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PeNoy’s half-true lies DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/30/2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

PeNoy’s half-true lies

Herman Tiu Laurel
PeNoy’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) cued the mainstream, oligarchy-controlled media on the propaganda line that the National Power Corp. (Napocor)’s rate hike petition is due to the artificially low rates it charged upon instruction of Malacañang under Gloria Arroyo. By highlighting this, PeNoy created the impression that the massive debt incurred by Napocor had been due to incompetence and corruption. PeNoy’s Energy Secretary Jose Almendras, former executive of the energy conglomerate Aboitiz Group, even followed this up on radio every day.

What PeNoy omitted is the fact that Napocor’s dire situation today is a result of the distorted privatization program, which has saddled it with debts (accrued over the decades from its service expansion across the country) while giving away its profit-generating assets for a song to private power producers, as well as, transmission and distribution companies. In effect, Napocor was robbed of revenues that were supposed to service its debts.

Most of these independent power producers or IPPs started business by taking advantage of Napocor’s power generating assets that were privatized by government to them. The sale of these assets, in turn, assigned to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp., was supposed to pay off Napocor’s debts; but a balance of at least P475 billion remains.

Government absorbs 35 percent (which we pay for as taxes) and we, the consumers, absorb 65 percent as “stranded contract costs” and “stranded debts,” which we will all pay under the so-called “universal charge.”

On the July 29 morning radio program of Noli de Castro with Almendras as guest, the Napocor tale was again thrashed about with the two lambasting the state-owned power corporation without explaining the history of its debts. Why, De Castro, in his infinite ignorance, even exclaimed, “Basta gobyerno ang may hawak lugi” when the truth is, his ABS-CBN bosses and their ilk are said to have gotten the biggest slice of the Napocor pie.

PeNoy, Almendras, De Castro will obviously not report the most enlightening Philippine energy news item of the past week: “Meralco income up 82 percent on 14 percent hike in volume sold,” as headlined by a business paper. In the first semester alone, Meralco profited by a whopping P5.8 billion from P3.18 billion in the same period last year. Such reports of gargantuan earnings hikes abound; yet little notice is taken.

Alas, the shenanigans of privatization know no bounds. In 2008, Meralco admitted that it charged consumers P13 billion in power that was never delivered because they have the “take-or-pay” purchased power agreement provisions courtesy of the power privatization law, Epira (Electric Power Reform Act), passed by the Edsa II Congress. And in 2009, Meralco reported a 119-percent increase in its net profit. Meanwhile, Aboitiz Power, Almendras’ mother company, reported its profit rising 143 percent in 2008, which it attributed to acquired government power assets.

PeNoy, Secretary Almendras and the likes of Noli de Castro, ABS-CBN, GMA7, and the mainstream newspapers are in cahoots with the power oligarchs in hiding these facts from the people.

The other fairy tale from the Sona is the much ballyhooed leasing out of the 30-hectare Naval HQ property. Considering that this is near the prime properties of Metro Manila, i.e. Forbes Park and Fort Bonifacio, the offer PeNoy was boasting of amounts to a “steal” as relayed to us by real estate experts. This is not only a fairy tale; we can smell a scam here and it would not surprise us if PeNoy’s campaign contributors (who are also big-time real estate moguls) put him up to it.

The expressway to the North that PeNoy said a foreign investor has offered to build, which would certainly entail the usual “sovereign guarantee,” will lead to exorbitant toll rates again.

It’s as if PeNoy is deaf to the pains and cries of commuters and traders using the present BOT expressways and skyways that are charging sky high toll fees that make the cost of things, such as tourism, vegetables, meats, poultry, and everything else that needs to traverse the expressways higher.

Hearing Secretary Sonny Coloma say that “Anyway, they (the pained commuters) can take the old highway” shows us how insensitive PeNoy’s people are and how ignorant they are of the economic impact their decisions make. PeNoy’s foreign-funded highway will be another highway to ruin.

Still, the same insensitivity plagues them on the MRT fare hike issue and the “cash transfer” plan of Dinky Soliman which will end up increasing hunger again, as inflation eats up the value of the “cash” for less rice as time goes by.

The final lie we spotted is PeNoy and Secretary Jesse Robredo’s spiel about the eradication of jueteng because the reports keep streaming in that not only is jueteng alive and well even in the province of Robredo but a new, more powerful gambling operation has spread all over the country called the “Meridien.” Operating alongside the “legalized” Small Town Lottery (STL), it definitely has the underside that really rakes in the money. The PNP big bosses are certainly not going to stop the P30-billion illegal gambling operations because, our informants aver, the top brass of the police allegedly split the P1-billion bounty per annum.

People should note how Robredo has softened his statements on these illegal gambling operations, as in his own home province, the political kingpins who also run jueteng have long overshadowed him.

In all, nothing has changed in this country: The looting by the oligarchs, criminal gangs, and corrupt bureaucrats continue. It’s a fairy tale that has no happy ending unless real revolutionary change intervenes.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch Politics Today, Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m. on Destiny Cable Channel 21, with the topic, “Stop Agus and Pulangui Privatization” and other power issues, with Mr. Louie Corral and PALAG; visit our new blog, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

 (Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com5.html


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