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Mass Transit System to rise in Pampanga Spearheaded by SGMA



Pampanga may soon have its mass transit system as part of the government’s bid to decongest Metro Manila and spread development to the provinces.

In a meeting Tuesday, former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was briefed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on an ongoing study for the proposed Pampanga Mass Transit System.

Speaker Arroyo had said she will help in the implementation of the Megalopolis plan in Pampanga after she steps down from the House of Representatives on June 30. The Megalopolis project seeks to make Pampanga the gateway to Asia through the development of cluster cities (agriculture, ecology, air transportation and marine life) focusing on specific areas and technologies. One of the main components of the Megalopolis project is to ensure an efficient, reliable and sustainable transportation system in and around Pampanga.

Presented by the study’s team leader Dr. Hussein Lidasan, the study seeks to ascertain the viability of a mass transit system in the province of Pampanga and the appropriate low-carbon technology that would ensure an efficient intermodal transport system.

The project hopes to establish a transit system that will: 1) guarantee inclusive mobility and accessibility in the province; 2) provide connectivity to urban center, production areas, residential areas, commercial and industrial centers and institutional and services areas; 3) be anchored on clean technology for an environmentally sustainable province; and 4) be supported by smart technology system for efficient and reliable operation and efficient fare collection system.

Lidasan said that the study analyzed the traffic-generating land use of the province such as malls, schools, and government agencies and evaluated the major road networks to be connected by the mass transit system.

It also surveyed the existing transport systems by determining the volume count and passenger occupancy along the routes plied in Pampanga. It showed that among the routes that see the highest vehicle count are the Mabalacat City-San Fernando City and Lubao-San Fernando City routes.

Lidasan said that value engineering/value analysis (VE/VA) was conducted to figure out the alignment of the transport system needed.

“The VE/VA is an analysis wherein we will look at the best way of meeting the objectives without necessarily reducing the cost or increasing the cost, but to look at the value that will meet the objectives of our project,” Lidasan said.

The VE/VA analysis led to an alignment value proposition that will serve 16 municipalities and cities of Pampanga and support sustainable growth and development in the province as it takes into consideration high traffic volume and the Pampanga Megalopolis Plan.

Key considerations of the alignment include Clark, as one of the key development attractions in the province; the three possible major stations in Apalit, San Fernando, and Angeles; and the proposed Clark Railway Project.

Lidasan said that the next steps of the study will focus on transport demand forecast, technology selection, key informant interviews and focus group discussions, and stakeholder consultations.
The transport demand forecast, in particular, shall help the team determine the kind of mass transit system that would best serve Pampanga.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Concept

“For example, nakita natin ang kailangan pala is more of a commuter line. Then that will either be LRT (light rail system) or a medium rail system. And it will accommodate approximately 400,000 to 750,000 people. If it is a feeder line, it would be a monorail or BRT (bus rapid transit),” Lidasan said.

He ventured that a BRT system might be the most efficient option for Pampanga as it is the best system for a daily traffic demand of less than 400,000 person-trips per day.

The submission of the draft final report of the study is slated on the second week of October 2019, while the revised final report shall be submitted after the receipt of comments from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Meanwhile, findings and proposals shall be presented to the local government officials and relevant stakeholders of Pampanga ‪on June 28, 2019‬.

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Pampanga lines up disaster preparedness activities



CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—The city government here has lined up various activities on disaster preparedness and mitigation as part of its continuing campaign towards building disaster-resilient communities.

The move is also in line with the celebration of the National Disaster Resilience Month 2019 with the theme, “Kahandaan sa Sakuna’t Peligro para sa Tunay na Pagbabago”.

“We have to instill to the community, particularly the youth, disaster preparedness. Lagi ko ngang sinasabi na walang pinipiling edad o anuman ang mga kalamidad, kaya napakahalaga na tayong lahat ay handa sakaling tamaan tayo (I have been saying that calamities choose no age limit nor any matter, thus it is very important that we are ready in case we are hit),” said Mayor Edwin Santiago during a media conference held on Thursday at the Heroes Hall Amphitheatre here.

Santiago, who is also the chairperson of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Council, said the local government has various plans and programs to prevent massive floods in the city and to strengthen its information and education campaign on disaster vigilance.

“Through our CDRRM (City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management), there are programs that were laid down in order to intensify our disaster preparedness campaign. The key is proper planning. There is a need to analyze what and where the council should focus in order to maintain the security and safety of the city,” he said.

The mayor also urged the public to cooperate with and support the local government’s actions towards a disaster-resilient community.

“We are doing our part to involve everyone in our programs, but we also need the cooperation of the citizens,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDRRM officer Raymond Del Rosario discussed the month-long activities which focus on the involvement of the public in order to achieve disaster awareness.

The celebration will kick-off on July 5, through an NDRRM motorcade which will start at SM Telabastagan, followed by a thanksgiving mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Damayan Homeowners Association in the city will undergo a basic disaster preparedness seminar on July 8.

Back-to-back activities are slated on July 11 as the city will launch its first-ever DRRM Big Book which consists of disaster preparedness tips for students, to be followed by a resiliency forum for communities.

On July 12, city government employees will attend a resiliency forum.

An emergency response capability static display and disaster preparedness orientation will also be held on July 15-17 at the Robinson’s Starmills Pampanga.

Meanwhile, members of the LDRRM Council will have a Rapid Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (RDANA) training on July 16-19.

An earthquake drill and flood evacuation seminar will be conducted on July 18, while the Sining Kahandaan Year 6 will take place on July 19.

