Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yolanda influenced operationalization of Green Fund

MALOLOS CITY—If there was any positive effect coming from super typhoon Yolanda, it would most surely be the operationalization by 2014 of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the Climate Change Consciousness Week conference at the SM Convention Center on Tuesday, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Yolanda (international name, Haiyan) has put more pressure on representatives to the recent 19th Conference of Parties (COP) held in Poland to implement the GCF.

“At least $14 billion will be operational by next year,” said Salceda, the elected co-chair for the GCF Board. He disclosed that European countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia
have expressed interest in putting the initial donations.

The GCF, Salceda explained, was first conceived in the COP held in Copenhagen in 2009 wherein developed nations were asked to contribute a total of $30 billion per year from 2009 to 2015; and $100 million from 2015 to 2020.

However, the GCF was not put into operation until it was formally created in Cancun, Mexico where the COP16 was held in 2010. The following year, the GCF was finally formed in Durban, South Africa. Salceda said operationalization of the GCF can be finally approved in the United Nations’ General Assembly (UN-GA) by September 2014.

“It is good news in itself, because it means that we are moving forward,” said the governor who also spoke during a parallel workshop on climate change for journalists. When asked by PromdiNews if the said fund can be availed of for victims of Yolanda, Salceda said that it is open for developing countries to address risks of climate change.

“GCF is an instrument of the family of nations to enable developing countries in performing their functions in adaptation and mitigation, so hindi lang sa calamity, risk based yan,” he said. At present, the GCF board is finalizing requirements for accreditation of countries interested in availing the fund.

In an earlier statement, Lawyer Mary Ann Lucille Sering, secretary of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, said the “the swift operationalization of the Green Climate Fund is critical to helping developing countries adapt to and cope with the worsening impacts of climate change.”

Sering added that “we are committed to exercising leadership and ensuring the essential requirements are fulfilled by September 2014 so money will start flowing to countries that are in need and most vulnerable.

Many of our countries have put in place policies and domestic financing strategies to make our economies resilient, rebuild communities better and in a transformational manner – but we need international support to help us bridge the gap and make this transition towards climate-resilient low-emission development.”

The GCF’s purpose is to make a significant contribution to the global efforts to limit warming to two degrees Celsius by providing support to developing countries to help limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bulacan board vowed to pass dam safety ordinance

MALOLOS CITY— The Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Bulacan vowed to pass a land mark ordinance on dam safety in an attempt to protect millions of residents and hold dam operators accountable.

This came as similar law linger in Congress since November 2011 and still to be acted upon by lawmakers who are beleaguered by the pork barrel scam.

Vice-Governor Daniel Fernando said that until a law is ratified, Bulakenyos are not protected by misoperation of dams and no one will be held accountable.

“We will pass an ordinance on dam safety that will help identify specific guidelines in dam operations, and accountable persons in case of misoperation,” he said in vernacular during a regular session of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Bulacan.

Fernando said that once ratified the ordinance will serve as basis on holding dam operators responsible.

The same was echoed by Board Member Felix Ople, the chair of the Environment Committee of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan.

He said that in 2011, the provincial government led by Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado warn to file a class suit against officials of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) which manages the Angat Dam.

This is due to severe flooding that Bulacan suffered after typhoons Pedring and Quiel barreled through the province in September and October that year.

However, warning of Alvarado did come through.

Ople said that in the future, the planned dam safety ordinance with provincial government an artillery in running after accountable persons.

Some members of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan expressed concerned if a provincial ordinance will be taken seriously by national agencies operating dams in the province.

They cited concerns on jurisdiction, but Board Member Ernesto Sulit, they have to try.

Other said that in the absence of a national law governing dam operations, a provincial ordinance will be enough.

Earlier, Engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, a dam safety expert based in the United States stressed in his presentation before the Sangguniang Panglalawiga the importance of dam safety legislation.

He said that while there is House Bill filed in Congress on dam safety, a parallel ordinance can be enacted because it takes a while before Congress ratify a law.

Dela Cruz expressed concern on the imminence of another calamity in the province noting that local dams like the Angat, Ipo and Bustos are under designed.

As lead dam safety engineer of the Southern California Edison who manages 82 dams, Dela Cruz said dams are considered as dangerous installations.

He said in constructing dams, it must be designed to withstand a 1,000 to 10,000 years storm.

“Apparently, Angat Dam and other dams in Bulacan are not designed for a 1,000 year storm,” he said.

Dela Cruz cited repeated release of water from Angat Dams even when there is not storm.

He said, “monsoon rain pa lang, wala pang bagyo nagpapatapon na ng tubig.”

Dela Cruz also scored the absence of funds prepared by dam operators in the country  for regular maintenance, monitoring and management of dam structures.

