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Computing the oligarchy’s plunder DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Computing the oligarchy’s plunder

Herman Tiu Laurel

As I continued my pencil pushing on the power plunder that has raged on for over 10 years — now with a particularly renewed ferocity in Mindanao, I realize that the P80,000 per electricity consumer I computed in my last column speaks only half the story.

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp. debt today stands at $18 billion (P800 billion), despite 10 years of privatizing National Power Corp. (Napocor) assets by almost 90 percent. As it is, authorities are now in a quandary as to how to charge this to us consumers without blowing the lid on the swindle of the century. Their latest attempt, therefore, is to charge 20 percent of this to government, which, of course, means the taxpayers. As for the rest, well, the shysters at Psalm are still working with Congress on passing this on to consumers via a so-called Universal Charge. In short, they will try to make 10 million electricity customers pay for all this by hook or by crook. But that’s not all.

The other half of the story involves the oligarchs who got these $18 billion worth of Napocor assets that we as taxpayers and power consumers paid for since the state power company was established by government in 1936.

What Filipino power consumers have really been plundered of is not only P80,000 per paying customer and, to a lesser extent, per individual taxpayer (as even the consumption of candies, diapers etc. have VAT included). Because we are being made to pay for P80,000 through the various surreptitious means that Psalm is devising with the corrupt bureaucracy, including Malacañang, the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress, the Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Judiciary, the oligarchs on the other hand are already enjoying cash flow benefits and profits from collections on power generating assets they have taken over.

Since the private conglomerates now “owning” our erstwhile public assets took them over on credit, based on sovereign guarantees and guaranteed payments from consumers, we are also actually paying for those assets now in list of acquisitions. This is a classic lagaring Hapon on us as each consumer is actually going to pay double the amount at P180,000!

Some of these asset transfers — such as the national transmission grid that used to be under the National Transmission Corp. but now in the hands of the private National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, which was supposed to have brought in $4 billion for Psalm and the government — have not been paid since their turnover in January 2009.

In fact, we, the taxpayers, have had to foot the bill for Psalm’s operations to the tune of P75 billion to P85 billion each year since the state agency has had to borrow for its operational funds, with the approval of Congress.

You see, we are being cooked in our own fat while the oligarchs are fattening themselves, also on our monthly payments.

And while we are computing and discovering the mounting sums which the oligarchs and their corrupt political agents in government are plundering from the nation’s electricity consumers and taxpayers, Mindanaoans are at present beginning to feel the full force of the power swindle in their area.

“Power curtailment” of four to eight-hour brownouts regularly hit parts of Mindanao today. I have been receiving reports from our colleagues there, particularly Mr. Jojo Borja, early this week that Mindanaoans are now up in arms over the situation since the rains have not stopped and the hydro-electric plants that include the vast Agus-Pulangui complex should already be supplying enough power.

At the same time, Mindanaoans are well aware that there are four emergency power barges with Napocor that can immediately be deployed to supply emergency power there. Yet, the Department of Energy and Psalm refuse to do so, as both await the privatization of these barges by March.

Confirming Borja’s report was the appeal aired last Sunday by the Mindanao business community and the island’s 33 electric cooperatives (led by the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives) to look into the region’s power crisis. They say that it is not only due to the reduced capacity of the hydro-electric plants which have not been maintained properly but also because of the “derating” or control of other power plants in Mindanao.

The two power barges privatized to the Aboitizes in 2009 are not generating power because the electric cooperatives cannot buy from them through NGCP as the grid’s power rates are not affordable to Mindanao consumers. The ECs, thus, bear the brunt of power consumers’ anger when they pass on the generation charge from Therma Marine Corp., also of the Aboitiz Group.

Meanwhile, Malacañang, the Senate, and the House merely display their grandstanding antics in the Corona impeachment hearings.

When Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. came out with a bill against what he calls the negative typecasting of Philippine solons as crooks, I remembered asking: What was the vote of his fellow congressmen on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act? Weren’t they reported to have each received a P500,000-payola for the onerous law’s approval, as exposed by Rep. Rene Magtubo in 2001? How about the P10-million National Electrification Administration projects per congressman ordered released by Gloria Arroyo to those who voted favorably for the measure?

Another one of Gonzales’ harebrained colleagues, sadly, seconded him, saying there are many “crabs” among the public dragging the reputation of congressmen down out of envy. These legislators should instead look at themselves and see that they are the ones dragging the entire country down with their constant scrambling for huge scraps of pork and other large morsels from the national budget for themselves. We challenge these whining solons to a face-to-face debate anytime, anywhere on who the crabs really are — the public or their ilk — so that they can be put in their proper places.

(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m.; watch Destiny Cable GNN’s HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m., on “Hocus PCOS: New proof of cheating?;” 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/20120224com6.html

EDSA hijacked

EDSA hijacked

Vantage Point | BusinessWorld
Despite its failure to deliver on its promises, some Filipinos still hail the 1986 EDSA uprising as a model of how peacefully change can be achieved. The shift in Thailand from military rule to democracy in 1992, and the fall from power of Indonesia’s Suharto in 1998, for example, were supposedly among the political upheavals the event inspired. Changes in other parts of Asia and in Eastern Europe have similarly been credited to the demonstration effect of Philippine People Power, or EDSA 1986.

