PIA News Service - Friday, July 31, 2009

Coast Guard on alert vs fears of possible oil spill of M/V Ocean King 2

SURIGAO CITY (July 31) - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) authorities in Liloan, Southern Leyte are now concerned about a possible oil spill from the passenger roro vessel M/V Ocean King 2 owned and operated by Mandaue City-based Sea Marine Transport Corp. which beached itself near the port of Benit in San Ricardo town, Southern Leyte, last July 28. PCG PO1 Patrio E. Romero in an interview said that they have already conducted a site survey and currently monitoring for a possible oil spill.

The Coast Guard said that while the vessel does not represent a hazard to navigation in its current location, there is still a risk that an oil spill could occur if the vessel’s hull is breached. PO1 Romero, however, assured the public that they have already laid some precautionary oil spill boom around the vessel.

“We have already contained the area,” said PO1 Romero.

It may be recalled that last Tuesday, July 28 the vessel left from Lipata port in Surigao City around noon time with 121 passengers consisting of 119 adults, two children and 26 crew as well as 13 vehicles and tons of cargo. The vessel, which was bound for Liloan port, encountered strong winds and huge waves while passing near Maasin, Southern Leyte.

Reports bared that the strong waves broke the lashing of the vehicles in the rolling cargo hold causing these to slide towards the starboard side of the vessel. The sudden shift of the rolling cargo prompted the vessel to list 80 degrees to starboard. The heavy listing caused seawater to enter the starboard side. To save the vessel, the captain diverted to the port of Benit. As the vessel maneuvered to dock at the pier, the engines backing gears failed to engage. The vessel captain then decided to beach the vessel and dropped the port and starboard anchors about 20 meters from the pier.

Cesar Seruelo, Sea Marine Transport Corp. Surigao City Branch Manager in an interview said that after the incident the 121 passengers were then disembarked and ferried to the pier safely.

Seruelo also said that they have given the passengers free meals and arranged free transportation in going to Liloan, Southern, Leyte.

“We have also transported some of their family members in going to Liloan for free yesterday. They will just have to coordinate our office in Liloan for a free transpo in coming back to Surigao,” Seruelo added.

He also said that the vessel captain and crew are still on the area to monitor the situation of the stricken vessel. (Fryan E. Abkilan, PIA-Surigao del Norte)


PIA MEDIA RELEASE

Mindanao leaders hail successful implementation of PGMA's SONA projects

MANILA (PNA) – Local government officials and business leaders from Mindanao have hailed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the successful implementation of her State-of-the- Nation Address (SONA) projects in the region.

Reports reaching MalacaƱang said Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente Lao lauded the present administration for an impressive performance, especially on putting in place various infrastructure facilities in Mindanao. "

President Arroyo’s SONA infrastructure program is impressive. It is only during this administration that we've seen a very focused, one-track mind leadership in connecting areas in Mindanao," Lao said in a statement.

He noted that prioritizing the road network in the region is one laudable achievement of the government which should make Mindanaoans proud.

In her SONA at the joint opening session of the House of Representatives and the Senate last Monday, President Arroyo did not spend much time enumerating the various infrastructure projects which were mostly finished in various parts of the country.

Instead, she generalized her report to the people, saying that it is only during this administration that more and better infrastructure projects were built and finished nationwide.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said such projects include airports of international standard, seaports, and the roll-on, roll-off (Ro-RO) system.

She said that to further ensure continued effort in the infrastructure sector, President Arroyo has asked Congress to work on a Philippine Transport Security Authority Law.

Fajardo also said the President has stressed the need for ongoing projects to be completed in the remaining months of her term.

“Some of these ongoing projects are the Kapalong-Talaingod- Valencia City Road in Davao and Bukidnon; Surigao-Davao Coastal Road; Awang-Upi-Kalamansi g-Lebak Road in Maguindanao; Zamboanga West Coastal Road, and Dinagat Island Road Network,” Fajardo said.

The Kapalong-Talaingod- Valencia Road network is vital in the agricultural modernization program of the government as it connects the banana plantation and palm oil producers in Talaingod to the food processing facilities in Bukidnon.

It is one of the Super Region projects of the President in the Agribusiness Mindanao Region as it also promotes peace and order development and will eventually provide investment and employment opportunities in Mindanao.

Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. has instructed all of his regional directors and district engineers to speed up these projects for the benefit of residents as well as the traveling public in Mindanao. (PNA)


Analyst sees better growth figure for RP in Q2 ‘09

MANILA (PNA) – Reports of higher government spending and continued resiliency of remittances are among the things that would prop-up the Philippine economy in the second quarter of this year.

Philippine Equity Partners Inc. (PEP) analyst Jojo Gonzales considers the 0.4 percent output of the domestic economy in the first quarter this year as the “worst quarter in terms of growth.”

“Increased government spending, sustained bank lending, the bottoming out of trade, stable remittance flows, all suggest mildly better growth in (the) second quarter,” he told PNA.

Gonzales said confidence of both the consumers and investors are “more positive at this stage” compared to that in the first three months of this year on account of positive reports on the domestic and global economy.

“The doomsday scenarios for the global economy have diminished and this should reduce the bearishness towards the Philippine economy, too,” he added.

Input of the government’s economic stimulus package was also cited by an official of an entity that conducts surveys as a factor for the improvement of consumers’ economic outlook in the second quarter of this year.

A recent online survey of Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence shows that stimulus packages of governments worldwide played a major role in the improvement of consumer confidence of Filipinos for one.

Reports said result of the Nielsen survey showed that confidence index (CI) of Filipinos improved to 103 percent from 96 percent during an online poll conducted from June 15-29, 2009.

Nielsen business insight director Jonathan Banks was quoted as saying that governments’ pump-priming programs along with improvements in the stock market boosted consumer confidence.

“Consumers in emerging and Asian markets are clearly of the view that they are driving in the recovery lane now,” he added.

Earlier, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said he sees better than 0.4 percent growth for the Philippines in the second quarter this year on account of reports that the global downturn seems to be bottoming out.

NEDA Deputy Director General Rolando Tungpalan said they remain confident on the attainment of the full-year growth target of 0.8-1.8 percent because of reports that major economies are now churning in better figures.

He cited the positive direction of the global economy as well as the coming out of positive figures in the domestic front as among the reasons for their optimism.

He also noted the continued growth of remittances sent by Overseas Filipinos (OFs), which registered a new record high inflows last May after it grew by 3.7 percent year-on-year and reached US$ 1.48 billion, bringing the first five month’s total to US$ 6.98 billion, or a 2.8 percent jump from year-ago’s US$ 6.79 billion.

“The global economy is pulling away of a recession although recovery will be slow,” he said.

Tungpalan added that based on these indicators and reports of more investment plans by the private sector in the coming months, growth of the domestic economy is “moving upward.”

“There is reason for us to remain confident about our 0.8-1.8 GDP growth target this year,” he added.

The government is set to announce this year’s April to May performance next month. (PNA)