Thursday, March 3, 2011

Renewable Energy Summit - The Green Economy Series


With issues of climate change and environmental degradation brought into the limelight, calls for a shift in policy frameworks, development paradigms and lifestyles become ever more urgent. Such issues highlight a global problem with increasingly felt local impacts: heavier rains, flashfloods, sea-level rise, spread of infectious diseases, and scarcity of resources with heavy reliance on unsustainable fossil fuel for energy needs.

Taking in these concerns, there is growing international consensus on the urgency of developing low carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive economies as expressed in an emerging “Green Economy” framework. This poses a critical challenge to existing development models that measure progress only by looking at the GNP and GDP as indicators, without considering the sustainability of societies. The message of the “Green Economy” model is simple: not all investments are good investments! In fact, most of our society’s economic wealth has been generated through the overexploitation and pollution of our environment, at the expense of the most vulnerable sectors which bear the brunt of the impacts. Taking sustainable development as a guiding principle, a “Green Economy” framework requires the strengthening of three inseparable pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection.

The search for local solutions to these problems led to the formation of the Cebu Green Economy Series, a string of events that allows stakeholders to discuss relevant issues linking environment, society and economy. Its aim is to explore “rapid but low risk” alternatives to the destructive ways in which society has carried out developmental projects that exploit the environment and marginalize the poor. Under the Cebu Green Economy Series, we address themes such as: 1) clean and alternative energy; 2) green jobs and investments; 3) food security; 4) sustainable transportation; 5) sustainable waste management and resource conservation; 6) eco-friendly built environment and architecture, and 7) liveable cities and urban environment, to name a few.

To start the series, we are organizing a Renewable Energy (RE) Summit with the theme “Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable Energy Development in Central Visayas” on March 7-8, 2011 at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall, Cebu City.

Through this summit, we aim to achieve the following objectives: 1) to develop mechanisms and infrastructure for enabling a market for RE; 2) to map out resources and potentials for RE development in Central Visayas; and 3) to formulate an action plan for promoting RE as the best alternative to heavy and unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels for energy needs.

To meet these objectives, this multi-stakeholder event, involving key representatives from local government units, civil society and business sectors, will provide a venue for plenary and panel discussions on topics such as the power situation of Central Visayas, the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, and public-private partnerships on RE projects, within the larger framework of promoting “Green Economy”. There will also be a two-day exhibition highlighting best practices for the implementation of RE programs in communities, LGUs and NGOs. Companies, banks, financial institutions and other organization that have products and services that advance the development of renewable energy are welcome to join the exhibition. The activity will be capped by a keynote address hopefully to be delivered by Department of Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri. Details of the program will be disseminated.

For reference:

The Secretariat

Hon. Ma. Nida C. Cabrera, Cebu City Councilor (Chair- Environment Committee)
(032-2551655, 032-2532206)

A2D Project—Research Group for Alternatives to Development
c/o Kaira Zoe Alburo, Executive Director (09202709388)

Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center
c/o Vince Cinches, Executive Director (09228463900)

Philippine Earth Justice Center
c/o Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Executive Director (09189111267)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


August 14, 2010

Press Statement


Vince Cinches
Coordinator, Visayas Climate Action Network
Executive Director

The governor may have been ill-informed when she said that renewable energy may be costly for ordinary household-level electricity consumers. This may be true years ago when a law-governing investment and development in the RE sector is nowhere to be found.

On the contrary, a 10-year sustainable energy roadmap of WWF-Philippines showed that if we shift to tapping renewable resources will result in lower power costs in the long term and will save the country a whooping $2.3B dollars annually, a savings that would mean a lot in providing social services, such as health and education, and not for posters of politicians plastered in government projects.

It is expected that the cost of oil and coal will go up in the coming years by as much as 64% while costs for RE technology will go down as it matures.

