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The Daily Tribune

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Killing us

Monday, July 2, 2012

Killing us

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has again approved new rates for Meralco for the regulatory year starting July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 on the strength of only a PA (provisional authority) given before some pending issues are resolved. The latest provisional authority is being issued on top of several previous PAs for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Lualhati has pending, unresolved petitions insisting the MAP (maximum average price) of Meralco should only be P 0.90/kwh against ERC approved rates ranging in and around P 1.60/kwh (now being raised to P 1.6303/kwh), Borja has produced evidence of overprice of up to 900 percent of Meralco costs used as its basis for applying for rates with ERC, and both of these are already brought to the Courts to resolve yet ERC continues to issue PAs. What is the urgency of issuing rate increase for Meralco using the PAs when Meralco has continued to reflect annual increases in profits since 2006 through to the current year.

Last February 2012 it was announced that “’Meralco profit surges 40 percent’ … Meralco said core net income, which strips out currency and derivatives-related items, climbed 22 percent to P14.9 billion from a year ago. It exceeded the profit guidance of P14.5 billion.… Meralco, which is indirectly controlled by Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd. and partly owned by San Miguel Corp., …had 5.3 million customers last year, up 3.7 percent from a year ago.” Meralco claims its profits rose due to increased number of customers, but a 40 percent increase in profits cannot be solely from a 3.7 percent increase in customer base that its own media statements claims. That increase in profit is from simply from the price gouging rates ERC has been giving “provisional increases” to Meralco over at least the past three regulatory years.

From a recent letter of our colleague Butch Junia: “Meralco’s net earnings have soared year on year : P3.1 billion in 2008; P6.3 billion in 2009; P10.1 billion in 2010; P14.8 billion in 2011. For the year 2010, customer base grew three percent; sales increased 11 percent, but, earnings soared 67 percent — which obviously came from rate increases rather than market growth or operational efficiencies: best for the utility, hardly good for the public.”

With such profits, what is the urgency of granting PA’s for rate increase to Meralco? And such profit surges are only possible with the massive overpricing of Meralco costs, such as 500 percent on the tens of thousands of power transformers, 900 percent  on electric poles, and similarly overpriced sub-stations, contractors, ad nausea. At the heart of the abuse, however, is an ERC decision that blatantly defies a 20004 Supreme Court under CJ Reynato Puno affirming the 12 percent RoRB as the legal and just basis for setting power rates. As Junia recaps:

“Shortly after that (SC) decision, the ERC started the shift from Return on Rate Base (RoRB) to Performance Based Regulation (PBR) with the adoption of rate unbundling in 2003, and full PBR in 2007. Under RoRB, the distribution, supply and metering charge of Meralco was P0.70/kwh; under rate unbundling it was P0.90/kwh. With PBR, it was P1.2227/kwh in 2009, P1.491 in 2010, P1.6464 in 2011, P1.60 in 2012, to go up to P1.633 in July 2012-June 2013.” The PBR rate raises the return-on-rate base to over 15 percent but that is not all, the ERC also provided incentives that added on pushed DU returns to as high as 17 percent. But these are not the only problems residential consumers have, but are rarely told, with the present power rates system.

As Junia writes in his letter, “…The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) to ‘… ensure (for consumers) a reasonable price of electricity. The rates prescribed shall be non-discriminatory,’” yet we see in Meralco’s petition:

“For distribution charges Meralco wanted an increase to P1.962/kWh from P1.078/kWh for residential consumers using up to 200 kWh, P1.5535/kWh from P1.3851/kWh for those consuming 201-300 kWh, P1.5535/kWh from P1.3851/kWh for consumers of 301-400 kWh and P2.4780/kWh from P2.3096/kWh for those that use over 400 kWh per month. Industrial users, meanwhile, with a minimum demand of 40 kW to less than 200 kW would have their supply charges raised to P990 from the current P910 under the Meralco petition. Large industrial users that consume 200 kW to less than 750 kW will pay supply charges of P4,110 while industrial users of 750 kW to less than 10,000 kW have to pay P14,920, the firm said.”

