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Notable idea, notable lie DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 10/17/2011 Late last week,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Notable idea, notable lie

Herman Tiu Laurel
Late last week, two items in the news got my attention — one, a notable idea; the other, a notable lie. The first came from Vice President Jejomar Binay. In a recent meeting with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), he urged the national government to utilize its $75-billion gross international reserves to finance development programs as well as to make it available to local borrowers. This certainly echoes what we have been pushing for the past few months.

The other piece of news (which got my goat this time) came from the doyen of the ruling elite’s favored economists. In an interview with GMA News last Oct. 13, former Neda (National Economic Development Authority) chief Solita Monsod claimed that Philippine industrial electricity rates are definitely higher compared to residential rates and that the former even subsidizes the latter. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Barring complete ignorance, it was a falsehood that could have portrayed her as deliberately lying through her teeth.

A 2010 study by a Perth-based consulting firm providing advisory services to companies operating in and associated with the private power sector in the Asia-Pacific region, International Energy Consultants, whose client base now includes some of the largest companies in the energy supply industry, reveals that “Philippine average residential retail electricity rates were (at that time already) $0.18/kilowatt-hour (kWh) while industrial rates were averaging $0.13/kWh (both in US dollars).” But that’s not all.

The Performance Based Rate (PBR) pricing scheme formulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in 2004 also did its “wonders.” First, it established a Maximum Average Price (MAP) based on claims of projected capital expenditures (capex) by the power distributor Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) on asset base factors that were allegedly overpriced by as much as 1,000 percent. Then, this MAP was further subjected to “rate translation,” where residential (distribution) rates rose from P1 to P4/kWh (check your bill and be shocked) while industrial/commercial rates were pegged as low as P0.25/kWh for the largest industrial users like the giant malls.

Mang Naro Lualhati, one of the complainants in the P39-billion Meralco refund case in 2003 that the public won, has a pending complaint at the ERC on the latest MAP and “rate translation” issues, which states that the MAP should only be P0.90/kWh, instead of the P1.60/kWh approved by the regulatory body, and that the so-called “rate translation” should be discarded as it is discriminatory and even violative of the severely flawed Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act).

In fact, under that law’s provision in Section 23 on “Functions of Distribution Utilities,” it states: “A distribution utility shall have the obligation to provide distribution services and connections to its system for any end-user… Any entity engaged therein shall provide open and NON-DISCRIMINATORY access to its distribution system to all users… in the least cost manner to its captive market… (emphasis supplied).”

Even as both the ERC and Meralco will interpret any law’s provisions to their advantage, there is no doubt that the ERC should never veer away from the “least cost” and “non-discriminatory” provisions so as not to disadvantage the public.

Now, as to the claim that residential rates are being subsidized, just look at your electricity bills. You will notice that paying residential consumers are in fact subsidizing “lifeline rates” and “missionary electrification” — not government or industrial/commercial users.

Monsod has been puffed up by mainstream media to be the “best” economist there is, so much so that the views she expresses are not being vetted. Well, how can they hide the fact that her husband Christian Monsod has been a long-time collaborator of the owners of Meralco, whether in politics and business; that he sat on its board and served as its counsel and consultant to the chairman for many years; and that he was richly rewarded for all this?

Other than favoring Big Business, Monsod’s patently erroneous claim, which prejudices the public’s understanding of the true picture of the power cost consumers are saddled with, was nothing but an outright lie that can never be supported by any factual evidence. If she were only truly interested, she could have easily checked the Internet or consulted power consumer advocates such as Mang Naro, Nasecore (National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms), FDC (Freedom from Debt Coalition), and others. But going by her incredulous statement, it seems these are not the parties she listens to.

As for Binay, while I have not said anything good or bad about him in this column since the last elections, I must now give credit to his call for our growing Gross International Reserves (GIR) to be used for public and private sector funding for infrastructure, development, and the like.

Since the GIR is already larger than the country’s overall foreign currency debt of around $61 billion, the surplus gives us a lot more room to maneuver. But Binay should also look into the huge P1.7-trillion Special Deposit Account (SDA) lying idle in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which is used to pay interest to banks and other depositors in accordance with the desires of our foreign creditors. A push from the VP may just give our BSP officials the impetus to lower the interest paid out (by, say, 1 percent) in order to commit the fund for productive domestic use.