High costs in terms of taxes, tariffs, VAT, import duties among other things in operating renewable sources of energy is a thing of the past.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Philippine Renewable Energy Act or Republic Act No. 9513 signed into law last December, is aimed at accelerating the development and use of the nation’s vast renewable energy resources through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for investors, among which are:

• Seven-year income tax holidays for RE developers
• Exemption from VAT and duty-free importation of equipment and machinery
• Reduction of corporate income tax after the expiry of the income tax holiday, to 10 percent of net income
• Zero percent VAT rate for the sale of power from RE
• Duty-free importation of equipment
• Tax credit on domestic capital equipment and services
• Special realty tax rates, income tax holidays, net operating loss carry-over, accelerated depreciation and exemption from the universal charge and wheeling charges.
• Exemption from all taxes of the proceeds from the sale of carbon credits.
• Assurance to investors in wind, solar, ocean, run-of-river hydropower and biomass in electricity generated from these clean sources through feed-in tariffs.

The current bias of the provincial government towards coal is a violation of such law, it provides that we need to allocate a certain portion from clean, home-grown renewable energy sources, Cebu have vast renewable energy potential specifically in HYDRO POWER for Argao and Ginatilan, WIND POWER for Carmen and Oslob(wind park), BIOMASS for Bogo, and Solar everywhere. The DOE has revealed that the country’s renewable energy potential is vast – with 4,531 MW from geothermal; 13,097 MW from hydropower, 277 MBFOE from biomass; 5.0-5.1 kWh/m2/day from solar; 76,600 MW from wind; and 170,000 MW from oceanic waves.

The provincial government should look into the sustainable opportunity that we are offering and should not be antagonistic in their stance just because we don’t agree with their development paradigm. They should open their eyes and look at the valid merits of our objectives.

It is our duty as taxpayers and stakeholders to correct governmental policies that we deemed unsustainable and wrong. This is governance, and they should now do their part.

The current market price of electricity in the province is already expensive as it is: in fact we rank next to Japan. The government’s power development plan will cost consumers more. Nationwide it is going to cost us an extra $4.7B, because of over capacity due to flaws in demand projections. Their basic overly optimistic assumption is that GDP will grow by 5.7 % each year, however National Statistical Coordination Board says that annual average growth is on the average of 3.6 percent. This is what happened when agencies refused to include other stakeholders in developing energy needs.

We know that having no electricity is going to be bad for the economy, the same thing as having too much will result to high rates due to Purchased Power Adjustments. In the end this will punish the common household-level electricity consumers, by paying for the excess energy. We have an installed capacity of almost 16,000 MW and a peak demand of 9,069 mw, so technically we are paying for both actual consumption and for unutilized energy.

On the other hand the market price of coal is only half the story, if we are going to include “external costs”. In terms of carbon emission budget / climate change, mining, combustion, waste disposal, environment, human health, food security, contamination of water supplies, heavy metals, coal now becomes the most expensive energy source, one that we pay with our lives and with the very fabric of our existence.

The baliligate was due to greed and poor value judgement, we have seen how it causes misery, how it divested the people with 100 million of taxpayers’ money. We don’t want it to happen again.

We have an option, and one that is without coal in it.##

Sources Philippine Electricity Demand Projections, by Maitet Diokno-pascual
True Cost of Coal – Greenpeace International

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ecogov releases book on reef management

Ecogov releases book on reef management

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

TO enable fisherfolk to see value in coastal resource management, a project has published a guidebook on community reef monitoring.

The second edition of the “Coral Reef Monitoring for Management” was launched recently by the Philippine Environmental Governance Project (EcoGov2), the Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest Project (Fish) and the authors, represented by Dr. Porfirio Aliño, a professor of the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines.

“We hope to launch a thousand miracles of MPAs (marine protected areas),” Aliño said during the launch of the guidebook at the Parklane International Hotel.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

The other authors are Andre Uychiaoco, Stuart Green, Margarita dela Cruz, Paulyn Gaite, Hazel Arceo and Alan White.

William Jatulan, deputy chief of party of Fish, said the second edition was released due to the clamor for an improved management of coral reefs and marine protected areas MPAs in general.

“(I hope) this will be useful to other partners in establishing MPAs,” Jatulan said.

Arunkumar Abraham, EcoGov2 chief of party, said copies of the guidebook will be distributed to local government units.

