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The ‘power’ struggle continues DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 06/08/2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

The ‘power’ struggle continues

Herman Tiu Laurel
Several power struggles are going on. A minor one among the ruling elite just saw the victimized Chief Justice (CJ) yield to the unjust persecution. The other is the power struggle between those upholding the principle of the Rule of Law and the self-serving abusers of that very law among those in power.

Last Tuesday, several crusaders for the Rule of Law went to the Supreme Court (SC) to demand action on the pending petitions before it on the jurisdictional violations that were prejudicial to the CJ’s case as well as to damn all the institutions involved in the travesty of due process in the impeachment exercise.

Today, as you read this, another “power” struggle is being waged by advocates of the Filipino power consumers’ cause at a hearing of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the 2013 Maximum Average Price (MAP) petition by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for its distribution charge, which would again raise electricity rates in the coming years. This is just one among a gamut of issues, including the Meralco-National Power Corp. (Napocor) P14-billion settlement predictably granted by the Rizal Regional Trial Court (RTC) as a pass-on cost to consumers, which we will have to put a stop to. But let us first cut through all the crap.

First, the 2013 MAP deliberations are premature since the 2012 MAP hearings still have unresolved issues as raised by Mang Naro Lualhati (our octogenarian hero of the first P30-billion Meralco refund, along with Cefie Padua and others), as well as the 500-percent overpricing of transformers and other costs of Meralco approved by the ERC, as charged by Iligan Light and Power Inc. (ILPI) against the power distributor before the Court of Appeals.

In view of the fact that the ERC just gave its provisional green light for Meralco to implement its 2012 MAP, why on earth is it now hearing the MAP petition for 2013 without first resolving any of the important prejudicial questions?

Lualhati issued this warning (through text): “Ka Mentong, ERC refuses to exclude the P46,015-billion asset base bloating. This means P48-billion overcharge in 2015. They will approve a charge of P2.50 to P3.50 per kWh, instead of P0.90 per kWh, in 2013 as they have done in 2012…”

Today’s hearing will have lawyer Bono Adaza volunteering his legal expertise, in support of Butch Junia, who will be the lead advocate. Several citizen volunteers are also joining, including Lito Villanueva, Boyet Ancheta, and others who texted but didn’t give their names. Needless to say, we would always need volunteers to show one and all that we are vigilant — especially a certain lady justice of the SC who was appointed by the current Palace occupant.

Justice Lourdes Sereno, one of those suspected to be shortlisted by BS Aquino III as the next CJ, in an SC decision favoring Meralco, had the gall to fault us consumer volunteers for “not being vigilant” against the power giant’s rate increase maneuvers when we had already devoted much of our own time and resources to continuously oppose such abuses — as against the ERC’s grant of a P2.2-billion “regulatory liaison budget” for Meralco, at the expense of power consumers, even when the power company merely requested approval for P2.02 billion (or P180 million less).

What “regulatory liaison” means is beyond anybody’s understanding; but it would lead one to believe that it forms part of Meralco’s needs in “dealing” with the ERC. Just what the hell is this for? Could it be what is sometimes called an “intermediation” cost? And why would the ERC be so generous as to increase this on its own? Is this where the two dozen-strong, highly paid Meralco legal team gets its fees?

In contrast, poor consumer protection advocates simply dig into their own pockets and take time out from their work to put in hours upon hours of research and attendance in hearings in order to stop the power fleecing.

Then, we have the P14-billion settlement agreement. For those still not in the know, it concerns the contract obligations to purchase a certain amount of electricity from Napocor that Meralco reneged on when it set up its own independent power producers (IPPs) to purchase power from these sister firms. Yet, despite losing the case, Meralco has repeatedly petitioned to pass on this penalty to its customers.

Luckily for consumer groups, this was one of the issues that former Solicitor-General Jose Anselmo Cadiz fought hard against. But, as we now know, a few months after Cadiz’s sudden and inexplicable resignation in February, the decision of the Rizal RTC came out, leaving it to the ERC to decide whether the P14-billion penalty will be shouldered by Meralco’s customers.

Surprisingly, the replacement for Cadiz was SolGen Francis Jardeleza, who was formerly a general counsel to a major conglomerate that’s now among the owners of Meralco. Is it any wonder why consumers lost the case under this new SolGen?

