Supplemental budget urgently needed to help typhoon victims address agri losses

By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 23, 2010-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries called on fellow legislators to enact a supplemental budget for agriculture in the wake of heavy damages resulting from Typhoon Juan.


He recommended that the congress should consider enacting a supplemental budget to address the damage wrought by typhoon Juan. Damage to agriculture alone is at P7.5 billion and rising, yet the calamity fund for 2010 is nearly depleted. We must act swiftly and allocate the needed funds to ensure that rehabilitation isn't hampered by lack of funds.


"The typhoon Juan that just passed highlighted the inadequacy of the calamity fund. The remaining P2-B calamity fund for 2010, even with the addition of the P5-B calamity fund for 2011, will still not be sufficient against the damages of one super-typhoon," he said.

According to the Department of Agriculture's Situationer Report No. 174, released in the afternoon of October 22, the total damage from Typhoon Juan has reached P7.55 billion worth of crops, livestock, poultry, and fisheries. The figures may still rise in the coming days.


"Without the funds, rehabilitation efforts will be meaningless and our people's suffering will not be abated," Pangilinan pointed out. "Let's act now to ensure that we can provide our people with a cushion to soften the blows of all these damages. The earlier we allocate funds, the sooner our countrymen can rise back on their feet." (Jason de Asis)


Sen. Pangilinan urges the Supreme Court to leave academe alone

By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 23, 2010-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan urges the Supreme Court to move on from the row involving the Supreme Court and members of the UP Faculty of Law.

"It would be best for the Supreme Court to consider the matter a closed case and refrain from pursuing the contempt case against UP College of Law faculty members," Sen. Pangilinan said, himself a graduate of the UP College of Law.

The high court recently issued a show-cause order against 37 UP Law professors, asking them to explain why they should not be sanctioned in light of a statement they had issued asking Supreme Court Justice del Castillo to resign on grounds of plagiarism.

"The position taken by the UP faculty members on the issue finds solid support and is buttressed by the dissenting opinion of justice Sereno. This alone should prove that there is no basis to sanction the UP College of Law faculty members," Sen. Pangilinan points out, adding that the
judicial restraint will best serve the interest of the Supreme court.  With all due respect, the Supreme Court should learn to choose its battles and to my mind, this isn't one of them. (Jason de Asis)


COMSTE to send RP’s expert to forge ties with Taiwanese solar, electronic companies

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 23, 2010-A delegation composed of Filipino experts from government, academe and industry will be sent to Taiwan to strengthen ties for culture collaboration in solar testing facilities and further develop ties with semiconductor and electronics manufacturers by the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).


The group is set to leave on October 26, Tuesday and is headed by COMSTE Executive Director Dr. Gregory Tangonan, which also includes professors from De La Salle and Ateneo, members of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) and representatives from leading solar and electronics companies.


Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chair of COMSTE, said the delegation is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) which will initiate the establishment of the Renewable Energy Research and Development Institute (RERDI), which is set to expand the Renewable Energy industry of the country.


The Philippine delegation will visit with the heads of more than 15 solar companies in the hopes of being able to entice them to send their solar cells for testing at a new solar testing facility which is set to open within the month in Batangas. The facility is a partnership between COMSTE and First Philec and can test panels for optimal output in tropical conditions.


“This project in collaboration with the Taiwanese marks the beginning of the RE industry in the country,” Sen. Angara said.


The veteran senator added that developing innovative Renewable Energy Systems can aide in achieving the long term goal of energy independence. With RERDI, we can fully utilize Public Private Partnerships and our ties with neighboring countries to stimulate growth in the RE power sector.


Dr. Shigero Niki of Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, who heads their Solar Research and Testing Laboratory expressed interest in sending solar photo-voltaic (PV) for testing in the Philippines, adding that a testing facility here would be able to identify the proper engineering and technology for PV arrays and components which would be ideal for tropical conditions.


Other projects chosen by COMSTE for the RERDI are solar cooling assessment, development and demonstration program by the Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC)/Institute of Industrial Electrical Engineers/ the De La Salle University and the study of algae as a biofuel.


A team composed of members from Ateneo University, Alson Aquacutlure Inc., and two (2) other photo bio-reactor companies aims to study optimal conditions that will promote the growth of algae and the cleaning of coal fired plants by placing nearby aquaculture ponds.


Power, hybrid RE systems, alternative fuels from solid residue, biodiesel production and development, gasohol related process development, and materials development for energy applications are also tagged as priorities for RERDI.


Taiwan is already a partner with COMSTE on many initiatives, including helping in the establishment of the Industrial Research and Development Institute (IRDI), which was patterned after a similar institute in Taiwan.


The Industrial Technological Research Institute (ITRI) is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that helped evolve Taiwan’s economy into a world leader in electronics and semiconductors.


“The Taiwanese have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with COMSTE to aide in the initial phase of the establishment of our own institute,” Sen. Angara explained.


He said that our educational standards and weak R&D infrastructure are hurting the global competitiveness level of the nation. Take for example the Electronics and Semiconductors industry, which a few years ago accounted for over 60% of our total exports.


The COMSTE Electronics and Semiconductors panel reported that 62% of the country’s exports, roughly $31 Billion, are derived from the electronics sector.


COMSTE works closely with the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc (SEIPI), which is an organization of the largest semiconductor and electronics industry players in the country. SEIPI aims to make the country a regional center of excellence, thus making the country more attractive for investors. (Jason de Asis)