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Serge’s Epira contradictions DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 03/30/2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Serge’s Epira contradictions

Herman Tiu Laurel
The electricity spaghetti hit the ceiling fan last week, and the stench of the power oligarchs reeks all over the place. Now it’s not just electricity consumers charging the oligarchs and their captive government officials with conspiracy; local officials, such as North Cotabato Gov. Emilou Taliño-Mendoza and General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, are saying that the Mindanao power crisis is “intentional.” Even Sen. Koko Pimentel openly agrees with Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Lualhati Antonino’s assertion that the “artificial shortage” is the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines’ (NGCP) means to “have the Agus-Pulangi Power Plant privatized.”

The NGCP is by no means the main culprit. It goes way up to the oligarchy and the international corporatist mafia behind it. We must remember that the NGCP Frankenstein was sewn together by Fidel Ramos’ Monte Oro Corp., with the Carlyle Group catalyzing the entry of the State Grid Corp. of China, together with the Sy Group, to become the NGCP.

Monstrous as it became, the NGCP Frankenstein is but the son. The mother Frankenstein is the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), which, in its time, was sewn together by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), the illegal Gloria Arroyo regime, the oligarchs and their Yellow “civil society,” together with the corrupt 12th Congress of Edsa II. They managed to use the thread of the ADB’s $900-million power sector loan and the IMF-WB’s $300-million rehabilitation loan release as conditions for the enactment of the Epira into law.

The local power oligarchs were also alleged to have contributed to a payola of P500,000 for every member of Congress under Speaker Sonny Belmonte, which emoluments were further spruced up by Gloria’s P10-million per congressman “O, Ilaw” project. And, like the current railroaded Corona “Articles of Impeachment,” it is doubtful that even half-a-dozen of the representatives or senators who signed the Epira even read it.

As for media, the oligarch-controlled “presstitute” (press-prostitute) merely suppressed the truth. Only a few, like this columnist and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), campaigned in the streets against it.
The argument for Epira was that the monopoly enjoyed by the government’s National Power Corp. (Napocor) was too big to be efficient and had to be broken up into smaller units. Fast forward to today and the chairman of the Senate energy committee, Serge Osmeña, himself a champion of the Epira, now argues for the expansion of the split-up units.

In his defense of Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Rene Almendras’ disastrous handling of the Mindanao power crisis, Osmeña claims the Energy chief “is aware of economies of scale and that electricity would be cheaper for everyone if distributed over a bigger transmission grid than a smaller one…”
The shift in tone is obviously because much of the elite — a class to which Osmeña belongs — have already formed an oligopoly in the sector and are using their clout to blackmail the entire nation into swallowing the “highest power cost in Asia.”

Osmeña says, “The national reform policy on electricity… was to harness the finances and management talents of the private sector in ensuring that the country would be supplied in a timely manner with dependable, quality and reasonably priced power…” Really?

Independent power producers (IPP) are private utility companies established on the basis of state “sovereign guarantees” and/or securitization of captive consumers’ aggregate payments in a contract period. Here, securitization comes in “the form of financial instruments used to obtain funds from… investors… backed by amortizing cash flows.” These cash flows, in turn, are derived from the pockets of millions of electricity consumers.

Historically, securitization was done by the Republic of the Philippines to launch the Napocor; and as government did not shell out any money, only acting as an intermediary of the funds from power consumers, we can say that the power sector was never (repeat, NEVER) subsidized.

When the state’s power assets were still under Napocor control, the price of electricity in the Philippines was not only competitive but one of the lowest in Asia. Today, after Epira, power costs in this country have shot up way into the stratosphere.

In the case of Mindanao, we now see the IPPs blackmailing consumers, the way the privatized Aboitiz Group Power Barges 117 and 118 and the now Lopez-run Mt. Apo Geothermal are being used to force Mindanaoans into accepting 20-year, exorbitantly priced contracts, or else continue being denied much-needed electricity.

But wait. Isn’t price a reflection of these privateers’ much-vaunted “efficiency?” If so, aren’t they and other utilities like the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) guilty of doing their jobs at a very high cost to the nation and, in fact, destroying its entire economy?

Therefore, given that these oligarchs are only “efficient” from the point of view of profit extraction, totally missing the mark of providing efficient and reliable electricity at the least cost to consumers, why should we accept any of this, in view of the fact that things have gone from bad to worse despite 90 percent of the power sector being privatized?

As if to further cover up the litany of lies that is the Epira, Osmeña raises another point, saying that “Napocor was bankrupt and that even if it sold all of its assets, it still could not cover its liabilities.”

Napocor was a very healthy and viable public corporation before Corazon Aquino, her Yellow gang, and her oligarch-patrons took over the reins of the Philippine Republic. They abolished the Ministry of Energy and placed its functions under the Office of the President to ensure an efficient dismantling of the nation’s energy development program. They established almost a dozen IPPs and cancelled half a dozen major energy projects (including the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant). All these led to a “Dark Age” under a Cory-appointed oligarch as Napocor head. What followed during the Ramos era were 43 more plundering IPP contracts that were to be the most massive bloodletting of Napocor’s resources to this day — via the $18-billion so-called stranded debts that Epira was supposed to have erased but never did. All these have transpired while the oligarchs have not paid $10 billion of what they owe government for these privatized assets.

