MANILA – Remember that story we ran about a group of Filipino banana growers who were complaining about their shrinking share of the Japanese market despite a free-trade agreement between the two countries?
Well, here’s an interesting twist to the contentious implementation of the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA), which both countries are reviewing.
According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Tokyo is willing to relax import restrictions on Philippine bananas and other farm products if we agree to import products from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture.
To recall, Fukushima is home to the nuclear power plant that sustained damage after a powerful earthquake in 2011, raising fears of harmful radiation. Thereafter, the Philippines ceased importing farm products from Fukushima.
Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano said Japanese negotiators have asked for the resumption of Philippine imports of Fukushima-grown dairy, rice and fresh vegetables.
“They want us to lower our food safety requirements based on the fact that Canada and other countries have already accepted their farm products. But I don’t see any reason why,” Serrano said.
Besides Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom lifted import restrictions on Fukushima products as early as January last year.
Serrano said the DA will insist that product samples from Fukushima undergo tests at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) to ensure they are radiation-free before the country resumes imports. Agricultural imports require the DA’s clearance.
“Even if Mars already accepted their produce, it still has to undergo study by our own experts. We have to be careful since it’s their own technical report, which may differ from our own study,” Serrano said.
“It’s not a matter of volume. Even if [the shipment] is just one gram, if it has a radioactive content, it will not pass the requirements under the Food Safety Act,” he said.
“It’s very political for them to show that they have already addressed the problem. It’s what they want to project. There’s pressure. But I don’t see any reason to give in to their demand,” Serrano added.
During the review of the PJEPA, the Philippines has been prodding Japan to bring down duties on farm products. The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) recently complained that its members have been losing market share, as Tokyo forges free-trade agreements with other banana-supplying countries, the latest of which was Indonesia.
In turn, Japan has asked the Philippines to reduce the number of tariff lines to a “manageable” level.
“Our main interest is our traditional exports like sugar, coconut oil, tropical fruits, fishery and processed food,” Serrano said.
“We want them [Japan] to bring down to zero all their agricultural tariffs to reciprocate our own reduction of tariff,” he said, adding that the Philippines had unilaterally reduced import duties.
“If they want to make true in their commitment to help Philippine agriculture and rural development, put their money where their mouth is,” Serrano said.
Tokyo is pressing Manila to relax its import restrictions on farm products from the Fukushima prefecture in exchange for more trade concessions under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), the Department of Agriculture (DA) revealed on Wednesday.
Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano said that Japanese negotiators want to resume exports of Fukushima-grown produce —including dairy, rice and fresh vegetables—to the Philippines after these were suspended amid concerns about radiation contamination following the nuclear crisis in March 2011.
“They want us to lower our food safety requirements based on the fact that Canada and other countries have already accepted their farm products. But I don’t see any reason why [we should],” Serrano told reporters.
The DA official said that if exports from Fukushima were to resume, all products coming from the prefecture should first undergo tests at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) to ensure that they are radiation-free.
“Even if Mars already accepted their produce, it still has to undergo study by our own experts. We have to be careful since it’s their own technical report, which may differ from our own study,” Serrano said.
It can be recalled that by January 24, New Zealand, Australia and Canada had lifted import restrictions on products from Fukushima Prefecture based on measurements of radioactive material. Britain allows imports as long as a government-issued radioactive material inspection certificate is submitted.
However, agricultural products from Fukushima prefecture are still widely shunned in other overseas markets, putting more pressure on the Japanese government revive its export market.
“It’s not a matter of volume. Even if [the shipment] is just one gram, if it has radioactive content, it will not pass the requirements under the Food Safety Act,” Serrano added.
“It’s very political for them to show that they have already addressed the problem. It’s what they want to project. There’s pressure. But I don’t see any reason to give in to their demand,” Serrano stressed.
For its part, Manila wants Tokyo to lower import duties on all possible agricultural products—mainly agricultural and marine products for which the Philippines has competitive advantage—that are viable for export to Japan.
“Our main interest is in our traditional exports—like sugar, coconut oil, tropical fruits, fishery and processed food,” Serrano said.
“We want them [Japan] to bring down to zero all their agricultural tariffs to reciprocate our own reduction of tariffs,” Serrano said, stressing that the Philippines has been ahead in reducing its tariff wall compared to Japan.