Jatulan said a copy can also be downloaded from

Abraham said the guidebook aims to promote a participatory or community-level approach in coral reef management by simplifying highly technical information.

It is also a practical tool to use since it advocates a step-by-step process in management.

The publication is also supported by a range of articles and position papers and is produced by the “best and the brightest” in the Philippines.

It is also significant since the country is the leader in the Coral Triangle.

According to the World Wildlife Fund website, the Coral Triangle covers nearly 2.3 million square miles of ocean across all, or parts of, the seas of six countries in the Indo-Pacific—Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

“This vast area of the Indo-Pacific region harbors 75 percent of all known coral species, more than half of the world’s reefs, 40 percent of the world's coral reef fish species, and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle,” it added.

Anabelle Trinidad, Conservation International’s representative to the Coral Triangle Support Program, said the guidebook is “relevant and timely.”

The publication is supported by The United States Agency for International Development, EcoGov2, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Fish Project and the Coastal Resource Management Project-Philippines.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 4, 2010.

Saturday, March 13, 2010



Fisherfolk fear effect of seismic survey in Cebu, Leyte, Bohol waters
By Ma. Bernadette A. Parco, Senior Editorial Assistant

Her family relies on three kilos of fish that her husband would catch on a good day.
If they don’t have food on the table, they sell the day's catch for P120 per kilo to buy what they need, said Elisa Bransuela, 43, of Borbon town, northern Cebu.
“Pamugas ra ning amo (We use the money to buy rice),” she said.
Her husband, Gomersindo, traveled 83 kilometers to Cebu City yesterday to join other leaders of Borbon fisherfolk groups to oppose a seismic survey that will be conducted this month by NorAsian Energy Limited.
At a press conference, Gomersindo said he fears the survey would distrub the sea and affect his only source of livelihood.
When NorAsian did a similar sea survey in the west coast of Cebu in 2008, fisherfolk groups also complained that their fish catch dropped and fish pens were destroyed.
The Department of Energy (DOE) assured yesterday that the survey, which uses sound waves to check for possible oil and gas reserves under the sea, will not harm the fish, whales or dolphins.
A Chinese vessel, the BGP Challenger, will cover a total of 100 line kilometers in Borbon waters or at a distance of at least 2 kilometers from the town’s shoreline.
The survey period in Borbon will “take only a total of about 15 hours” over two to three days.
But the total coverage of the seismic survey is two offshore sites in waters off Cebu, Leyte and Bohol starting the first week of March.
The survey, which will take two weeks in all, was approved by the Department of Energy under Petroleum Service Contract No. 69 awarded in 2008.
Gomersindo, who heads the Magay Fishermen's Association, signed a letter addressed to the local executives of Bohol, Tacloban City in Leyte, Maasin City in Southern Leyte and Cebu, asking them to oppose the proposed seismic survey and exploration activities at the Camotes and Bohol Seas.
He was joined by other leaders of fishermen's association and environmental lawyers in Cebu City.
“As citizens and stakeholders of the Philippines and the provinces, cities and municipalities of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Southern Leyte, we are outraged at the gross, willful and continuing defiance and violation of our Constitution, various laws, Supreme Court rulings on the environment and governance, international conventions and the people's rights to life health and a healthy environment,” the group said in the letter dated March 4, 2010.
This would be the second attempt by NorAsian Energy Limited, an Australian offshore mining company, to conduct a sea exploration for possible gas and oil deposits.
The present plan involves a wider range.
In 2008, NorAsian planned to explore natural reserves at least seven km off the coastlines of Langtad, Argao in western Cebu.
Argao fisherfolk opposed the activity and reported a decrease in fish yield due to the oil exploration activities of NorAsian Energy Ltd. at the Cebu-Bohol Strait.
For the current activity in the Camotes sea, the scope of the survey reaches about 900-line kilometers.
This raised fears that it would have adverse effects on the Danajon Bank, which is a rare double barrier reef off northern Bohol.The reef is one of only three such sites in the Indo-Pacific area.
The protest petition was signed by environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, who cited the Fisheries Code of the Philippines that “implements this constitutional mandate by ensuring that the municipal waters are for the preferential use of subsistence fisherfolk, excluding commercial fishing vessels therefrom.”
The group also noted that the same law states that “No person, natural or judicial, shall undertake any development project without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Secretary of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources).”
The project violates the preferential right of small fisherfolk as the marine resources in intertidal areas or shallow waters are affected.
“Do we sacrifice the marine ecosystem for a small amount of oil?” asked lawyer Benjamin Cabrido.
A DOE bulletin about the project said no ECC is needed for the sea survey at this stage. The environment department will require one only when there is commercial production of offshore oil and gas.
Antonio Labios, DOE regional director for the Visayas, said he met with members of the Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest (FISH project), which is one of non-government agencies involved with towns within the Danajon Reef.
“They (FISH project) requested for an orientation from our team. We spent four hours explaining, the group was composed of experts, marine biologists,” Labios said.
“Sa among understanding nakasabot sila (We believe they understood the exploration activity),” he added.
Labios also said DOE consulted the officials and residents of Borbon town in four visits and orientation sessions.
“We assured them that there are measures undertaken. The EMB has issued a CNC, that means we are complying with EMB on the Environmental Impact Assessment law,” he said.
“On the safety of mariners, all the ships that would pass through the (seismic survey site) will see notices. On the socio-economic aspect, the fishermen will be compensated for the payaws (fishpens) in the site,” he added.
Labios said payaws that will be compensated must be certified by the municipal agricultural and fisheries office.
“We excluded marine protected areas from the survey. This is also not the first time we conducted a seismic survey along the Camotes and Bohol Seas. So far, based on our presentation, there is no effect (on the marine resources),” he said.
He said marine mammal scientists from Australia will be present during the activity.
“The sound frequency is between 230 and 260 only, which is equivalent to 170 decibels to 270 decibels. The sound of the fast craft is stronger (than the seismic waves),” said Labios.
“The boat can stay in an area for seven hours, but the seismic survey is only for 2.5 hours,” he said.
Vince Cinches, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. executive director, said they conducted a study of the fish yield in Bohol following the seismic survey conducted by then Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (Japex) in 2007.
He said the study showed that fish yield dropped from six to 11 kilos to zero to 2.5 kilos.
In May 2008, Japex announced that decided to relinquish its service contract effective June 20, 2009 “because of the lack of commercial oil and gas discovery as a result of exploration work including drilling of one exploration well.”
Environment groups filed went to court on behalf of the resident mammals of the Tañon Strait in what was described as a landmark case. They argued that the oil drilling would harm whales, dolphins, porpoises and other cetaceans that populate the Tañon Strait protected seascape between Negros and Cebu islands.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