The current Speaker, Sonny Belmonte, when pressed for a response to the crescendo of complaints from Mindanao lawmakers, said, “We have to investigate (the power crisis) to know what is going on.” Let’s see when the investigation will start and how far it will go (considering who the distribution source of the Epira payola in 2001 really is).

Still, on a slightly positive note, despite the elder Sen. Nene Pimentel’s signing of the Epira, we are hopeful that the younger Pimentel will take up the energy cause in the Upper Chamber this time. My only criticism is that he may have weakened his position when he stated, “If I need to personally beg to Senator Osmeña to hold the inquiry before the Holy Week break, I will have to.”

Why even beg, Koko? Your duty lies with the people and no one else.

(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., after Lent, on “Mindanao power blackmail? Part II;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120330com6.html

Yellow surveys FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/30/2012

Yellow surveys

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Amazing, really, these pro-Noynoy surveys!

Imagine, there was Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey findings completely following the line of its patron, the Malacaang tenant, with 73 percent of the respondents saying they prefer a guilty verdict for Chief Justice Renato Corona, plus the finding of respondents saying that whether acquitted or convicted, the Chief Justice should resign.

This, despite the finding that 67 percent will accept any verdict given by the Senate impeachment court.

So, if as claimed by SWS, 67 percent of the respondents would accept the Senate courts verdict, why then do they want the CJ to quit if he is acquitted? Does not make any sense, given the fact that if the verdict is acquittal, then it stands to reason that the senator-judges believe him to be innocent of the charges. In turn, if he is deemed not guilty, why then should an innocent man resign from his post?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120330com2.html

Congressional report: Attack on Iran would be a failure

Congressional report: Attack on Iran would be a failure

A new Congressional report affirms that a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran would be useless since the Islamic Republic could recuperate from it within a six month time frame.

The report sparked by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s remarks claiming he “believes” Israel is “likely” to attack in Iran in either April, May or June, says although US and Israel aren’t certain of the precise location of the nuclear sites, the facilities may be spread out in a way that an attack would result in failure.

Bloomberg described the report stating it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”.... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/iran-report-nuclear-israel-785/

Philadelphia student arrested for photographing police

Philadelphia student arrested for photographing police

A student in Philadelphia has been arrested for taking photos of a traffic stop outside his house. That’s despite of the fact that police officers were specifically instructed that people can take pictures of their activity in public.

­Ian Van Kuyk, a Temple University photojournalism student, has been charged with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. All for simply trying to do his course assignment.

Van Kuyk relates the story. He was sitting on the porch stairs of his home when police pulled a vehicle to the side of the street. As he was tasked with a night-photography assignment, Van Kuyk decided to use the moment, grabbed his camera and began shooting photos..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/student-police-arrest-photo-810/

Let there be light NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 03/30/2012

Let there be light

Armida Siguion-Reyna
I don’t know if you’ve noticed how much darker it’s become at nights, out on Edsa, on other national roads, city streets, not to mention the much narrower district eskinitas and kalyehons. Especially so, when it’s raining.

It was while going to Ali Sotto’s birthday party, two years ago, that I had first noticed this. Katipunan Road, on the way to Loyola Grand Villas, still had the Ateneo de Manila and the Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll) on one side, but facing a whole lot of establishments that weren’t there yet when my children were going to school in the area. Pizza parlors and burger joints galore, a botica, more than a couple of banks with ATM machines, pero, wow, ang dilim.
The darkness struck me again, last November, on the way to Vice President Jojo Binay’s affair, at the Coconut Palace. And once more, when I visited Dolphy in his house, almost close to where Binay holds office, about a month ago. And, almost just recently, when I attended former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr.’s celebration..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120330com4.html

Blackmail, not blackout CROSSROADS Jonathan De la Cruz 03/30/2012

Blackmail, not blackout

Jonathan De la Cruz
This is the universal cry of all Mindanaoans after the Palace and Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras tried to cavalierly downplay the worsening power situation in the country’s second biggest island by suggesting that the same is a result of years of neglect by previous administrations. Of course, Mindanaoans do not buy this argument. They point out that Mindanao never experienced such long, drawn out blackouts before especially during the Marcos years. They even noted that as far back as pre-Edsa I days, the Ministry of Energy then headed by the late Geronimo Velasco had already laid out an energy development plan not only for Mindanao but for the entire country which factored in the kind of problems, i.e., drought, community resistance, high priced oil and coal and the like, which Almendras and company are now trying to use to explain their negligence if not utter insensitivity to the plight of our brothers in Mindanao.