These claims, however, were mostly based on the broad similarities between what transpired in other countries and what happened in the Philippines in 1986. By the 1980s the United States was abandoning its global anti-communist strategy of fomenting dictatorial rule in favor of supposedly supporting the democratic aspirations of the people its own previous policies had forced into such tyrannies as Pinochet’s in Chile and Marcos’s in the Philippines. This shift in US strategy resulted in a number of US-encouraged pro-”democracy” uprisings all over the world similar to EDSA.

Most of those who have been doing the hailing are also conservatives who define “change” solely in terms of the removal of Marcos from the scene, and who’re still trying to prove that the EDSA uprising was in that sense not only their sole creation, but also a rousing success.

But the suspicion that EDSA 1986 had not changed anything beyond removing Ferdinand Marcos from power didn’t take long to develop. The most visible leaders of that event, Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile, were after all also the most visible symbols of martial law when Marcos proclaimed it in 1972: Ramos as chief of the dreaded Philippine Constabulary, and Enrile as Secretary, and later Minister, of National Defense..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/24/edsa-hijacked/

Head in sand: UK recognizes Syrian rebels

Head in sand: UK recognizes Syrian rebels

Britain will recognize the Syrian National Council as a "legitimate representative of the Syrian people," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in the run-up to the "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunisia.

­In a move that is unlikely to placate Chinese and Russian concerns over taking sides in a civil war, Hague further condemned Assad's government as "a criminal regime."

Just minutes before a sideline meeting with members of the Syrian opposition on Friday, Hague urged the international community to "tighten the diplomatic and economic stranglehold" on Syrian president Bashar Assad's regime..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/britian-recognizes-syrian-opposition-143/

Anonymous takes on prison industrial complex with latest hack

Anonymous takes on prison industrial complex with latest hack

The prison industrial complex is the latest victim of Anonymous’ #FuckFBIFriday campaign. Hacktivists have compromised data from a massive correctional facility management firm and have defaced their website.

The website for The GEO Group, Inc., a Florida-based management firm with clients worldwide, has been targeted by operatives with the online collective Anonymous. Friday’s hack from the group is the most recent release related to the #FFF campaign that has in past weeks targeted and successfully taken down the sites of the CIA, FBI and US Department of Justice.

Various Twitter accounts affiliated with the loose-knit group confirmed the hack at around 12:30 pm EST on Friday. A statement made by the group has replaced the traditional homepage of TheGEOGroupInc.com and other sites associated with the prison management firm have been “wiped off the net,” says the group..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/anonymous-prison-group-geo-169/

Afghan chaos: US consulate stormed and NATO trucks torched

Afghan chaos: US consulate stormed and NATO trucks torched

At least seven people have been killed as protesters, outraged by a Koran-burning incident at a NATO base, stormed a US consulate in western Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Khost protesters have set fire to 20 NATO trucks.

The four days of violent anti-American protests have already left 13 dead and dozens injured.

Seven people were killed and some 50 wounded on Friday during a bid to storm the US consulate in the city of Herat. Two more protesters have been killed in Kabul, two in the east of the country and one in the north..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/kabul-protests-koran-burning-117/

Pope joins tweeting community

Pope joins tweeting community

Pope Benedict XVI has entered history as the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to join the Twitter microblogging website.

The highlights from the Pope’s speeches over the coming 40 days of Lent will appear on his Twitter feed every day, cropped to the required 140 characters or under, Vatican Radio says..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/pope-joins-twitter-133/

89 OFWs in Saudi Arabia appealing for urgent assistance

89 OFWs in Saudi Arabia appealing for urgent assistance

MANILA – Eighty nine overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), along with other Asian workers staged a work stoppage to protest the unfair labor practices of their employer, Al Swayeh Company in Saudi Arabia. The OFWs sought the help of the Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia in repatriating them to the Philippines but to no avail.

In a statement sent to Bulatlat.com, Eric Jocson, chairman of the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (Brotherhood in the Middle East) said the 89 OFWs were maltreated by their employer. The OFWs also sent an urgent appeal to Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan because they are now running out of food and money. The 89 OFWs are staying in a camp in Saudi Arabia.

Jocson visited the OFWs in their camp where they are now staying together with other nationalities also working for Al Swayeh. Jocson said the OFWs are very hungry and some are getting sick.

“Presently, they don’t have a gas tank so they gather wood from the desert to build a fire. They don’t have enough food and they are just depending on help from fellow Filipinos. Some of the OFWs have cough, colds and fever, some also have hypertension,” Jocson said in an interview through e-mail. During his visit, Jocson gave them food and a small amount of money..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/24/89-ofws-in-saudi-arabia-appealing-for-urgent-assistance/

Toxin that attacks the brain found in some Edsa Revolt souvenir items 02/25/2012

Toxin that attacks the brain found in some Edsa Revolt souvenir items

A watchdog tracking harmful chemicals in consumer products has detected high levels of lead, a potent toxin that attacks the brain, in some souvenir items being sold in celebration of the triumph of “People Power.”

