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PBR: An ‘anti-people’ power scheme DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 06/03/2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

PBR: An ‘anti-people’ power scheme

Herman Tiu Laurel
Our latest episode on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) on my Destiny Cable Global News Network show entitled, “The curse of Epira,” had as guests, power consumer advocate Butch Junia and Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) former vice chairman Wilson Fortaleza, who jointly declared the “jury in,” finding the 10-year-old power law a supreme failure for being grossly inimical to the people and the nation’s economic welfare. Fortaleza put it thus: Epira gave “First World power rates for our Third World country.”

Instead of lowering electricity prices, Epira catapulted them to become Asia’s highest; it failed to add additional power production capacity to obviate shortage fears; and it “sold off” 70 percent of government’s generation assets to private companies without reducing the $18-billion National Power Corp. (Napocor) debt that privatization was supposed to pay off.

These Napocor debts, now under the ambit of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp., still stand at $18 billion today. Psalm’s recent claim that it will pay off $1.5 billion, which doesn’t meaningfully reduce the debt at all, only proves that Epira is one monumental scam!

Notwithstanding this Epira curse, the Lower House is now even into amending said law to extend some of its unjust provisions. As we wrote recently, the “lifeline” rate subsidy that would have expired this June — a subsidy supposedly to help poor power users using less than 100 kWh per month but taken from paying power customers — has been intended by the chairman of the House energy committee, Rep. Dina Abad, and seconded by Ben Evardone and Rufus Rodriguez, to be extended for another 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Senate energy committee wants to reclassify the lifeline rate beneficiaries to even lower the 99 kWh-threshold as its chairman, Lopez-related Sen. Serge Osmeña, said if the set-up is unchanged, “We’ll be driving out investors… It doesn’t make sense that half of all residential customers are being subsidized.”

On one hand, congressmen want to milk the paying consumers to pay for their charity while senators want to lower the cut-off to charge more of the poor for the benefit of “investors.” They’re all obviously missing the point.

Why subsidize the poor from paying customers’ pockets? Why not from the profits of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and private power generators that have been raking it in all this time?

Early this week, newspapers reported Meralco CEO Manuel Pangilinan’s media briefing where he reported his company’s first-half results for earnings: “In terms of the financial position of the company, it is definitely ahead of last year. So, we also expect the full-year performance for this year to be ahead of 2010.”

Get this: Meralco earned a whopping P12 billion in 2010 only on a 3-percent volume growth over 2009’s P6.5 billion and 2008’s P2.8 billion, almost all on the basis of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)-approved rate increases under the PBR (Performance Based Rate) scheme of 15.8 percent and its four-year PROSPECTIVE capital expenditure base, which are over the old RoRB (Return-on-Rate-Base) of 12 percent on ACTUAL capital expenditure.

As a result, Meralco has (since 2008) increased yearly profits by an average of 100 percent even as the market has not grown over 3 percent per year. The country’s electricity consumers are at a threshold if the PBR isn’t scrapped. The next 10 years will be an era of unprecedented PBR electricity price gouging on top of the past decade of predatory pricing form Epira.

The windfall, nay windstorm, profit of Meralco has taken out so much cash from the people’s pockets.
Awash with cash from the exploitation and abuse of the present Meralco franchise area, Pangilinan is all set to expand his company’s ground, saying, “We are looking at those adjacent to the existing franchise area of Meralco,” taking in Batangas, Quezon, Pampanga and Tarlac to sow as much price terror as what’s being done in Metro Manila and adjacent cities.

All these are on top of the two other electrifying developments I have written about recently. First is the Renewable Energy Act that will start enforcing “renewable energy” FITs (fit-in tariffs) to attract “investors” into the renewable energy field, including wind, tidal, solar and mini-hydro (BUT excluding geothermal), wherein such FITs are priced at P19 per kWh or three times higher than the regular generation cost we have today. This is, of course, courtesy of local and international media as well as environmental NGOs that badgered and lobbied Congress, which we will end up paying for.

Then there’s the off-grid SPUG (Small Power Utilities Group) of Napocor that is seeking to add P0.25 per kWh to our bills for its members’ missionary power service losses on top of the regular P0.045 per kWh. These additional charges are dizzying and should send us into a fit of rage now lest they smuggle all these through.

But among all these power issues, the foremost danger to Filipinos today is undoubtedly the PBR, which Junia derisively calls the “Pahirap sa Bayan Rate.” This needs to be appealed to the Supreme Court soon as it is simply an ERC-approved measure that violates the spirit of several earlier high court rulings.

One obstacle is the huge filing fee that would run into millions if consumers were to bring this to the courts, a judicial anomaly that has hounded public interest advocates ever since the Hilario Davide era. We are glad, however, that lawyer Homobono Adaza has agreed to take up the issue and find ways to challenge the powers-that-be despite the obstacles. We will soon be issuing a call for support from the public to help Bono win this crusade for all of us.

