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Who’ll advocate ‘nationalization?’ DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 05/07/2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Who’ll advocate ‘nationalization?’

Herman Tiu Laurel
The growing clamor for a minimum wage increase to allow formal sector workers to mitigate some of the many cost of living increases may be justified even while it is wrong. That’s because the real task of government is to control, restrain and constrain galloping price hikes that have overtaken consumer purchasing power by two decades forward.

The basic drivers of the economy — fuel, power, water and food — are at the base of our cost of living pyramid. In three of these, the Philippines is already the highest or thereabouts in the whole of Asean and Asia.

It has been quoted that the minimum wage in the Philippines is already at $9 per day to Cambodia’s $2.24, Vietnam’s $2 to $3.21, and Indonesia’s $3.15 to $5.27. Yet Filipinos are worst off especially in electricity and food prices. Notably, the Philippines is also the most aggressive in its economic liberalization and privatization. Surely, the connections must be obvious by now.

Minimum wage increases really punish the SMEs, or small and medium scale enterprises, which account for 98 percent of Philippine businesses and contribute at least 50 percent of all employment. The margins of SME businesses are very thin such that additional costs constantly squeeze their viability to the hilt. I should know; my family runs an SME employing a few hundred workers.

In the squeeze of power and fuel costs, municipal as well as national fees and taxes, not to mention exploitative real estate costs, additional minimum wage orders can easily tip the books into the red. Giant corporations, meanwhile, don’t have these problems. Their power, for one, is subsidized by us residential consumers and SMEs, thereby financing their costs lower by as much as 50 percent.

Worse, the wage distortion created for longtime employees is even onerous — as Chris, a texter to my radio program puts it: “I have been at my work for 15 years but the new employees coming in are almost matching my salary.”

In addition, more minimum wage increases can only push SMEs into the informal sector, which already employs 27.3 million workers as compared to the formal sector’s 5.6 million. Thus, the wage increases will constrict the informal sector workers’ ability to move up the wage ladder as formal sector SMEs are prevented from hiring them, owing to fears of violating the minimum wage law.

Besides that, other SMEs are going to be compelled to go the route of the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act by breaking up their formal SMEs into smaller units in order to fit the BMBE structure and offer jobs with commensurate wages — that is, if they still register at all.

Finally, the illogicality of the present system is described aptly by labor sector analyst and writer Rod Kapunan, who long ago criticized the “deregulated economy with a regulated wage regime,” which is a guarantee for a dysfunctional economic system. And, as seen by the world last week when CNN featured the “pagpag” (or recycled garbage) eaters of the Philippines, we are experiencing the damaging effects of it today.

At the root of the decades-old Philippine economic degeneration are the policies of deregulation and privatization. This is so evident in the Philippine power industry now known as having “the highest power cost in Asia” with its ironies highlighted by the recent Mindanao power imbroglio of having lowest cost hydroelectric power but force fed with high priced power, as power barges were left idle due to an ill-conceived power law.

Although so far, Mindanaoans have gotten a tentative, if not halfhearted, commitment from government that it will desist from privatizing the prized Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric complex and will limit the duration of high priced contracts with independent power producers, these measures will eventually be overwhelmed by privatization unless a reversal is made via re-nationalization, such as in Bolivia which this week nationalized generating assets of Red Electrica de España for “inadequate investment” (the same way Filipino power companies limited investment in new energy sources by merely taking over state power assets).

And while Philippine politics the past month has been frenetic, beyond the sound and fury is this question: Who among the politicians are willing to address the root crisis of our country and push for the re-nationalization (or forms of it such as consumer stock ownership or “cooperativization”) of the electric power industry without which there can be no solution to the murderously exorbitant power rates (which is also the case in the West today)?

Looking at the political alternatives, we still see no clear platform from any of the emerging candidates. That said, the United Nationalist Alliance, with Estrada’s influence, may still have more of a maverick potential and could, if empowered in 2013, craft more populist-oriented policies. Meantime, Trillanes, although on the other side, is still emphatic in calling for profit caps and for certain heads to roll. Ditto for an independent like Mitos Magsaysay, who has been aggressively criticizing the present fuel and power policies.

Besides nationalization, the other medium-term solution to our energy woes is tapping the China and West Philippine Sea fossil fuel reserves. But that will never happen if the Philippines remains in the grip of US-British clutches as BS Aquino III, Albert del Rosario, and Voltaire Gazmin are.

It’s amusing to read some Filipino opinion writers, like Babes Romualdez, say, “China pushing RP closer to US,” when we’ve long been collar and leash in the US’ hands; or Raissa Robles with her “Is China after RP oil and gas fields?” when it is the US and Britain who really control these (like in the case of Malampaya).

