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Big fish hardly in menu EDITORIAL 10/25/2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big fish hardly in menu

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
10/25/2010
Among Noynoy’s campaign commitments, what resounds most to many was his pledge to haul all the country’s biggest tax evaders and smugglers to jail, adding that he already has a list of those that his administration would go after once he gets to power.
He said that tax cheats would be the first target of his administration to show that it is moving through what he calls “daang matuwid” or straight path.

When he assumed power, with all braggadocio, he and his economic officials said the list of tax cheats will unravel with a big fish to be prosecuted weekly, or alternately between the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BoC).

Noynoy appears to have lost the list more than 100 days into his administration as those charged for the past many weeks since the administration’s pledge of frying a big fish each week are mostly the usual penny-ante business crooks and many other small businesses who seem to have gotten used to dealing with fixers in both the BIR and the BoC and now are being thrown into the pyre to come up with the weekly tax cheat quota..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com1.html

No special treatment? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/25/2010

No special treatment?

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
10/25/2010
Malacañang appears to be having a difficult time explaining Noynoy Aquino’s “Lacson case is not my priority” statement, which was followed by Justice Chief Leila de Lima’s announcement that she would no longer form a special task force to search for the fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, as the Palace has been reduced to saying that these two statements do not translate to signs that Noynoy is coddling Lacson.

The trouble is that Noynoy does not seem to realize, even at this late date, that which he says will be taken as a subliminal directive by his subalterns.

Therefore, when he says Lacson is not my priority, De Lima, who is perceived by most to be out of the Noynoy loop — given the fact that he ignored her hard-earned probe of the Aug. 23 hostage crisis that led to the death of eight Hong Kong tourists, and her recommended sanctions, as well as the amnesty promulgation to the rebels wherein De Lima was not even consulted — it is fairly logical for anyone to conclude that there’s no great need for the Justice department and its agency — such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to make the search for Lacson a priority.

And because it is not a priority for Noynoy, speculation rises that Noynoy is coddling Lacson.
The other reason there are such speculations that continue is that not too long ago, during a development in the court case against Lacson, where a witness, Glenn Dumlao, was reported to have claimed that Lacson was not aware of the plans to have publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito killed, Noynoy quickly reacted and said something to the effect that Lacson must be given due process..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com2.html

Feminism, war and silence fuel domestic abuse in Finland FEATURE 10/25/2010

Feminism, war and silence fuel domestic abuse in Finland

FEATURE

10/25/2010
HELSINKI — Until her husband slammed his fist into her face and knocked her to the floor, Taru never thought she would fit the particularly Finnish profile of a dominant yet battered wife.

“I opened my eyes and saw all the blood on my hands, on the floor. I don’t remember everything because I was in shock,” 33-year-old Taru, not her real name, told AFP.

It’s a scenario that underlines a Finnish paradox: in a country that is a pioneer of gender equality, with a national stereotype of iron-willed women, one in 10 females have been abused at home, according to government data.

European Union statistics show that nearly 40 percent of Finns know a friend or relative who is abused at home, nearly double the European Union average of 25 percent.

Experts explain this puzzle by piecing together a psychological profile of a society where private matters are kept private, where men have had violence drilled into them through five 20th-century wars, and where women feel like failures if they cannot rescue themselves..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com3.html

Consumer revolt overdue DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 10/25/2010

Consumer revolt overdue

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
10/25/2010
Last Sept. 29, Meralco announced the strong likelihood of its exceeding the company’s core net income target of P11 billion for 2010. Set on top of its reported P7-billion income for 2009, this is already well beyond a whopping 60-percent profit growth that’s sure to signal a lot more happier days for the power firm.

Meralco’s chief financial officer highlighted the company’s power sales volume growth of 11.7 percent in an attempt to justify its astronomical earnings. The official statement says that “volumes are much higher on an accumulative basis… (and that) today it’s greater than last year in terms of energy sold… (therefore, making it) the main driver.” But frankly, this is a load of BS.