Note: Up to 10,000kW industrial users pay P1.49/kW but residential consumers using 201kWh to 400kWh pay P1/55/kWh to P 2.30/kWh; industrial and commercial power consumers using even higher kWhs, such as shopping mall which go into millions of kWhs, can pay as long as P 0.20/kWh distribution charge.

Residential power users consume roughly 35 percent of Meralco power but provide around 65 percent of Meralco’s revenues, inversely proportional to industrial/commercial power users. Residential consumers subsidize everyone else. Soon the “open access” policy will soon push even higher rates for residential consumers as Meralco and DUs court industrial/commercial consumers with lower rates to prevent them from setting up their own power plants. Meanwhile, “Shares of Meralco closed at P253.40 on Friday, up 0.96 percent from its previous close of P251 apiece,” as the national economy suffers as exemplified by the recent statement of Businessman Robert Go, director of the Philippine Retailers Association and chairman of the Economic Development Committee of the Regional Development Council, “Because of this big power expenses, most of the profit of businessmen in the past year was wiped out and if this will continue, the workers will be affected because their employer can hardly adjust wages.”

The power oligarchs are killing everyone of us.

(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., this week senatorial candidate Joey de Venecia;  visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

(May pahintulot ng pagsipi at muling paglimbag dito mula kay Ka Mentong)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/item/965-killing-us

Blame it on Noynoy

Blame it on Noynoy

Justice Chief Leila de Lima has accepted her nomination for the post of chief justice, saying she had reached this decision after a “heart-to-heart” talk with Noynoy.

That is of course her call. But if she is appointed by Noynoy, a healer of the high court she can never be. And neither can she expect to be respected and held in esteem and wisdom by her to be peers, precisely because she does not abide by the rule of law, and has disrespected the high court rulings. She also has a disbarment case against her.

What should prove interesting, if she does not get the top post, is whether she will be resigning from her job as Justice chief.

Probably not, as she is not known for delicadeza.

Teddy Boy Locsin, nominated for the top post, had a more honest way of declining his nomination, saying that he cannot possibly aspire for the highest seat in the judiciary when he believes that the former CJ was removed illegally..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/item/967-blame-it-on-noynoy

‘Verification process’ at Hacienda Luisita, a ploy

‘Verification process’ at Hacienda Luisita, a ploy

The Department of Agrarian Reform has interviewed 8,400 farmworkers when the tentative list of beneficiaries includes only 6,296 farmers who signed the stock distribution option in 1989.

MANILA – Florida Sibayan, 55, does not believe President Benigno Cojuangco-Aquino III when he said that he would respect the Supreme Court ruling ordering the distribution of the land of Hacienda Luisita.
Sibayan, who worked as a farm worker in Hacienda Luisita since she was 15 years old, joined hundreds of farm workers in a protest vigil near Malacañang. Despite the April 24 Supreme Court final ruling ordering the distribution of more than 6,000 hectares of land in the hacienda controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquinos, Sibayan and the other farm workers still have no land to till.
After the issuance of the SC ruling, Aquino said he respects the decision but at the same time raised the issue of “just compensation” for his family.

“He is a liar,” Sibayan said of Aquino in an interview with Bulatlat.com, June 24. “It’s not true that they [Cojuangco-Aquinos] would give up the land.”

Florida Sibayan (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
Sibayan said the Cojuangco-Aquinos are “using dirty tactics to maintain their control of the land.” She said agents of the Cojuangco-Aquinos have been deceiving farmworker-beneficiaries. “They peddle the lie that each farm worker is entitled to only 0.2 hectare-land and then they offer to buy the land for P350,000 ($8,139),” Sibayan said in Filipino.

