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Tunneling Works for Davao City Bypass Road to Start by July
by Philippine Resources - June 04, 2021
Photo Credit: Department of Public Works and Highways
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is about to roll out the construction of two (2) 2.3 kilometer tunnel which corresponds to the central portion of the Davao City Bypass Construction Project in Southern Mindanao financed by Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Government of Japan thru Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Secretary Mark Villar said that essential machinery have started to arrive in the Philippines for the road tunnel construction which is expected to develop Filipino skilled workers with new technical know-how.
In his report to Secretary Villar, Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain said that tunneling works using specialized equipment such as drill jumbo, concrete spraying machine, and articulated dump hauler is targetted to commence by first week of July 2021.
Four (4) units of drill jumbo and four (4) units of concrete spraying machine will simultaneously work at the north and south portal to complete two (2) 2.3 kilometer-long tunnels with a height of 8 meters and a width of 10 meters through the new Austrian tunneling method or sprayed concrete lining method, added Undersecretary Sadain.
Photo Credit: Department of Public Works and Highways
The tunnel is part of Contract Package 1-1 covering 10.7 kilometer of four (4) lane highway awarded in the amount of P13.230 Billion to the joint venture companies of Shimizu Corporation, Ulticon Builders Inc., and Takenaka Civil Engineering & Construction Co, Ltd..
The contract package with 37 months duration also covers the construction of bridges in three (3) locations and a 7.9 kilometer long cut and fill road.
During the recent project coordination meeting with Undersecretary Sadain and UPMO Roads Management Cluster 1 (Bilateral) OIC Project Director Benjamin Bautista, Mr. Shinichi Matsumoto representing the joint venture firm said that the construction of access roads are already at 60 percent in preparation for the tunnel excavation.
Secretary Villar said that despite the major challenges encountered relative to the Covid-19 pandemic, Davao City Bypass Construction Project has secured Japan ODA financing with a Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) Loan from JICA under Loan Agreement Nos. PH-P261 and PH-P273 signed in June 2020.
The entire bypass road with a total length of 45.5 kilometer is divided into six (6) packages: package I-1 (10.7 km), package I-2 (12.8 km), package I-3 (6.1 km), package II-1 (2.7 km), package II-2 (3.5 km), and package II-3 (9.7 km).
Starting from Davao-Digos section of the Pan-Philippine Highway in Brgy Sirawan, Davao City going to Davao-Panabo section of the Pan-Philippine Highway in Brgy J.P. Laurel, Panabo City, the bypass road project will mitigate congestions in Davao City with the travel time of 1 hour and 44 minutes via Pan-Philippine Highway Diversion Road to be reduced into 49 minutes.
Marcelle P. Villegas - December 16, 2020
Test runs at max speed and other development for MRT-3
By Marcelle P. Villegas The newly overhauled MRT-3 train was tested by running it at a maximum speed of 50 kph. Here is a view from the driver’s compartment on MRT-3 during test run last 29 October 2020. (Screenshot from Department of Transportation video) MRT-3 or the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 conducted test runs on its first newly overhauled train. The train was tested to run at a maximum speed of 50 kph. According to Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, the train is composed of three cars which was overhauled by Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The company is the maintenance provider of MRT-3. The test run was documented in a video blog of DOTr. Libiran said, “As part of the massive rehab and maintenance of Sumitomo from Japan, we can now overhaul train cars that have been long neglected and now, we are repairing them under the Duterte administration.” According to MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael Capati, aside from the three newly overhauled train cars, the MRT-3 also plans to overhaul the remaining 72 cars by July 2021. “In the past years, our trains broke down plenty of times. Now, one of the things Sumitomo is doing is to rehabilitate and do a general overhaul of our trains.” Capati mentioned that the MRT-3 management wants its trains to run at 50 kph by November 2020.  He said, “We have already increased our train operating speed to 30 kph to 40 kph in October. Now we are using this train to simulate a 50 kph operating speed, which we are hoping to implement by November.” Capati noted that the improved train speed was made possible by the overhaul of train cars and the rail replacements that were completed last September. He also said that MRT-3 increased the number of its trains running daily to a maximum of 22. “Our maintenance program is doing well and at the same time, this is the effect of our rail replacements.” MRT-3 tested the train operating speed at 40 kph last September. This reduces the average waiting time of passengers from nine minutes to seven minutes. Reference:  Dela Cruz, Raymond Carl (29 October 2020). Philippine News Agency. “MRT-3 conducts test runs on overhauled train at 50 kph”. Article and photo credit retrieved from - https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1120153
Marcelle P. Villegas - December 14, 2020
Right-of-way ordinance for Makati Intra-City Subway project