First of all, virtually all sectors have been tightening up on power consumption. My own business, for instance, has had to shut down some huge kitchen exhaust fans and office air-conditioners to cut down on power bills. In my home, I have rationed everyone’s use of air-conditioning and replaced our old side-by-side no-frost ref with a smaller manual defrost one that saves on consumption by almost half. Secondly, neither industrial nor commercial, nor any household statistics, can buttress that alleged 11.7-percent jump — which, honestly, is still 50 percent short of the projected income growth.

Meralco’s claim is simply a big fat lie to cushion the impact of its obscene profit. It also adds: “Another reason that contributes to the growth is the mix of our customers. There is a difference to their rates.”

But then, after all these diversionary claims, the true reason for the shoot-up, which is hardly covered by media, finally surfaced when “the official also cited the rate increases granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as another reason for the growth in income.” Ahh!

Meralco’s distribution charge was hiked twice since 2009 (P0.27 and P0.269/kWh) for a cumulative increase of almost 50 percent granted by the ERC under the new Performance-Based Rate (PBR) setting mechanism.
The PBR allows Meralco to charge rates based on “projected investments and operating expenses related to the distribution of electricity,” or rates based on investments and costs it has yet to make or incur years into the future.

It’s like vegetable vendors charging the prices of next year today, by citing equipment purchases yet to be made as well as fertilizer cost hikes and typhoon damages still to come. The thing is, with such mercenary vendors, we can just give them “the finger” and proceed to the next stall that prices its goods based on today’s costs.

But with the monopoly of electricity in the Meralco franchise area, we have no choice but to buy power from that company no matter how onerous, exploitative, abusive, exorbitant and oppressive its rates are — thanks to the ERC.

Last Oct. 13, Aquino III’s Energy Secretary Jose Almendras announced that government had “solved” the Mindanao power shortage. But most do not know the big “1-2-3” behind that claim:

An El Niño weather crisis was predicted by meteorologists in 2009 for the current year, which the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. was well aware of. Despite this, the National Power Corp. was given the green light to sell power barges (PB) 117 and 118 at about the same time to the Aboitiz group.
It’s as if nobody thought that Mindanao was going to be effectively deprived of some 200 megawatts of power from these PBs, especially since these were instrumental in easing the power crisis during Cory and Ramos’ time when they were acquired in 1994.

So when the El Niño drought finally fell upon Mindanao in February 2010, the depletion of water in hydro plants Agus and Polangui resulted in five- to eight-hour brownouts that led to terrible losses in business and employment.

Thereafter, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), which took control of the publicly-owned Transmission Corp. or TransCo after privatization, immediately entered into a so-called Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement (ASPA) with Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI), wherein the latter, with the use of PB117 and PB118, would supply “additional” power to the Mindanao grid.

The NGCP then applied for a power rate adjustment as part of the ASPA application; afterwhich, the ERC gave it a provisional authority (PA) to raise its rates. This way, TMI will get paid as the monies will have to be collected from the electric utilities and consumers’ pockets.

But that’s not all. The capital recovery fee of $30 million calculated by TMI for the two barges when these were purchased was raised to $84.7 million — or increased threefold after being transferred from the government to the private sector, for a windfall of P3 billion!

Furthermore, the new ASPA charges were set over 10 times higher than the average 2009 NGCP monthly rates. These are aside from the fact that there was no competitive bidding at all in favor of TMI and little public consultation prior to the issuance of the PA.

A coalition of Mindanao congressmen thus reported on the real cost of this claimed “solution” by Almendras: “The electricity bills in Mindanao have virtually doubled from March to April and May this year. In 2009, we paid P49.70 per kWh/month. However, last April we paid P360 per kWh/month and P606 per kWh/month in May 2010. This had caused untold sufferings and hardships to our people in Mindanao, especially the poor.”