The DA official, however, said that Japan has appealed to Philippine negotiators, led by the Department of Trade and Industry, to further cut the number of tariff lines to a more “manageable” level.
“If they want to be true to their commitment to help Philippine agriculture and rural development, [they should] put their money where their mouth is,” he said, stressing that the DA wants to keep the number of tariff lines close to their earlier proposal to give the Philippines more elbowroom in the negotiations.
The JPEPA is a bilateral agreement that is intended to liberalize trade, investments and labor relations between the two countries. The Philippine government is seeking for a review of the JPEPA due to Japan’s failure to fulfill its own commitments under the agreement.
Source: The Manila Times
Petilla: PHL still not ready for nuclear power June 1, 2015 LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—The operation of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and the putting up of a similar one in any part of the country is next to impossible considering the mind-set of the Filipino people.
This in essence, is the opinion of Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla in reaction to the report that former Pangasinan Fifth District Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who is eyeing to run for governor of the province, has not abandoned his earlier call for the operation of the BNPP.
There was also a report that in order to prove that a nuclear plant is safe, he is willing to let one nuclear plant built next to his house in Sison, Pangasinan. http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/petilla-phl-still-not-ready-for-nuclear-power/
Businessmen tap the power of the sun, Manila Standard, By Alena Mae S. Flores | Dec. 20, 2014 Solar technology is now shining in the Philippines, as some businessmen began to install solar panels on rooftops of schools, office buildings and even shopping malls, seven years after the passage of Republic Act No. 9513, or the Renewable Energy Law. This year alone, the industry saw a significant number of solar rooftop projects installed, a feat that has not been immediately felt after the passage of the law, which promotes the use of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and mini-hydro projects.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla expects renewable energy projects including solar rooftop installations to pick up next year, heralding the golden age of renewable energy in the country. Petilla says solar rooftop capacity will continue to increase in 2015, amid the strong interest from schools, commercial and industrial projects and even government offices.
“You can never tell how many institutions are going to be included because it depends on the size of each project. Because of so many interests for solar technology at the moment, some of them are already moving on their own even without our initiative,” Petilla says.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines estimates the potential market for solar rooftop projects at $450 million yearly, based on 50,000 households or a tenth of the half a million constructions yearly, with average solar panel installations of 2 kilowatts each.
Solar rooftop installations are expected to reach 2.5 megawatts by end-2014, as more homeowners and enterprises realize the opportunities to save money and mitigate climate change by harnessing sunlight to power homes and offices.
ECCP says with the continued drop in system prices, solar energy is approaching grid parity, opening the way for more solar rooftop installations.
“Vast installation of solar panels on rooftops of households, commercial buildings and industrial facilities could help safeguard the country’s energy security over the long term. Rooftop solar panels could be a viable solution for the Philippines given its high solar irradiation level,” ECCP says.
The Philippine Solar Power Alliance earlier estimated that the country has an untapped solar rooftop potential of about 300 MW.
One company, Propmech Corp., recently installed a solar-rooftop project at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila that will enable the school to save as much as 20 percent in electricity cost.
“We are prioritizing schools for solar projects because of the reason they more open to the public than private companies, other institutions can freely go to them to learn about solar panels,” Petilla says.
St. Scholastica’s joins the rank of other schools such as Manuel L. Quezon University, Mapua Institute of Technology and La Consolaction College-Manila, in utilizing renewable energy.
St. Scholastica’s St. Cecilla’s Hall has been turned into a 96-kilowatt solar power plant that can generate 38.88 percent of the hall’s daily energy needs. The amount will greatly reduce St. Scholastica’s monthly electricity expenses…………….
Solar applications have also long been used as off-grid solutions in rural and remote areas in the country.
Solar systems can also power basic necessities such as lighting, water pumping, communications and a variety of livelihood activities that immediately improve the lives of Filipinos in areas where electricity from the grid is not readily available. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/12/20/businessmen-tap-the-power-of-the-sun/
(Also, as pointed out previously – it’s lucky that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was never fully activated. )
“It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks RTCC 11 November 2013, Yeb Sano tells UN summit in Warsaw “colossal devastation” from Typhoon Haiyan should serve as warning to planet Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano has just addressed the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw – calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country at the weekend. A full transcript of his speech is below………
The science has given us a picture that has become much more in focus. The IPCC report on climate change and extreme events underscored the risks associated with changes in the patterns as well as frequency of extreme weather events. Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.