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation on the eve of the 26th anniversary of “People Power Revolution” in 1986 that restored democracy in the country.

The group bought souvenirs from the Filipiniana sections of major retail stores in shopping malls located along Edsa, the center of people’s upheavals that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

Among the samples analyzed on Feb. 23 through an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer were commemorative jewelry, rosary, reflective car sticker, coffee mug and tote bags..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120225met1.html

Stop blaming FM for RP woes — ‘Bongbong’ 02/25/2012

Stop blaming FM for RP woes — ‘Bongbong’

The late former President Ferdinand Marcos should stop being blamed for the country’s woes, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday said as he lashed out at subsequent leaders for doing little to improve the lives of Filipinos.

The lawmaker let rip on his Facebook page as President Aquino prepared to lead a rally today to mark the Edsa “People Power” Revolt that toppled Marcos in 1986.

“China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia can all point to the progress they have made these last 26 years but, unfortunately, for the majority of our people, nothing much has changed today,” Bongbong noted..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120225hed4.html

Survey finds 43% rarely bother with Corona trial 02/25/2012

Survey finds 43% rarely bother with Corona trial

The latest findings from the national poll of 1,500 Filipino adults conducted by a survey outfit called Laylo Research Strategies (LRS) from Jan. 28 to Feb. 6, 2012, showed that a big plurality do not bother about the ongoing Senate impeachment trial, while 86 percent said they will respect whatever the decision made by the Senate.

Moreover, only eight percent will join rallies if Chief Justice Renato Corona is absolved while only four percent will be joining rallies if he is impeached.

The survey also bared that while 43 percent rarely bother with the ongoing trial and 33 percent saying sometimes only and only they follow the news (not the live coverage), only a fourth, or 24 percent are closely paying attention..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120225hed5.html

6 Army troops in hot water for ‘gang rape’ 02/25/2012

6 Army troops in hot water for ‘gang rape’

Six Army troops are now in hot water, four of them may even face court martial proceedings, after an alleged gang-rape incident inside a military camp in Masbate province late last month.

Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said that while the alleged gang-rape case has been withdrawn by the complainant, identified only as “Lanie,” the Army leadership will proceed with administrative proceedings against the personnel involved, one of them a lieutenant. “We will never tolerate any transgressions to Army regulations,” Cabunoc said.

Cabunoc said that four of those directly involved in the alleged gang rape inside the camp premises of Bravo Company of the 9th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Puro, Milagros town were enlisted personnel..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120225nat7.html

Noynoy dared to reveal plans on resolving unemployment 02/25/2012

Noynoy dared to reveal plans on resolving unemployment

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay yesterday challenged Malacañang to back up its big talk of plans and progress with concrete action in the wake of an SWS survey showing over 10 million Filipinos are affected by unemployment with the number steadily increasing to 24 percent in December 2011 from 20.2 percent in previous polls.

“The government keeps the people’s hopes up with talks of partnerships, investments and so forth but, so far, since their administration has taken charge, all of these have just been sound bytes,” Magsaysay said. “Contrary to what they say, investors and foreign businesses are threatening to pack up their bags because this government is failing to address their concerns about their expenditures.”

“The cost of doing business in the country remains high as compared to our other Asian neighbors,” the solon added. “So, it comes as a no brainer to some that it might be more practical to move their operations elsewhere.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120225met2.html

Inclusion of voters’ education subject in high school pushed 02/25/2012

Inclusion of voters’ education subject in high school pushed

Voters’ education will soon be a regular subject in both public and private schools under a bill seeking to educate the students on their right to suffrage.

Parañaque Rep. Edwin Olivarez authored House Bill 5784 which mandates the Department of Education (DepEd) to include voters’ education in the high school curriculum to help first-time voters of their rights and duties during the conduct of political exercises.

Olivares said the bill, to be known as the “Voters’ Education Act of 2012,” seeks to strengthen patriotism and nationalism among Filipino youth and educate them on becoming responsible members of society..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120225met3.html

Portions of Ayala, Makati avenues closed to traffic starting today 02/25/2012

Portions of Ayala, Makati avenues closed to traffic starting today

Traffic will be rerouted at the Makati Central Business District (CBD) starting at 10 p.m. today, Feb. 25, to make way for this year’s Caracol Festival, the official festival of Makati City, to be held at the corner of Ayala and Makati avenues near the Gabriela Silang statue.

Makati Department of Public Safety (DPS) director Hermenegildo San Miguel said the westbound direction of Ayala Avenue, from Makati Avenue to Paseo de Roxas, and the southbound direction of Makati Avenue, from Paseo de Roxas to Ayala Avenue, will be closed to traffic from 10 p.m. today until around 10 p.m. tomorrow after the activity has ended..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120225met4.html

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