At about the same time as that Almendras boast, consumer advocates Pete Ilagan of Nasecore, maverick power entrepreneur Jojo Borja from Mindanao, lawyer Nelson Loyola of CCI, 89-year-old Lamp leader Mang Naro Lualhati, and writer Butch Junia, who called for the abolition of the ERC recently, were all at the hearing on ERC Case No. 2010-069-RC — on the, hold your breath… “Application for Approval of the Annual Revenue Requirement and Performance Incentive Scheme for the Third Regulatory Period” — in other words, the proposed Meralco rates for years 2011-2015.

In the proposal, four million of us ordinary consumers will be slapped with an additional P2.8564/kWh while Meralco’s large customers, including mall owners such as SM, Robinsons, Ayala and Rockwell will be charged only P0.2205/kWh, or 10 times less!

With ABS-CBN and TV5 in the power oligarchs’ hands, plus the fact that Meralco stockholders are the biggest advertisers in media, the power consuming public may never get hold of these facts. It’s time all of us realize how we are being fleeced as consumers for our revolt has long been overdue!

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch “Power Consumers’ Revolt Long Overdue!” with Pete Ilagan, Butz Junia, and Mang Naro on Talk News TV with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 21; visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com5.html

House to probe HGC deals BLURBAL THRUSTS Louie Logarta 10/25/2010

House to probe HGC deals

BLURBAL THRUSTS
Louie Logarta
10/25/2010
At long last, someone with the gumption to duke it out with the Home Guaranty Corp. (HGC) over several alleged questionable deals that over the years resulted in billions in taxpayers’ money uselessly going down the drain.

This distinction goes to Rep. Bernadette Herrera of the Bagong Henerasyon party-list group who had recently filed House Bill 549 calling for an honest-to-goodness probe into the activities of a slew of past and present HGC officials which had put the national government “in a highly disadvantageous position.”

In her bill, Herrera said the government sustained substantial losses amounting to several billions arising from several allegedly anomalous financial transactions entered into by HGC starting in 2002.

The HGC, she said, should have been a profitable enterprise if it had only been managed properly, thus the imperative need for the Lower House to look into, inquire and investigate its performance in light of persistent reports regarding alleged unscrupulous transactions “to ferret out the truth in the interest of justice and in aid of remedial legislation.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com4.html

Choices are few HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 10/25/2010

Choices are few

HE SAYS
Aldrin Cardon
10/25/2010
Just as I did last May, I will cast my vote today as a silent declaration of my choices for the select men and women who could become leaders of my community.

Hopefully, our neighborhood would know the winners in the very first local elections under Noynoy Aquino’s watch just several hours after sunset.

I will vote because it is my obligation to my country. And I will try my best to make the right choices for my community, which is the most basic of social groupings outside of our families.

The balangay, or barangay, was the symbol of civilized communities even before Magellan’s fleet arrived on the beaches of Limasawa. And it was the balangay, led by it chieftain Lapu-Lapu, who slew the giants who would rule us for three centuries. I believe it was the last instance when the balangay proved its strength and independence.

Boholano chieftains Sikatuna and Sigala had become collaborators of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in establishing a permanent Spanish settlement in Cebu, and so began 300 years of their oppressive conquest, which, on the positive side, welded a nation that was to become the Philippines..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com6.html

Barangay elections SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 10/25/2010

Barangay elections

SHE SAYS
Dinah S. Ventura
10/25/2010
Barangays are busy today, with the elections of barangay officials and the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) finally upon us after much anticipation...er, among those running for positions, that is.

For the most part, ordinary folks have barely lifted their heads from their daily grind to blearily peer at those uber-enthusiastic individuals eager to shake their hands. These smiling faces have lately inflicted their cheer onto citizens who happen by. Some had wondered why posters suddenly defaced their landscape anew, or why their Sunday mornings were disrupted with the aural onslaught of election jingles turned full-blast...for hours!

