Thursday, August 7, 2014

K-Water to take over of AHEPP by September

MALOLOS CITY—Privatization of the Angat  Hydroelectric Power Plant (Ahepp) continue even after the lapse of 270 days given to Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-Water) last month to take over its operations.

Engineer Rodolfo German, general manager of the Ahepp said that new target date for K-Water’s take over is September 1.

The same was affirmed by Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita, the president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) which manages the Angat Dam and its power plant.

Citing advice from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corporation, Sta. Rita said privatization will push through.

She also confirmed German’s statement that turn-over of Ahepp facilities to K-Water will be on September 1.

To prove veracity of said information, Sta. Rita even said that she already signed separation documents of at least 57 employees of the Napocor at the Ahepp.

The planned turn-over came after the 270 days given by Psalm to K-Water lapsed.

But even before it lapsed, Napocor officials like German expressed confidence that it will be extended.

Psalm announced last year that turn-over was December 2013, but it was push until the end of January this year.

It was followed by further delays after the turn-over failed last March, April and May.

Some of the reasons for delays include acquisition of business permit from the municipal government of Norzagaray which demanded payment of unpaid real property tax.

However, some local officials like Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado intervened and asked the mayor of Norzagaray to give K-water some slack.

The governor even argued that previous will surely be paid as K-Water will not run away from it.

Earlier this year, sources said that turn over to K-Water is delayed due to failure to secure some documents from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Records showed that K-Water won the bidding for the privatization of Ahepp when it offered over $440-Million.

But it was stalled by a petition before the Supreme Court which affirmed K-Water’s winning bid last year after it secured partnership with the group of Ramon Ang of the San Miguel Corporation.  Dino Balabo

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Koreans to P10-B in investments in Bulacan

PANDI, Bulacan—The engines of growth continues to roar and attract investors in this province.

This came after Mayor Enrico Roque of this town and current president of the League of Municipalities-Bulacan Chapter, managed to secure a P10-billion worth of investments from Korean businessmen who expressed trust and confidence to the leadership of the young local executive and to the booming progress now being experienced in Bulacan.

Roque said that the Korean investors will soon open business not only in this booming town but in other towns of Bulacan as well.

“Nakita ng mga Korean investors ang strategic location ng Bulacan para sa mga industriya at negosyong kanilang itatayo sa ating lalawigan,” Roque said adding that aside from its proximity to Manila, Bulacan is “sandwiched” by two international airports, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and the Clark International Airport in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Roque said that the Korean investors are planning to build commercial establishments in some towns that has no malls.

In the said P10-billion investment, its include an Outlet Store wherein 400 imported brands from different countries such as Prada, Coach, Ferragamo, Tods  to be constructed in a 15 hectares land area in Bulacan and first outlet store in the Philippines.

He also said that local investors like Savemore, Puregold, Mercury Drugs, leading fastfood chains like Jollibee, Mc Donalds and other companies are now also on the process of establishing branches in some Bulacan towns.

“Nagiging magnet na ng investments at dumadagsa na sa Bulacan ang mga foreign at local investors dahil sa patuloy na pagyabong nito na bunga ng magandang pamamahala ng ating mga provincial leaders sa pangunguna ni Gov. Willy Alvarado at nang mga masisipag na alkalde ng Bulacan,” Roque said.

Roque who has transformed Pandi from a farming town  into an eco-tourism hub, said that more investors are expected to come especially now that the Philippine Arena, touted as the biggest indoor arena in the world has been opened recently.

“The door for the bright future of our province has been opened. With world class facilities and easy road network access, the investment climate in Bulacan is definitely on the rise. Many towns will experience a surge in economic boom because of the influx of local and foreign investors like our Korean friends,” Roque said.