And, given the ERC’s unbroken record of favoring Meralco, will its decision on the huge pass-on financial obligation be much of a surprise?

Fortunately, Jojo Borja of ILPI called us with some good news: engineer David Tauli, former senior vice president of Cepalco (Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co.), is now joining the crusade against the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) — the mother of all these power evils.

Frustrated with the results of the Epira and the years of energy woes Mindanao has faced because of it, particularly the crises of the last two years which peaked in the first quarter of 2012 when the whole of Mindanao was literally up in arms against the lies of Manila’s power authorities (e.g., Sen. Serge Osmeña and Energy Chief Rene Almendras), Tauli has become one of those very vocal about such suspicious power crises.

We would thus have to rouse more people like him into action as we continue on in this fight.
(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday-Wednesday-Friday [change of sched], 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 “The Power Struggle Continues” with Jojo Borja and Butch Junia; 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/20120608com6.html

Big-league Noynoy EDITORIAL 06/08/2012

Big-league Noynoy

Click to enlarge
Noynoy must now be more popular than US President Barack Obama to earn that $75,000 per plate dinner at the swank Mandarin Oriental in Washington DC, or his supporters believe that he has attained a Hollywood star stature after ousting Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The fund raiser was supposedly meant for the launch of the so-called US-Philippines Society, which is an organization supposedly promoting Philippines-US ties and spearheaded by rabid pro-Aquino US Ambassador Joey Cuisia.

The affair, however, smells a lot like a fund-raising event for the Liberal Party for the elections next year. Just to enter the event and get a chance to shake the hands of Aquino will cost $250 and the lowest amount to break bread with Noynoy is $1,000..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120608com1.html

Scandalous FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/08/2012


Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Media made such a big critical play over Gloria Arroyo’s Le Cirque dinner with a large group of congressmen who had accompanied her in her “working visit” to the United States then, over a $20,000 dinner.

Truth is, for such a large crowd, a Le Cirque tab for $20,000 is not much, but the media then thought so, and criticized, along with the then opposition, especially Noynoy, the opulent lifestyle of the former President.

But with Noynoy now president and in the US and the United Kingdom, with a budget — for him alolne — of $2 million for this Europe-US trip, along with a large delegation, whose travel budget also in the millions, will come from their own departments. The same yellow media have not been highlighting Noynoy’s ostentatious lifestyle at all. Protecting Noynoy again and hiding his ostentatious lifestyle?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120608com2.html

NDAA unconstitutional: Federal judge bans Obama from indefinitely detaining Americans

NDAA unconstitutional: Federal judge bans Obama from indefinitely detaining Americans

Sorry, Mr. President. A US Federal judge has clarified a decision made last month with some news sure to upset the Obama administration: the White House cannot use the NDAA to indefinitely detain American citizens.

Judge Katherine B. Forrest has answered a request made by US President Barack Obama last month to more carefully explain a May 16 ruling made in a Southern District of New York courtroom regarding the National Defense Authorization Act. Clarifying the meaning behind her injunction, Judge Forrest confirms in an eight-page memorandum opinion this week that the NDAA’s controversial provision that permits  indefinite detention cannot be used on any of America's own citizens.

Last month Judge Forrest ruled in favor of a group of journalists and activists whom filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Section 1021 of the NDAA, a defense spending bill signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve..... MORE

URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/ndaa-judge-obama-forrest-295/

Right to copy vs. copyright: FBI accused of ‘stealing’ Megaupload evidence

Right to copy vs. copyright: FBI accused of ‘stealing’ Megaupload evidence

While the owners of the Megaupload.com website are locked in lawsuits over illegal data sharing, the FBI is suspected of removing evidence against them without permission. The Bureau claims there was no violation: the obtained evidence is “digital.”

­The legal team of Kim Dotcom, the owner of the file-sharing website, has launched an offensive against the FBI. They argue the Bureau has illegally copied data from Dotcom’s computers and sent cloned information to America.

The first [copies] were sent without the New Zealand Police having any say in it whatsoever. If [they] went offshore without the consent of the attorney-general, it was an illegal act,” said William Akel, Dotcom’s lawyer, as quoted by the New Zealand daily Stuff..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/fbi-steal-megaupload-evidence-287/

Aboitiz intensifies harassment of workers to avert strike

VECO employees at a May Day rally in Cebu (Photo by Richie Gomez / bulatlat.com)

VECO workers are being asked to explain why they had taken part in the May Day rally wearing their uniforms, and why they had hurled tomatoes at the picture of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III during the May 1 program.

