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Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
Sepmber 11, 2011 issue

SM mall coming to Corella town?


CORELLA. – The buzz that the giant conglomerate owned by Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy, Sr. is allegedly contemplating to put up an SM-like mega-mall here is spreading like a wildfire to the amusement of officials here. It turned out that SM Mall dream in Corella is nothing just like that a dream. Reason: the SM investment in Corella was that of an energy project known as Bohol Backbone Transmission Project (BBTP) by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). The SM project is a private corporation headed by Sy’s son, Henry T. Sy, Jr. The NGCP has replaced the once-government-run-and-managed Philippine Transmission Corp. pursuant to the Electric Power Investment Reform Act (EPIRA).

The groundbreaking of the P1 billion worth of the BBTP already took place on Sept. 8 in barangay Sambog here has fanned further speculation of such giant investment among the residents here and the neighboring towns. Obviously, this “mega-mall that never was” would have given the employment opportunity for the residents here, said a resident in an interview. The people here were excited following talks that Sy’s company is coming to town since they (Sy’s group) started acquiring lots, he added. For his part, Mayor Jose Nicanor Tocmo said “I think it will not happen in the next two years.” He added, “Corella welcomes it if it would,” without elaborating. But no one among the NGCP personnel either confirm nor deny about this talks of mega-mall project.

Mayor Tocmo said that he hopes that this once-sleepy town, probably the smallest in terms of population and income, may one day wake up boom, citing at least two gasoline stations are being set up here. Aside from being the host of more than a hundred hectares of natural sanctuary for the Tarsiers, he also said that he plans with the approval of the people to establish a unique tourist attraction here. But he did not give details. In separate interview, Mayette Gasatan personally said, if ever it’s true, then it’s an indication of a “healthy business competition” and it’s good for the town in terms of taxes and employment. This way, she said without bringing the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the goods and services will be improved in a friendly competition.  

Meanwhile, the electric power requirement of Bohol in few years will be enhanced and augmented with the groundbreaking of the PhP1 billion worth of BBTP in barangay Sambog of this interior town by the (NGCP).  “We commence this project with the intention of constructing the new Corella Substation and upgrading the Ubay Substation together with the installation of 95 kilometers of 138 kilovolt transmission lines connecting the two substations,” said the message of NGCP president and CEO Mr. Henry Sy, Jr. through read by his representative Mr. Guillermo Redoblado, senior technical adviser of the project. The said substation is expected to provide reliable power transmission services to some 60 barangays in nine municipalities ---- Balilihan, Carmen, Catigbian, Cortes, Dagohoy, San Miguel, Ubay and this town. It is also expected to “accommodate load growth in the area, improve voltage in Bohol in compliance with Grid Code and enhance overall system reliability, power quality and operational flexibility of NGCP.”

The substation will be housed in six hectares of land bought at about PhP197/sq. m. in this town, said Mayor Jose Nicanor Tocmo in an interview. Once the substation is operational early next year, this can help the booming industry in Bohol and this town which aims to develop a tourist attraction aside from it being the host of more a hundred hectares of natural sanctuary for the smallest primate, the Tarsier, said the mayor. For his part, Gov. Edgar Chatto, who did not miss to be with the NGCP bigwigs and the Korean contractor of the project, said it is the only way to bring in “reliable and dependable power supply” to the province as the power requirement is wanting in the next few years as a result of the industries and booming tourism industry here. Right now, the province of Bohol is being supplied by a combined power generation of some 63 MW from geothermal in Tongonan Leyte, Sevilla and Hanopol, Balilihan and Sta. Clara, Loboc town, hydro plants and the Dampas Diesel Power plant in Tagbilaran City. Sevilla, Hanopol and Sta. Clara hydro plants each has a capacity of 2.5MW; 5MW; and one MW, respectively while geothermal source supplies some 55 MW, said the NGCP.

The demand is expected to increase as projected by the NGCP by about 4 MW and some 93MW in the year 2020, said the NGCP, a privately owned corporation led by Sy. “The project will not only benefit Bohol but also the whole Visayas in the long run. This will reinforce the high-voltage transmission backbone and ensure that the power grid remains secure and reliable,” said Sy’s message. Among those who attended the capsule laying and groundbreaking included Ubay Mayor Eutiquio Bernales, former Corella Vice-Mayor Isabelo Daquipil now Sambog barangay captain and members of the town council and townsfolk and   Zhou Xiaoan, manager, Xian Electric Corporation; Mr. Jeongpyo Hong, general manager, Hyosung Corporation, Philippines; Mr. Dominador Geonzon, OIC, Office of the Asst. chief Technical Officer of NGCP Planning; Engr. Carlos Itable, manager of the Bohol electric Cooperative (BOHECO II), local officials and NGCP personnel. (RVO)

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