That Binay is beginning to show some understanding of the nation’s financial situation, which is essential to advance the national economy in a sovereign and independent way, shows real promise. Of course, his endorsement of Gloria Arroyo’s escalation of the eVAT (expanded value added tax) leaves much to be desired. But I believe that a closer examination of the simpler sales tax system proposed by Bataan Gov. Tet Garcia will make him see the light. After all, the many leakages in the graft-ridden tiers of input-output VAT computations (to the glee of corrupt tax agents) are designed only for the rich.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit http://newkatipunero.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/20111017com4.html

Way of the bigots EDITORIAL 10/17/2011

.Way of the bigots

Click to enlarge
That festering rift between the Palace and the Supreme Court (SC) is all about Noynoy’s preference for a hand-picked Chief Justice, and started right at the time that the Palace sent subtle messages to SC Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was appointed to the post on the 11th hour of Gloria, to give way for a successor.

That fact cannot be denied by Noynoy or his Palace boys and now the nation is witnessing its sad result in the bruising exchange of comments from the SC and Malacañang in every issues it seems that cross the path of both.

In one of the events in Washington last September during Noynoy’s state visit to the United States, Noynoy expressed his hidden desire when he said that he believed that the highest court of the land is now more cooperative with his administration, which is a statement that he never should have made, since the SC is an independent and co-equal body and should not be expected to toe the Palace line.

While the reality now entirely contradicted his statement, what he said at that time apparently was what he wanted at the back of his mind.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111017com1.html

The winter of economic discontent FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/17/2011

The winter of economic discontent

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Noynoy shouldn’t be too complacent, and even smug about his claimed popularity.
If he follows what is going on in the world today, from the start of the Arab Spring, there is today the autumn of America with the Wall Street protests that have gone global, which will eventually become the world’s winter of economic discontent.

All signs of discontent of a people over corporate greed and inequality, as well as the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer point to this.

People are sick and tired of government’s economic incompetence; of government not doing much to give back to the people what it takes from them; of government giving more and more tax breaks for the wealthy while taxing the poor more and more.

The protests that started in New York City termed as the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread out to at least a thousand cities in the USA, and have now spread to Europe, with demonstrators worldwide shouting their rage against bankers and politicians they accuse of ruining economies and condemning millions to hardship through greed and bad government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111017com2.html

Red fighters in Batangas salute Ka Roger

Red fighters in Batangas salute Ka Roger

Wearing new uniforms printed with Rosal’s stylized photograph, an honor squad executed a “silent gun salute” at about noon of October 15.
Sidebar: An ‘ordinary man’ who lived an extraordinary life
West Batangas—The New People’s Army (NPA) in Batangas offered a “gun salute” to the memory of the late Gregorio ‘Ka Roger’ Rosal at noontime of October 15.

This is in accordance with a Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directive issued last October 9 to the NPA that all its formations nationwide honor the communist movement’s national spokesperson.

Scrambling to outmaneuver government soldiers alerted by a public announcement of the event, a platoon of revolutionaries under NPA-Batangas walked for five nights to look for a safe place to hold a short program.
The NPA Eduardo Dagli Command’s senior cadre Rodrigo Mabini said Philippine Air Force and Philippine Army troops in camps and detachments in the province have been unusually active starting Monday after the CPP announced the special event.

“They have launched forays into our territories while the Philippine National Police maintained a checkpoint between the Batangas and Cavite boundaries,” he said in Filipino.

After securing the place the NPA guerillas spent most of the morning practicing songs and the gun drills while civilian supporters started bringing in food and drinks.

Finally, at about 10 o’clock in the morning, the revolutionaries started a simple program that featured speeches from various underground sectoral organizations allied under the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Wearing new uniforms printed with Rosal’s stylized photograph, an honor squad executed a “silent gun salute” at about noon.

New People’s Army guerrillas offer a gun salute to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio ‘Ka Roger’ Ros.(Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva/ bulatlat.com)
The squad executed the customary gun drills for such an occasion without actually firing their rifles and grenade launchers.

“We are literally surrounded by the enemy and we are very near major highways. We cannot compromise the safety of the masses here present, those living in this area and our media guests by firing our guns,” Mabini explained.

“We are happy we held this program as best we could under our circumstances in honor of the great Batangas native, Ka Roger. He was among those who founded the NPA in this province, aside from being one of earliest members of Kabataang Makabayan (KM, Patriotic Youth), and the re-established CPP in Batangas,” he added.

Rosal was born on April 19, 1947 in Ibaan, Batangas to landless peasant parents. He was a working student—a landowner’s help and a huckster who sold mosquito nets around the province..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/10/17/red-fighters-in-batangas-salute-ka-roger/

In Colombia, call centers replace coffee culture FEATURE 10/17/2011

In Colombia, call centers replace coffee culture


MANIZALES — In Manizales, in the heart of Colombia’s prime coffee production zone, officials have found the solution to volatile commodity prices and raging unemployment: call centers.