It is no wonder why Mayor Roque can attract this kind of investors because the young local executive is a multi-awarded business manager who was among the top outstanding young businessman in the country and even in Asia.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holcim bags 8 environment awards

MALOLOS CITY—Cement manufacturer Holcim Philippines bagged eight awards including the highest honor for excellence in environmental management, safety and health, and social and community development in the recent  Annual National Mine Safety and Environment Conference (ANSMEC) Awards.

Holcim’s plant in Lugait, Misamis Oriental received the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award (PMIEA), while the company’s facilities in Bacnotan, La Union, Norzagaray, Bulacan, and Davao City received Platinum Awards, the second highest honor.

It was the sixth straight year Holcim Philippines bagged the PMIEA. Its Bacnotan and Davao plants received the PMIEA last year, while its Lugait facility won this in 2009.

Aside from above awards, the Lugait and Norzagaray facilities of Holcim bagged the first and second runners-up honors, respectively, for Best Mining Forest-Non Metallic Category, while the Bacnotan plant was a runner up for Safest Cement Plant Operation.

Juanito Duron, a shift operations manager for Holcim Philippines’s Lugait plant, was named Best Mine Supervisor.

The awards were handed out on November 22 in Baguio City.

Ed Sahagun, Holcim Philippines Chief Operating Officer thanked ANSMEC  organizers for consistently recognizing the company’s commitment to responsible operations.

“I do commit that in the following years, our participation will not just be to win awards but to share with companies who would like to learn from our best practices, and for us to learn from other companies,” he said.

Noting that the ANSMEC’s theme for 2013 is “60 Years of Giving Back,” Sahagun said the industry should do more to help in the rebuilding efforts of Visayas, which was recently battered by natural calamities.

“On behalf of Holcim Philippines, I’d like to appeal to everyone to at least give more to the victims of Yolanda and spend more for the rebuilding of Visayas. We have some experiences to share, and we’d love to share them with all of you on how we have to rebuild lives, for them to become hopeful that the future will be there. And they will start rebuilding, so they can live in a sustainable community,” he said.

Considered as one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates as well as downstream activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt, Holcim holds majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents.

Holcim Philippines, Inc. (HPHI) is a Philippines-based cement manufacturer and a member of Holcim Group.

The company is involved in the manufacture, sale and distribution of cement to the domestic and export markets and  produces four cement productsnamely, Holcim Excel, Holcim WallRight, Holcim Premium Bulk and Holcim 4X.

Holcim Philippines operates four cement plants in La Union, Bulacan, Misamis Oriental, and Davao.  It currently has more than 1,700 employees in the country.

The PMIEA was established in 1997 through Executive Order No. 399 in compliance with the policy that mining activities should be pro-environment and pro-people.

Its selection committee is composed of the secretaries of the Departments of Environment, Trade, Interior and Local Government, Health, Science and Technology.

The other members are the presidents of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association, Philippine Mineral Exploration Association and Chambers of Mines of the Philippines.  Dino Balabo

Napocor more stable in 2014?

MALOLOS CITY—The National Power Corporation (Napocor) is no longer fear shortage of fund and fuel for its power plants.

This came as Napocor successfully bid out fuel procurement for 2014 while it increased debt collection and secured government subsidy for its capital expenditures (Capex).

These are some of the highlights in the accomplishment report of Gladys Sta. Rita in her first 90-days as the first female president and Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of the Napocor.

Speaking to journalist during the weeklong celebrations of the 77th founding anniversary of Napocor, the former Provincial Administrator of Bulacan said that for the first time, Napocor was able to bid out its fuel requirement three months in advance.

“Hindi na kami natatakot ngayon na kakapusin kami ng fuel because we were able to bid out our oil-based fuel requirement for small power utilities group (SPUG),” she said.

In the past, Sta. Rita said that the power company used to have the bidding in the month of February.

“This will ensure fuel availability and that the Romblon incident as thing of the past,” she said referring to brown out in the island of Romblon due to shortage of fuel.

Sta. Rita also noted that Napocor have completed its fuel operations manual and is coordinating with the Department of Justice for the filing charges against those involved in pilferage or illegal fuel transfer.