He said that in the United States, state and federal governments have required dam operators to finance similar activities.  Dino Balabo

Friday, August 2, 2013

Illegal lumbers seized in Bulacan, but no one is arrested

MALOLOS CITY—Intensified anti-illegal logging campaign of the provincial government of Bulacan in the Angat Watershed netted over 20,000 board feet of illegally cut lumbers.

However, no person has been arrested in the week-long campaign initiated by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado through the Provincial Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (PAILTF).

The most recent accomplishment of the task force is the seizure of additional 3,857 feet of illegally cut lumber within the Ipo Dam watershed in Norzagaray town last Sunday.

The PAILTF said that they seized over 20,000 board feet of spliced and sawed lumbers within the Angat and Ipo watersheds since July 16 when members of the task force swooped down on the lairs of suspected timber poachers.

However, despite the series of confiscations of illegally cut lumbers, no one has been arrested and no chain saw has been seized.

Bro. Martin Francisco, PAILTF member and founding chair of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society (SSMES) said their movement has been tipped by cohorts of suspected timber poachers.

“They are getting more sophisticated, well financed and well equipped,” Francisco said referring to timber poachers within the Angat and Ipo Watersheds.

He said that cohorts of timber poachers are using cellular phones to inform timber poachers that the raiding team is coming.

Francisco said that timber poacher were tipped, they just leave the sawed lumber and fled with their chain saws.

In the past, a number of timber poachers has been arrested within the Angat and ipo Watersheds.

By constructions of towers by some telephone companies near the watersheds to widen their coverage has also been utilized and employed by timber poachers.

As this developed, Governor Alvarado vowed to continue the anti-illegal logging campaign to protect the watershed noting that the Angat Watershed is one of the most highly critical watershed in the country.

He also said that the provincial government will conduct seminars for forest rangers and watchers tasked to guard the watershed areas in eastern Bulacan.

The governor reiterated that cutting of trees along the watershed areas of Angat and Ipo  dams are strictly prohibited.

He also said that legal teams are now also studying the cancellation of permits of some sash factories and shops in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte City which are being suspected of buying the Illegally cut lumbers.

He also lamented that a big part of the forest covers of the watershed area in Ipo dam has already been denuded. (Dino Balabo)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bulacan Gov bats for climate proofing public schools

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Worried about floods, Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado bats for climate proofing of schools in the province to serve as functional evacuation centers during floods.

He also asked the sangguniang panlalawigan to ratify an ordinance for the creation of permanent evacuation centers in flood-prone towns and cities in the province.

Alvarado’s call came after the province suffered floods after the onslaught of typhoons Pedring and Quiel in 2011 and the southwest monsoon rains last year.

“This is very timely, we found out that our functional evacuation centers were also submerged in recent floods,” the governor said in an interview after delivering his first state of the province address in three years.

He said that public schools along with churches served as functional evacuation centers during the flood, but many were submerged and were not utilized.

The governor said that while the Department of Education (DepEd) is completing their counterpart in constructing half of the more than 1,800 classrooms in the province, the Department must make sure that it will not be easily submerged.

The governor also asked the sangguniang panlalawigan to pass an ordinance that will serve as basis for construction of permanent evacuation centers in flood-prone towns in the province such as Hagonoy, Calumpit,Paombong, Guiguinto, Obando, Bocaue, Marilao, Bulakan, and the cities of Malolos and Meycauayan.

As an example, he said that the grounds of Hagonoy West Central School in Barangay Sto. Rosario in Hagonoy town will be elevated to at least one meter above the road.

The campus of the said school used to go under water during high tide, and during floods.

“There must be a dry area where people can evacuate during flood events,” he said and stressed that to provide that, school facilities must be climate proofed when undergoing rehabilitation.

With regards to funding of permanent evacuation centers, the governor said that they will coordinate with local mayors for counterpart funding.

As this developed, he also urged the sangguniang panlalawigan to pass a resolution asking the national government to establish the first National Dam Safety Board, and the revival of the Pampanga River Control System (PRCS) which is tasked to manage river systems in Central Luzon.

The call for the national dam safety board is a parallel move of the provincial government to the proposed National Dam Safety Law authored by Rep. Marivic Alvarado of the first congressional district of the province.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bulacan informal settlers to be relocated soon

BUSTOS, Bulacan—Hundreds of informal settlers living on identified geo-hazard zone along the Angat River will soon be relocated to a resettlement site in this town.

Mayor Arnel Mendoza of this town said that first batch of informal settlers will be resettled within the year.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) established a resettlement housing project in a seven hectare lot at Barangay Catacte here.

The mayor said that at least 80 percent of the 1,166 low coast housing units has been completed.

He said that informal settlers living along the banks of Angat River in Baliwag, Plaridel, Pulilan and this town were identified for resettlement.