By Marcelle P. Villegas Last 21 October 2020, Makati City government passed and approved an ordinance authorizing the acquisition of right of way covering the underground portions of nine roads that are affected by Makati City government’s subway project. As per Ordinance No. 2020-204, the roads that will be affected by the project are: Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, South Avenue, J.P. Rizal Avenue, J.P. Rizal Extension, Pablo Ocampo St. Extension (Vito Cruz Extension), Kalayaan Avenue, EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), C-5 Road (a.k.a. Carlos P. Garcia Avenue), and San Guillermo Avenue. The city ordinance mentions of subsurface right of way need to be acquired for the “staging, construction, operation, maintenance and development of the Makati Subway Project.” The nine roads mentioned above are in the road and bridge inventory of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Therefore, they fall under the jurisdiction of the department. “Considering the importance of acquiring the easement of the right of way of the subject roads for the benefit of the citizens of Makati, the City Government of Makati is constrained to acquire, through voluntary agreement or expropriation proceedings, an easement of right of way of the subject roads.”  Section 19 of the Republic Act No. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991 stated the authorizing of expropriations if needed. The City of Makati has entered into negotiations with and made a “valid and definite offer” to the DPWH for the acquisition of right of way. Philippine Infradev is building a subway that is worth $3.5 billion that shall traverse the central business district of Makati City. There will be 10 stations across the 10-kilometer line. Last September, Philippine Infradev signed a $1.21-billion contract that covers engineering, procurement and construction with China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Co. Ltd. For the subway project. The subway project is expected to accommodate 700,000 passengers daily in order to reduce the traffic congestion in the city. They are targeting the subway’s completion in 2025.  About the Makati Subway Project The Makati Intra-city Subway is a planned underground rapid transit line in the City of Makati that spans out to 11 kilometers or 6.8 miles. This is designed to link establishments across Makati’s business district. The project is a partnership between the Makati City Government and a private consortium led by Philippine Infradev Holdings. The subway line’s stations will be connecting the existing Line 3 (Guadalupe Station), the Pasig River Ferry Service, and the approved Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway). It was on 12 December 2018 when the preparatory work was commenced. On the same day, ceremonial drilling took place in front of the Makati City Hall. The Makati City Hall is near the site of one of the proposed stations of the subway. On this day, the signing of the memorandum of understanding also took place. The memorandum was signed by Makati City Government and a consortium consisting of Philippine Infradev and Chinese firms Greenland Holdings Group, Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group Company Ltd., Holdings Ltd. and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. Soil testing and feasibility studies of the proposed locations for the subway line’s stations were done as part of the preparatory work. By June 2019, 8 out of the 10 proposed stations have been finalized. The two proposed stations along Ayala Avenue are yet to be finalized due to “non-response” from its owners. The proponents said that they may divert the subway towards PNR Buendia Station or the Mile Long property in Legaspi Village instead. For now, the first station will be located at the Makati Central Fire Station. The fire station will be demolished. From there, the line goes towards a Lucia Tan owned property near Circuit Makati and Makati City Hall. The remaining stations will be located near Rockwell Center, Makati Bliss Housing in Guadalupe, Century City, University of Makati, Cembo and the final station will be near Ospital ng Makati. In July 2019, soil testing related with the subway project was completed. Philippine Infradev and the Makati City Government signed a joint venture agreement for the subway project. By October 2019, the plan to move the terminus of the line to the Mile Long property has been finalized. The area is being redeveloped by the national government along Amorsolo Street. The soil test results were favourable and the route diversion meant that the cost of the project might be reduced to as low as $2.5 billion. Moreover, a joint venture with Megaworld Corp. was made to build a common station in Guadalupe for the subway system and for the planned SkyTrain. Based on a disclosure to the stock exchange, the Philippine Infradev’s subsidiary, Makati City Subway Inc. (MCSI) received the term sheet from Megaworld Corp. This joint venture will build access to the Line 3 Guadalupe Station and the Pasig River Ferry. Philippine Infradev has an agreement with China Construction First Group Corp. Ltd. (CCFG) to build a transit-oriented development. Based on this agreement, CCFG is responsible for the construction, materials, manpower, equipment and other requirements to complete the project. The construction is expected to last for 42 months.  References:  Balinbin, Arjay L (25 October 2020). Business World. “Makati passes right-of-way ordinance for subway project”. Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/makati-passes-right-of-way-ordinance-for-subway-project/  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makati_Intra-city_Subway (Photo credit: IRC Properties Inc.)