With regards to budget efficiency, she said that close coordination with the Department of Budget Management (DBM) and the Energy Regulatory Commission paid off.

She said that Secretary Florencio Abad of the DBM issued a letter expressing support to Napocor in case of projected shortfall in the operations of the SPUG next year.

For its part, the ERC approved Napocor’s Universal Charge for Missionary  Electrification (UCME) amounting to P7.4-Billion along with the P2.763-B for the same in 2014.

UCME is a subsidy approved by the ERC for the electrification of off-grid or missionary areas that are not connected to the main transmission grid.  This is passed on and
collected from all electricity end users nationwide.

For the Capex, Sta.Rita announced that a special allotment release order (SARO) for the national government subsidy of P969-M to Napocor has been issued with the Certificate of Availability of Funds.

She said that it would have not happened if not for the cooperation of employees in the last 90 days in preparing documents for release of the Capex.

Earlier, Sta. Rita said that DBM advised that that it was impossible for Napocor to complete all the requirements since it was already mid-year, but they did.

With regards to debt collection from electric cooperatives, Napocor’s efficiency improved from 23 percent to 33.7 percent which equivalent to P35-M collection to P72.5-M from Basilan, Sulu and Taw-tawi provinces alone.

In all, Sta Rita said the Napocor is chasing a totalof 4.4-Billion in outstanding receivables, of which, 77 percent or P3.4-Billion comes from the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) provinces of Basila, Sulu at Tawi-tawi which are collectively known as BaSuTa.

Due to above accomplishments, Star Rita said that Napocor can not pursue long over due project.

This includes theP135.4-M for Codon-Virac Transmission line and the 10 MVA Marinawa substation; P119.3-M Cataingan-Mobo-Aroroy Transmission Line in Masbate; P4-M Abo-Abo-Quezon Rizal transmission line survey investigation, and the P24.3-M Transmission line and substation projects in Mindoro.

To increase power generating capacity, Napocor is investing a totalof P203.5-M; and another P28.9-M increase operating hours of its power stations by [priocuring spare parts.  Dino Balabo

Robinson's opens 35th mall

MALOLOS CITY—Robinson’s Land Corporation (RLC) and the city government of Malolos vowed mutual coordination for further development of this city during the grand opening of the Robinson’s Place Malolos on Thursday afternoon, December 12.

Frederick Go, president of  RLC expressed gratitude to the city of Malolos led by Mayor Christian Natividad for all the support in the establishment of their mall here.

Located along the MacArthur Highway in Barangay Sumapa Matanda here, the mall is the 35th established by the RLC in the country.

“We are very thankful for the support the city government extended to us,” said Go.

He also vowed to help Malolos in further development through job and investment generation and providing a venue for culture activities.

He also vowed to help tourism in the City of Malolos.

For his part, Mayor Natividad vowed to further support RLC saying “ we will not be a hindrance to you.”

He said that the establishment of Robinson’s Place in the historic city is not part of the many firsts.

Robinson’s Place Malolos is the first major mall to be established in this city that is proud for hosting the first Philippine Congress that gave birth to the first Constitution of the Philippines and the first democratic republic in Asia.

Natividad also said that the Malolos is the birth place of the University of the Philippines, the Philippine Military Academy and the first law school in the country.

At present, Malolos City is home to at least 240,000 residents, and serves as the economic and academic center in the province.

Natividad said that Malolos is home to 64 private schools and three major universities namely, Bulacan State University, Centro Escolar University and La Consolacion University Philippines, along with 41 banks.

The city is also home to the provincial capitol of the provincial government of Bulacan along with satellite offices of national government agencies.  Dino Balabo

Saturday, September 28, 2013

CDC bonuses legal

 CLARK FREEPORT – The Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs) released to Clark Development Corporation (CDC) officials are “in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.”