The city of 380,000 people — nestled in the Andes mountains in the central department of Caldas, about 175 kilometers northwest of the capital Bogota — is attracting multinational firms and putting residents back to work.

Authorities in Manizales did everything to keep the coffee trade afloat.

“We tried to increase production, the number of hectares used. We also tried to specialize in a quality niche coffee, but nothing seemed to work. Meanwhile, Brazil solidified its position as the world’s top coffee producer,” city mayor Juan Llano told AFP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111017com3.html

Farmers in Northern Mindanao rally for genuine land reform

Farmers in Northern Mindanao rally for genuine land reform

“In Bukidnon, TNCs conspire with the traditional landlords in grabbing vast tracks of land, and in evading agrarian reform programs.” – Danilo Menente, Kasama-Bukidnon
October is hailed by various farmers organizations and grarian reform advocates all over the country as Peasant Month, and beginning October 19, around 10,000 farmers from Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental will take to the streets and highways and gather in Cagayan de Oro City by October 21 to press for genuine agrarian reform in Northern Mindanao and the entire Philippines.

Dubbed as “Lakbayang Mag-uuma alang sa Yuta, Katungod ug Katilingbanong Hustisya” (Peasant Protest March for Land, Rights and Social Justice), the campaign and march will highlight issues from various farming communities in Northern Mindanao.

Organizers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas- Northern Mindanao Region (KMP-NMR), Amihan-NMR, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization; Kasama Bukidnon, the Misamis Oriental Farmer’s Association (MOFA) and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP-NMR) said they will expose issues from these farming communities and bring them to the attention of the regional, national and international media and to the rest of the public. They said the protest themes evolve around the issues of landlessness and the various forms of exploitation suffered by farmers at the hands of landlords, corporations, and the local and national governments.

According to the KMP-NMR, three out of four farmers in the region do not own the lands they till.

Global land grabbing in Bukidnon

Farmers from Bukidnon are expected to speak out against what they call as global land grabbing and human rights violations.

Danilo Menente, Kasama-Bukidnon (Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Bukidnon or Farmers’ Association in Bukidnon) chairman said global land grabbing is putting into serious risk the survival of small farmers and farm workers in the province..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/10/17/massive-protests-of-farmers-in-northern-mindanao-slated-on-october-19/

Bhutan’s royal wedding points to end of polygamy focus 10/17/2011

Bhutan’s royal wedding points to end of polygamy


THIMPHU — Bhutan’s rare form of polygamy, in which men or women take several sisters or brothers as partners, is dying out as the kingdom modernizes, with this week’s royal wedding another sign of its demise.

The king, 31-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, married and crowned Jetsun Pema, the commoner daughter of an airline pilot, on Thursday in a colorful Buddhist ceremony in the ancient capital of Punakha.

In his speech announcing the nuptials in May, Wangchuck made clear that Pema would be his only wife — a distinct departure from his father, who married four sisters in 1979, all of whom were crowned queen in the same ceremony.

The Wangchuck dynasty dates back to 1907 and includes four other kings before the current monarch, three of whom married multiple women..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111017com5.html

Noy’s mouthpieces placed on firing line By Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales 10/17/2011


Noy’s mouthpieces placed on firing line

By Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales 10/17/2011

Malacañang, particularly the spokesmen for President Aquino, received censures from senators yesterday and were accused of inflaming an already heated conflict between the Executive and the Judiciary.

Supreme Court (SC) administrator Midas Marquez wrote The Tribune yesterday questioning President Aquino’s refusal to meet with Legislative and Judiciary officials concerning the budget of the Judiciary stating doubts that if such a stand really is “coming from the President himself.”

“With who to meet is the President’s prerogative. I just wish that the President has been fully informed of the issues, and was not given just a sanitized summary regarding the matter. After all, what we are all after is continuing judicial reforms which I understand is high on the President’s agenda,” Marquez wrote.

“The issue of fiscal autonomy is far from settled, contrary to what (presidential spokesmen Edwin) Lacierda and (Abigail) Valte say. Maybe settled among themselves, yes but certainly not with the Judiciary and the constitutional commissions whose respective budgets they continue to play with,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111017hed1.html

Taiwan’s Spratlys missile plan ‘unsettles’ RP 10/17/2011

Taiwan’s Spratlys missile plan ‘unsettles’ RP


While branding Taiwan’s plan to deploy modern missiles in the Spratlys in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) as “quite unsettling,” the Department of National Defense (DND) is not alarmed by the move, citing the good relationship between the Philippines and Taiwan.