Marcelle P. Villegas - January 12, 2021
Dept. of Energy: Moratorium on New Coal Power Plants
By Marcelle P. Villegas A moratorium on the endorsements of greenfield coal power plants was issued by the Department of Energy (DoE). This announcement was made while allowing foreign investors to now have full ownership of geothermal plant projects in the Philippines. DoE’s decision to stop the endorsements of coal power plants is the result of an assessment that showed the importance of focusing on a “more flexible” power supply mix. According to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi while at a virtual conference with world leaders held in Singapore, “This would help build a more sustainable power system that will be resilient in the face of structural changes in demand and will be flexible enough to accommodate the entry of new, cleaner and indigenous technological innovations.” DoE is currently updating their Philippine Energy Plan for the next 20 years. Mr Cusi mentioned that DoE is committed to accelerating the development of the Philippines’ resources while “pushing for the transition from fossil fuel-based technology utilization to cleaner energy sources to ensure more sustainable growth for the country.”  According to Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella of DoE, the ban on endorsing new coal-fired power plants will not affect those power plants that have received endorsements in the past. He said, “We need to prepare for the influx of RE (renewable energy) under the recent policies issued by the DoE. Hence, the need for more flexibility.”  On note, 3,436 MV of committed coal-fired power projects in Luzon are ongoing as of August 2020. This includes the Meralco Powergen Corporation and GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. which is a joing venture of the Ayala and Aboitiz groups. Additionally, a 135 MW coal-run power projects in Visayas and 420 MV in Mindanao have been endorsed by DoE. Overall, there are around 10,000 MV indicative coal-fired power plant projects in the Philippines which may receive government endorsements. Mr Fuentebella said these will need to be sorted out. The ban will continue until the country will require additional baseload power, according to DoE official.  In relation to the ban, Center of Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) pointed out that there are still environmental concerns about the existing coal-run power plants in the Philippines. CEED Director Gerard C. Arances said, “That is still concerning and alarming vis-à-vis pollution, climate imperative, and costly electricity in the country.” Another important announcement made by DoE is the upcoming open bidding round of renewable energy service contracts that will now allow foreign companies to own large-scale geothermal projects. This includes exploration, development and utilization. Last 20 October 2020, DoE released a circular providing the guidelines for the third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) in the awarding of renewable project contracts. Cusi said, “From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development and utilization projects.” DoE clarified that big geothermal projects are those with an initial investment cost of about $50 million and are under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements, signed and approved by the Philippine President. Reference:  Ang, Adam J. (27 October 2020). Business World. “DoE bans new coal-run power plants”. Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/doe-bans-new-coal-run-power-plants/
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Abe Almirol - June 23, 2021
Cagayan River Rehabilitation: Initiatives from Ridge to Reef
After two severe weather disturbances that took place in the first half of November 2020 heavily hit eight regions in the Philippines, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte immediately signed Executive Order No. 120 creating the Task Force Build Back Better (TF-BBB) to initiate a comprehensive and integrated recovery. Cagayan and Marikina valleys suffered the heaviest damage and human casualties as floods and its aftermath landslides placed many parts of the country in a state of calamity for weeks. Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) made its landfall on 1 November 2020 and several days after its onslaught and in almost the same path, Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) carried with it heavy rains as it reached the Philippine shorelines on 11 November 2020. Tuguegarao and Marikina cities were in deep floods as Ulysses traversed the Philippine area of responsibility. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported over 2.3 million people affected across eight regions in the country. Reports indicated that 23,089 individuals displaced were moved to evacuation centres while 46,987 individuals displaced stayed outside evacuation centres. The death toll from Ulysses has reached more than 70. It has severely damaged property and infrastructure in some areas. Videos circulating in social media showed floods reaching the roofs in some parts of Cagayan and Marikina City. Two agencies, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), were given the lead role in a task force working on an operational mode adopting the “whole-of-society approach”. All government agencies and instrumentalities were mandated by EO 120 to take part. After eight months of work, the TF-BBB has made significant gains in pursuing rehabilitation and post-recovery initiatives. DENR has realised that problems such as this needs to consider all factors affecting the whole watershed catchment basin where floods occur. Environmental advocates and experts often refer to this approach as the ridge-to-reef initiative. "In the months since we set out to work in November last year, we have now set into motion significant post-disaster recovery initiatives in three priority geographic areas involving the restoration of Cagayan, Marikina, and Bicol River basins," DENR Secretary and TF-BBB chair Roy A. Cimatu said. Cagayan River Dredging: Agencies in Action Cimatu and TF-BBB co-chairperson Secretary Mark A. Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) led the ceremonial dredging of sandbars along Cagayan River’s constricted midstream and planting of Bamboo seedlings on the riverbank of Barangay Bangag in the town of Lal-lo, Cagayan last 2 February 2021. After removing the sandbar obstacles that impede water from flowing freely, the roots of planted Bamboos should serve as a soil binder to keep the riverbank intact in the future. There are three priority sandbars to remove near the Magapit bridge, measuring about 235 hectares with an estimated volume of seven million cubic meters, according to TF-BBB statements captured by the media. The first phase of DPWH dredging operations targeted this choke point which a past study identified as the cause of flooding in Tuguegarao City and other settlements near the riverbanks. TF-BBB in Region 2 is chaired by Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan of the DENR and co-chaired by Regional Director Loreta Malaluan of the DPWH. In her message during one of the virtual sessions of the task force, Director Bambalan lauded the different government agencies for their support to the Build Back Better initiatives in the region. "The regional TF-BBB is not only addressing the protection and conservation of the environment but also the welfare of barangays and families affected by the restoration of the Cagayan River," Director Bambalan said. In that meeting, the DPWH discussed the dredging operation and riverbank protections works. The Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development gave an update on the status of resettlement projects while the Office of Civil Defence reviewed the improvement of systems and essential services. The Department of Trade and Industry also presented its accomplishments on livelihood projects. For its part, the Department of the Interior and Local Government presented its agenda for strengthened governance and mainstreaming of disaster-risk reduction and climate change action. Representatives of the Land Registration Authority also attended the meeting. The LRA will be the partner agency of the DENR for the easement recovery along the Cagayan River. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has trained residents who were eventually hired as laborers and equipment operators to help carry out the dredging operations. TF-BBB has also engaged the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) to provide employment assistance to 120 residents for the planting and nurturing of bamboo trees in Tuguegarao City and the towns of Alcala, Enrile, and Gattaran. This will be implemented through DOLE's "Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers" or TUPAD program. Magat Dam blamed In many reports published and echoed in mainstream media and social media, the opening of the Magat Dam floodgates was blamed as the cause of flooding. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) came out with a fact check to clear its liability. Even the Senate initiated moved to investigate the matter. NIA’s acting department manager of Public Affairs and Information Office, Eden Victoria Selva, came up with a comprehensive technical response, explaining that the Magat river is just one of the many river systems draining to the Cagayan River. “It is noted that the carrying capacity of the Cagayan River is 25,400 m3/s while the maximum volume of water released from the Magat Dam is only 6,706 m3/s indicating that water discharge of Magat Dam due to Typhoon Ulysses is not the main cause of massive flooding in the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan,” Selva said in an article that appeared in INQUIRER.net on 10 June 2021. The controversial statements blaming the Magat Dam’s release of water also aroused public perception that points responsibility to the occupants of watershed areas in the upstream of Magat River. Those affected by the floods were quick to call for punitive actions against watershed occupants, including calls to ban mining in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, including those issued with legitimate permits to operate. Sharing the Burden of Watershed Restoration and Protection In the watersheds upstream of the Magat River, a 10-year project co-funded by the Republic of the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency is nearing completion. It is called the Forestland Management Project (FMP), a sequel of the several forestry sector projects implemented by the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau in the last 30 years. FMP is a holistic approach in Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) areas in sub-watersheds in the upper areas of the Cagayan River, particular the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Quirino. FMP is also present in the Upper Pampanga River in Nueva Ecija and in Jalaur River in Iloilo. Anselmo Cabrera, an Institutional Development Specialist working at the Central Project Management Office of the FMP at the DENR Central Office, has proposed a cost sharing mechanism that Watershed Management Councils should develop for mainstreaming. He said there must be a system where every citizen or institution using water can pay for environmental services performed by duty-bearers protecting and maintaining watersheds. Through a cost sharing mechanism, communities living in critical watershed areas will be compensated for their efforts to ensure there is sufficient forest cover. With this scheme, upland farmers could minimize soil erosion by planting permanent crops instead of clearing spots to plant vegetables and other short-term cash crops. The FMP has so far initiated several hundred of hectares planted with coffee, Guyabano, Rambutan, and other fruit bearing trees. About 35 people’s organizations benefitting over 5,000 households, mostly from Kalanguya, Ibaloi, Isinai, Iwak and Ifugao indigenous cultural communities, LGUs were also called to take a more active role in watershed protection. Cabrera welcomes the favourable result of the Mandanas Ruling, where local governments won in getting their share in revenues collected outside the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The Supreme Court has ruled that LGUs can now get a share from the collection of the Bureau of Customs and other national revenues. Information available from the Department of Budget Management (DBM) revealed LGUs, which include provinces, municipalities, and barangays, could get as much as 37% increase in their internal revenue allotments from the national government in 2022. A DBM advisory directed LGUs to use these additional money to fund the full devolution of services, of which, integrated social forestry is one. Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos M. Padilla made a friendly overture when nasty comments were posted over social media by angry residents of Tuguegarao City who wallowed in deep floods for several days after Typhoon Ulysses. Some people accused people in Nueva Vizcaya of denuding the watersheds. Relief goods from Nueva Vizcaya were immediately sent in flood-stricken areas, a gesture that Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba deeply appreciated publicly. He also called for collaboration between people downstream and upstream of the Cagayan River to understand and take actions together. During the last Watershed Management Council meeting, Gov. Padilla reiterated the importance of collaboration and networking to save watershed commons. He recalled a 2018 agreement with stakeholders which includes big water users such as SN Aboitiz and NIA, the two institutions managing the Magat hydropower and irrigation dam in Ramon, Isabela. Also included in the public pledge of support to the 2018 Nueva Vizcaya Declaration on Water are thousands of farmer’s organizations using water resources for irrigation and water utilities, like Solano Water and other entities providing services to majority of urban households. Watershed Management Councils were potent avenues for collaboration in watershed protection and maintenance. In Davao, a bulk water project implemented by Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. mentioned in a webinar that the Watershed Management Council has played a crucial role in mobilising communities and people. The TF-BBB in Cagayan Valley experience could be one of the best in the current administration’s whole-of-society approach in big projects. By mobilising both government agencies and communities, it has covered all areas of concern from the top of mountain ridges to the reefs in the sea. It would be exciting to measure if the impacts are indeed better ten years from now.
Philippine Resources - June 22, 2021
DENR studies possible lifting of ban on open-pit mining
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is still studying the possible lifting of the ban on open-pit mining, Malacañang said on Thursday. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that Executive Order No. 130, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 14, does not include a lifting of the ban on open-pit mining. EO 130, which lifts the nine-year moratorium on mineral agreements, is to spur economic growth and support projects and programs of the government. “There is nothing in the executive issuance on mining which is EO No. 130 which lifts the ban on open-pit mining. I have conferred with [DENR] USec. Benny Antiporda and he says the matter is still being studied by the DENR,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing. He, however, reiterated that open-pit mining remains unacceptable for Duterte. In November 2017, Duterte said he agreed with the open-pit mining ban given the environmental damage it causes. Duterte, in his third State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, 2018, also warned the mining industry not to destroy the environment, saying environmental protection is one of his government’s priorities. “To the mining industry, I say this once again and maybe for the last time, do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged,” Duterte said. Roque reiterated Duterte’s call to the mining industry to find other ways to extract minerals without destroying the environment. “But I understand from USec. Benny Antiporda that both the President and Secretary [Roy] Cimatu agreed that the mining industry must reinvent mining in a manner that would ensure that it is sustainable and would cost the least damage to the environment,” he added. Open-pit mining is allowed under Philippine law, but Duterte has rejected previous recommendations to lift the ban. The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also among the top producers of copper and gold.
Philippine Resources - June 21, 2021
Villar: Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge On-Track for July 2021 Opening
Photo Credit: Department of Public Works and Highways Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar reassured on Friday, June 18, 2021 that remaining civil works are being fast-tracked to open the new and modernized Estrella-Pantaelon Bridge by next month. “We are here on-site to show you that all substructure and superstructure of the Estrella-Pantaelon Bridge have been constructed and we are confident that we will be able to finish remaining works on approach road and ancillary/miscellaneous works by July 2021,” said Secretary Villar. Secretary Villar together with BCDA President & CEO and Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Secretary Vince Dizon, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain inspected the substantially completed Estrella Pantaleon Bridge following an on-site Press Conference on Progress Update of Build, Build, Build Program. Citing a report from Undersecretary Sadain, Secretary Villar noted that the ongoing bridge project across Pasig River linking Estrella Street in Makati City and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong City is now 93 percent complete. When completed, the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge widened from two (2) lanes to four (4) lanes is expected to accommodate as much as 50,000 cars daily, improving traffic situation in the area and decongesting the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue. The bridge-modernization project is implemented by the DPWH-UPMO Roads Management Cluster 1 (Bilateral) and is funded under a Chinese Grant together with Binondo-Intramuros Bridge. Article Courtesy of the Department of Public Works and Highways