For Bustos town alone, Mendoza said that at least 600 families has been identified.

“They are the ones who has been identified by the provincial and municipal government,” he said noting that said informal settlers are usual resident who used to be evacuated when Angat, Ipo and Bustos dams in the province release water into the Angat River.

According to Mendoza, community affairs officers (CAO) the Social Welfare and development office in the province and Bustos has coordinated with the residents for identification and validation of families that will be relocated.

He said that informal settlers offered not resistance.

The same was echoed by Amancio Surigao, Fatima Datiles and Erna Villamor, all residents living under the General Alejo Santos bridge that links this town with Baliwag town.

They said that they have been living under the bridge for more than 30 years and noted that when water on the Angat River is high, they have to evacuate on top of the bridge where they used to pitch tents.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to stay away from danger zone” said 52-year old Surigao in vernacular.

In a separate interview, 32-year old Datiles said she always fear for her three children when water on the river start rising.

She said that during the flood spawned by typhoon Pedring in 2012 and monsoon rains last year, they house was submerge and it made her fearful.

“My children are so young and I have to keep watch over them,” Datiles said.

Like Datiles and Surigao, Villamor welcome the housing project offered by the government in Barangay Catacte in Bustos town.

She said that it is not far from their sources of livelihood, but stressed that they might have problems with their children in going to school.

Villamor said that other families living along the bank of Angat River in Barangay Tibag, Baliwag have children attending nearby schools.

“Its just a walking distance from our house, that’s why we don’t have to worry much about transportation,” Villamor said in Filipino.

Earlier, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said that housing project developed by NHA in Bustos town will have school facilities along with a clinic and mini-market.

The said housing project is likely to be expanded to accommodate more informal settlers.

He also disclosed that the NHA is also developing another housing project in Pandi town for other informal settlers in the province.  (Dino Balabo)

Friday, June 7, 2013

SM Group leads ‘Grow A Million Trees’ mission in Bulacan

Motivated by the same goal, linked by a common threat, more than a hundred employees from different companies under the SM Group and its affiliates joined hands in making their pledges for the environment through the “Grow A Million Trees” tree planting activity held on June 5, 2013.

The project led by SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI), the company’s socio civic arm, is aimed to contribute to the national greening efforts through tree planting, nurturing and development initiatives in specified areas nationwide.

It also highlights the public and private partnership between the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) and SM in being catalysts for environment sustainability and protection.

SMFI likewise partnered with the local group, the Suklib Kalawakan DRT Upland Farmers Association, Inc. to help during the three-year program development of the plantation area in Bulacan.

Coinciding with the celebration of the World Environment Day, volunteers braved the heat as they trekked the steep hill of the vast 20-hectare land in Sitio Kamalig, Barangay Kalawakan, Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan. This area was adopted as one of the seven identified sites for the tree growing project.

The area became the home of 2,500 saplings of narra trees planted by the participants. These seedlings amounted to the 25 percent of the target 10,000 for the Bulacan site alone.

Meanwhile, every employee who came from SM malls in Baliwag and Marilao, SM Hypermarket, Supermarket, SM Department Store and Ace Hardware were armed not only with planting tools but also with their desire to save the environment amidst climate crisis.

During the activity, it was SMFI Assistant Vice President for livelihood and outreach, Ms. Cristie Angeles who led the group together with project partners head DENR Central Office’s Romeo Fiecas, Community Environment and Natural Resources’ Forester III Juanito Pascual and People’s Organization’s Juanito Polka.

The SM Grow A Million Trees project in Bulacan is the first leg of the many tree planting activities for the year. To date, 270,207 seedlings have been planted by the SM Group and affiliates.

The project will also be carried out in the provinces of Benguet, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Davao, Nasugbu and Calatagan in Batangas.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Beauty queen vows to take up environment advocacy

By Dino Balabo

 MALOLOS CITY—A Bulakenya beauty queen vowed to promote environmental awareness in view of the calamities visited upon the province s in the last two years.

This, as the provincial government of Bulacan feted Bernadette Mae Aguirre yesterday during the launch of the month-long environmental awareness celebrations.

Aguirre was crowned 2013 Miss Earth Philippines-Eco-tourism last month in Manila.  She is the also the holder of the 2012 Lakambini ng Bulacan title.

A resident of Sta. Maria, one of the towns which suffered from the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy in 2009, Aguirre said she will push for environmental protection.

She said she will specifically work for the continued rehabilitation of the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System (MMORS) which was included in the list of 30 dirtiest places on Earth in 2007.

“Environment degradation stems from lack of of understanding and awareness, that’s why I will devote this year for environmental campaign,” she said.

