ROUGH CUTS| Strike while the iron is hot

A UNITED States senator is blocking a deal with the government of the Philippines for the purchase of some 26 thousand assault rifles for the country’s National Police.

     The reason, according to news reports, is that the senator is afraid the Philippine law enforcers will use it to violate human rights in the conduct of the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign launched by President Rodrigo Duterte.

     Or, may be the US does not want that their firearms will be shared by other countries in its utilization for violating of human rights? Its government, perhaps, wants the assault rifles used by the Americans solo in the conduct of responses to supposed calls for intervention or in the guise of liberating a country from unjust leaders.

     Three of the most glaring examples of armed interventions were the invasions of Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein and his arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction”, and of Afghanistan for harboring the late alleged terrorist global leader Osama bin Laden. The third one of course, is the US-led coalition that is now helping Syrian rebels topple Russian-backed President Assad.

     In all these US adventures, its soldiers and those of other coalition member countries, along with Syrian government soldiers and their Russian backers are taking turns in violating the rights of every Syrian – pro-government or pro-rebels, or the hapless unaligned civilians.

     So, what moral high ground can that US senator claim with his assertion that the assault rifles his country would have sold to the Philippines would be used to violate the human rights of Filipinos in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the President.

     Indeed it’s a question of “Look who’s talking?”


     Mindanao’s Power Situation Outlook as of last October 28, 2016 showed that the available capacity (in Megawatt) was 2,147 MW, while the island’s peak power demand was at 1,552 MW. This means there was at that time a gross power reserve of 595 MW.

     This is understandable because the new entrants in the power generation business are now fully operating like the 450 MW coal-fired power plant of the Filinvest Group located at the Phivedec site in Misamis Oriental. The Aboitiz-owned Therma South, Inc. (TSI) has also been operating quite well with its two 150 MW plants for a total of 300 MW capacity. We are also informed that the Alsons-owned coal-fed power generating facility in Sarangani Province is also operational though not its entire projected capacity for now.

     Of course, the various hydroelectric plants both privately-owned and that of the government’s Lake Lanao and Pulangi complexes are all churning power except those plants that are undergoing repairs or shut down for various reasons.

     So, after suffering long hours of power outages during the height of the El Nino phenomena in the past years Mindanao can now claim of power stability owing to its relatively huge surplus.

     The next question is how far can this energy over-supply hold if ranged against the projected development boom in Mindanao with a President coming from this southern island? Or we can have the question reversed as “How fast can the perceived development influx in Mindanao come in order to gobble up the energy surplus and prevent the same from evolving into a power supply glut?

     We believe that this situation in the power generation industry be properly looked into by government planners undertaking the development perspective for Mindanao.

     There is no doubt that the island is currently the “apple of the eyes” of both local and foreign investors because Mindanao is a clear beneficiary of development “favors” being the place of origin of the country’s President.

     Moreover, this southern Philippine island is also endowed with rich natural resources waiting to be explored and converted into globally marketable merchandise. And the tapping of these resources also serve as “trigger” for government to open up new support infrastructures such as roads, bridges and perhaps railways so the products or merchandise that come as consequence of the natural resources exploration and conversion processes could be moved from the plants to their ports of exits onward to their areas of destination.

     And clearly, it is during the construction of industrial and manufacturing plants and their eventual operation that the need for stable electric power supply is most overt.

     So, the existence of readily available power and a well-planned development program becomes a “bow and arrow” analogy, useless each without the other.

     But we have no doubt that many well-meaning businessmen prefer to bother themselves trying to provide the most appropriate answer to the question, “Which comes first, the egg or the chicken?”

     Meaning, it all depends on which business or industry the businessmen have in their portfolio that they are willing to locate in Mindanao.

     If a group is into the power generation business, it will definitely look into the prospect of when other industry owners locate their plants in Mindanao. Inversely, these non-power industry owners will also observe closely the behavior of those who are into the power generation business insofar as their own plans for opening up generation plants in the island.

     This seeming “tug-of-war” should serve as impetustof government planners to craft the necessary mechanisms that will guide the various industry sectors to make their simultaneous and well-coordinated investment moves for Mindanao.

     And as the saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot;” Meaning, while we have a President who hails from this island. Or, would we prefer to have the government’s planners’ own procrastination push our hopes to the vortex of the whirlwind?


Posted in Opinion