In a statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) criticized the verification process of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Reports said the DAR has interviewed 8,400 farmworkers when the tentative list of beneficiaries includes only a total of 6,296 farmers who signed the stock distribution option in 1989. The KMP said that in just two barangays (villages), the DAR already interviewed 6,000 farmworkers, particularly in the villages of Cutcut and Balete..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/06/29/%E2%80%98verification-process%E2%80%99-at-hacienda-luisita-a-ploy/

Syria, US elections and collateral damage

Syria, US elections and collateral damage

The threats of reprisal on the part of Ankara and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), renewed the debate about the possibility of a direct or indirect military action by the United States and its allies against the government in Damascus. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the downing of a Turkish military aircraft over Syrian territory was a deliberate act, that any approximation of military force used by Damascus is perceived as a threat and that necessary measures should be taken. European media outlets mentioned that Turkish military armored units moved to border areas with the neighboring Arab country.
.... MORE


URL: http://english.pravda.ru/world/asia/01-07-2012/121527-syria_us_elections-0/

Iran ready to battle 'dastardly' EU sanctions (w/ Video)

Iran ready to battle 'dastardly' EU sanctions

Enough imports and hard currency has been amassed to fight “dastardly” EU sanctions, Iran says. The announcement comes on the same day that an EU ban against Iranian crude and insuring its oil tankers comes into full force.

­The Persian country has stockpiled enough imported goods to meet the nation’s daily needs and soften the blow of the embargo on the economy, Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi maintains.

“Today, we are facing the heaviest of sanctions and we ask people to help officials in this battle,” state TV quotes Rahimi as saying. The “dastardly sanctions,” whose enforcement starts this Sunday, might cause “occasional confusion” in the market, but would not stop Iran, the Vice President added..... MORE

URL: http://www.rt.com/news/iran-ready-sanctions-economy-148/

Whatever happened to…?

Whatever happened to…?

In three weeks, P-Noy will deliver his 3rd State-of-the-Nation  Address (Sona) so we deem it proper to engage him and his advisers in a healthy give-and-take about things past if only to remind them of promises made, issues and concerns addressed and expectations fulfilled. We will, as I am sure many of our readers will do as well, ask the ultimate question: Whatever happened to?

We will start with three topics which, for one reason or the other, have apparently been relegated to the sidelines and being readied to be thrown into this administration’s archives.

I refer to P-Noy’s flip-flop on the matter of presidential appointees, the simmering Apeco (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone) controversy and the P850 million plus Pagcor loss. These issues strike at the very heart of the administration’s claims of  “good governance” and could very well indicate what to expect of it as the country is expected to encounter even more turbulence and challenges in the second half of P-Noy’s six year term..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/item/964-whatever-happened-to?

China sends patrol ships to Spratlys


As the Philippines and the US military start today war exercises in Mindanao, China had deployed yesterday four patrol ships in the disputed Spratly islands, China’s state media said.

The Philippines, Vietnam, China and other nearby countries have conflicting territorial claims on the islands.
The ships, described by the Xinhua news agency as surveillance vessels, reached what China calls the Huayang reef in the Spratly islands.

China, thus, will now have naval presence in both the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal in what appears to be an intensified effort to pursue its territorial claims.

China continued to maintain a heavy presence in Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea based on monitoring of the Philippine Navy that showed at least 28 Chinese seacraft — including five government-controlled vessels being spotted in the disputed territory..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/998-china-sends-patrol-ships-to-spratlys

Palace turns around, claims no power shortage this month

Amid hints of a production slowdown in Luzon when power plants dependent on natural gas supplied from the Malampaya field as fuel shut down for main-tenance this month, the Pa-lace yesterday said that power supply in the main island will be sufficient next month and apprehensions about a supply shortage were misplaced.

Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said that the fears of a shortage in electricity supply was the result of a wrong interpretation of color codes being used by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in sizing up stocked energy.

