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Psalm’s napalm DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/04/2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Psalm’s napalm

Herman Tiu Laurel
The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp. is getting ready to drop the deadliest napalm of all electricity rate increases — the Universal Charge. It’s even hiring an expensive foreign PR firm to assist in softening the blow for the Philippine power consumers’ “kill.”

Weber Shandwick, “a leading global public relations agency with offices in 74 countries around the world” will be contracted supposedly to produce a coffee table book on Psalm; but only God knows why the public power agency needs a coffee table book, much less a PR outfit.

Psalm is seeking a P75-billion loan for its operations, on top of the $18-billion National Power Corp. (Napocor) debts it still has to pay and its push for Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Joint Congressional Power Committee approval of a P0.39/kWh power rate hike for 25 years to cover P139 billion in Napocor “stranded costs” for $18 billion, or around P800 billion worth of debts that resulted from several independent power producer (IPP) contracts signed by the Cory, FVR and Arroyo administrations. But that’s only the beginning. The balance of P640 billion will still have to be settled which, translated, means P1.60/kWh more in future rate increases.

While these are happening, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has just obtained a rate increase for its third Performance Based Regulation (PRR) rate of P1.58/kWh, or around P0.80 over the original Return-on-Rate Base (RoRB) price standard of P0.70/kWh.

Such radical increases in the ERC-approved rates for Meralco must be tremendously boosted by that part of Meralco’s capex (capital expenditure) budget called “Regulatory Liaison” amounting to P437 million (as uncovered by our colleague Butch Junia) submitted to the ERC and included in the charges to its five millions customers.

Yes, dear readers, based on this thoroughly lopsided PBR scheme, we power consumers advance our hard-earned money for the capital of Meralco, which under normal circumstances ought to be shouldered by its so-called “investors.”

With a P437-million fund extracted from our advances to Meralco, the power company should have no problem “liaising” with the four ERC commissioners.

But where did all the privatization proceeds of Napocor and its National Transmission Co. (TransCo) spin-off go? In the first half of 2009, Psalm, which was created to take over, manage, and privatize Napocor assets, reported $10.5 billion in proceeds from privatization. Two years later, with over 80 percent of Napocor’s power plants having been sold, and with some reports saying that the sale has already reached $18 billion, they still expect us to believe that the debt today stands at $16.5 to $18 billion, practically unchanged from 10 years of the Electric Power Industry R(D)eform Act’s frenzied privatization, which was railroaded in Congress supposedly to wipe out Napocor’s debts?

The latest Ibon Foundation study reports that “Psalm has already shelled out $18 billion to settle the obligations of Napocor from 2001 to 2010… (with) $6.7 billion (going) to principal amortization; $4.3 billion for interest payments; and $7 billion for obligations to independent power producers (IPPs).” Oh yeah… and we still have all this debt. What magic, what scam is this?!

Ibon explains, “the financial bleeding of Napocor continued under Epira because the law legitimized the onerous contracts signed by Napocor with the IPPs such as the take or pay provisions.” It must be said again that Epira was approved by a Sonny Belmonte lameduck Congress under the power-grabbing Gloria Arroyo regime. It was a law egged on by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which dangled some $300 million for its approval. The result: 10 years and $16.5 to $18 billion of our lost resources.

Going by the Psalm plan, which it hopes will remain unnoticeable, the P0.39/kWh increase will be staggered every so often over the next decades until our grandchildren’s children will still be paying for that wretched Universal Charge. This burden on the national economy will continue to scorch our future, not unlike the US ’ napalms in Vietnam that still render large tracks of that country’s mountains and countryside inhospitable.
I am one with Ibon’s conclusion, “The only way out of this debacle… is to cancel the onerous debts of Napocor and halt its privatization by repealing the failed Epira.”

Unfortunately, another group in the struggle against this power piracy, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), was more dilute in its recent summit. Though condemning the Epira’s dire consequences, its official press release said: “FDC (is) still in the process of putting the finishing touches to the summit recommendations. The group said (it) will seek an audience with (BSA III) and the Joint Congressional Power Conference once the proposals are finalized.” This is the problem when a supposed NGO has a collaborationist alliance with a government that is clearly in cahoots with the ruling oligarchy.

While we have high respect for our colleagues there such as Wilson Fortaleza, Bobby Diciembre et al., the influence of the Akbayan heirs of Etta Rosales (Gloria Arroyo’s congressional sidekick in her 2004 “witching hour” election proclamation) is warping the group’s perspective.

