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Noynoy, YOU are responsible! DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 11/03/2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Noynoy, YOU are responsible!

Herman Tiu Laurel
Last week, when Malacañang was queried about the growing clamor for the country’s Chief Executive to finally act on the scourge that is the Philippines’ “highest power rates in Asia,” all the Palace mouthpiece could give was a one-liner that reeks of evasiveness and buck-passing.

Reacting to the call from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), its allied business organizations, and moderate labor groups, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the Associated Labor Union (ALU), deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte minced no words in saying, “Those concerns should be addressed to the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission).”

This is the classic runaround that we, the people — from the most militant leftists and most democratic populists (like me), to the most moderate labor unions and working capitalists — have been subjected to under the decade-old Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) that brought forth this massive power price gouging now besetting the land as a waking nightmare.

For one, it isn’t true that the power service sector or industry is the sole turf of the ERC. Even the very flawed Epira, which created that inutile regulatory body, is clear that the State — which is led by the head of state or Chief Executive, a.k.a. the President — is responsible.

Epira’s Declaration of Policy in Chapter 1, Section 2, subsections (d) and (h), state that the government is mandated “To protect the PUBLIC INTEREST as it is affected by the rates and services of electric utilities and other providers of electric power; (and) To establish a strong and purely INDEPENDENT regulatory body and system to ensure CONSUMER PROTECTION (emphasis supplied)…”

The President oversees all agencies of the State to ensure that they function as defined by law. And in the ERC and the power sector’s case, as provided in Section 23 of Epira on Functions of Distribution Utilities, government must ensure that “A distribution utility shall have the obligation to supply electricity in the LEAST COST MANNER (emphasis ours) to its captive market, subject to the collection of retail rate duly approved by the ERC.”

Filipino consumers, as represented by countless people’s organizations and advocacy groups (now joined by the aforementioned trade and labor organizations), are rightfully clamoring for the Chief Executive to take action on what has become an undisputed, factual, and glaring decade-long massive overpricing of electricity in this country — long the bane of our economy, industry, and social well-being.

It is a situation aggravated by the ERC’s demonstrable collusion with the biggest electricity distributor, Meralco, when on Dec. 10, 2004 it adopted the 15.8-percent Performance Based Regulation (PBR) scheme in place of the already thoroughly scrutinized 12-percent Return-on-Rate Base (RoRB) formula, in clear defiance of a 2003 Supreme Court (SC) decision under Chief Justice Reynato Puno reaffirming the RoRB; disallowing Meralco’s pass-on of its corporate income taxes to consumers; and subjecting the power distributor to an examination of its books by the Commission on Audit (CoA) — which found, in test years 2004 and 2007 alone, that the company again overcharged customers to the tune of P7 billion.

The defiant implementation of the onerous PBR did not only prove that the ERC saw itself as a power above all; it also resulted in up to 80 percent annual increases in Meralco’s profits from 2008 to 2010, on nothing more than what the power company admits to be a paltry 3-percent increase in its customer base.

Clearly, those profit jumps — P2.7 billion in 2008; P6 billion in 2009; and P12 billion in 2010 — couldn’t have been on account of Meralco’s 11-percent increase in sales volume.

According our colleague Romeo Junia, when “PBR was instituted, Meralco’s per kWh distribution rates have gone up — from P0.9657 in 2003 under rate unbundling, to P1.2227 in May 2009, to P1.4917 in May 2010, to P1.6464 this year (P1.5828 in 2011 to be able to claim a “decrease” when it should only be P0.90), and to P1.9036 by 2015. That rate was P0.7957 per kWh in 2003 under the Return on Rate Base…”

That’s why the rate increase from the RoRB’s 12 percent to the PBR’s 15.8 percent was already a violation of the “least cost” provision of the Epira, not to mention Meralco’s franchise under RA 9209 (Section 4) which holds, “The grantee shall supply electricity to its captive market in the least cost manner… (It) shall charge reasonable, just, and competitive power rates for its services to all types of consumers within its franchised area in order that business and industries shall be able to compete.”