LGUs need to address climate issues

LGUs need to address climate issues
By Garry A. Cabotaje

AN official of a fisher-folk group has lamented that most of the local government units (LGUs) in Cebu have not acted on the threat of climate change.

“The problems on climate change are already here, but most of the LGUs in Cebu have not done anything yet to cushion the impact of this global phenomenon,” said Vince Cinches, executive director of the Fisher Folk Development Center Inc.

Cinches participated in a climate change forum and workshop at the Talisay City Hall last Monday. The forum hosted by Talisay City is in line with the ongoing international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Cinches recommended that the LGUs tie up with other sectors to implement programs aimed at minimizing the disastrous effects of climate change.

He said that local officials should not take lightly the effects of climate change because more than 100 state leaders have been discussing ways to address its worldwide ill effects.

Christine Homez, city planning and development coordinator, said Talisay City has to come up with measures as it is vulnerable to floods and landslides.

When typhoons and a southwest monsoon hit Talisay two months ago, more than 50 families in the coastal villages of Mohon and Poblacion were rendered homeless by big waves.

Homez said the storms served as a wake-up call for the city to initiate plans against natural calamities and disasters.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has declared some of the city’s upland villages as landslide-prone, while areas near the riverbanks are also prone to flooding based on past incidents.

Homez lamented, though, that the P500,000-budget for the City Planning and Development Office’s (CPDO) comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) was removed from the newly-approved 2010 budget of P437.6 million.