There should be no illusion about oil projects today under “Philippine auspices,” such as the Reed Bank with Forum Energy. These are all Western-controlled in the same way that certain mining companies are a front act.

All the conflicts being raised in our shared areas with China are motivated by the West’s intent to keep China out and garner a monopoly for itself, with mere crumbs given to Filipinos. So the real solution is to also nationalize all energy exploration projects henceforth.

(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 “Tampakan anti-large scale mining updates;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120507com5.html

Dirty dealing bastards EDITORIAL 05/07/2012

Dirty dealing bastards

Click to enlarge
The coming Senate impeachment court’s vote on Chief Justice Renato Corona will have a telling effect on the Aquino administration and Noynoy’s oft-repeated straight path mantra which many compare to what is being billed as a referendum on the Aquino administration, which is the midterm elections next year.

While the national polls next year will be a test of Noynoy’s appeal and acceptability to the Filipinos, the verdict on Corona is being taken as a measure of his political clout that would matter most during crunch situations such as having his priority bills breeze through Congress.

In the past two months that the Senate trial was on a break, the Palace lobbying with the Senate judges on convicting Corona was evident in that even horse trading in terms of people appointed in key positions in government was involved..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120507com1.html

Hollande wins French presidency with 51.7% of votes

Hollande wins French presidency with 51.7% of votes

Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential runoff by just over 1 million votes. He won 51 per cent of the vote against his rival's 49. The president-elect has already pledged "to finish with austerity."

Hollande will be the first French socialist president of France since 1995. He will be sworn in as new president of France on May 15.

Francois Hollande capitalized on France's economic woes and President Sarkozy's unpopularity. He has also promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than €1million a year, and lower the retirement age to 60..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/france-election-hollande-victory-704/

Anonymous: CIA, Interpol websites 'tango down'

Anonymous: CIA, Interpol websites 'tango down'

The global hacktivst group known as Anonymous claims to have brought down the CIA and Interpol websites on Sunday.

­The attack is attributed to @AnonsTurkey, with the group using the twitter handle to say they are "hacking the world to save the planet".

Earlier this year, Anomymous launched an offensive against government and private sites in protest against the content industry..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/anonymous-cia-interpol-down-702/

Pentagon’s code of conduct: Blow a whistle, face reprisals

Pentagon’s code of conduct: Blow a whistle, face reprisals

Reporting misconduct or waste of money may get you punished if you serve in the US military. And if you complain about unlawful reprisals, DoD’s unit meant to protect whistleblowers is likely to turn a blind eye on it, an internal report shows.

The document dated May 2011 says officials of the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General (IG) systematically disregarded Pentagon’s own rules, which are meant to protect whistleblowers, reports The Washington Post. It was obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group, under the Freedom of Information Act..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/pentagon-whistleblower-reprisal-report-697/

Ricky C., supreme apologist CROSSROADS Jonathan De la Cruz 05/07/2012

Ricky C., supreme apologist

Jonathan De la Cruz
If Ricky Carandang (Ricky C. to some Malacaang reporters) was merely the old newsreader he used to be going through a news brief or just picking up a thought as he browses the days news, we would not mind his saying that the over a million dollars we are spending for an ad campaign over CNN is money well spent. But he is a member of the Cabinet and supposed to be in charge of strategic planning and communications. So it is an insult to taxpayers and, of course, to us mortals for him to insist that the money spent for us to reach out to the networks alleged 250 million viewership is worth anything at all.

Consider the facts. CNNs week long (actually the series is reportedly going to run until May 14) feature on the Philippines which was timed with the 45th ADB Governors Annual Meeting began with the pagpag (garbage chicken) story which the network said was part of a hidden food system for the urban poor advising, among others, that many in Manilas slums survive on chicken scraps from trash bags. The scene is definitely heart rending and an indictment of a country and an administration which prides itself as having changed and is now primed for business. Next, CNN features the Fabella Hospital describing it as baby factory with so many births being registered daily..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120507com4.html

Noy won’t voluntarily release his SALn 05/07/2012

Noy won’t voluntarily release his SALn

In what appears to be an irony on an issue for which he wanted Chief Justice Renato Corona ousted from the Supreme Court, President Aquino is not keen on releasing his latest statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALn) for public scrutiny.

According to the Chief Executive, he sees no need to voluntary release his SALn since the document automatically becomes available to the public once he submits it to the Ombudsman.