The ERC defends its re-formulation of the pricing mechanism by insisting that it has to follow the Epira provision that provides for “just and reasonable profit” for the service providers. But even 6 percent in profit is already “just and reasonable” according to Iligan Light power company director Jojo Borja who says, “Our family has been in the power business for 80 years; we were happy with 6-percent profit and it was an honorable business. With Epira, what we used to earn in one year we earn now in two months, and for Meralco it’s even shorter.”

TUCP Party-list Rep. Democrito Mendoza should thus tell his House leader to shut up about his push for Charter change (Cha-cha) to “entice foreign capital” because, as Mendoza said so himself, our power rates are by far “the biggest disincentive to the entry of new foreign direct investors to our shores.”

Good thing Mendoza already addressed this demand to Aquino III directly instead of the ERC.

But, as the issues in the power sector already go beyond just price gouging, involving economic sovereignty, sabotage, and plunder, Malacañang should never be allowed to shirk from its primordial duty to protect the consumer and, more importantly, the nation and its economy. So to Noynoy, we say: It’s your responsibility. Take heed or else…

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; 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/20111103com4.html

Con-ass is a con-ass is a con-ass EDITORIAL 11/03/2011

Con-ass is a con-ass is a con-ass

Click to enlarge
Something is very strange about the sudden shift of the Liberal Party (LP) of which Noynoy and Sen. Franklin Drilon are part, to the constituent assembly (con-ass) from previously the holding of a constitutional convention (con-con) to effect amendments to the Constitution.

Con-ass is considered the speediest way to tinker with the Charter, that is, if its proponent can swing the vote in Congress, but would need persuading both the House and the Senate to form itself into a unicameral body to review the proposed amendments before presenting these to the people in a plebiscite.

Drilon, out of the blue during the Legislative Summit, which most legislators thought was a meeting to merely streamline pending bills, presented a position paper likely crafted by the LP suggesting a bicameral con-ass to study amendments to the Constitution in the same manner by which bills are legislated.

Thus far, the Drilon or LP formula has not been well-received, and rightly so, because such a formula is not part of the constitutionally prescribed mode..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111103com1.html

Yes to Cha-cha, no to mode FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 11/03/2011

Yes to Cha-cha, no to mode

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Changing the very flawed 1987 Constitution is a must, but not in the manner Frank Drilon wants it.

Legally, the way the two modes of amending or revising the Charter by Congress really cannot be effected, given the joint voting proviso as stated in the basic law. Neither will the Senate allow itself to be a just a 24-man vote in a 250 or so House of Representatives, which makes changing the Charter following the proviso strictly almost impossible.

The mode Drilon recommends definitely will be challenged before the high court and this mode is likely to be struck down by the high court as unconstitutional.

Coming together in joint sessions but having the Senate get its three-fourths or two-thirds vote or a majority vote of all the members of Congress — depending on what mode is being adopted by the entire membership of Congress, while the House gets the same number of votes, may have a chance of getting a joint session but separate chamber voting mode ruled as legal and constitutional by the high court..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111103com2.html

Sex scandals strain Church ties with Berlusconi focus 11/03/2011

Sex scandals strain Church ties with Berlusconi


VATICAN CITY — Sex scandals have strained relations between Silvio Berlusconi and the Church to breaking point, but the Vatican has not managed to find a viable Christian-democratic candidate to support.

Fiercely criticized by the opposition and members of his own party alike, the Italian premier has always enjoyed the discreet support of the Catholic Church in exchange for respecting its uncompromising stance on bioethics.

But as fresh allegations of corruption and callgirls at the highest levels of politics hit the headlines, a senior Catholic bishop broke his silence to condemn the immoral behavior, stopping just short of naming the premier.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the powerful Conference of Italian Bishops (CEI), this week denounced what he called “behavior that is contrary to public dignity” and “difficult to reconcile with institutional decorum.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

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

OFW jumps off building to escape from abusive employer

OFW jumps off building to escape from abusive employer

MANILA — In an attempt to escape abuse from her employer, a Filipina domestic worker jumped from the second floor of her employer’s apartment last September 5, 2001.

Hadeah Macalpang, 33, landed on the pavement after jumping from the second floor and was immediately taken by a passerby to the King Fahad hospital, in Al-Khobar, eastern City of Saudi Arabia. Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona released a report from Marcial Abay Jr., welfare officer of Migrante in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, indicated that Macalpang sustained a broken left leg and fractured hip from her fall.