And just when you thought you could no longer stand the noise pollution (or maybe you have started to hum the useless lyrics while walking to the bathroom to express just what you think of them), it stops. Blessed quiet...and that’s usually what happens too after these folks have been elected, smiling cheerfully into their barangay offices, never to be heard from again...

That’s not to say all barangay officials — and the SK teams, too, for that matter — are there in name only. Some of them do work hard to serve their constituents. In some cases, however, they aren’t much help to communities. In one Quezon City barangay, for example, a series of house break-ins had been bothering a local neighborhood. This area used to be so safe even though it was not a gated community, but in recent years, robberies had disturbed the residents so much that some of them consulted with each other to raise money to build some kind of common protection for their community..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101025com7.html

Palace raises VFA review; US releases $.8M in aid By Michaela P. del Callar 10/25/2010

Palace raises VFA review; US releases $.8M in aid

By Michaela P. del Callar 10/25/2010

With the Palace, yesterday, drumming up a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) the country has with the US government, US Ambassador Harry Thomas unveiled yesterday $800,000 in additional disaster relief assistance for victims of super typhoon “Juan” at the same time extolling the VFA that he said was instrumental in the quick deployment of US soldiers in responding to relief and rescue operations on typhoon victims.

Thomas said funding will come from the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), bringing the total in typhoon aid offered to $900,000. A donation of $100,000 was made by Washington last week.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the Aquino administration is committed to a thorough review of the (VFA) so that refinements can be introduced to ensure that the country obtains the maximum benefits of the bilateral agreement.

“The VFA was envisioned to be a mutually beneficial agreement that would serve the interests of both our country and the United States,” said Ochoa, who also chairs the Presidential Commission on the VFA. “The President, however, believes that a review is necessary because we must evaluate whether we are getting the most out of the VFA,” he added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101025hed2.html

Calls mount for Soliman probe over bonds mess By Gerry Baldo and Pat C. Santos 10/25/2010

 DSWD CHIEF BREAKS DOWN AT FORUM

Calls mount for Soliman probe over bonds mess

By Gerry Baldo and Pat C. Santos 10/25/2010

Calls for the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) to probe Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and other members of the Aquino Cabinet who figured in the P10-billion Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) bonds scam mounted yesterday as three members of the House of Representatives joined Sen. Edgardo Angara in the proposal.

The PEACe bonds are set to mature next year and for the original P10 billion bonds issued, the government will have to pay P37 billion because of interests.

Soliman used to head the group Caucus of NGO Networks (Code NGO) which earned P1.4 billion in commissions from the issue of government-guaranteed zero-coupon bonds in 2001 that were called PEACe bonds. The bond scheme was allegedly conceptualized by a group headed by Marissa Camacho-Reyes, the sister of Arroyo’s former Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho.

Lawmakers said that Soliman and other members of the Arroyo Cabinet should be among those investigated by the Truth Commission..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101025hed1.html

25 dead in run-up to village polls, 110,000 cops to man elections — PNP 10/25/2010

25 dead in run-up to village polls, 110,000 cops to man elections — PNP

10/25/2010
At least 25 persons have been killed in violence related to upcoming village-level elections in the country, the Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday said.

It came as police imposed tight security for today’s elections in which Filipinos will vote for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen and council members in the nation’s 42,000 villages, police spokesman Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz said.

Police records show 25 persons had been killed and 10 wounded in election-related violence since the campaign period began last Sept. 25, he told reporters.

“We have been on full alert since Saturday night. We will be setting up security assistance desks in all voting centres to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections,” Cruz said.

Also, the PNP said 85 percent of the 135,000-strong PNP will be deployed to man police assistance desks (PADs) to be established in 42,000 barangays nationwide for today’s synchronized barangay and SK elections..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101025hed3.html

Solons to Palace: Identify source, get supplement By Angie M. Rosales 10/25/2010

Solons to Palace: Identify source, get supplement

By Angie M. Rosales 10/25/2010

Legislators are not keen on providing Malacañang with a supplemental budget to fund rehabilitation efforts on parts of the country affected by super typhoon “Juan” unless the Palace identify the source of additional funds for the proposal.