The budget, she said, was supposed to be used for the CLUP’s “climate change sensitive” program.

Homez, also the city disaster coordinating council officer, said her office needs to identify disaster-prone areas in Talisay to prepare them for any eventualities.

She said the CPDO needs devices like the global positioning system and a geographic information system for the disaster mapping project. The CPDO has requested the mayor’s office to provide funds for the project.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 20, 2009.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

FIDEC Inc. Won the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan Award for Organizations

Awards for unsung environmental heroes launched

In its 20th year, the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippine s launched the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan and presented the awards to the seven remarkable individuals and organizations who have launched notable actions and programs to defend the environment, lives, and rights of Filipino people.

"Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan is our way of honoring the natural nurturers of the environment and promoting the kind of environmentalism that sees the oneness of the environment with the political, economic and cultural aspects of society." said Ms. Frances Quimpo, executive director of CEC-Phils.

The Gawad sa mga Indibidwal (Award for Individuals) are awarded to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability and effort to uphold the environment and people’s welfare, whether in the form of advocacy, campaigns, education, research, technology development, community services, mass media or cultural work. The recipients of the awards are:

* · Datu Guibang Apoga of Davao del Norte, a tribal chieftain who united 83 Ata-Manobo villages within the Talaingod ancestral land to fight the commercial logging operations in their province.
* · Professor Margarita dela Torre-dela Cruz, an educator, researcher and development worker committed to the promotion of quality education, research and development, and community service.
* · Emmanuel Calonzo head of EcoWaste Coalition and promotes environmental justice in the country and helps communities to uphold their rights to a clean, toxic-free environment and future.

The Gawad sa mga Organisasyon (Award for Organizations) are awarded to top peoples' and community organizations and institutions that have demonstrated unity in upholding the welfare of the people and of the environment by exemplary actions and advocacy, campaigns, education, research, technology development, community services, mass media or cultural work. The recipients of the awards are:

* · Cordillera Poeple's Alliance (CPA), an independent federation of progressive peoples organizations, most of them grassroots-based organizations among indigenous communities in the Cordillera Region, Philippines that is committed to the promotion and defense of indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, social justice, and national freedom and democracy.
* · Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center, Inc. (FIDEC) that was conceived and organized, with the primary role of assisting in the organizing process and alliance formation of fishing communities in the Visayas.
* · SEAMANCOR Eco-Devopers, Inc, manages a 112 hectare natural mangrove forest and rehabilitated another 267 hectares of mangrove plantations whose reforestation efforts contributed to the preservation of the natural flora and fauna of Sorsogon.

The Natatatanging Gawad (Most distinguished award) is awarded to either an individual or organization in recognition of being an inspiration and example to the Filipino people for offering time and talents for the defense of the environment and advancement of the people’s welfare. The award went to Eliezer "Boy" BIllanes, a staunch anti-mining activist in South Cotabato who was killed for his convictions and activities making him, the 20th anti-mining activist killed under the Arroyo administration.

The CEC-Phils also hopes to promote a strand of environmentalism that views environmental problems in the context of the struggles of communities for equal rights to the protection and wise utilization of the natural resources and the analysis that the current Philippine environmental crisis is just a reflection of the social inequalities that beset the nation.

"The Philippines has become a haven for massive natural resource extraction and toxic waste dumping by local and largely foreign corporations facilitated by our own government's economic programs without a solid blueprint on how this sale of our national patrimony will develop the country and improve people’s marginal lives. " Ms. Quimpo explained.

She furthered that hopefully through the GBK, people may be inspired to be heroes of the environment and the people and take part in the environmental movement whose ultimate vision is for the majority of the Filipino people to enjoy access and control of the resources and the fruits of their toil, instead of being enjoyed only by a few foreign corporations and the local elite.

A 2-day lecture series by the GBK awardees was held from December 8-9 at the UP Balay Kalinaw and capped by the awards ceremonies on December 10 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

Reference: Frances Quimpo, Executive Director, CEC-Phils., 09178846325.