This will have profound implications on many of our communities, especially who struggle against the twin challenges of the development crisis and the climate change crisis. Typhoons such as Yolanda (Haiyan) and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action. Warsaw must deliver on enhancing ambition and should muster the political will to address climate change…..
What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. ………. :http://www.rtcc.org/2013/11/11/its-time-to-stop-this-madness-philippines-plea-at-un-climate-talks/#sthash.XNwbM2xW.OYYJsoyC.dpuf
Nuclear plant gets funds By Amy R. Remo Philippine Daily Inquirer,
6th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—State-run National Power Corp. has
secured lawmakers’ nod to allocate P50 million this year for the
upkeep of the mothballed 630-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
In an interview with the Inquirer, Napocor president Froilan A.
Tampinco said that both houses of Congress as well as the Department
of Budget and Management (DBM) had agreed to reinstate the proposed
budget for the maintenance of the country’s first and only nuclear
Tampinco said that with sufficient explanation, Napocor was able to
convince Congress of the necessity of such an allocation for a
government asset that has remained idle for decades, yet one that the
Department of Energy said cannot be neglected.
The BNPP was built during the Marcos era by Westinghouse Electric at a
cost of $2.2 billion. It was mothballed in 1986 due to safety
concerns, even before it could begin operations.
The group is also calling on the Philippine government to commit to
fully implement the Renewable Energy Law to achieve 50 percent
renewable energy in the country’s energy mix by 2020.
Greenpeace slams DOE chief’s plan to revive nuclear power program
By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 28th, 2012 MANILA, Philippines — The
environmentalist organization Greenpeace has asked Energy Secretary
Carlos Jericho Petilla to abandon his department’s plans to revive the
use of nuclear energy in the Philippines.
The group said it was shocked at the Department of Energy’s recent
proposal to revive the use of nuclear energy to power the country as
“this plan goes against global trends as far as safety is concerned.”
“Worldwide, the nuclear industry is declining having failed to
establish itself as a clean, cheap, safe or reliable energy source. Continue reading
Such facilities in the Philippines should be installed mostly on rooftops because there is a lot of arable and productive land which should be used for food production rather than for solar power generation,
Rooftop solar power project launched to prove viability, Business World, 5 June 12, THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) said yesterday it expects solar power capacity in the Philippines to reach up to 115 megawatts (MW) by next year, as it launched yesterday its solar rooftop facility to prove the viability of this renewable energy thrust.
The multilateral lender said it estimates most of solar projects in the country will consist of small clusters that generate lower capacities of electricity rather than large facilities. ADB installed 2,040 solar panels on its rooftop which can generate around 500 kilowatts of energy or around 613 MW a year. Continue reading
Resolution on the use of uranium, plutonium to be tackled at summit, Business World, Philippines, 5 Mar 12, THE GOVERNMENT will be pushing for an international resolution that would tighten security measures and prevent nuclear resources such as uranium and plutonium from being used for terrorist activities, a high-ranking Executive official said late last week.
Mr. Binay remarked that with the pressing threat of nuclear terrorism, member states of the IAEA — a specialized United Nations body comprising 153 countries and aims to promote safe and peaceful nuclear technologies — “should not only focus on the possibility of terrorists being able to use nuclear bombs in the future, but should urgently improve their respective security and safety measures in the storing and keeping of their uranium and plutonium resources.”…. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Resolution-on-the-use-of-uranium,-plutonium-to-be-tackled-at-summit&id=47788
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released the report “Green Growth, Resources, and Resilience” this week.
On the road to green economies, Malaya Business Insights, 24 Feb12, Net metering is empowering electric consumers in the Philippines. The scheme is embodied in the Philippines’ Renewable Energy Act of 2008 – considered to be the most comprehensive renewable energy law in Southeast Asia.
It allows electric consumers to sell power to the grid at an approved feed-in tariff and buy power as necessary at the normal retail tariff. The feed-in tariff will provide a guaranteed fixed price for at least 12 years for electricity produced from emerging renewable resources: wind, solar power, ocean, run-of-river hydropower, and biomass.
With net metering, the consumer generates electricity at the point of use, and is able to supply excess electricity generated into the grid, either earning revenue or reducing net payable consumption.