(Tune in to Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m., and Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8, with “Tingting Cojuangco on the ARMM Elections”; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.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/20110603com5.html

In time, divorce will prevail FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/03/2011

In time, divorce will prevail

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Divorce will come, perhaps not within this congressional term, but it will have to come, even if a lawmaker, Rep. Rudy Fariñas, said a divorce law is impossible in this country because a constitutional amendment is needed to make divorce legal.

His reason? The Constitution says marriage is inviolate. He adds that if a divorce measure is passed, he will challenge this law before the high court.

Quite frankly, if he does so, he may lose the case, because admit it or not, despite that constitutional proviso of marriage being inviolate, there exists in this country a de facto divorce, both in the Catholic Church and in the State, through the expediency of annulment.

It stands to reason that if marriage is inviolate, then there can be no annulment, since the effects of annulment on the children would be the same, with the marriage and the family broken up..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110603com2.html

His lookout EDITORIAL 06/03/2011

His lookout

Click to enlarge
Catching everyone by surprise with news on the resignation of Jose “Ping” de Jesus, outgoing Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) chief, merely showed that the Malacañang communicators appear to be out of the presidential loop, as none of the three chiefs was able to quash negative speculations that put their principal in a bad light over De Jesus’ quitting.

But it also showed that neither does Noynoy Aquino prepare his communicators about what is going on that has to be announced — unless of course De Jesus’ resignation also came as a surprise to Noynoy..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110603com1.html

Danger underfoot in Myanmar war zones FEATURE 06/03/2011

Danger underfoot in Myanmar war zones


MAE SOT — The last thing Tee Pa Doh remembers before losing his foot is a bright flash. With his leg mangled and bleeding, he knew his best hope was a long journey through the jungle to the Thai border.

Today he counts himself lucky to be alive. But in the conflict zone of eastern Myanmar that he calls home, littered with landmines and with danger lurking at every step, his story is nothing out of the ordinary.

“My foot was blown off but I didn’t fall. I stood there, holding my injured leg,” said the 52-year-old village headman from Karen State, the scene of one of the world’s longest-running civil wars.

“There was blood spurting out. Everyone was afraid to come over to me. I held my leg and hopped,” he said, recalling the day in May when a landmine turned his life upside down.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110603com3.html

Gangster sport goes mainstream in South Africa FEATURE 06/03/2011

Gangster sport goes mainstream in South Africa


JOHANNESBURG — The white BMW appears to float across the asphalt as it does a 360-degree turn, its steel ballet incongruous with the acrid smell of smoking tires and the lunatic snarl of the engine.

The car skids perilously close to the crowd of spectators clustered behind the wall of old tires encircling the arena.

But these fans of “spinning” — an illicit urban motor sport practiced on the streets of South Africa’s townships — greet what looks like a near-death experience with wild applause.

“Check out the distance! Brother, that was inch-perfect!” says an enraptured spectator after the driver, 25-year-old Sunesh Pursad, leaves the circle of pavement known as the “dance floor.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110603com6.html

Fujimori, Humala tied ahead of Peru run-off vote focus 06/03/2011

Fujimori, Humala tied ahead of Peru run-off vote


LIMA — Peruvians on Monday remained split over whether to elect as president populist Ollanta Humala or conservative Keiko Fujimori just days ahead of the June 5 run-off vote.
A late Sunday debate between the candidates appeared to have settled nothing. The two have been tied in the polls for weeks, with one or the other ahead depending on the survey but still within the margin of error.

Three polls out Monday, the last that can be legally published in Peru before the vote, showed no clear winner in the debate.

Giovanna Penaflor with the Imasen polling company told AFP that her results show that neither candidate generates enthusiasm beyond their base.... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110603com7.html

Diokno and prison reforms C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 06/03/2011

Diokno and prison reforms

Jonathan De la Cruz
It is good that Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Ernesto Diokno decided to relinquish his post before the critics poured all those misguided and unfair criticisms against him and the administration. Valuing his honor more than anything his highly coveted post could possibly offer (and there are lots if we are to believe the scuttlebutt) he decided to just say goodbye even as he was reportedly on the way to breaking up the syndicates which have made the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) and its satellite units their “base of operations” and institute much needed reforms system wide.

Actually, some BuCor old timers believe Diokno’s being brutally frank and, yes, being loyal to a fault, did him in. He could have very well escaped public wrath had he scalped his subordinates first which under the rules was well within bounds. He could have pointed his fingers at people. After all, as everybody knows, being BuCor chief he really had no direct day-to-day supervision over prison camps within system such as the NBP and the other units, i.e., the Iwahig, Davao, Leyte and Zamboanga colonies all of which are supervised by individual superintendents. Instead, he took his lumps, went on leave to avoid suspicion of influencing the Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into the Leviste caper, and then, to prove he was not clinging to the job, tendered his resignation to spare President Aquino of unnecessary criticisms. With that, delicadeza in public service gained currency yet again. The resigned BuCor chief would rather suffer unjustified vilification than take advantage of his closeness and friendship with the President in order to cling on to power..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/

Noy not talking on Globe’s 3G request letter — Malacañang By Aytch S. de la Cruz 06/03/2011

Noy not talking on Globe’s 3G request letter — Malacañang

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 06/03/2011
President Aquino seems to be not communicating with his communications group on the status of the request of the Ayala group’s Globe Telecommunications written request for the assignment of costly third generation phone (3G) frequencies nor his sentiment towards it as the Palace said they remained in the dark on what Aquino did after receiving the letter.

