Lucena City — The Quezon provincial government is gearing to start an all-out effort for the economic development of the province. Tourism is a major strategy here, particularly in the Northern part of Quezon, such as the Polillo Group of Islands, comprising the towns of Polillo, Burdeos, Patnanungan, Panukulan and Jomalig.
Former 3rd District representative, now Governor-elect Danilo Suarez, plans to strengthen the northern Quezon development cluster to realize the tourism potential of the island towns alongside the adjacent mainland towns of Real, Infanta and General Nakar.
“We plan push through our development projects in Northern Quezon, especially the Polillo Group of Islands,” said the former minority floor leader. “Right now, I am looking at our strategies for our tourism sector regarding our island-tourism destinations, and how to improve these to further tap into our tourism potential and attract more tourists.”
24/7 power needed for growth
In an ambush interview at his proclamation, Suarez said he will also look into funding allocations for roads, bridges and ports for the province in pursuit of the realization of Quezon as the “next frontier of development in Luzon.”
But the governor acknowledged the need for 24/7 electricity supply in the province, specifically its island towns, to initiate new development plans with long-lasting domestic, as well as national benefits.
“As the new governor of Quezon province, I will work to influence the province’s socio-economic development plans, including the construction of new power plants that are compliant with standards provided for by our laws, to address the looming power shortage, not only in Quezon, but on a national level,” he told the press in a briefing.
Suarez had been a vocal advocate during his term as representative of Quezon in pressing the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to expand its network, and to improve the country’s energy infrastructure. This, he said, to provide sufficient electricity in rural areas where there is inadequate power supply.
Reaching out to the church, NGOs
Reminded about the energetic opposition from Quezon’s church leaders and non-government organizations, about the construction of modern power plants in the province, particularly in Atimonan and Mauban, Suarez said “our clergy must be realistic with regards to the need for energy infrastructure in the country.”
“While we do not disregard their environmental concerns, we cannot be paralyzed by this fear,” he explained.
“Technology is available to clean coal emissions. The transition to an entirely renewable energy structure will take time,” he said.
“An acceptable interim is to allow construction and operation of power plants that produce cheap energy and utilize clean technology,” he added. “To me, this is a win-win situation as we take steps to implement a 100-percent renewable energy system.”
Suarez urged the government to have an open mind and consider practical solutions, particularly in light of the rising cost of energy and power shortages experienced in our country. “Projects such as the Atimonan Power Plant should be allowed, having guaranteed that these take into consideration the energy needs of the country without compromising strict environmental standards,” he averred.
The governor-elect endorsed a recent Supreme Court ruling ordering energy companies to undergo a competitive selection process for power supply agreements in the country.
“Let us move on, and follow the decision of the Supreme Court,” he advised. “The ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) will now provide terms of reference of the CSP, and that’s good. Everything should now be clear.”
Earlier this month, the SC ruled that all Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) submitted by distribution utilities to ERC on or after June 30, 2015 should undergo a competitive selection process―a form of competitive public bidding for the purchase of electricity.
For now, Suarez is enthusiastic about his role to spur economic growth in Quezon, and initiate new development plans.
But he is just as determined to secure the bottomline anchor for his vision: the need for baseload power plants to provide reliable, stable, and quality electricity to meet his constituents’ energy requirements, and support the country’s growing economy.
“Without the assurance of adequate and reliable power supply, foreign investors will continue to place their investments elsewhere in the region and ignore business opportunities in my region, as well as the whole country,” he warned.