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Manila’s New Mayor Wants Solar Panels, Rainwater Collectors for City’s Schools

Renewable Energy
A rooftop solar system was installed at Philippine Science High School in Diliman, Quezon City in 2010. Gregorio B. Dantes Jr. / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

Manila's new mayor wants to turn the city's public schools into a living lesson in sustainability.


Mayor Francisco "Isko" Moreno Domagoso unveiled a plan Tuesday to install solar panels and rainwater collectors on the roofs of primary and secondary schools in the Philippines' capital city, the Manila Bulletin reported. He said the initiative would raise environmental awareness in students.

"If they are seeing these types of facilities, and it can be done since it's not even rocket science, they will know how to care for the environment," Domagoso told reporters, according to the Manila Bulletin. "When they would be given the opportunity in the future, they will do the same kapag malalaki na sila."

Domagoso shared his ideas at a meeting with the Manila City School Board and asked the board to come up with proposals for fulfilling his vision, Inquirer.net reported.

He touted the rain collecting scheme as a way to bolster water security, citing low water levels in the country's dams.

"Nowadays, we're having challenges with our water in our dams. While it is true na mayroon naman tayong pag-ulan, we are still in below comfortable water level in our dams," Domagoso told reporters, according to Inquirer.net. "Having said that, I am now encouraging the board to come up with environmental projects, programs to harness renewable energies."

Environmental groups expressed enthusiasm for his proposal.

"YES to solar powered schools!" Greenpeace Philippines tweeted.

Domagoso began his term as mayor in early July after defeating the incumbent mayor Joseph Estrada, the Philippine Star reported.

Early in his term, he promised to support the cleanup efforts of environmental groups and government agencies.

"My presence here is to show you that whatever you're going to do in the next weeks or months in the City of Manila, either as a government agency or non-government organization, I assure you, you have a friend in the city," he said in a speech Saturday, as Inquirer.net reported.

He has pledged to expand Manila's Arroceros Park, known as the city's "last lung."

"Cleaning up" Manila was one of Domagoso's main campaign promises, and he took early action July 2 by booting flea market vendors from the streets in Divisoria, the city's traditional commercial center, Gulf News reported.

"The syndicate that hold the vendors in Divisoria had offered me P5 million (approximately $100,000) just so they can continue with their activities of using the thoroughfare for their business. I turned it down," he said, as Gulf News reported. "If Divisoria gets messed up again, then that only means that I had been bribed."

He has also mandated a cleanup of the city's waterways.

While the new mayor has earned praise for his efforts, some have raised concerns about whether he can sustain the momentum, and whether he can clear the city of vendor traffic without harming the ability of poorer residents to earn a living, the Philippine Star reported.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.