Monthly Archives: March 2012

Housing Loan Raised To P6M

Manila Bulletin
March 28, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Starting this July, state-run Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG) will double its current maximum loanable amount for members to P6 million from the current P3 million, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay disclosed.

Binay, concurrent chairman of the Pag-IBIG board of trustees made the announcement during a dinner meeting with Filipino community leaders in Seoul, South Korea on Sunday.

Pag-IBIG raised the maximum amount to P3 million from P2 million in 2009 amid increasing demand for loans both from middle-income earners and real estate developers.

Binay also bared that by July, new members would be allowed to avail of a housing loan even without the required 24-month membership residency.

“Ito ay sa pamamagitan ng pagbabayad ng buo ng kinakailangang buwanang kontribusyon (One only has to pay in full the required monthly contribution),” he explained.

The government housing czar also revealed that Pag-IBIG will be lowering the interest rate on its low-cost and socialized housing loans.

Loans amounting to P400,000 and below will only have an interest rate of 4.5 percent yearly. On the other hand, loans above P400,000 up to P750,000 will have an annual interest rate of 6 percent, Binay said.

The Vice President said the new policies were drafted in the hope that more members would get a chance to realize their dream of owning a house.

Pag-IBIG currently has over 10.2 million members who are mostly middle-income workers. Of the total membership, Overseas Filipino Workers account for 1.5 million.

Last year, Pag-IBIG posted a gross income of P24.8 billion in 2011, its biggest in 31 years according to Pag-IBIG Chief Executive Officer Darlene Marie B. Berberabe.

Last year’s gross income was also 11 percent higher than the P22.4 billion recorded in 2010.

“Our net income is at P11.959 billion, while our total asset level is now over P302 billion,” Berberabe said.

The Pag-IBIG Board of Trustees, on the other hand, approved the declaration of P8.491 billion worth of dividends for 2011 which will be divided among its members.





Land use planning: Key to disaster risk management

The Philippine Star
Updated Jan 22, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The issue of poor land use planning is being left out in the current discussions on why disasters keep happening in the Philippines.

According to Dr. Walter Salzer, director and principal advisor of the ?Environment and Rural Development Program (ERDP) of the ?Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), increasing threat of climate change and the effects of disasters being felt every year in almost all areas of the country highlight that land use planning, use and management, is not only about physical planning, but also makes sense on the social and human aspect.

Land use planning, Salzer insists, is a very important instrument in disaster risk management.

The goal of land use planning for disaster risk management, he explained, is to achieve a utilization of land and natural resources which is adapted to local conditions and needs, and takes into account disaster risks.

Natural hazards such as floods, landslides or even earthquakes become disasters when people and physical infrastructures are not able to cope with it.

The devastation, Salzer said, is explained not only because of the country’s exposure, but also by the vulnerability of the Philippine society.

This vulnerability is further worsened by the lack of prevention and preparedness, or appropriate emergency management systems which leads to various losses – human life, structural and financial.

The resulting loss, ranging from minimal to life-changing, Salzer said, depends on the capacity or resilience of the affected communities to support or resist the hazard.

Land use planning and management, or lack thereof, Salzer stressed, is a key underlying cause that needs to be brought to the forefront.

The poor’s existence, Salzer elaborated, is greatly interlinked with their environment. Their options of where to settle and obtain their livelihood from are limited. Their options of settlement are often limited to marginalized locations like riverbanks, steep slopes or near coastal shores. When disaster strikes, they usually do not have the resources to recover quickly.

Salzer pointed out that there are nearly 100 million Filipinos of whom close to 30 million reside in rural areas in a state of poverty.

The resilience of the lands, from which they depend on for food, shelter, water and livelihood are, thus, weakened, Salzer observed.

Natural protections such as forests and mangrove swamps may be destroyed or damaged through unsustainable resource exploitation.

Poverty, hunger and settlement on hazardous land are induced by increasing demand on water sources, soil fertility and natural resources.