The CDC maintained that the amount of the PBI that were released to some of its Board of Directors and other officials is in line with GCG Memorandum Circular No. 2012-14 or the “Interim Performance-Based Incentive (IPBI) system for appointive Directors/Trustees of GOCCs covered by R.A. NO. 10149).” 

Republic Act 10149 is otherwise known as “An act to promote financial viability and fiscal discipline in Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations and to strengthen the role of the state in its governance and management to make them more responsive to the needs of public interest and for other purposes.” 

According to the GCG (Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations) memorandum, “Section 23 of RA 10149 mandates the Commission to determine the ‘compensation, per diem, allowances and incentives of the members of the Board of Directors/Trustees of the GOCCs…, using as a reference, among others, Executive Order No. 24 dated February 10, 2011.’” 

The CDC clarified that EO 24, or the “Prescribing rules to govern the compensation of members of the Board of Directors/Trustees in Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations including government financial institutions,” was the basis for the amount of the PBI released to some of its officials. 

“It was not the CDC but existing government laws that had determined the amount of the PBI given to our directors and other officials,” the CDC stressed. 

In Item 1.1 (a) of the GCG memorandum, or the Conditions Precedent to Entitlement to PBI, the PBI shall only be allowed if “The GOCCs have met the requisite 90% rating in their MFOs (major final output) for Year 2012, which shall be validated pursuant to certifications issued by the GOCCs under the sworn signatures of their Chairpersons and Presidents, to be submitted not later than 30 November 2012.” 

In relation to this, Item 2 (Entitlement), states that “The grant of the PBI shall be based on a percentage of the Total Actual Annual Authorized per diems as provided under Sections 9 and 10 of EO 24 (s. 2011) received by a Director/Trustee…” 

According to Item 2, if the Major Final Output (MFO) Target Achievement is 100%, the Incentive Entitlement per Director/Trustee is 100% of the Total Actual Annual Authorized per diems received; for a 95% MFO rating, the incentive given is 90%; a 90% MFO corresponds to only 80%. No incentive entitlements would be given to those who got an MFO rating which is below 90%. 

As for the CDC, the corporation’s MFO rating is 96.82%, which allows its officials to get a 90% incentive entitlement. 

Aside from the 96.82% MFO rating, the other CDC performance targets include employment, 94.29%; economic development, 132.85%; Corporate Social Responsibility, 63.33%; support to operations, 97.50%; and general administration and support services, 830.76%.  
On the Key Result Area of National Government, the CDC accomplishments rated 105.27% in economic development and 98% on human development and poverty alleviation.

Notwithstanding the MFO ratings, the CDC also stressed that the corporation has submitted documents required by EO 24, which includes a “Board resolution authorizing the grant of IPBI to the GOCC’s appointive Directors/Trustees in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations,” among others.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Keeping people safe at work a priority for Holcim Philippines


The first thing that visitors notice when they go to a manufacturing facility of Holcim Philippines is how strictly the company implements its safety policies.

Plant visitors who need to go outside the administrative building are required to use “personal protective equipment” – hard hats, steel-toed boots and reflectorized shirts or vests. If they go to the manufacturing areas, they will also be asked to put on dust masks, goggles, gloves and something that looks like marshmallow candies but are actually ear plugs.

At the gate, all non-plant employees are given a safety manual and briefed on how to conduct themselves inside the facility. The reminders continue inside the plant, as signage after signage prompt them to stay alert.

Holcim Philippines exercises all these precautions because it is aware that like all heavy manufacturing operations, cement production necessarily involves safety risks. As such, it exerts tremendous effort to ensure that no one is harmed within its sites or even when its products and raw materials are transported to and from its facilities. Passion for Safety is how the company describes this organizational mindset.

“All companies say that people are their most important resource and they translate this through competitive compensation and benefits. We do this as well at Holcim Philippines but, more importantly, we believe that taking care of our people begins by creating a safe working environment for them. Everyone who enters our facilities must leave in the same healthy condition as they arrived,” said Carla Calimbas, vice-president for Occupational Health and Safety at Holcim Philippines.

