Protect our citizens from dangers of April-May-June and July
Sharp Edges

Protect our citizens from dangers of April-May-June and July

/ 05:30 AM March 26, 2024

The “weakening” El Niño phenomenon transitioning to La Niña remains a bitter scourge that people must bear in the scorching months of April-May and possibly through July or August.  Today, thirty-seven provinces are under “drought conditions”, twenty-two others are under dry spell while 12 others are experiencing dry conditions.  According to Pag-asa, these warm events may persist until May before transitioning to neutral conditions around June. 

Angat Dam level is forecast at below 190 meters at the end of this month, which is “above the rule curve” which means a level that can still provide for all its intended purposes, e.g., potable water, irrigation, and electricity. It is now servicing more than 17 million residents in Metro Manila and Rizal.  Maynilad has a total of 9.5M customers while Manila Water has 7.6 million. If the dam reaches 180 meters or below, a water deficit happens that will decrease water allocation. But because of low rainfall projection, the National water Resources Board (NWRB) will lower its allocation of water from 50 cubic meters/second to 48 cubic meters per second on April 16 to April 30.  MWSS says only water pressure will be reduced and customers would not run out of water. This is early, considering that it was June last year when NWRB reduced water allocation from 52 cm/sec to 50 cubic meter/sec. Is there something they are not telling us?

On the power generation side, brownouts are now a possibility after the Department of Energy announced that the Luzon Grid might experience Yellow Alerts around April and May as “hydroelectric plants are running below capacity” due to El Nino.  The Pantabangan-Masiway Hydro power plant already stopped operations as headwater neared critical levels. And if supply becomes tight and rotating brownouts happen, spot market prices due to shutdown of plants will again inflate our Meralco bills aside from our agony of losing electricity in our offices and homes.

I am also particularly worried on Pag-asa’s declaration that in May, our country’s heat index could reach “extreme danger” or 52 degrees Celsius and above.  This could cause heat cramps and exhaustion and may result to heat stroke. Pag-asa has advised the public to limit outdoor exposure and drink lots of water. This reminds me of the two boys, aged 2 and 3, who died after being trapped inside a car in Angeles’s city, Pampanga Friday afternoon, because of suffocation and extreme heat. How about our senior citizens under these extreme heat situations?


Metro Manila today is experiencing 38 to 39 degrees heat index in Pagasa NAIA Pasay city station and Science Garden, QC. Bacnotan in La Union recently logged 46 degrees heat index while Puerto Princesa and Cotabato cities already recorded 42 degrees. These warm temperatures will continue until July hitting heat index of 52 degrees or higher. I remember around March last year, hundreds of students in Valenzuela, and Cabuyao, Laguna were treated for heat exhaustion. Also last year, high heat indexes continued in August because of low rainfall caused by La Niña.  Casiguran Aurora sizzled that time with 60 degrees heat index. 

Clearly, in the coming months, we will be hit again with tight water supply and possible rationing, brownouts, and higher electricity bills because yellow alert power situation, higher food costs because of damaged agriculture production, aside from heat strokes pummeling our vulnerable population. 

This crisis requires more aggressive responses from government, starting from the Local mayors who are directly in charge of barangays and its entire LGU machinery.  They should work side by side with the Department of Health for health responses and the DSWD for providing financial support to the victim’s families. Government regulatory agencies such as DOE and ERC should protect the public from surging costs of brownouts, while the MWSS ensures continued water supply to our home’s faucets during this crisis.

This was supposed to be the job of Task Force El Niño, reconstituted by EO 53 but somehow in a reduced capacity from twelve members in during GMA and Duterte’s to six members today. But its job is more of monitoring, collating information and collating information.


It is high time that these government officials should get their hands dirty in the field with our suffering citizens. Real action that will protect our citizenry against these very dangerous summer problems.

Remove 30 percent tariff on electric motorcycles

I was told that electric powered motorcycles are very, very expensive today than diesel and regular combustion engine powered motorcycles. 


The main reason is that government imposed a 30 percent tariff on two-wheel Electric vehicle companies under Executive Order No. 12. And in that same EO, tariff rates were reduced only on parts and components to zero or four wheeled EVs, along with scooters, self-balancing cycles, bicycles, and pocket motorcycles.

The Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act of 2022-RA 11697(EVIDA) outlines a comprehensive roadmap for the development of the EV industry in the country. However, its own implementing rules and regulations (IRR) failed to incentivize the shift to electric vehicles.

Hence, this question: why did the EO retained the 30 percent tariff on electric motorcycles?  Could this be the outcome of an intense lobby from Japanese vehicle manufacturers who produces gasoline and diesel perhaps?  

Bernie Llamzon, CEO of Gogoro Philippines, which recently launched a one-of-a-kind EV ecosystem in Metro Manila, said providing tariff exemptions for two-wheelers will not only revolutionize the landscape of sustainable transport but also catalyze economic growth and job creation nationwide. “The fiscal incentives, once adjusted, corrected, and rectified, will surely drive faster adoption of EVs in the Philippines, and with faster adoption, there’s scale,”. “It will stimulate demand, spur investment, and create job opportunities across the value chain.”, he says.  

Thinktank Stratbase ADR agrees. “E-motorcycles’ inclusion in the tax breaks would not only help ease traffic, be more economical, and reduce the reliance on fossil fuel, but will also help Filipinos choose “to do the environmentally right thing” while addressing their transportation and mobility needs,” Stratbase ADR Institute President Professor Dindo Manhit said.

Former Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte, co-convenor of citizen rights group CitizenWatch says, “Clearly there is demand.  Our inadequate mass transportation system, the high cost of fuel, and the desire of an increasing number of Filipinos to do more for the environment are making them look at other options to get themselves from Point A to Point B,” 

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“There needs to be a review of existing regulations that should be updated and harmonized with the government’s sustainability agenda wherein shifting towards zero emissions is not just a national but a global strategy. The government, the stakeholders of the EV (electric vehicle) industry, and LGU must iron out these policy kinks to accelerate the shift to green transportation modes,” he added. 

TAGS: Angat Dam, El Niño, opinion

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