Aguirre also said that she will work hand in hand with the provincial government to campaign for reforestation projects in eastern Bulacan, specifically in the Angat  Watershed which was declared as one of the most critical watersheds in the country in 2004.

A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Aguirre described the Angat Watershed as the source of Metro Manila’s drinking water.

She said that unless it is protected and reforested, Metro Manila water supply cannot be secured.

With regards to coastal resources development, Aguirre said she will coordinate with the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) for projects they can work for promotions.

Based on data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, Bulacan annual fish production dropped by over 10,000 meteric towns from 2001 to 2011.

Agriculture officials in the province blamed pollution in rivers caused by lack of solid waste management programs in some towns.

However, fisherfolk and small fishpond operators blame excessive use of aqua feeds by fishpond operators with 50 hectares and above of fishponds.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


AS WE celebrate World Environment Day today, June 5, the grim reminders of the power of nature are splashed on newspapers and all over the broadcast and social media.

Floodwaters are rising and devastating parts of Central Europe, powerful tornadoes had ripped through Oklahoma in the United States, earthquakes had struck Taiwan and southern Philippines. The toll on human lives and property are unimaginable; the images of destruction are beyond words.

Now, more than ever, is vigilance needed as communities brace for a changing environment. The new normal are stronger typhoons, sudden rains and flooding during summer, snowfall in arid lands, extreme heat in wintry months and higher sea level that would erase coastal communities.

The Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ) joins the celebration of World Environment Day aware that there are bigger challenges ahead. The responsibility of the media to convey accurate and timely information to communities at risk to a changing environment is much needed as we reach a critical stage of the fight to reverse the impact of global warming and climate change.

PNEJ, which is celebrating its third founding anniversary today, is reiterating its commitment to look for and present stories that would push environmental issues to the forefront so these could move policymakers, government and nongovernment agencies and communities to action.

We also take this opportunity to thank PNEJ’s partners in training and offering opportunities to a new generation of environmental journalists and bringing environmental reporting to the consciousness of the Filipino public. Rest assured, we will not waver in our resolve to advance environment and development issues to benefit our community, especially those most vulnerable to the impact of a changing climate.

Happy World Environment Day!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Declining biodiversity alarms Bulakenyos

HAGONOY, Bulacan – Declining biodiversity in this coastal town has alarmed both officials and residents alike.

 Plant species that used to thrive along rivers and creeks and along the coast of Manila Bay, and a number of fish species that fishermen used to catch in rivers and in the open seas have disappeared.

Impact of such disappearance, they said, are now felt by households that are dependent on fish catch for livelihood and food.

Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado recounted that in his younger days, the riverbanks of the town were filled with different species of plants that were home to insects and a sanctuary for different fish species.

“Dati maraming mga kulasi, sasahan, diliwaryo, bakawan at palapat sa baybayin ng ilog at maging sa dagat,” said Alvarado who served as mayor of this town from 1986 to 1998.

He lamented that areas where plant species used to grow were replaced by concrete structures like houses.

Alvarado added that the quality of the river water has changed in the last 20 years.

This was affirmed by former Bulacan Board Member Patrocinio Laderas who, like Alvarado, was involved in fishpond operations before entering politics.

“Not only plant species are disappearing in a dizzying phase, we are also losing marine species to water pollution,” Laderas said.

As a former fishpond operator, he said that seasonal harvest in recent years has dropped by about 90 percent compared to harvest 20 years ago.

Laderas warned that unless local government units start to make a move today, there will be nothing left in the years to come.

This fear is shared by fishermen like Rodolfo Cabangis who for more than 30 years has braved the waters of Manila Bay.

Cabangis said that local fishermen’s earnings from catch today is not even enough to send their children to school because of the dearth of fish in said bay.

He said that 30 years ago, they fished only along the coastline of Manila Bay in Bulacan. 

Today, however, fishermen here now face the risks of going near or beyond Corregidor Island, where once his neighbors drowned when hit by huge waves.

“Kahit sa palengke wala ka nang mabibiling alugasin, pati yung mga sapsap, alimasag at dalagang bukid madalang na,” he said referring to fish caught in the open sea.

Cabangis also noted that fish sold every day in public markets here are largely sourced from fishponds, adding that pollution and over fishing has led to the present decline in fish catch which results to higher price of this food commodity. Dino Balabo

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Climate Change and its Effect in Agriculture

Biotechnology and Climate Change

The continuing increase in greenhouse gas emissions raises the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. This results to melting of glaciers, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events. The accelerating pace of climate change, combined with global population and depletion of agricultural resources threatens food security globally.