On July 21, the annual “SAFRUN” or disaster preparedness run will be held.

The city will also receive an award from the Office of Civil Defense and RDRRMC during the Regional Gawad Kalasag on July 26.

Meanwhile, an earthquake and fire drill will take place on July 30.

The participants of this year’s Joint Fire and Rescue Olympics, on the other hand, will convene in a disaster preparedness assembly on July 29-31.

The month-long celebration will culminate on August 2, as the city holds a Rescue Olympics for schools. (PNA)

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‘Back on track’: Trump, Xi seal trade war truce



US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping struck a trade war truce on Saturday, as Washington vowed to hold off on further tariffs and declared negotiations with China “back on track”.

The ceasefire that halts damaging trade frictions came in a hotly anticipated meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Trump hailed the meeting in the Japanese city of Osaka as “excellent”.

“We are right back on track,” he added.

There was little in the way of concrete details on what was agreed, but Trump confirmed Washington had committed not to impose any new tariffs on Beijing’s exports and that the two sides would continue talks.

“We won’t be adding an additional tremendous amount of $350 billion left which could be taxed or could be tariffed. We’re not doing that, we are going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Trump said at a press conference.

“We will be continuing to negotiate.”

The outcome was likely to be seen as a win for avoiding any new tariffs.

“The base case scenario was met at G20 and while we are no worse for wear, let’s see what the G20 hangover brings,” said Stephen Innes, market analyst at Vanguard Markets.

– ‘Down the tubes’ –

Trump struck a conciliatory tone from his arrival in Japan for the summit, despite saying China’s economy was going “down the tubes” before he set out for Osaka.

He said he was ready for a “historic” deal with China as the leaders kicked off their meeting, and Xi told him that dialogue was better than confrontation.

In their final statement, the G20 leaders admitted that “most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” echoing hard-won language from their finance ministers at a meeting earlier this month.

There were few more concrete details about the closed-door discussions but Trump suggested a potentially softer position on the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which has been a sticking point in the trade war.

He said US companies could sell equipment in cases “where there’s no great national security problem” to the firm, which Washington fears poses security risks.

But it was not immediately clear whether the comments marked a material change on Huawei, which has essentially been barred from accessing crucial US technology.

The tete-a-tete between the US and Chinese leaders — the first since the last G20 in December — cast a long shadow over this year’s gathering in Osaka.

Protectionism and tariffs wars have proved a major headwind for a world economy already buffeted by geopolitical tensions and Brexit.

On Friday, the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur offered a ray of trade hope by sealing a blockbuster deal after 20 years of talks, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailing it as a “strong message” in support of “rules-based trade”.

– ‘Go much further’ –

Trade has proved far from the only contentious issue on the summit table, with climate change another major sticking point.

Negotiations ran into the night, with US opposition proving difficult to overcome.

In the end, a deal of sorts was reached, with 19 members — minus the United States — agreeing Saturday to the “irreversibility” of the Paris climate deal and pledging its full implementation.

The language in the final statement after the Osaka summit mirrored that agreed during last year’s G20 but this did not satisfy French President Emmanuel Macron who urged leaders to go “much further” on climate change.

Trump has dominated the headlines from the summit, and once again caught observers by surprise by tweeting early Saturday that he was open to meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un while in South Korea this weekend.

“If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!,” he wrote.

He later said he would be happy to step over the border into North Korea, which would represent an extraordinary move for a US leader after decades of enmity between Washington and Pyongyang. (via AFP)

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Duterte ‘tolerating’ Chinese fishing in PH’s EEZ draws flak



MANILA, Philippines – Hoping to get the government to side with them, the 22 fishermen who were abandoned at sea by Chinese crewmen in the Recto Bank maritime incident have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to bar Chinese fishermen from fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

A country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is an area which is beyond, and is adjacent to, a given country’s territorial seas. It extends no more than 200 nautical miles out from a country’s own coastlines.

In case of the Philippines, any marine resource available within a country’s EEZ is for the exclusive use and benefit of the Philippine government and the Filipino people.

The controversial Recto or Reed Bank is within the Philippine’s EEZ.

It is rich in marine resources that is why the so-called “Recto 22” wants the government to insist Philippine’s exclusive rights in the area.

However, President Duterte said he will not bar the Chinese from fishing in Recto Bank “for friendship’s sake” when asked if he would prevent the Chinese from doing so.

“I don’t think that China would do that. Why? Because we’re friends. And they are of the same view that that should not result in any bloody confrontation,” the President told reporters on June 26.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed the President’s statement.

“Kasi friends nga daw. Kung friends, ‘di magbibigayan kayo, (Because we’re friends. Friends share with each other), Panelo said.

But Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippine’s EEZ because “it will violate the Constitution.”

Carpio explained: “The Constitution mandates, The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

He added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has the specific task to be “the protector of the people” as mandated by the Constitution and to “secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory.”

“The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President, who has the constitutional duty to direct the Armed Forces is the President, who has the constitutional duty to direct the Armed Forces to protect the nation’s marine wealth in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” Carpio explained further.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, pointed out in his tweet that the word ‘friend’ is not stated in the Constitution criticizing the President’s remarks allowing the Chinese to enjoy resources in the country’ archipelagic waters.

Somebody, please help me find the word “friends” below:

Professor Jay Batongbacal, for his part, said the President’s stance on the issue is tantamount to ‘renouncing’ Philippine’s victory against China granted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 which ruled in favor of the Philippines as having the sovereign rights over the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea. (Yahoo News PH)

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