Since 2007, the company has spent tens of millions to support its safety program – putting in the necessary infrastructure, systems and processes, organizational and training support necessary to ensure compliance to stringent Holcim global standards.

From a two-man operation, Holcim’s Occupational Health and Safety team has grown to a team of 35 dedicated safety professionals. Apart from in-site safety managers, the team also employs technical experts such as Safety Application Specialists who undergo intensive training in managing high-risk operations such as working at heights, demolition, excavation, and work in confined spaces. Each major facility has an emergency response team (ERT), whose members are trained in basic firefighting and medical rescue. As the plants also have their own fire truck and ambulance, it is not uncommon for the ERT to be the first to arrive in cases of emergencies or relief efforts in their surrounding communities.

But OH&S is the first to remind that workplace safety is not just the responsibility of their department, or even of management. “Safety has two critical components: a safety environment, and safety behavior,” reminds Calimbas. “Management works to ensure a safe environment, but each one is expected to look out for each other’s safety.”

Safety is always the first topic to be discussed in every management meeting – whether in the Board Meeting, Management Committee meeting, or plant operations meeting. Every month, the company’s top executives and plant managers set aside half a day to discuss nothing but safety, including updates on the programs being done at the various sites to monitor and improve safety. Safety indicators are likewise incorporated in assessing the performance of all of the company’s more than 1,600 employees.

Personal health and wellness is an important element of OH&S and employees are encouraged to take this seriously. Annual physical exams are not just encouraged, but required as an integral part of the performance metrics. Employees are also required to discuss their physical exam results with the company doctor. Those with health issues must submit a plan for improvement.

Holcim Philippines counts on its people to help track safety incidents in its facilities by encouraging them to report these. Employees are also taught to report potential hazards or “near misses” – that is, incidents that could have resulted to an accident. When a major incident occurs, the Safety department sends out a company-wide bulletin that provides details along with steps on how to prevent it from happening again.

“It is very important that safety incidents are reported to help us better understand risks and hazards and, in the process, come up with appropriate solutions,” Calimbas said.

The safety efforts not only cover employees, but also extend to contractors and customers. Safety is an important element of the Company’s contractor management program, and is integrated in its accreditation and performance monitoring processes. Suppliers who wish to be accredited must meet the same stringent safety standards that are followed by employees, and any breach will be cause for termination.

As vehicle-related incidents account for most safety incidents – in the company and possibly in the country – the Company especially focuses on its haulers. Among other requirements, truck operators must provide  personal protective equipment for their drivers and helpers, submit reports on the preventive maintenance of their fleets, follow specific rules on tarping and lashing, and ensure that their drivers complete a one-day Holcim-hosted training seminar along with a defensive driving course from an accredited trainer. Such requirements may seem excessive but in a country where road accidents are the fourth leading cause of death, these are certainly called for. At the very least, it is the Company’s way of helping professionalize the hauling industry and keeping our roads safe. 

“Our haulers are our business partners; we extend the same safe environment that we give to our employees and, at the same time, demand the same compliance. We may not able to exert control on them especially when they are outside our facilities, but we hope that our constant reminders and efforts to raise safety awareness will influence behavior. When they comply with simple safety guidelines such as following the speed limit, wearing seatbelts, taking breaks to prevent fatigue – these add up to help them stay away from harm,” she said.

Calimbas said Holcim Philippines continues to make headway in developing a Safety Culture, but knows there is still a lot to be done in continuously ensuring the company’s goal of Zero Harm.

“We cannot let up in our safety efforts because people’s lives are at stake,” says Calimbas. “But I think we are succeeding in driving home the point to our employees and business partners -- that all these safety regulations and policies are for their own benefit, as these are meant to keep them safe so they can go home to their families. “