The over-all impact of climate change as it affects agriculture was described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), and cited by the US EPA (2011)1 to be as follows:

Increases in average temperature will result to: i)  increased crop productivity in high latitude temperate regions due to the lengthening of the growing season; ii)   reduced crop productivity in low latitude subtropical and tropical regions where summer heat is already limiting productivity; and iii) reduced productivity due to an increase in soil evaporation rates.
Change in amount of rainfall and patterns will affect soil erosion rates and soil moisture, which are important for crop yields. Precipitation will increase in high latitudes, and decrease in most subtropical low latitude regions – some by as much as about 20%, leading to long drought spells.
Rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will boost and enhance the growth of some crops but other aspects of climate change (e.g., higher temperatures and precipitation changes) may offset any beneficial boosting effect of higher CO2 levels.
Pollution levels of tropospheric ozone (or bad ozone that can damage living tissue and break down certain materials) may increase due to the rise in CO2 emissions. This may lead to higher temperatures that will offset the increased growth of crops resulting from higher levels of CO2. 
Changes in the frequency and severity of heat waves, drought, floods and hurricanes, remain a key uncertain factor that may potentially affect agriculture.
Climatic changes will affect agricultural systems and may lead to emergence of new pests and diseases.
In 2012, almost 40% of the world population of 6.7 billion, equivalent to 2.5 billion, rely on agriculture for their livelihood and will thus likely be the most severely affected. 2
To mitigate these effects, current agricultural approaches need to be modified and innovative adaption strategies need to be in place to efficiently produce more food in stressed conditions and with net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Contribution of Biotech Crops in Mitigating Effects of Climate Change

Green biotechnology offers a solution to decrease green house gases and therefore mitigates climate change. Biotech crops for the last 16 years of commercialization have been contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions. They allow farmers to use less and environmentally friendly energy and fertilizer, and practice soil carbon sequestration.

Herbicide tolerant biotech crops such as soybean and canola facilitate zero or no-till, which significantly reduces the loss of soil carbon (carbon sequestration) and CO2 emissions, reduce fuel use, and significantly reduce soil erosion.
Insect resistant biotech crops require fewer pesticide sprays which results in savings of tractor/fossil fuel and thus less CO2 emissions. For 2011, there was a reduction of 37 million kg of active ingredients, decreased rate of herbicide and insecticide sprays and ploughing reduced CO2 emission by 23.1  billion kg of CO2 or removing 10.2 million cars off the road.3
Biotech Crops Adapted to Climate Change

Crops can be modified faster through biotechnology than conventional crops, thus hastening implementation of strategies to meet rapid and severe climatic changes. Pest and disease resistant biotech crops have continuously developed as new pests and diseases emerge with changes in climate. Resistant varieties will also reduce pesticide application and hence CO2 emission.  Crops tolerant to various abiotech stresses have been developed in response to climatic changes.

Salinity Tolerant Crops
Biotech salt tolerant crops have been developed and some are in the final field trials before commercialization. In Australia, field trials of 1,161 lines of genetically modified  (GM) wheat and 1,179 lines of GM barley modified to contain one of 35 genes obtained from wheat, barley, maize, thale cress, moss or yeasts are in progress since 2010 and will run till 2015. Some of the genes are expected to enhance tolerance to a range of abiotic stresses including drought, cold, salt and low phosphorous. Sugarcane that contains transcription factor (OsDREB1A) is also under field trial from 2009 to 2015.4

More than a dozen of other genes influencing salt tolerance have been found in various plants. Some of these candidate genes may prove feasible in developing salt tolerance in sugarcane 4, rice5,6, barley 7, wheat 8, tomato9, and soybean10.

Drought Resistant Crops
Transgenic plants carrying genes for water-stress management have been developed.  Structural genes (key enzymes for osmolyte biosynthesis, such as proline, glycine/betaine, mannitol and trehalose, redox proteins and detoxifying enzymes, stress-induced LEA proteins) and regulatory genes, including dehydration–responsive, element-binding (DREB) factors, zinc finger proteins, and NAC transcription factor genes, are being used. Transgenic crops carrying different drought tolerant genes are being developed in rice, wheat, maize, sugarcane, tobacco, Arabidopsis, groundnut, tomato, potato and papaya.11, 12

An important initiative for Africa is the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project of the Kenyan-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Howard G. Buffet Foundations. Drought tolerant WEMA varieties developed through marker assisted breeding could be available to farmers within the next two or three years. Drought-tolerant and insect-protected varieties developed using both advanced breeding and transgenic approaches could be available to farmers in the later part of the decade.13 In 2012, a genetically modified drought tolerant maize MON 87460 that expresses cold shock protein B has been approved in the US for release in the market.14

Biotech Crops for Cold Tolerance
By using genetic and molecular approaches, a number of relevant genes have been identified and new information continually emerges. Among which are the genes controlling the CBF cold-responsive pathway and together with DREB1 genes, integrate several components of the cold acclimation response to tolerance low temperatures.15