The Filipino people must demand for the return of the nation’s power generating assets — from fossil fuel, to geothermal, to hydro — back to their fold. They, the People, will then reimburse those so-called investors’ expenses with whatever profits and (in the same manner as the assets were privatized) on installment basis — but only after all the real costs are assayed. Then, the basis for setting electricity rates will have to be brought back to the old RoRB and should never be higher than the median rates in Asia . New power projects shall likewise be borne by the State, capitalizing on the $30-billion Special Deposit Account held by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that is only lying idle while it is being milked by the IMF (International Monetary Fund)-World Bank, ADB, and BSP “banksters.”

(Tune in to Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m., and Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110704com5.html

When wolves smell meat EDITORIAL 07/04/2011

When wolves smell meat

Click to enlarge
When Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago blew her top during the heated exchange of accusations between supposed whistle-blowers led by businessman Joey de Venecia and former government executive Jun Lozada and the accused brokers of the lucrative National Broadband Network (NBN) deal led by former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos, she said that the controversy was nothing but an argument over kickbacks.

De Venecia and Lozada supposedly squealed on the NBN kickbacks after they lost out on the contract that Abalos bagged for a Chinese supplier..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110704com1.html

Public enemy #2 FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/04/2011

Public enemy #2

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Today, Noynoy’s public enemy number two appears to be the Catholic bishops who are now being excoriated by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for its grant of several bishops’ requests for sports utility vehicles, which granted requests are now being interpreted by the Aquino PCSO and the Yellow media as bribes to bishops along with the Malacañang’s charge that this is a violation of the Constitution on the separation of Church and State principle, adding, with that holier than thou air again, that no one but no one is above the law, as if charity grants and donations from government to religious groups were a crime.

Interestingly enough, the so-called exposé from the Aquino PCSO came after Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos in an interview, called for Noynoy to step down from the presidency to save the nation from his incompetence and his being unfit from the job..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110704com2.html

Jury consultants provide winning edge in court focus 07/04/2011

Jury consultants provide winning edge in court


FASHINGTON — It will be his word against hers, a legal battle royal that will pit a rich and powerful politico against the working class housekeeper accusing him of sexual assault.
Though prosecutors said Friday the hotel maid accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn lied to a grand jury, the former International Monetary Fund chief still faces charges and the judge vowed the investigations would continue until all the facts are brought to light.

Which side ultimately prevails in the trial may hinge on the makeup of the pool of jurors, who must unanimously agree on Strauss-Kahn’s guilt to convict him.

In high-stakes cases like this one, lawyers from both sides usually seek to enlist the services of a consultant specializing in jury selection..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110704com3.html

Awakening C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 07/04/2011


Jonathan De la Cruz
Getting into his second year in office, P-Noy is in for a rude awakening. From hereon, the criticisms will be more pointed and probably more venomous. These will also be laden with more solid facts and figures about the administration’s failures, quirks and foibles which are guaranteed to make life more difficult than they have been for P-Noy and his crew. The teflon engendered by P-Noy’s personal integrity and folksy ways which early on somehow eased the public’s anxieties over his handling of the affairs of state will start to wear off as problems continue to pile up and the solutions, instant or otherwise, get harder to come by. If the protests, in and out of the streets, in the runup to P-Noy’s “Ulat sa Bayan/Pilipinas Natin” are any guide opposition to the administration’s ways and practices will get even louder and possibly even stronger. Such is the nature of the beast, so to speak..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110704com4.html

House, Senate eye separate probes on Pajero bishops By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 07/04/2011

House, Senate eye separate probes on Pajero bishops

By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 07/04/2011

The controversy swirling about the donations made by the Arroyo government to leaders of the Catholic Church has reached both chambers of Congress which separately plans to hold an inquiry into the anomaly.
At the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman pushed an independent investigation into the issue.

Lagman said that a probe is in order to get into the bottom of the allegations supposedly involving seven bishops who received Pajero luxury vehicles from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to spare innocent members of the clergy.

“The revelation that some Catholic bishops received motor vehicles and cash gifts from the PCSO has shattered the moral ascendancy of the clergy. The varying defensive responses of the bishops from contrived denials to deodorized admissions have aggravated their fragile position,” Lagman said.