The Velasco power and energy road map, to use a Palace favorite short hand, was handed over to the Cory administration with all the attendant measures and even timeliness for the installation of generating and distribution capacities nationwide. Had the plan been implemented with adjustments for any critical developments, the power situation would not be as highly problematic as it is today. In fact, many experts now claim that had the nuclear power plant been commissioned we would not be in such dire straits as we are today..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120330com5.html

Aquino, RP execs to defy China’s opposition to Spratlys issue By Michaela P. del Callar and Rocky G. Nazareno 03/30/2012

Aquino, RP execs to defy China’s opposition to Spratlys issue

By Michaela P. del Callar and Rocky G. Nazareno 03/30/2012

President Aquino and other Philippine officials will defy China’s opposition and continue to push the inclusion of Manila’s proposal to prevent South China Sea armed conflicts in a proposed code of conduct during the regional summit next week in Cambodia.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Teresita Barsana said the Philippine government would want to see key elements of its major foreign policy initiative called the Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (Zopffc), which calls for the segregation of disputed zones from the non-disputed areas, integrated in the legally-binding code amid strong objections from China.

“The Philippines is part of the drafting of the code of conduct and that is where we can incorporate the elements that we want in our proposal,” she told a press briefing in Malacañang..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120330hea3.html

Robinsons Galleria Ortigas bombed By Gina Peralta-Elorde 03/30/2012


Robinsons Galleria Ortigas bombed

By Gina Peralta-Elorde 03/30/2012
Bombings in provincial malls are no longer the domain of the provinces, with Metro Manila now the target of lawless elements carrying with them grenades.

An upscale mall in Ortigas was bombed, with a security guard killed while six others were reported wounded, once again coming to fore the perception of a serious breakdown of law and order in the metroplitan area in the Philipines.

This occurred when two men — armed with guns and grenade-robbed bank tellers inside the Robinsons Galleria mall along Edsa, in Quezon City yesterday morning.

Reports said that two armed men donned security guard uniforms and followed the roving tellers of Security Bank located inside the mall..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120330hea1.html

100 families left homeless in Cainta fire By Gina Peralta-Elorde and Jason Faustino 03/30/2012

100 families left homeless in Cainta fire

By Gina Peralta-Elorde and Jason Faustino 03/30/2012

Some 100 families lost their homes as 50 houses caught fire in Cainta, Rizal before dawn yesterday.
Authorities said the blaze in Barangay San Andres started at around 2:30 a.m. It was declared under control by around 4:30 a.m. No one was reported hurt.

The fire, which reached the second alarm, allegedly began at the house of one Joventina Dante. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

Several barangay authorities are also looking into the possibility that the houses were intentionally burned by a man who recently earned the ire of his neighbors for his involvement in theft incidents in the area..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120330nat4.html

7th most wanted man in Laguna apprehended in La Union 03/30/2012

7th most wanted man in Laguna apprehended in La Union

The seventh most-wanted criminal in Laguna has been arrested in La Union, Police Chief Inspector Santiago Cuntapay, chief of police of the Calauan, Laguna Municipal Police Station (MPS) said, adding that the suspect was arrested at around 8 in the evening of Tuesday.

Police identified the arrested suspect as Isidro Natividad Resaba, married, of legal age and resident of Barangay Paliparan.

The suspect was apprehended by virtue of warrants issued by Judge Fernando Sagun of the Calauan Municipal Trial Court for the crime of attempted homicide and frustrated homicide issued by Judge Romeo de Leon of Branch 35 of the Regional Trial Court..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120330nat6.html

BI on alert vs foreigners who may take advantage of Holy Week 03/30/2012

BI on alert vs foreigners who may take advantage of Holy Week

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) was placed on heightened alert to prevent undesirable aliens and human trafficking victims from taking advantage of the long Holy Week break to slip in or out of the country.

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. directed immigration officers and immigration intelligence agents stationed in the ports to be extra vigilant and closely monitor all arriving and departing international travelers.

David warned that the long holiday might be exploited by foreign terrorists, drug mules and other undesirable aliens to sneak into the country..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120330met3.html

Palace warned of massive nationwide protest, public outrage over unbridled power rate hikes By Charlie V. Manalo 03/30/2012

Palace warned of massive nationwide protest, public outrage over unbridled power rate hikes

By Charlie V. Manalo 03/30/2012

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) yesterday warned President Aquino to better stop “noynoying” around as the looming increase in electricity rates this May is inviting the Filipino people to stage a nationwide electrifying protest and express their high voltage outrage if Malacañang and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will not recall the power rate hike.

“President Aquino is inviting a major political showdown with the people. Let us see how this insensitive presidency of Mr. Aquino will fare against the collective outrage of consumers across-the-nation,” said Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap in a statement as he called on the Filipinos through consumer groups, sectoral and multisectoral organizations to flood the ERC, the Department of Energy (DoE), the Senate and the House of Representatives and the Office of the President with protest and condemnation letters denouncing the latest hike in Napocor power rates..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120330met1.html

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