Cold tolerant GM crops are being developed such as GM eucalypti, which is currently being field tested in the US by Arborgen LLC since 2010. Thale cress has been improved to contain the DaIRIP4 from Deschapsia antarctica, a hairgrass that thrives in frosts down to -30C, and sugarcane are being introgressed with genes from cold tolerant wild varieties.4

Biotech Crops for Heat Stress
Expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs) has been associated with recovery of plants under heat stress and sometimes, even during drought. HSPs bind and stabilize proteins that have become denatured during stress conditions, and provide protection to prevent protein aggregation. In GM chrysanthemum containing the DREBIA gene from Arabidopsis thaliana, the transgene and other heat responsive genes such as the HSP70 (heat shock proteins) were highly expressed when exposed to heat treatment. The transgenic plants maintained higher photosynthetic capacity and elevated levels of photosynthesis-related enzymes.16

Forward Looking

Improved crops resilient to extreme environments caused by climate change are expected   in a few years to a decade. Hence, food production during this era should be given another boost to sustain food supply for the doubling population. Biotech research to mitigate global warming should also be initiated to sustain the utilization of new products. Among these are: the induction of nodular structures on the roots of non-leguminous cereal crops to fix nitrogen. This will reduce farmers’ reliance on inorganic fertilizers. Another is the utilization of excess CO2 in the air by staple crop rice by converting its CO2 harnessing capability from C3 to C4 pathway. C4 plants like maize can efficiently assimilate and convert CO2 to carbon products during photosynthesis.


US EPA. 2011. Agriculture and Food Supply: Climate change, health and environmental effects.  April 14, 2011.

IFPRI. 2009. Climate change impact on agriculture and cost adaptation.

Brookes, G and P Barfoot. 2012. Global economic and environmental benefits of GM crops continue to rise.

Tammisola, J. 2010. Towards much more efficient biofuel crops – can sugarcane pave the way? GM Crops 1:4; 181-198.

Salt Tolerant GM Barley Trials in Australia, Successful.

Moghaieb RE, A Nakamura, H Saneoka and K Fujita. 2011. Evaluation of salt tolerance in ectoine-transgenic tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum) in terms of photosynthesis, osmotic adjustment, and carbon partitioning. GM Crops. 2(1):58-65.

Sanghera, GS, S H Wani, W Hussain, and N B Singh. 2011. Engineering cold stress tolerance in crop plants. Curr Genomics 12 (1): 30-43.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CMWD moves to avert possible water shortage

MALOLOS CITY—The City of Malolos Water District (CMWD) is bracing itself to meet the increasing needs of its more than 230,000 population with its new board setting plans for service improvement and expansion.

The plans include the establishment of additional pumping stations and tree planting activities.

Engineer Bernie Buenaventura, a member of the CMWD board said that at present, the CMWD has over 45,000 in concessionaires, each consuming a minimum of 120 liters per day.

“Based on our current estimates, we are having weak water pressure in some areas especially during peak hours of the day,” he said noting that CMWD’s current pumping capability is not enough.

A licensed sanitary engineer, Buenaventura said that water demand is increasing everyday, while supply of ground water is slowly getting depleted.

This is due to aggressive developments of residential subdivisions in the city along with construction large malls, not to mention that fact that this city is the academic center of the province, he noted. An additional of at least 30,000 individuals will be added to the city population with the opening of classes in the second week of June.

Buenaventura said that open areas like rice lands were converted into residential subdivisions, with concrete roads. He said the concreting of open areas reduces natural replenishment of ground water.

Making the situation worse is that at least three pumping stations of the CMWD are not functional.

“We need not only to replace old pumping station, we must also improve water pumping capabilities,” he said.
As this developed, Buenaventura asked concessionaires to conserve water while they are hoping for the immediate implementation of the long delayed Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project (Bulacan Bulk).

The said project is seen to address increasing water deficit in the city and depleting ground water supply.

Buenaventura also said that for a long time, the CMWD implemented no tree planting program that will help preserve ground water.

“I will propose tree planting program in the Board the soonest,” he said.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fire and earthquake drills at SM Marilao

21 MAY 2013- A series of rescue operation was carried out by SM City Marilao’s Emergency Response Group as actual fire, earthquake and evacuation drill was staged during regular mall hours.

“We take this exercise seriously that is why we wanted it to be realistic as possible” on the statement made by Customer Relations Services Manager Jose Berong during the briefing done before the drill.

Weeks before the drill, shoppers, employees and tenants were advised of the simulation to ensure the welfare of each participant. Guaranteeing each and everyone’s safety, BFP along with Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council of Marilao and mall’s building administrators checked the first aid and safety equipment, fire exit doors, fire hydrants location and evacuation route as well as the evacuation area.  Seminars on earthquake as well as fire safety and prevention were likewise taken by the ERG as a refresher course prior to the drill.