“Our Migrante officers along with other OFW leaders headed by Mr. Abay Jr. got a chance to talk with Hadeah. During an interview with Hadeah in the hospital, she claimed that she was abused and maltreated by her employer.

Hadeah said a passing Saudi national, who saw her jump, assisted her as she lay prostate on the ground and took her to the police station. At the police station, police officers sent her to the hospital.

Hadeah said she had already completed her contract and had been working for two years and four months months. Her employer, however, refused to let her go home despite her pleas.

According to Hadeah, she only received 4,700 Saudi rials, roughly around P56,640 (US$1,317) the entire time she worked in Saudi.

“Assuming that she is paid 800 Saudi rials a month, she should have received 22,400 SR for her two years and four months,” Monterona explained.

In a video posted in Youtube by Migrante ME, Hadeah looked helpless and tearful as she lay in her hospital bed. In a tremulous voice, she said she had been exploited and wanted to go home as soon she got better.
Monterona said that as October 3, Migrante ME has already sought the assistance of Philippine labor officials in the Eastern region to help Hadea to get home.

He said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) officers in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia should immediately provide assistance to Hadeah and call the attention of her employer and local placement agency to settle her unpaid salaries and attend to her medical needs,” Monterona said.

Migrante ME is also assisting another OFW who was hit by a car driven by a Saudi national last September 23.

Teodora Agaton, 53, from Tayabas, Quezon was walking with another OFW when she was hit by a car. The OFW who works as a beautician in Al-Khobar was rushed to King Fahad hospital.

Citing a report from Migrante officers in Al-Khobar, Monterona said Teodora has already asked assistance from Philippine Labor Attache Adam Musa, but Musa reportedly rejected the appeal. Musa reportedly said the Polo-Owwa does not have funds for hospitalization and medication of OFWs involved in accidents..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/10/03/ofw-jumps-off-building-to-escape-from-abusive-employer/

Flood victims accuse Aquino govt of sleeping on the job

Flood victims accuse Aquino govt of sleeping on the job

Typhoon Pedring began ravaging Luzon on Sept 26, but it was only on Oct 2 that an “emergency” meeting to address this was called by the Aquino government.
MANILA — Outrage over the Aquino government’s seeming “lack of concern for the country” continues to be aired today by ordinary citizens. Some of them gave vent to their frustration over the government’s inability to respond effectively to disasters by sending text messages and appeals for help to the media. A big part of Central Luzon is still submerged in deep water as six dams continued to release water until yesterday, but the affected villages got little to no assistance from the government.

This lack of decisive action from the government was punctuated by what many ordinary victims of flooding in Bulacan described as a bit “belated” call for an “emergency meeting” by the government.
Typhoon Pedring began ravaging Luzon on Sept 26, but it was only on Oct 2 that an “emergency” meeting to address this was called by the Aquino government. As of today, some parts of Bulacan are still submerged up to the peoples’ neck. Water supply remains cut off, worsening the lack of potable water especially for villages that are still not being reached due to strong water current or heavy flooding.

Disease outbreaks are feared in cramped evacuation centers because of lack of water and medicines.

People out on flooded streets to procure water and food, like in these photos taken in Hagonoy, Bulacan last Oct 2, become familiar sight in some Central Luzon towns after Pedring. (Photos by Bro. Martin Francisco / bulatlat.com)
Affected citizens also smarted from the evident lack of information about their predicament as the people are blamed yet again for supposedly not heeding calls to evacuate. Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Management and Coordinating Council also said something like this when he announced that they will no longer “deliver” aid to people stranded in their homes. The mayor of Calumpit pleaded against the decision, reasoning that the people are stranded precisely because they have no means of leaving their flooded homes. Besides, he said, there is insufficient space in evacuation centers and they could not evacuate everybody.

President Aquino had been in Japan when Pedring hit the country in Sept 26. But when Aquino first landed back home, he was barely heard nor seen by Filipinos, except when he threatened the protesting workers of Philippine Airlines with charges.