Defense spokesman Zo-simo Jesus Paredes yesterday admitted that the Philippines cannot do anything about Taiwan’s reported plan to arm its Coast Guard units deployed in Taiping and the Pratas islands, also being claimed by China, with Chaparral or Tien Chien I Missiles.

“That’s their (Taiwan) own prerogative, should they want to do that nobody can stop them,” he added.
“(But) they should not encroach into other interest so that peace will prevail. If they are just to protect their interest, there is no problem,” Paredes stressed..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111017hed4.html

5 ‘kidnappers’ killed in Bulacan shootout; Taiwanese rescued 10/17/2011

5 ‘kidnappers’ killed in Bulacan shootout; Taiwanese rescued

Police operatives rescued an abducted Taiwanese trader in a daring hostage operation that left five of his alleged captors dead in Bulacan province yesterday.

Reports reaching Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome identified the rescued victim as Ying Ching Chang, 29, who is involved in garment business operating in Valenzuela City.

According to the report, elements of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (Pacer), led by Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez, engaged the suspects, believed to be members of an organized kidnap-for-ransom group, in an intense shootout around 2:10 a.m. in their lair in Barangay Bigte, Norzagaray town.

Nerez said two of the suspects, who were guarding the victim, immediately fired upon the police operatives, triggering the firefight, resulting in the killing of the two suspects and the safe rescue of Ying..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111017hed3.html

Slow progress on human rights protection may affect EU aid By Michaela P. del Callar 10/17/2011

Slow progress on human rights protection may affect EU aid

By Michaela P. del Callar 10/17/2011

The still sorry state of human rights protection in the country may prove to be a major roadblock to obtaining cheap funds for the government as the European Union (EU) stated it will re-prioritize its aid to deve-loping countries, including the Philippines, putting more emphasis on democracy and human rights and that the assistance may focus this time on fewer countries that mainly uphold the EU criteria.

At the launch of the new policy on Oct. 13 in Brussels, European Union Commission for Development Andris Piebalgs said addressing these two key areas would ensure maximum impact of EU assistance on poverty reduction.

“I want to make sure that every euro reaches those that need it most,” Peibalgs said. “Fighting poverty abroad is EU’s insurance policy for a more stable and prosperous world.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111017hed5.html

Agreement on assessing Angat dam to be inked on Wednesday 10/17/2011

Agreement on assessing Angat dam to be inked on Wednesday

An agreement will be signed on Oct. 19 among a governmental multi-agency group, the Engineering Development Corporation of the Philippines (EDCOP), and the foreign consultancy firm, Tonkin and Taylor, that would reassess the safety and reliability of the dams and dykes of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (ARHEPP) in Bulacan province.

The morning signing at the Quezon City headquarters of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), which would lead in implementing the program, involves seven other national agencies and Bulacan provincial government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111017nat5.html

Husband kills wife, 3 daughters, maid in Cebu 10/17/2011

Husband kills wife, 3 daughters, maid in Cebu

A husband shot dead his wife, three daughters and maid in a fit of rage before turning the gun on himself yesterday.

Police said a drunken Emmanuel Ponce had a heated early morning argument with his wife Melinda, triggering the fatal confrontation in the quiet Talisay City, Cebu, police said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111017nat3.html

Special lanes for motorcycle riders in QC, Pasay open today By Pat C. Santos 10/17/2011

Special lanes for motorcycle riders in QC, Pasay open today

By Pat C. Santos 10/17/2011

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday announced it would start today the dry-run of the motorcycle lanes system on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City and Diosdado Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City. The MMDA said it had already installed all the proper signages on the two major thoroughfares for the information of all motorists.

“We are already done with the installation of traffic signs for the dry-run of the motorcycle lanes,” MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said as he clarified that erring motorcycle riders apprehended for violating the scheme would only be made to undergo an on-the-spot 15-minute road safety seminar, after which a sticker stating the rider has completed the seminar will be attached on the motorcycle’s fuel tank.

Tolentino along with MMDA assistant general manager for operations Emerson Carlos will jointly oversee operations for the first day of the scheme on Commonwealth Avenue while MMDA Undersecretary Alex Cabanilla and director Yves Gonzalez will lead agency personnel on Macapagal Avenue..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111017met1.html

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