The Senate is also moving for an investigation into the controversy. Sen. Panfilo Lacson who moved for the conduct of an inquiry in the Senate by the blue ribbon committee starting Wednesday said documents he had culled and which appear to be also in possession of the panel chairman, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, indicated that of the numerous charges of alleged irregularities hurled at her during her incumbency as president, former President Arroyo might be pinned down this time on supposed PCSO funds misuse as documents showed her approval on its purported releases. .... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110704hed2.html

NAIA-3 RTC judge’s extort try on Piatco bared EXCLUSIVE By Ninez Cacho-Olivares Editor-in-Chief 07/04/2011


NAIA-3 RTC judge’s extort try on Piatco bared


By Ninez Cacho-Olivares Editor-in-Chief 07/04/2011

For a consortium’s refusal to be blackmailed into meeting the demand of Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 117 Judge Eugenio de la Cruz for a $10-million payoff for him to approve the Supreme Court-ordered commission’s technical evaluation report which gave Piatco $376 million plus seven years of interest due the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco), the consortium ended up being awarded a pittance of what the consortium invested in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 3 (NAIA-3) with the judge awarding Piatco a mere $176 million which was what the Solictor-General said government was willing to pay the consortium for the expropriation of the airport terminal.

A witness to the judge’s extortion try, through a source, told The Tribune yesterday that he was present when Judge De la Cruz demanded a $10-million payoff, if Piatco wanted him to award it with the amount the court-appointed technical commission’s report to the Judge stated as just compensation which was $376 million plus interest for the past seven years..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110704hed1.html

‘Aquino gov’t deceiving public on impact of Saudization on OFW’ By Michaela P. del Callar 07/04/2011

‘Aquino gov’t deceiving public on impact of Saudization on OFW’

By Michaela P. del Callar 07/04/2011

The Aquino administration was accused yesterday of “misleading” the public of alternative jobsites in other countries for thousands of Filipino domestic helpers who will be displaced by a new Saudi stop-hiring policy for maids from the Philippines due to an unresolved wage row.

Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani disputed the statements of the government that other countries like Australia and Canada are willing to absorb Filipino workers.

“Canada and Australia may need workers but these are highly skilled personnel in the oil and gas industry which is sorely lacking in the last decade,” Geslani noted.

The government, he said, should hold talks at the highest level with Saudi Arabia immediately to forestall any massive loss of jobs for Filipinos..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110704hed4.html

Solon: Use Malampaya revenue to boost AFP, education By Gerry Baldo 07/04/2011

Solon: Use Malampaya revenue to boost AFP, education

By Gerry Baldo 07/04/2011

The revenue generated by the Malampaya Natural Gas Project should be used to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the education sector and not kept in the coffers of the Department of Energy.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education, made the recommendation to boost the AFP and education.

Angara said the money should be used to strenghten the country’s defense capability in the West Philippine Sea where the Malampaya project is located. It could also be used to uplift the standard of the country’s education system and help the agriculture sector..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110704nat5.html

Spain thanks RP for declaring June 30 as PH-Spanish Friendship Day 07/04/2011

Spain thanks RP for declaring June 30 as PH-Spanish Friendship Day

In a momentous gesture, Spain’s Congreso de Diputados formally expressed the country’s gratitude toward the Philippines for declaring the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day on June 30 of every year in commemoration of the historic Siege of Baler.

Spain’s unprecedented move was made in response to an equally unprecedented initiative by the Philippines to pass the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Act (Republic Act 9187) in 2003, becoming the only former colony to proclaim its friendship by law..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110704nat7.html

Immigration chief defends tight screening conducted on Pinoys leaving for abroad By Conrado Ching 07/04/2011

Immigration chief defends tight screening conducted on Pinoys leaving for abroad

By Conrado Ching 07/04/2011
The tight screening of Filipinos departing for abroad was defended by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) yesterday.

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said the move is necessary to prevent the exodus of victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment and even drug mules.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the other day, announced that two Filipinos were sentenced to death in Hong Kong and China for drug possession.

“They should understand that we are doing this to protect our poor countrymen from being victimized by criminal syndicates who take advantage of their poverty and their desire for greener pastures abroad,” David said in a statement..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110704met2.html

Justice department opposes ‘exception provisions’ in proposed bill on abortion 07/04/2011

Justice department opposes ‘exception provisions’ in proposed bill on abortion

The Department of Justice (DoJ) is objecting to a provision in the proposed House bill on abortion which considers the act as a crime of abortion even those done for valid life-saving reasons.

House Bill (HB) 3667 authored by Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing is seeking the imposition of a maximum 12 years imprisonment for abortion practiced by a physician or any medical professional.

A pharmacist who sells or dispense abortive drugs will also suffer the same penalty and a P100,000 fine.
The proposed legislation which will be known as the New Anti-Abortion Act of 2010 also seeks to impose life imprisonment on persons found guilty of using violence to intentionally abort pregnancy of a woman..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110704met4.html

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