PGMA: Economic progress must stand alongside environment protection
ORMOC CITY (25 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo underscored here today her administration's thrust that economic growth must be achieved alongside the preservation and protection of the environment for the Philippines to be a modern nation.
The Chief Executive said while other developing and developed nations believe that the environment must be sacrificed for economic development, the Arroyo administration "believes otherwise."
"We believe that we have a unique opportunity to get it right from day one: to introduce new industries that are clean and profitable. This ranges from sustainable furniture, to eco tourism, to developing a biofuels and geothermal industry that helps our energy independence, create jobs and keeps our nation clean for future generations," the President said.
In her message during the formal turnover ceremonies of the 51-megawatt Optimization Geothermal Plants in Leyte under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts with Ormat Leyte Co. Ltd. to the Philippine National Oil Co.-Energy Development Corp. (PNOC-EDC), the President said her administration is prioritizing its Green Philippines Agenda.
"We deeply believe that we must both sustain our natural environment and grow our economy at the same time. We are developing and promoting our Green Philippines Agenda which puts an emphasis on a sustainable economic model that brings economic opportunity and a concern for our environment," the President said.
The President said the turnover of the Leyte geothermal plants by Ormat Leyte Co. Ltd. to the PNOC-EDC, which is one proof that her administration is for tapping clean and renewable energy in order to sustain economic growth, "comes at a time when we are developing and promoting our Green Philippines Agenda…" and when the Philippine economy "has reached a new level of maturity and stability with some of the strongest macroeconomic fundamentals in 20 years."
She cited the generation of more revenues, the strong peso, the bullish stock market, the balance budget in August, pre-paying of debts and more jobs as a result of the tough economic and fiscal reforms she initiated to improve the economy.
"Today, the Philippines is on path to permanent economic growth and stability. Investments are pouring in, our peso is strong, our stock market has reached historic heights and we have created six million jobs," she said.
And, the President said, "the world is taking notice" that the Philippines is now a very attractive investment destination in Asia as she vowed to focus on ensuring that these economic gains would be sustained.
The President said that she would also ensure that the benefits of a growing economy would trickle down to the Filipino people, especially the poor.
"We are committed to consolidating the gains in new revenue by making long overdue investments in human and physical infrastructure. This includes billions of pesos in education, healthcare, and training along with billions in new bridges, roads and ports to upgrade the competitiveness of the Philippines," she said.
"We take pride in the discipline of our administration to focus on the economy and our overall economic health. We are proud of the fact that external debt is being pre-paid at a rapid clip, optimistic that we will balance the budget in 2008, two years ahead of schedule, and that we are making sure to use the gains to invest in vital social and economic needs," she added.
The Optimization Geothermal Plants turned over today include four facilities: the Mahanagdong A and B Topping Cycle Plants, Tongonan Topping Cycle Plant, and Malitbog Bottoming Cycle Plant, which have a combined installed capacity of 51 MW. The turnover comes at a time when prices of crude oil in the world market have reached $81 per barrel.
All of these plants use geothermal energy from PNOC-EDC's Leyte Geothermal Production Field (LGPF).
PNOC-EDC said geothermal fluids go to the optimization plants either before they are directed to the main power plants, referred to as "topping," or after being directed to the main power plants called "bottoming" for additional electrical output.
The Tongonan 1, Malitbog and Mahanagdong A and B plants provide power to the National Power Corp. for distribution to Cebu, through the Leyte-Cebu transmission interconnection project, and to Luzon through the Leyte-Luzon interconnection project.
With the turnover today, all geothermal plants under the BOT scheme would be now under the PNOC-EDC operations as the four plants are the only ones under BOT contracts that PNOC-EDC has yet to take over.
PNOC-EDC assumed last July the operation of the 232.5-MW Malitbog and 180-MW Mahanagdong geothermal power plants from CalEnergy International Ltd. when the 10-year cooperation period under the plants' respective energy conversion agreements ended.
PNOC-EDC took over last year the operation of the 132-MW Upper Mahiao power plant, also from CalEnergy.
The Leyte Optimization Plants, together with the Upper Mahiao, Malitbog and Mahanagdong facilities all use steam from the LGPF.
The LGPF is PNOC-EDC's biggest steam field, powering nearly 60 percent of the company's total installed capacity.
PNOC-EDC is the country's largest geothermal energy producer, with an installed capacity of 1,198 MW, or 60 percent of the country's total installed geothermal generating capacity.
The President has been an advocate of the development of clean alternative energy sources like geothermal power so as to lessen and eventually eliminate the country's dependence on imported crude oil for power as well as contribute to the lessening of gas emission that contributes to climate change.
This is so because the Philippines is the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world next to the United States and has the largest wet fields in the world.
The President witnessed the signing and handover of Transfer Agreement by Ormat Vice President Aaron Choresh and PNOC-EDC President Paul Aquino at the PNOC-EDC Milagro Administration Complex Clubhouse gymnasium.
Among those who also witnessed the ceremonies were PNOC-EDC Chair Pedro Aquino Sr., Energy Undersecretary Mariano Salazar, Southern Leyte Vice Gov. Damian Mercado, Ormoc City Vice Mayor Nepomuceno Aparris and Kananga, Leyte Mayor Elmer Codilla. (OPS/PIA) [top]