Malacañang, nevertheless, conceded to opinions that only the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has the sole jurisdiction to decide on the highly-prized third generation (3G) frequency allocations reportedly requested by business magnate Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Globe chairman, from President Aquino.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda agreed to the statement issued by Senate President Juan
Ponce Enrile the other day who indicated that something was irregular over Ayala’s temerity to communicate such request directly to Aquino for the benefit of one of his companies, the Globe Telecoms (Globe)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110603hed6.html

Comelec chief backs purchase of PCOS machines for 2013 polls 06/03/2011

Comelec chief backs purchase of PCOS machines for 2013 polls

Buying the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) units used in the country’s first-ever nationwide automated balloting last year would be a much cheaper option than scouting for and acquiring new technology and machines for the 2013 elections, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes has told the Senate last Tuesday.

Brillantes told the Senate committee on local government hearing that the government “can definitely save much” if it exercises the option to purchase the PCOS machines it had leased from Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic-TIM), the technology and equipment provider tapped by the poll body to automate the May 2010 national and local elections.

“So we have to actually decide once and for all within the next few months whether in 2013, we would still exercise that option to purchase or look for a new provider,” Brillantes said during the hearing. “If we look for a new provider, then the cost would actually jump up.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110603nat7.html

Farmers to TRB: Stop Luisita ‘highway robbery’ By Charlie V. Manalo 06/03/2011

Farmers to TRB: Stop Luisita ‘highway robbery’

By Charlie V. Manalo 06/03/2011

The peasant group Kilusang Magubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday assailed the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) for its failure to immediately stop the illegal toll collection by President Aquino’s relatives, the Cojuancos of Tarlac, for the road linking Hacienda Luisita and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

“Logic dictates that the illegal toll collection must be stopped pending investigation by the TRB to prevent the Cojuangcos’ continuing abuse against motorists and farmer-residents of Hacienda Luisita,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

Ramos said that “failure to immediately stop the illegal toll collection makes the TRB an accessory to the continuing ‘highway robbery’ in Hacienda Luisita.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110603nat5.html

Chiz bats for divorce law, if... By Angie M. Rosales 06/03/2011

Chiz bats for divorce law, if...

By Angie M. Rosales 06/03/2011

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is willing to support proposed law allowing divorce in the country, it was gathered yesterday.

Escudero, who was recently reported to have already separated from his wife of 10 years, Christine Elizabeth Flores, emphasized though that he will only back up any measure on divorce “if it will make it more accessible and affordable but not necessarily easier.”

“As presently worded, the bills filed (at the House of Representatives) only seek to make it easier,” he told reporters during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum.

“A marriage is a social contract both from the eyes and laws of God as well as from the eyes and laws of man. It’s two kinds of contracts that’s why who ever enters into it and would seek its nullification, would have to seek remedy from the government or the courts and the Church as well..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110603nat1.html

.`‘Privatizing operations of national penitentiary won’t solve VIP treatment of high-profile inmates’ 06/03/2011

‘Privatizing operations of national penitentiary won’t solve VIP treatment of high-profile inmates’

Even if a private contractor will take over the operations of the country’s prisons it will not solve the problems being faced by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in running the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), a justice official said yesterday.

Speaking to newsmen, DoJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan said privatization would not necessarily address the problems of congestion, special treatment of high-profile prisoners, drug trafficking and gambling.

“I don’t think the problems that we see now, they will be eradicated with the privatization of our prison system...What is needed is the overhaul of the system, including the culture on treating prisoners,” Baraan said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110603met2.html

DepEd asked: Protect studes from blacklisted Taiwan’s products 06/03/2011

DepEd asked: Protect studes from blacklisted Taiwan’s products

With schools set to reopen next Monday, a toxic watchdog exhorted the Department of Education (DepEd) to initiate proactive measures that will protect students from health-damaging foods and drinks, especially blacklisted products from Taiwan.

“Now that we know which products from Taiwan are tainted with DEHP, we call upon our education officials to welcome the new academic year with an enthusiastic campaign on food safety,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The food safety awareness and action campaign, according to Alvarez, should be rolled out in collaboration with school administrators, teachers, non-teaching personnel, students, parents, and food service providers, concessionaires and vendors..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110603met5.html

Webb’s passport genuine, says De Lima By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/03/2011


Webb’s passport genuine, says De Lima

By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/03/2011

Hubert Webb’s passport which he used to go to the United States before the Vizconde massacre occurred is genuine, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.

Speaking to newsmen, De Lima said an expert from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Central Bank found the passport to be authentic.

“We are beginning our countdown before the prescription period for the crime lapses. We have a new witness although we cannot divulge the details yet. What is worth noting is that experts had proven that Hubert Webb’s passport was not fake,” she said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110603met1.html

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