MANILA – As the union of the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) employees in Cebu gears for a strike to urge the company to share with them a part of its increased profits, the VECO has reportedly intensified its harassment of and threats to the employees and to the union itself.

The electric company early this week handed out to each employee who had joined the May 1 Labor Day rally a “notice of administrative hearing.” Experiences at VECO over similar notices are apparently not encouraging. Unionists say notices like that had served as prelude to termination or suspension.

The VECO management has also reportedly been mobilizing its managers, supervisors and other confidential employees to pressure employees into signing a resolution that members are abandoning their union (VECEU) in exchange for an association formed by the company.

The unionists read all these as VECO’s methods for discouraging them from pushing through with their planned strike. Last week, VECO’s lawyers had warned them that their would-be strike is likely illegal, following VECO’s flipping on its earlier recognition of the VECEU. The latter is a duly-registered union and bargaining agent of the 252-member union in VECO, which has nearly 900 total employees including the contractuals.

Prelude to termination and union-busting 

VECO workers who joined the May Day rally this year are being asked this week to explain why they had taken part in the rally wearing their uniforms, and why they had hurled tomatoes at the picture of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III during the May 1 program. In Metro Manila, workers had also pelted with various things not just the picture but the huge effigy of President Aquino.

Progressive labor groups marked last May Day with big rallies in urban centers nationwide to call Aquino to task for his anti-worker and anti-people programs and policies..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/06/06/aboitiz-intensifies-harassment-of-workers-to-avert-strike/

That May 29 ABS-CBN poll CROSSROADS Jonathan De la Cruz 06/08/2012

That May 29 ABS-CBN poll

Jonathan De la Cruz
Lost in the contrived euphoria from the ouster of former Chief Justice Renato Corona was the poll taken on a real time basis by ABS-CBN News last May 29. Conducted on the ABSCBNnews.com “Fan Page” the poll provided the tally of the votes of the senator-judges as they were handing down their verdict on Article II of the House-initiated impeachment complaint.

An IT expert who was monitoring the “online survey” told me that in this kind undertaking you can only chose one and only once, so in effect there is no duplication among those who actually participated.

Obviously, only those who had access to the “Fan Page” participated in the said polling. But even so, since you can only chose one the total number of respondents came out as of that time to more than 6,000 “Likes” which far exceeds the normal polling population of 1,600 used by the big survey firms..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120608com5.html

Ombudsman: Front and Center SPECIAL REPORT By Charlie V. Manalo 06/08/2012

Ombudsman: Front and Center


By Charlie V. Manalo 06/08/2012

Some two weeks ago, Chief Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales took the witness stand before the Senate as a prosecution witness against then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Co-rona, presenting before the senator-judges, the result of her office’s investi-gation on the supposed dollar accounts of the former Chief Justice and his alleged bank transactions.

Not surprisingly, many of the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint against Corona concede that it was not the prosecution that won the case but Carpio-Morales who brought the victory for them via the Anti-Money Laundering Council-provided documents.

However, with her damning testimony against Corona, Carpio-Morales may have been made aware that by doing so, she has, consciously or not, wittingly or unwittingly, put the Office of the Ombudsman right at the front and center of intrigues and questions as to whether her office can deliver, in the same manner of aggressiveness and swiftness, and in the interest of fair play, the justice sought by various groups against some of the President’s own men; his KKKs (kaklase, kaibigan, kabarilan)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120608hea4.html

Loyal Lacson, Pangilinan to join Cabinet — Palace By Fernan J. Angeles and Angie M. Rosales 06/08/2012

Loyal Lacson, Pangilinan to join Cabinet — Palace

By Fernan J. Angeles and Angie M. Rosales 06/08/2012

Obedience pays in an administration headed by a President who insists on getting what he wanted as two Cabinet positions now await President Aquino’s proven allies in the Senate, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Francis Pangilinan, whose terms are set to end by next year.

Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Lacson and Pangilinan are assured of getting two Cabinet rank positions which he said would be filled up soon after their term expires next year. Lacierda, however, said Aquino has yet to sign any appointment papers for them and for what position.

Asked by reporters if an appointment has already been signed as a matter of “reservation,” Lacierda declined to make any confirmation. He, however, hinted that the appointments are certain..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120608hea3.html

Scrap Malampaya gas contract — Bayan Muna By Charlie V. Manalo 06/08/2012

Scrap Malampaya gas contract — Bayan Muna

By Charlie V. Manalo 06/08/2012

A member of the House of Representatives yesterday called for a complete rejection of the planned 13-year extension of the multibillion-peso Malampaya-Comago gas contract for being both unconstitutional and a sell out in favor of foreign contractors, and which may hike 100 times the cost of putting up new oil wells.

In a privilege speech delivered before Congress went on adjournment sine die, Bayan Muna Rep. Nery Javier Colmenares called for a congressional investigation into the allegedly onerous terms and conditions of Service Contract 38 and the move of the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Philippine National Oil Corp. (PNOC) to push for a contract extension notwithstanding the defects of the current deal.

Under Service Contract 38 for the extraction of natural gas in Malampaya, Colmenares said, the government gets a “measly 10-percent” share of the production whereas its partners, Shell and Chevron divide between them the remaining 90 percent..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120608nat6.html

Honasan issues bank waiver 06/08/2012

Honasan issues bank waiver

Sen. Gregorio Honasan yesterday joined the growing ranks of upper chamber members who have issued waivers on the confidentiality and secrecy of bank deposits, accepting a challenge posed upon them by Sen. Francis Escudero.

“I decided it will serve public interest and transparency and that I guess this is the call of the people who placed me here as a senator of the Republic. Definitely, I have no dollar accounts,” Honasan told a weekly news forum, explaining the reason he deeded the call of his fellow Bicolano.

“As I’ve said, it is an individual judgment call based on your reading of the public sentiment. Since I am an elected official, I have both responsibility and quantifiable and qualifiable accountability. That was my call,” he added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120608nat3.html

Recto slams Kiko’s call for press coverage of JBC By Angie M. Rosales 06/08/2012

Recto slams Kiko’s call for press coverage of JBC

By Angie M. Rosales 06/08/2012

Sen. Ralph Recto yesterday slammed the call of his colleague and party ally, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, for the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to amend its rules and make public its deliberations, saying that the process of selecting the next Chief Justice was not like the popular American Idol talent search.

Recto issued the statement in reaction to proposals to open up to the public the JBC proceedings through full television and radio coverage and the imposition of a new requirement to all nominees to sign bank waivers.

“Let us not, please, turn the search for the next CJ as if the applicants are candidates vying for the title of the next American Idol or the new Miss Universe,” he said.

The senator said the search was not akin to discovering the next “Jessica Sanchez” who needed to dazzle the discriminating crowd with his or her “good diction, fancy wardrobe and cerebral exhibition.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120608nat2.html

NPC lauds Congress for acting on controversial Data Privacy Act 06/08/2012

NPC lauds Congress for acting on controversial Data Privacy Act

The National Press Club (NPC) has hailed members of Congress for removing a provision in the proposed Data Privacy Act of 2012 that has triggered a protest from the ranks of local journalists over its “muzzling effect” on media reporting and practice.

“We laud the members of Congress for promptly acting on the concerns we raised as regards Section 32 and other relevant provisions of the proposed Data Privacy Act which, to our mind, pose a threat to media reporting and practice in particular and press freedom in general,” NPC president Benny Antiporda said.

Originally, under Section 32 of the consolidated bill, the so-called “Breach of Confidentiality” clause would penalize any person who released personal or sensitive information that got reported by the media with a fine of up to P2 million or imprisonment of up to five years..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120608met4.html

Legarda, Jardeleza, Villanueva new bets for CJ post By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/08/2012

Legarda, Jardeleza, Villanueva new bets for CJ post

By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/08/2012

Three more names have been nominated to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) yesterday as possible replacements of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, namely, women rights advocate Katrina Legarda, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva.

The three nominees will join five senior magistrates of the SC automatically nominated for the vacant position, namely, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta.

The eight-man JBC panel formally opened the chief justice post for application and nomination last June 6 and will end on June 18..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120608met2.html

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