strict enforcement of the incineration ban, as provided under the Clean Air Act, which is set to mark its 10th year on June 23.

According to EcoWaste, the Philippines set “a positive and leading example for the world” when it banned waste incinerators as part of the Clean Air Act. The group said the law’s enactment rightly envisioned the need to veer away from wasteful, destructive and polluting practices that contribute to climate change.

However, EcoWaste also said, while the intent of the Clean Air Act was clear in terms of outlawing waste incinerators due to the toxic and poisonous fumes associated with the process, some waste management companies sanctioned by government authorities have also been busy in their efforts to undermine the law.

“Despite the ban, vendors would not stop peddling costly incinerators, camouflaging their waste burning processes as ‘green’ solutions and giving them modern-sounding labels such as pyrolysis, gasification, plasma, cement kiln co-processing, etc.,” said Manny Calonzo, president of EcoWaste.

“The national and local authorities and the citizens need to stay informed and alert against attempts to ‘greenwash’ modern incinerators,” he added.

EcoWaste explained that “greenwashing” refers to the practice of some companies “to dishonestly spin their policies and goods as ecologically-sound and beneficial to the people and the environment.”

Monday, December 1, 2008

Update on Beijing's Air Quality

Last August we blogged about Beijing's persistent smog situation and its effects on the Olympic Games. There was much concern on how the pollution would affect some of the events, specifically the bicycle road races and the centerpiece event, the Marathon.

The anticipated problems almost never cropped up and the Games were considered a resounding success.

It has almost been four months since the Games and we thought of getting an update if the the efforts of the Chinese government in improving the air quality have paid off.

We logged on to, considered as China's largest English language portal and skimmed through its pages. There we found some information regarding the achievements that the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau have had these last few months.

The government has been monitoring Beijing's Air Pollution Index for the last few years, paying particular attention to "blue-sky days." (It is considered a "blue-sky day" if the Index would fall below 100.) In 1999, when the environmental clean-up started, they were able to monitor only 100 "blue-sky days." Last year, after extreme measures like enforced closure of factories and a mandatory odd-even vehicular coding scheme, the number rose to 246.

Just to show that the program is effective, the Bureau released its latest figures: as of end of November 2008, the number of "blue-sky days" have reached 256. That number is the target for year 2008.

The result just shows that with a determined implementation of an environmental program, success could be achieved.

As for our beloved country, we still believe that similar gains could be had. What we just need here is a more vigilant citizenry that could prod the lethargic bureaucracy to move. This belief is what keeps me going, blogging about the environment, hoping that the small ripples that we make would somehow make even a small impact on government action.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good News About Taal Lake

During the last few weeks, I have been trying to catch up on news regarding Taal Lake. A bright spot from the rather dreary situation the Lake is in came from a snippet of news from Atty. Ipat Luna. She posted a message on her Facebook account that 1091 fish cages have so far been demolished in the Lake. That represents around 12% of the 9,000 fishcages that may be found in the 24,356 hectare fresh water lake.

Way back in May 2006 (when we were still at the Provincial Capitol), then Governor Armando Sanchez declared a moratorium on the construction of new fish cages in the lake. We met several times with the PAMB of Taal Lake in order to spur them into action in protecting the viability of the lake. A fact finding trip was scheduled to have been made on June 2,2006 with Governor Arman leading the group along with Mayors of some 12 lakeshore towns. That would have started a serious program for the conservation of our beloved natural resource.

As fate would have it, the bombing and attempted assassination on the Governor occurred on June 1,2006. I remember vividly that I had just gotten off the phone after successive conversations with Talisay, Batangas Mayor Joji Manimtim (who would have hosted us the next day) when the bomb detonated. Sadly, our focus on Taal Lake had to be swept aside in view of our concern for personal safety.