Net metering provides a regulatory basis for distributed and decentralized energy systems and at the same time provides a powerful incentive for end-use efficiency improvements. Net metering can be combined with feed-in-tariffs to promote renewable energy generation in decentralized applications. Continue reading
Aquino optimistic on renewable energy, Business World, Johanna D. Poblete, 13 Jan 12, PRESIDENT BENIGNO S.C. Aquino III is optimistic the Energy department will achieve an increase in the production of alternative renewable energy that would redound to an increase in employment by 2015.
He noted, for instance, that nearly 39% of the country’s energy requirements are now provided by renewable sources, namely, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass.
“We project that the contribution of the biomass sector will increase from 39 megawatts of energy in 2010 to more than 300 megawatts by 2015,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech at the opening of the 1st Philippine International BioEnergy Conference on Thursday.
“Our projections also indicate that in achieving this goal, around 89,000 more jobs will be generated for Filipinos,” he added.
The President said that the development of the industry has a “multiplier effect” not just in terms of empowering consumers, but also by stimulating attendant sectors. “The effects of advancing the biomass sector will also reach close to 577,000 farm families who can benefit, for example, by gaining additional income [from] the sale of agriwaste or forest residues that
can be used in the development of biomass resources,” Mr. Aquino said…. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Aquino-optimistic-on-renewable-energy&id=44991
DoE shelves P100M nuclear safety study, Budget to be channeled to other energy programs, Amy R. Remo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 28th, 2011 The Department of Energy (DoE) has completely shelved its P100-million nuclear safety study and will instead channel the full amount to more important energy programs of the government.
Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras told the Inquirer that the bulk, or 40 percent, of the budget would go to the Fueling Sustainable Transport Program (FSTP). With the program, DoE hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing cheaper alternatives to gasoline and diesel….. http://business.inquirer.net/32403/doe-shelves-p100m-nuclear-safety-study
Nuclear power deemed not a viable option for Mindanao, BusinessWorld, 13 Feb 2011, DESPITE THE NEED to look beyond hydro power as a source of electricity for Mindanao, there is just not enough demand on the island to justify the cost of building a nuclear plant there, the top executive of a major power producer told reporters late last week. Continue reading
The problem is that under the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows US military forces to enter the country supposedly for specific non-combat activities for a limited period, Philippine authorities are not allowed to inspect America’s military vessels....This is aggravated by the US’s standard policy on these matters, which is to neither confirm nor deny whether its visiting military vessels and aircraft are nuclear-armed or not..
China, US making Southeast Asia a nuclear neighborhood, JUN VERZOLA, GMANews.TV , 3 Feb 2011, “…..According to Roland G. Simbulan, a long-standing advocate of nuclear disarmament: “Given the nuclear-free policy laid down by the Philippine Constitution, even transient visits by nuclear-armed vessels or aircraft are prohibited. Continue reading
China, US making Southeast Asia a nuclear neighborhood.JUN VERZOLA, GMANews.TV, 3 Feb 2011, “……...The Southeast Asia nuclear weapons free zone The prohibition of nuclear weapons in Philippine territory is, in fact, not only mandated by the 1987 Constitution but by the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), forged in Bangkok in 1995 by 10 Southeast Asian member-states: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The SEANWFZ or Bangkok Treaty of 1995, which took effect in 1997, commits its members to the following (Article 3):
- Anywhere inside or outside the nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ), not to develop, manufacture, acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons; not to station or transport nuclear weapons; and not to use or test nuclear weapons.
- In each member’s territory, not to allow any other state to develop, manufacture, acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons, nor to station nuclear weapons, nor to test or use nuclear weapons.
In short, the Bangkok Treaty binds all 10 member-states not to allow nuclear weapons—whether self-acquired or held by any other state—within their combined territory………….
Since China has rapidly increased its military strength in the past decade, its naval fleets have been projecting Chinese armed might—and presumably, its nuclear capabilities—beyond the internationally-recognized Chinese coastline, into the high seas beyond.
This problem is further aggravated in the case of the Philippines, where the most basic questions about the area of Philippine jurisdiction remain ambiguous. As discussed in his recent book, veteran diplomat Rodolfo Severino said, “Philippine law enforcement agencies have not been sure of what to allow and what to prohibit, particularly by way of sea passage, overflight, fishing activities, and environmental protection.” (See: Veteran diplomat asks: Where in the world is the Philippines?)
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