Land administration, Salzer pointed out, involves protecting the remaining forest cover of the country.

But “land” in its broadest definition, Salzer said, extends from “ridge to reef”, and each type of land, from forest land, lowlands and coastal areas, require mandated plans, that determine these areas optimal use and management.

To minimize flooding risks, Salzer said, the whole watershed area needs to be looked at. In order to minimize water run-off, forests or forest-like land use systems needs to be restored or other adequate water conservation measures need to be put in place.

At river deltas, like the ones in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, Salzer said, a good portion need to be reserved for the undisturbed water flow or the river beds need to be regulated in a way that excess water can easily drain into the sea.

Unprotected settlements close to rivers must be avoided by all means or adequate protection wall should be established.

Good land use and planning, the ERDP director said, are essential for the prevention of disasters. Good land use planning is comprehensive, it determines various sites in a city and municipalities: boundaries of different types of lands, settlements, livelihoods (agriculture and economic areas) and provides the means for services and infrastructure.

Absence of a comprehensive land use plan, Salzer warned, can lead quite literally to a disaster: socially, economically and environmentally.

Good land use and planning brings many other benefits. It provides the best investment options for land and water use; helps preserve ecological balance to sustain food security and economic growth, and provides for local revenue generation, investment budgeting and expenditure management, and monitoring to implement projects.

Most importantly, Salzer said, in light of typhoon Sendong and various other calamities that have caused great losses, good land use and planning reduces illegal use of land, conversion and destruction.

GIZ is a federally-owned enterprise that supports the German government in the field of international development cooperation.

For more than 30 years now, GIZ has been cooperating with Philippine partners in strengthening the capacity of people and institutions to improve the lives of Filipinos in this generation and generations to come.

Power shortage grips Mindanao island anew

BusinessWeek Mindanao
Post Published: 27 February 2012

POWER shortage continued to stall businesses in several provinces in Mindanao as the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) started imposing load curtailment in 33 electric cooperatives as power supply has fallen due to alleged generation deficiency.

NGCP, the private sector operator of the state-owned transmission grid, is projecting an average shortage of 179 megawatts (MW) for the island next month to as high as 345 MW in April.

“The curtailment is Mindanao-wide. I don’t know how many cooperatives there are but everyone is affected. (Power) reserves are in the negative. We’ve been on Red Alert for several weeks now,” said NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez Alabanza.

Severely affected are the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, and most parts of Sarangani, which are now suffering power outages lasting one to six hours.

Also affected by the load curtailment are General Santos, Cotabato, Iligan, Surigao, Kidapawan, and Zamboang
NGCP corporate communications officer for Mindanao Milfrance Capulong said only Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities have so far not been affected by the power outages because of the sufficient resources of local power firms.

Davao City has a standby power plant, which helps avert blackouts at this time.

“We impose load curtailment to protect the stability of the (Mindanao) grid. Let’s say that the grid is the national highway; everybody taps into the grid. Kung magkaroon ng problema yung grid, walang makakagamit ng kuryente maski may dumadaloy na kuryente,” Alabanza stressed.

In a power sector forum organized by the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. last week, Eugene H. Bicar, assistant vice-president for Mindanao systems operations of NGCP, showed that from the 727 MW of installed capacity, the current peak capability of the Agus hydropower plants is only 467 MW.

The lower output can be traced to several issues, officials said.

Pedro C. Ambos, Jr., National Power Corp. (Napocor) officer-in-charge for operation and planning, explained in the same forum that the state power firm could not operate the hydropower plants at maximum capacity as the discharge of water that will allow such output will flood low-lying areas in Lanao del Sur province where the plants are located.

Agus 1, for example, is limited to 45 MW from its 80-MW installed capacity, even as the power needs of the distribution utilities in the last quarter have outstripped the allocation in their contracts with Napocor, he said.

Mr. Ambos also admitted that Napocor’s funds for maintenance and operations have been cut in preparation for the planned privatization of the power plants.