It was, however, Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte who indicated that a power shortage might be unavoidable this month adding that President Aquino had instructed the Department of Energy (DoE) to meet with the power grid operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and dominant electricity distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), to thresh out contingency measures aimed at preventing brownouts from affecting Luzon.

Valte said the government is instituting measures to cushion the power shortage which will likely happen when power plants getting fuel supplies from the Malampaya natural gas facility and some other Luzon power plants are shut off for maintenance..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/996-palace-turns-around-claims-no-power-shortage-this-month

Mangudadatu aide killed; link to massacre eyed

Mangudadatu aide killed; link to massacre eyed

  • Written by 
  • Monday, 02 July 2012
A close aide to Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu whose political challenge to the powerful Ampatuan clan led to the country’s worst political massacre has been shot dead, police yesterday said.

Police said they were investigating whether the shooting of Said Salik last Saturday was related to the 2009 massacre of 57 persons after a string of killings targeting witnesses to the murders.

Salik, 65, was grand children when he was shot by two men riding in tandem aboard a motorcycle in Mindanao, police said.

“The victim was a consultant to Gov. Toto Mangudadatu,” regional police spokesman Insp. Benjamin Mauricio said.

He added that the motive remained unclear, but stressed they were investigating whether it was related to the massacre..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/995-mangudadatu-aide-killed-link-to-massacre-eyed

Party-list bloc seeks Senate seat, backs Villanueva’s candidacy

Congressmen representing marginalized sectors have merged into a formidable bloc at the House of Representatives. Now, the 56-member bloc appears bent on taking measures to gain one of the 24 Senate seats.

With a national election just ten months away, the bloc has not secured the passage of a  bill that amends laws governing party-list representation and the Senate as an institution.

Thus, party-list congressmen have vowed to support the senatorial bid of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) executive director Joel Villanueva, himself a former party-list congressman, in the 2013 mid-term elections.

In pushing Villanueva’s Senate bid, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera said she herself is convinced that their bloc won’t be able to pass electoral reform bill which allocates a Senate seat for the party-list group with just five working months left before members of both chambers tackle the 2013 mid-term election..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/992-party-list-bloc-seeks-senate-seat-backs-villanueva%E2%80%99s-candidacy

SC asked to look into irregular award of P60M in compensation to foreigner

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is asking the Supreme Court (SC) to look into supposed irregularities in the P60-million award in compensation to a foreigner with no working visa in its 2009 Third Division decision.

De Lima citing the award might have been irregularly issued and, “unless reconsidered, stands to seriously undermine the integrity of the high court,” acted on a letter sent to her by businessman Eulalio Ganzon of E. Ganzon Inc. (EGI) and endorsed the matter to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) through Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras III.

OCA Senior Chief Staff Officer Ma. Luisa Laurea, on behalf of Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, forwarded it to SC Third Division Clerk of Court Lucita Soriano “for whatever action may be deemed appropriate under the circumstances.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/983-sc-asked-to-look-into-irregular-award-of-p60m-in-compensation-to-foreigner

Labor groups alarmed by growing anti-worker position of nat’l leaders

Labor groups expressed alarm at the growing anti-labor position of many of the country’s national leaders.
The labor sector is the most abused sector in the Philippine economic equation, bowing to the influences of money sources or investors, the object of government’s wooing and cajoling, offering them everything, from tax holidays to guarantees against labor unrest, labor leaders said.

In contrast, the labor sector had been at the receiving end of government neglect in terms of just pay to security of stay in the job, they added.

How the country’s national leaders view labor is better understood at the ongoing controversy in the award of bus franchises to a group of bus operators, they said.

An issue that labor is getting its just share from assets left by a bankrupt company has now become an issue of corruption that will lead to over 2,000 workers being deprived of the fruits of an award issued by the correct courts and affirmed by the Supreme Court (SC)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/980-labor-groups-alarmed-by-growing-anti-worker-position-of-nat%E2%80%99l-leaders

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