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Saturday, March 7, 2015

NO BBL POLICE FORCE; GERMANS ON MRT


AS A consequence of the Mamasapano debacle, the proposed autonomous Bangsamoro region will not be allowed to have its own police force.

“The Bangsamoro having their own police–there can be no such thing,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), told reporters last Monday. One problem in a Bangsamoro police force could be finding enough Bangsamoro college graduates who would qualify for police work.

Rodriguez said the police force with jurisdiction over the future Bangsamoro area would be placed under the control and supervision of the Philippine National Police.

The government peace panel chair, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, earlier said the PNP would retain control over some operational aspects of the Bangsamoro police, such as purchases and promotions, but the region’s chief minister would have more direct powers over the local police.

The BBL would give primary responsibility for peace and order in the Bangsamoro region to the regional government in coordination with the national government.

Section 2 of Article XI of the draft BBL provides for the establishment of a Bangsamoro police service that will be part of the PNP.

The proposed Bangsamoro police will be supervised by a Bangsamoro Police Board, which will be part of the National Police Commission.

There is nothing in the draft BBL that says the Bangsamoro will have its own police force. But Rodriguez said his committee would review the public order and safety provisions of the draft BBL on top of a plan to strike down its “unconstitutional provisions.”

Among the planned changes is to delete provisions creating autonomous versions of the Commissions on Audit, Civil Service, and Elections, and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Rodriguez acknowledged that the Jan. 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in which 44 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas, and five civilians were killed, had complicated the passage of the BBL, with lawmakers’ support for the measure waning in recent weeks.

The BBL fleshes out a peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in March last year.

But the Mamasapano clash, which sparked widespread public outrage, prompted calls to postpone or cancel outright the BBL deliberations, as Congress waited for the PNP to complete its investigation.

Rodriguez said the committee might still invite resource persons to shed light on the Mamasapano incident at the resumption of the congressional hearings this month.

The hearings will be held behind closed doors, he said.

“It should now be in aid of legislation, so we will invite them in an executive session,” Rodriguez said.

He said the committee hopes to complete its report on the BBL by May for plenary debate. He said the House might need special sessions to pass the BBL in June.

***

A group composed of two German firms and a Filipino-owned company has put forward a proposal to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to rehabilitate the ageing Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) for P4.65 billion.

In a two-page letter to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the group, composed of a joint venture between Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH, HEAG mobile GmbH, and CommBuilders & Technology Philippines Inc., has submitted a proposal to rehabilitate the mass transit system along EDSA that is P116 million cheaper than the P4.76-billion budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“We, CommBuilders and Technology are pleased to submit the enclosed project proposal from these world-renowned European companies, Schunk Group, and HEAG mobile–for your review and evaluation,” the group stated in the letter signed by Schunk Bahn Group Manila authorized representative Rolf Bieri and CommBuilders authorized representative Roehl Bacar.

Under the proposal, the group said the basic plan is to initially mobilize rehabilitation where time and work windows are flexible and station facilities would be prioritized.

Compared to the other proposals provided, the group said its proposal would address the ancillary power, considered the 48 new trains, new stabling area, new elevators and escalators, new public address system, public information system, new toilets, platform gates, CCTV, signaling system, rail replacement and rail grinding.

The group is also looking at restoring two trains every 45 days to allow a lead time of eight to 12 months before the rolling stock is turned over to the government.

According to the proposal, the system rehabilitation to be completed in three to four years has a limited downtime of four hours to make sure that the operations of MRT-3 would not be disrupted.

Aside from the limited maintenance downtime, the group said its proposal ensures that only one entity would control the system rehabilitation composed of efficient and experienced parts integrators with global network.

Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH (Schunk) has the expertise and is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of high quality power transmission railway equipment.

On the other hand, HEAG mobilo operates and maintains its own fleet of trains/trams and buses since in the late 1800’s. With its operations based in Darmstadt, HEAG mobile has 23 bus lines and nine tramlines.

***

The Senate has approved a joint resolution authorizing President Aquino to address a looming electricity shortage in Luzon this summer by granting him “special powers.”

Voting 16-0, the chamber passed Joint Resolution 12, allowing the executive branch to find ways of fast-tracking the issuance of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other documents needed for new power-related projects, or that which will facilitate connection, interconnection or transmission of such projects to the grid.

Under the proposal, the Department of Energy (DOE) will coordinate with other government agencies such as the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), National Power Corporation (NPC), National Water Resources Board (NWRB),
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) to facilitate issuance of or suspend the application of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other authorization from March 1 to July 31, 2015.

The DOE will also coordinate with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) regarding the schedule of power plants’ maintenance shutdowns to ensure that only a few facilities will be allowed to undergo repairs from March to June.

Joint Resolution 12 also seeks the implementation of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) in Luzon. Under the program, big business establishments will use their generator sets for a certain period of time in order to ease power demand from the main grid. Senator Sergio Osmeña III, head of the Senate Committee on Energy, said adoption of the ILP scheme would cost consumers P7 to P8 per kilowatt hour, which is low compared to the P35 per kilowatt hour that would be shouldered by the consumers if the government leased power generators at a cost of P6 billion for two years.

“In this manner, up to 1,400 megawatts may be deloaded for a few peaking hours on certain days,” Osmeña notes.

Under the Senate resolution, part of the Malampaya Fund will be used to pay for extraordinary expenses incurred by the PSALM by virtue of the increased pumping operations of Kaliraya Pump Storage Power Plant (KPSPP) as well as the expenses by the NPC for disturbance or displacement compensation to affected households and resort owners within Caliraya Lake.

It will also be used to pay customers who are allowed an option to recover their Deloading Compensation from the government as may be provided in the ILP rules, as well as the expenses incurred by PSALM to recover production costs, including fixed and variable costs, when Malaya thermal power plant is made to run.

With the passage of the joint resolution, the bicameral conference committee will reconcile contentious provisions of the Senate and House versions before the proposed law is sent to Malacanang for the signature of the President.

The panels of the Senate and House of Representatives are set to meet to reconcile the differences in their versions of the resolution. The Senate will be represented by Osmeña, Teofisto Guingona III, Gregorio Honasan, Nancy Binay and Loren Legarda.

Earlier, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading Joint Resolution 21 granting Aquino emergency powers to allow him to address the expected power supply shortfall.

The resolution allows the government to financially compensate private companies that will use their self-generating facilities or power generators for their own power supply during the summer months.

It also authorizes the government to spend P450 million in subsidies for private companies that will participate in the ILP in an effort to raise around 800 megawatts (MW) of additional power supply.

***

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