Construction of infrastructure to protect communities from possible flooding, he added, is being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

NGCP’s Mr. Bicar, for his part, stated the company’s position that Mindanao’s power woes are due to generation deficiency and not due to failure to renew Ancillary Service Procurement Agreement with power barges.

“We could not construct a power plant,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mindanao Coalition of Power Consumers has sent out a petition to discontinue the implementation of the Leyte-Mindanao Interconnection Project of the NGCP.

“We believe that there is no need to carry out the phase 1 work, despite its approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission, as it is no longer economically feasible to carry out the main project itself,” the petition reads.

The coalition noted that the project was deemed feasible in the mid-’90s when power was considered to be transmitted from the geothermal plants in Leyte. However, with the present power requirements in Luzon and the Visayas, the power generated in Leyte would not be enough to supply Mindanao as well.

In Davao City, customers of the Aboitiz-led Davao Light and Power Co. will pay an additional P0.2276 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) this month as Napocor started to impose its so-called dry season rate.

Mindanao’s power supply is heavily dependent on hydroelectric power.

Rossano C. Luga, company spokesperson, explained that the rate has been applied since two years ago based on the imposition of the state-run power company.

Davao Light, however, said the transmission charge based on the billing from the NGCP will be lower by P0.0665/kWh as a result of lower ancillary charges. Ancillary charges are imposed on power consumed from sources that only operate as needed.
By NELSON V. CONSTANTINO, Editor-in-Chief and CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO, Correspondent with Wire Reports

House OKs nationwide cadastral survey

March 17, 2012
By Charlie V. Manalo

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill authorizing the Land Management Bureau (LMB) to conduct a nationwide cadastral survey to curb the proliferation of fake land titles.

House Bill 5870 authored by San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito aims to restore the integrity of land titles by identifying bonafide landowners and claimants.

Ejercito said land owners must be protected against defective titles. The integrity of the Torrens Title System, as a foundation of ownership to real property must be enhanced, so that in the end, the faith and reliance of the people on the integrity of the land title will be restored.

Under the measure to be known as the “Cadastral Survey Act of 2012,” the LMB is authorized to conduct a survey of the entire country.

The survey shall consist of research and reconnaissance; establishment recovery and densification of project control and political boundary surveys.

Survey activities further include lot surveys, inspection, verification and approval of survey returns.

The LMB is mandated to award any survey contract, subject to applicable bidding rules and regulations, to qualified geodetic engineers engaged in survey work with the most advantageous terms to the government.

The bill directs the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to include in its program the implementation of this Act and the inclusion of its funding in the annual general appropriations.

The bill was endorsed for plenary approval by the House committee on natural resources chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas.

The co-authors of the measure are Matugas and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya.

HUDCC, NHA okay purchase of properties for ‘Sendong’ victims


Vice President and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chairman Jejomar Binay and the National Housing Authority (NHA) approved the purchase of properties to be used for the development of resettlement projects for “Sendong” survivors.

NHA general manager lawyer Chito Cruz said the agency will buy four properties in Cagayan de Oro, two in Iligan and one in Dumaguete for a total amount of P237 million.

“The sites will be subjected to geohazard surveys to ensure that the communities that we will build are safe and environmentally-sustainable,” the Vice President said.

The NHA also allotted P288.8 million for the construction of 14,709 housing units. Each unit will cost P110,000, of which P40,000 will come from the NHA and P70,000 from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“The resettlement projects will have socio-economic facilities and police outposts. We will also make sure the availability of basic services for the use of the beneficiaries,” Binay said.

Meanwhile, Cruz announced that Sendong survivors with existing NHA accounts as housing beneficiaries in the three cities can now apply for a 3-month suspension of payments on their amortizations.

The moratorium will cover on January to March 2012. Delinquency charges will not be imposed within the duration of the moratorium and payment within the period will be charged to the hierarchy of payments.

Homeowners may file their amortization suspension applications until March 15, 2012 at the NHA Project Office in his or her area for approval by the Project Manager.