Aquino submitted his SALn last April 24, but the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to release a copy..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120507hea5.html

CNN embroiled in RH bill fracas after RP series By Angie M. Rosales 05/07/2012

CNN embroiled in RH bill fracas after RP series

By Angie M. Rosales 05/07/2012

After running a less than complimentary documentary on the Philippines, the Atlanta-based Cable News Network (CNN) found itself embroiled in the simmering debate on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill earning criticisms from both the local Catholic Church and a senator.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III has sought a formal “rejoinder” from the CNN management over what he previously alleged as highly-damaging report on the supposed actual state of poverty in the country.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in an article in its official website suggested that CNN was badgering President Aquino on the issue of contraception..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120507hea2.html

Noy presses Ombudsman to pursue probe of Corona By Fernan J. Angeles, By Fernan J. Angeles, 05/07/2012


Noy presses Ombudsman to pursue probe of Corona

By Fernan J. Angeles, By Fernan J. Angeles, 05/07/2012
President Aquino stepped up anew his attacks on Chief Justice Renato Corona yesterday prior to the impeachment trial resuming at the Senate today after a long two-month break, saying that it is incumbent upon the chief magistrate to explain his alleged $10 million deposit uncovered by the Office of the Ombudsman.

“He has to explain it. Unexplained wealth is presumed to be ill-gotten,” Aquino said.

Ill-gotten wealth, however, is not among the remaining three of eight articles of impeachment being alleged on Corona..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120507hea1.html

2 dead, 30 hurt in Iligan blast By Mario J. Mallari and Fernan J. Angeles 05/07/2012

2 dead, 30 hurt in Iligan blast

By Mario J. Mallari and Fernan J. Angeles 05/07/2012

President Aquino promised yesterday security forces would arrest the culprits behind a grenade attack that left two people dead and 30 others hurt in the troubled south.

Killed were Jonel Dumalagang, who died on the spot, and Djay Jangad, who expired while being treated at a local hospital.

Those wounded were Arnold Tiongo, 46; Joel Abriol, 34; John Paul Ponce, 25; Albert Gongob, 21; James Dumalagang, 25; and Frestelle Cabahug, 25 — all confined at the Don Gregorio T. Lluch Memorial Hospital. Other victims being treated at the Mindanao Sanitarium Hospital are Danilo Gabrinab, 41; Eric Salcedo, 38; Aldrin Magsayo, 42; Dianne Gapus, 18; Rey Soong, 22; Sunny Mendez, 21; Liziel Lubguban, 34; Dawn Gapus, 19; Jennifer Delos Santos, 28; Abdul Gapur Maruhom, 11; Anipa Makalangkad, 12; and Elmelita Ibarat..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120507nat1.html

AFP launches 1st territorial battalion 05/07/2012

AFP launches 1st territorial battalion

In an effort to beef up personnel in the field, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has launched its first ever “territorial battalion,” which mixes regular troops from the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion (IB), Army reservists and members of the civilian armed auxiliary (CAA) in Zambales.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa branded the pilot-testing of a territorial battalion as a big boost to the AFP’s internal peace and security plan (IPSP) Bayanihan with the 24th IB, headed by Lt. Col. Michael Samsom, successfully operating with the reservists and CAA members.

“I hope that this success can be replicated in other battalions in every part of the country. With the necessary adjustments, we can still further improve what has already been a great implementation of the synergy concept,” Dellosa said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120507nat3.html

DA, NIA bare planting of 1.5M trees to help save mother nature 05/07/2012

DA, NIA bare planting of 1.5M trees to help save mother nature

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) have decided to help ease the problem caused by global warming by planting 1.5 million trees in three years in different parts of the country.

At a Manila media forum, NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said half million fruit trees will be planted by the joint forces of NIA and DA from Luzon to Mindanao on June 8 as part of the nationwide tree-planting activity.

“This is our small contribution to mother nature by preserving our forest for generations to come,” Nangel said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120507met3.html

Solon to BoC: Make transparent importation info 05/07/2012

Ecowaste Coalition urges gov’t, citizens to support decentralized composting

By Jason Faustino 05/07/2012
An advocate for zero waste resource management has urged the government and the citizens to rally behind a proven solution to society’s chronic problem with stinking garbage, toxic gases and depleted soils: decentralized composting.

The EcoWaste Coalition yesterday gave a big push to the biological breaking down of organic discards as the International Composting Awareness Week is observed from May 6 to 12.

“The intensive composting of biodegradable discards at all areas and levels of waste generation can dramatically reduce the volume of discards assigned for disposal by at least 50 per cent in most cities and municipalities,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Project officer of EcoWaste Coalition..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120507met2.html

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