We are waiting for an update and some more good news from "Mother Earth's Lawyer" Attorney Ipat. In the meantime, we would be trying, in our own small way, to generate private sector support for the efforts that she is undertaking.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Highlights of Barack Obama's Environment Policy

It is informative, to say the least, to sift through the environmental policy statements of U.S Presidential candidate Barack Obama. In his website, the U.S. Senator and most probable next President listed the keys to what would be his policies on Energy; in it is a summary of what too would be his policies on the Environment. Let us give it a look then:

Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Year

• Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
• Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015.
• Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
• Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
• A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases.
• Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.

Create Millions of New Green Jobs

• Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
• Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
• Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
• Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
• Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.

Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050

• Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
• Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.

These are very broad statements and they would need to be fleshed out by legislation. We have to see if he can put the walk in the talk in the next four years and if environment would be better served with an Obama presidency.

Friday, October 31, 2008


On my way to and from Batangas today, I had to traverse the SLEX and endure its' severe condition. Yes, it is being upgraded and widened, but do we have to put up with the unsafe situation prevailing in its entirety? If a driver would dare to increase his driving speed, he may end up damaging the vehicle's suspension considering the uneven portions of the road. There are sudden bumps and protrusions specially in the joints of the newly built or repaired bridges.

The signages of the President and the billboards advertising various products far outnumber road signs and warnings. If one is not keen in watching which lane he would drive into, he might end up missing his exit. This is much worse during the night. Lighting is virtually non-existent and reflectorized signs are but few, making the travel a guessing game.

The barriers separating the existing highway and the newly excavated portions are altogether another matter. These are gray concrete barriers that are virtually invisible at nighttime. There are some with neon lights in them but these are of no help specially during rainy nights. It was drizzling this evening and we could barely see these barriers.

Housekeeping is not practiced. The excavated soil are most of the times splattered on the road and these turn to dangerous, slippery mud when it rains. No lights, no signs, muddy roads and hard-to-see concrete barriers are prime ingredients to vehicular disasters.

Us from Southern Luzon have had to endure these for the last two years and five months. The PNCC and the MTD Manila Expressway Corporation have been going on their own sweet, sweet time trying to make heads and tails of the upgrading and rehabilitation of the SLEX. They are expected to finish the whole thing by March 2009, but with the current speed the work is being done, we dare say that it would take more than one year to see a semblance of a modern highway. That means, one more year of driving dangerously, one more year of Russian roulette commuting.

Haaaaaay naku. Happy Halloween to all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reminders for the Weekend Holiday

In our rush to get home to the Provinces for the All Saints Day/All Souls Day weekend, let us be reminded of our responsibilities regarding waste minimization.

For those going on boat trips to the island Provinces, please do not throw your trash overboard. Trash bins are mandatory in sea-going vessels so please utilize those. I am reminded at this point of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and its prohibition of throwing of any waste material overboard; such prohibition is by virtue of an Ordinance thoughtfully passed by the City Sanggunian. The Ordinance is strictly implemented and due to such, people have observed the same.

Those going to cemeteries and memorial parks should be responsible for the waste they generate. Why not bring trash bags with you and place your segregated waste in them? By doing this, we would not be creating problems for the maintenance people after the deluge of visitors has passed. (Watch the evening news on Sunday and see the reports that would be made regarding the mountains of trash left behind by those who went to the cemeteries and memorial parks!) I am certain that all municipalities and cities have ordinances prohibiting the indiscriminate throwing of waste, but the implementation thereof is totally forgotten during these times.

Heavy traffic is to be expected in areas near cemeteries. I am suggesting that in order to minimize waste of gasoline and diesel fuel, vehicle owners should park a good distance from the cemeteries and walk the rest of the way. It would be the more practical and healthy alternative than stewing inside a vehicle that has its engine running while waiting to get into the memorial park.

Finally, plan your trips well. Leave early in order to allow for the unusually heavy vehicular load in the major thoroughfares. Expect that the roads to the Provinces would be filled with vehicles on Friday and the roads back to Metro Manila would be chaotic on Sunday afternoon.

Concern for the environment starts with the consciousness of our individual roles. Act responsibly and each individual act could add up to a big big whole.