The actual fire, earthquake and evacuation drill simulation targets to increase and strengthen mall’s Emergency Response Group (ERG) preparedness, evaluate response capabilities and improve coordination among the tasked units during emergency situations.

Challenging mock-up situations such as traumatized customers covered and injured by falling debris, tenant employees suffering from burn and head traumas as well as severely injured victim with fractures were put up to enhance the mall’s Emergency Response Group (ERG) skills in mobilization, communication and response, as well as the ability to account for all the people within the affected premises.

A mock-up fire scenario also transpired at the entrance of the mall to demonstrate the different types of fire stream while performing the actual simulation of suppressing the fire.

After the drill, Bulacan Provincial BFP, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council of Marilao, Marilao BFP and Barangay Ibayo Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council lauded SM City Marilao for its preparedness and capability in handling disaster situations. This exercise is observed yearly by the mall to illustrate and practice the proper response before, during and after these hazards happen.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

PNP creates TF Roura to look into the killing of San Miguel village chair

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan police created a task force to investigate the recent killing of a village chairman in San Miguel town early Sunday morning as they vowed to go after the suspects.

Senior Superintendent Joel Orduna, acting provincial police director of Bulacan created Task Force Roura late Sunday composed of elements from the Criminal Investigation Detection Team (CIDT) based in Malolos City.

The task force is tasked to conduct a thorough investigation in the killing of Ronnie Roura, the chair of Barangay Poblacion in San Miguel town, and headquarters manager of John Alvarez, a mayoral candidate in the said town.

Superintendent Marcus Rivero, chief of San Miguel police said Task Force Roura started investigation on Sunday.

“We will implement the law without fear or favor,” said Rivero in an interview yesterday.

Citing investigation reports, Rivero said that Roura was killed around 4:30 AM on Sunday by two unidentified armed men.

Roura’s wife Lotus Marie was able to escape but suffered bruises in the process, while Manny Manabat, driver of a tricycle used by the Rouras suffered gunshot wonds.

Reports also said that Ronnie Roura suffered multiple gunshot wounds in different part of the body and in the head.

Lotus Marie said that after the suspects shot her husband, they shot Manabat, then shot Ronnie again, this time in the head.

She said she knows the suspects and can easily identify them, but declined to disclose identities yet.

In a separate interview, mayoral candidate John Alvarez insisted that the killing is politically motivated.

He told PromdiNews in telephone interview that days before the incident, Roura received threatening call from another candidate in San Miguel town.

Alvarez expressed apprehension that the suspects who killed Ro0ura are the same suspects who tried to kill him in February 2012, when his two body guards namely Roelito Vidal and Josefino Alvarez were killed.

Alvarez cited similarities in the modus operandi in both killings wherein the suspects shot the victims in the head after shooting them in the body.

Records obtained by PromdiNews showed that SPO2 Angelito Veracruz Liwag, PO3 Antonino Timoteo and PO1 Alex Dayao of San Miguel Police station were charged with multiple murders and frustrated murder in the 2012 ambush on Alvarez.  Dino Balabo

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Diocese of Malolos takes hard line stand vs. candidates hostile on Church teachings

MALOLOS CITY—The Diocese of Malolos  took a hard line stand against anti-life and family candidates in the May 13 automated elections.

In a two page pastoral letter read in all parishes in Bulacan and in the City of Valenzuela, Bishop Jose Francisco Oliveros of the Diocese of Malolos advised parishioners saying “huwag iboto ang mga kandidatong laban sa buhay at pamilya.

Oliveros was referring to candidates who voted for the ratification of the Reproductive Health Law and those that are pushing for laws on divorce, same sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia or mercy killing.

The bishop also encourage parishioners in the province not to vote for candidates who pushed for the establishment landfills in Bulacan along with those who are facing charges of graft and corruption, and involved in illegal mining, illegal fishing, and illegal logging.

Oliveros also specifically called on the laity not to vote for candidates who belong to political dynasty and who have a mistress.

“Ito ang aking panawagan salahat ng mga layko ang kusa at malayang pagtugon sa gawaing ito,” the bishop said in his pastoral letter where in he added, “dapat tumulong ang mga laikong kalalakihan at kababaihan namay mataas na katungkulan sa ating lipunan sa paghubog ng budhinh panlipunan ng botante at dapat silang kumilos upang hayagang suportahan ang pagkakahalal sa mga katungkulang pampublikong mga pinunong may wagas na katapatan.”

In the same letter, Oliveros explained that his call is not partisan, instead, it was a recognition to candidates who are supporting the teachings of the Church.

He also reminded parishioners that in choosing the bext candidates in the May polls, Catholics must have knowledge of the candidates, must inquire and must exercise responsibility.