Unless Malacañang has available funds, coming up with a supplemental budget to cover the damage brought by typhoon Juan is not feasible, senators said yesterday.

“That (proposition) is somewhat problematic. They (Malacanang) have to identify the source of present revenue to support the supplemental budget. We have no new taxes now so where will you draw up funds to support the supplemental budget? It has to be certified by the national treasury, the availability of funds,” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.

Sen. Edgardo Angara shared the position, adding that before any calls for a supplemental budget, the Executive Branch must first review records whether there remains some of the P11 billion additional appropriations Congress approved last year following the onslaught of typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.”

“We rushed the approval of that supplementary budget in Nov. last year. It’s possible that it was not released. That was a standby authorization. They can make use of it because it covers other calamity (cases). Because time is of the essence, we should carefully study if we can tap that standby authorization,” Angara said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101025hed4.html

No need to rush foreign postings for former AFP brass, Noy told By Mario J. Mallari 10/25/2010

No need to rush foreign postings for former AFP brass, Noy told

By Mario J. Mallari 10/25/2010

While they don’t see anything wrong with the appointment of retired military and police officials to civilian positions, concerned military sources said at least three years of retirement should be observed by the appointing au-thority to avoid speculations that such move is a political payback for loyalty.

Aside from allowing former military and police officers to adjust to civilian life, Tribune sources, who requested anonymity, said such appointment could erase doubts that such move is reward from the appoint-ing authority.

“It’s about time that we stop this practice of immediately appointing recently retired police and military officers to civilian posts… it’s hard to justify even the appointment was done in good faith,” one source said.

“They (retired police and military officers) should be allowed to retire for at least three years to adjust to civilian life and avoid speculations of being rewarded for being loyal to certain individual,” he added.
“President Aquino, with a very clear mandate… so he has the moral ascendancy to stop this malpractice,” the source noted..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101025hed5.html

Miriam falls on stage at Turkey forum 10/25/2010

Miriam falls on stage at Turkey forum

10/25/2010
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has been suffering from hypothyroidism, yesterday fell on stage while she was about to deliver her speech in a conference in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to a statement issued by her office, the lawmaker “fell on stage, picked herself, and proceeded to deliver a paper after a standing ovation.”

“Santiago, who was examined by doctors after her speech, was declared in stable condition,” it added.
Santiago was in Istanbul to speak before the annual forum of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA).
The senator, in her speech, urged the Philippines and other countries represented in the PGA to become parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Santiago is the author of a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that President Aquino should send the Rome Statute to the Senate for ratification.

Santiago was invited by the forum organizers at the panel on gender justice and women’s rights..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101025hed6.html

Lawmaker’s promulgation this week ‘may be deferred’ — Enrile By Angie M. Rosales 10/25/2010

Lawmaker’s promulgation this week ‘may be deferred’ — Enrile

By Angie M. Rosales 10/25/2010

It will be to the best interest of all parties concerned that promulgation of the case of detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV later this week, be deferred, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday.
Enrile was quick to emphasize though that he’s not trying to dictate upon the courts, underscoring the independence of a co-equal branch.

“It’s up to the courts if they want to leave the matter, since there’s already the proclamation of the President and the support of Congress – the two branches of government, they are acting on the same subject matter – it depends upon the court if they will continue or defer and leave it to the political departments of the government to resolve the issue, instead of the issue being resolved by the judicial department,” the upper chamber chief said in an interview over at dzBB.

“But I will not say what the courts should do. It’s up to them. We must respect the independence of the court. It’s up to him to make a decision on his own, that’s why he’s the judge, he’s there.

“But if I’m in his position, well I will postpone the promulgation. What is one month, two months compared to several years of hearings?” he pointed out..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101025nat2.html

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