The Philippine Onion

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Philippine ‘typhoon corridor’ bill breezes thru House on third reading

Posted by commiedyan on November 23, 2007

Manila–Fearing the consequences of typhoon Mina (international codename Mitag; click here for real-time tracking), the House approved without a vote on third reading a measure creating the Philippine ‘typhoon corridor’ at four this morning. House Bill 999.9 sponsored by Rep. Perpetuo Quixote of windswept Batanes had been certified as urgent by Malacañang, allegedly to calm the political weather.

Deliberations of the public works committee had earlier been described as stormy, and before news of Mina, discussions had just been going round and round in circles and spirals.

The measure, mandating the use of state-of-the-art weather control technology, not only eliminates all damage from tropical disturbances but also quadruples the country’s wind energy potential to 16 gigawatts, proponents said. In addition, it would also help shed the country’s image as a state of calamity.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, alleged Philippine president, lauded the development but warned of difficult negotiations in the bicameral conference committee because of radically conflicting provisions. Hearings on the senate bill have also frequently been cancelled because of bad weather.

The corridor, to be constructed at an estimated cost of anywhere from P55 billion to P1 trillion, will be financed in the main by official development assistance from China. It will thenceforth be the sole authorized passageway for all typhoons through the country, and will be administered by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). The infrastructure project will be the first of its kind in the world, NDCC spokesperson Anthony Golez said.

The House version envisions the corridor to be carved across valleys and mountains 20 kilometers south of the northern tip of Luzon. The counterpart bill in the upper chamber, sponsored by senators Aquilino Pimentel and Miguel Zubiri, wants the corridor to cut the whole country longitudinally, from Davao, zigzagging through the major cities in Mindanao and on to the Visayas and Luzon. The House version provides that displaced residents would be relocated to Taiwan while that of the Senate designates Malaysia and Singapore. Both versions provide for the establishment of wind farms along the breadth of the corridor under build-operate-own (BOO) arrangements.

Minimum and maximum limits on speed and gustiness are also provided for in the House bill while the Senate version sets upper limits only. The idea of limits was first proposed by Von Hernandez of Greenpeace Philippines and championed by Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros Baraquel, who said these were meant to make the corridor more renerable energy-friendly and ‘pro-poor.’

But former energy secretary Vince Perez, now top honcho of Northwind Power Development Corp., claimed that any limits would tend to favor some windmill technologies over others and would only lead to corruption.

Jingling keys in his pocket, Pimentel told TPO that he has yet to find satisfactory answers to the disturbed Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, whose questions seem to be never ending nor beginning, from some corner of his mind. “I can’t help it,” the lady confessed to us, “words just keep jangling in my head.””Most times, I neither know nor recall what I’ve just said.”

Augusto Santos, acting director general of the National Economic Development Authority, said the economic internal rate of return for the project, using the high end of the cost estimate, was 203%.

The detailed feasibility study was conducted by the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), a consulting group said to be favored by the World Bank. The IMF is the same consultancy which undertook a study on the revival of the Iraq war dead for the US Congress.

The World Bank, reeling from earlier criticisms by Philippine officials and probably gearing for a piece of the action, has given its imprimatur to the project, saying the wide cost estimates provide a lot of flexibility.

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2 Responses to “Philippine ‘typhoon corridor’ bill breezes thru House on third reading”

  1. […] The successful development of much cheaper alternative energy sources and other engineering innovations, such as the ones described here and here. […]

  2. […] affliction might explain why the senator obstructed the passage of landmark legislation in her country recently, her colleagues […]

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