In inquiring about a certain candidate, Catholics were reminded to consider the four “Cs” which stands for  conscience, character, competence, compassion and commitment.

“Marapat lamang na ang botanteng katoliko ay mapag-isip, mapanuri,at mapagsaliksik sa uri ng pagkatao ng isang pulitiko,”Oliveros said.

With regards to the vaunted Catholic Vote, he described it as an spiritual power that that must evaluate the social, political and cultural landscape.

Ang botong katoliko ay pagtutol,hindi pagboto sa mga pulitiko na ang programa at panuntunan ay laban sa pananampalataya at moral ng Katoliko,” he said.

Meanwhile, political old hands here said that the pastoral letter will affect candidacies of Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado and his wife Rep. Marivic Alvarado.

Aside from the perception that the Alvarados are building apolitical dynastry, Rep. Alvarado also voted in favor of the RH law.

Other candidates are expected to be affected by the pastoral letter is Bulakan town Mayor Patrick Meneses, scion of the political clan who ruled in the town for more than 50 years; and the reelection bid of Mayor Joan Alarilla of Meycauayan City who was charged withy plunder years ago; and Mayor Rolando Flores of the mountain town of Donya Remedios Trindad who was suspended last year for abuse of authority.

Political observers also believes that reelection bids of Mayor Orencio Gabriel who favored the construction of sanitary landfill in Obando town; and Mayor Feliciano Legazpi who is grooming his son as his running mate.  (Dino Balabo)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ex-Board Member Raul Ople dies

HAGONOY, Bulacan—Former Bulacan Senior Board Member Raul Ople, the third son of the late statesman Blas F. Ople passed away on Thursday afternoon. He is 59.

Susan Ople, the youngest sibling of Raul said that her brother died of lymphoma, a form of cancer, around 4:30 PM at the Lung Center of the Philippines.

She said that the former Board Member is surrounded by his family at the time of his death.

His remains lies in state at the Chapel C of the Christ the King Church in Quezon City.  Internment will be announced later.

He left his wife Dolores San Juan-Ople along with children Marc, Carlo, Danielle, and Faith; and grandchildren Scarlet and John Gabriel.

The former Senior Board Member also left his siblings namely Luis, Blas Jr., Dalisay, Felix, Dionisio and Susan.

As this third son of the late statesman and Senator Blas F. Ople of this town, Raul was elected as Board Member of the first district of Bulacan in the 1995 election.

As a senior Board Member, he also served as vice governor of the province of Bulacan when former Governor Roberto Pagdanganan took a leave of absence when he served as care taker of the first congressional district.

The remainder of his tenure was served by then Vice Governor Josie Dela Cruz.

As a provincial legislator, Raul pushed for further development of the province through resolutions.

In 1998, he lost in the gubernatorial race against Dela Cruz who served as governor until 2007.

In the 2001 elections, Raul ran for the first congressional district of the province pushing for the creation of a economic zone in the province but lost to then Rep.Wilhelmino Alvarado who is now seeking his first reelection as governor of Bulacan.  Dino Balabo

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cabanas' call center to generate hundreds of jobs

MALOLOS CITY—Hundreds of jobs are expected to be generated by P60-Million facility that will house call center was inaugurated here on February 21.

Victoria Bustos, the President of the Dona Rita Realty Corporation (DRRC) said the four storey North Wing 4 (N4) Building will host a call center along with commercial offices for banks and others business establishments.

Located at the Cabanas garden mall here, the N4 building was first designed as a three storey facility.

But it was expanded to four after local businessmen offered to rent its top floor for call center operations.

“It will easily generate hundreds of jobs to Bulakenyos,” said Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado who led the soft launching of the N4.

He said that increasing investments in the province is one of the signs of rising confidence of investors to the government.

Alvarado also hailed the DRRC which is being operated by children Donato and Margarita Santiago who founded the Bulacan Garden Corporation in the lat 1950s.

Citing accomplishments of the company, the governor described the DRRC as a catalyst in local development.

As a pioneer in local real estate development, Alvarado said that the Santiago family has greatly contributed to the province’s development.

This is through the construction of class A and Class B residential subdivisions here and in the town of Calumpit since the late 80s when members of the Santiago family decided to diversify their business interest from landscaping business of the Bulacan Garden Corporation.

The latest business venture of the DRRC is the Cabanas garden mall, a premier commercial center in this city which opened five years ago.

For her part, Fely Rodrigo, the Vice President of the DRRC said that investing in Bulacan is partly in compliance to their father’s advise.

She said that their father Donato Santiago reminded them to invest in Bulacan to provide jobs and spearhead development.

“Our fathers told us many times that business is now just about earning money but about helping others,” she said.  Dino Balabo