Filipinos have been expressing their outrage over the “absentee” President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, a social welfare secretary whom they complained of having lingered abroad while typhoons are ravaging the country, the dam operators who ordered the massive release of water simultaneously, and the general lack of relief and rescue equipment that hamper even the immediately cobbled up efforts by the National Disaster Risk Management and Coordinating Council..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/10/02/flood-victims-accused-aquino-govt-of-sleeping-on-the-job/

Roxas eyes Speakership to launch presidential run By Gerry Baldo 11/03/2011


Roxas eyes Speakership to launch presidential run

By Gerry Baldo 11/03/2011

This early, it appears that President Aquino’s troubleshooter Manuel Roxas II is shooting for trouble within his own Liberal Party (LP) as sources said he had already outlined a plan for a presidential run in 2016 with a targeted Speakership after the 2013 midterm elections as his springboard.

The LP, rocked by internal jockeying since the death of former President Cory Aquino, is expected to be in for more political intramurals that could lead to a party breakup in the 2013 midterm elections.

The breakup, party sources said, would be triggered by the plan of Roxas, now the Transportation and Communications Secretary, to run for a congressional seat in his hometown of Capiz in Aklan.

The same source said that Roxas is going to run against incumbent Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who is being credited for strengthening the ruling LP in the House of Representatives. Belmonte, who had been voted by over 200 members of the House, is reportedly going to seek a fresh mandate in the 2013 polls..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111103hed1.html

Rescuers struggle to save typhoon victims By Mario J. Mallari 11/03/2011

Rescuers struggle to save typhoon victims

By Mario J. Mallari 11/03/2011

The government continued to struggle to cope with the havoc wrought by two powerful typhoons in Central Luzon region as the military yesterday appealed for more equipment to boost the ongoing massive rescue and relief operations in Pampanga and Bulacan.

Typhoon “Quiel” blew out of the Philippines last Saturday after a six-hour rampage across Luzon, bringing fresh troubles for more than a million people still affected by Typhoon “Pedring” which struck five days earlier.

The two typhoons were among the most powerful to have struck the country this year, with their massive rain bands covering most of Luzon.

Quiel soaked the Cordillera mountain range, and water cascading from the slopes was expected to further swell tributaries and rivers in the flood-prone Central Luzon plains, including Calumpit in Bulacan, before draining into Manila Bay..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111103hed3.html

NTC urged to recover lost revenues from Globe-Altimax deal 11/03/2011

NTC urged to recover lost revenues from Globe-Altimax deal

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to look into how it can recover revenues lost by the government as a result of Globe Telecom’s “unauthorized” lease of radio frequencies assigned to Altimax Broadcasting Inc.

“Globe has not been paying Spectrum Users Fees (SUFs) to the NTC for its use of the 30 megahertz assigned to Altimax,” Trillanes said.

“If the NTC finds that this arrangement is indeed in violation of existing laws, then the commission should not only stop the illegal use of these frequencies; it should also try to recover the uncollected fees,” he added.

Trillanes’ comments followed the privilege speech last week of Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada questioning the Altimax-Globe 2009 lease agreement..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111103nat1.html

Air Force junks MILF’s claims Abu Sayyaf shot down its helicopter 11/03/2011

Air Force junks MILF’s claims Abu Sayyaf shot down its helicopter

The Air Force leadership yesterday junked as “propaganda” claims by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that terrorist Abu Sayyaf shot down the Huey helicopter that crashed in Sulu province last Saturday, killing three military personnel.

Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol commented on an article posted over MILF’s official Web site www.luwaran.com, suggesting that Abu Sayyaf terrorist shot down the UH1H helicopter while on a re-supply mission in Patikul town.

“That’s rubbish, that’s propaganda,” Okol said.

“If they can claim that they downed the twin towers, they will,” Okol stressed, referring to the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City targeted by al- Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111103nat5.html

Stop cartel on medical clinics for OFWs — solon By Charlie V. Manalo 11/03/2011

Stop cartel on medical clinics for OFWs — solon

By Charlie V. Manalo 11/03/2011

A member of the House of Representatives yesterday called on the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to strictly implement the provision on the anti-decking or referral system as provided for in Republic Act 10022 or the Migrant and Overseas Filipino Workers Act, so as to abolish the cartel of medical clinics monopolizing the medical examinations of Filipino workers bound for Gulf countries.

In an interview, Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay lamented that while there are no fewer than 190 medical clinics all over the country, medical check-ups and examinations as required of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been monopolized by only 17 clinics.

This, the lawmaker baled on the non-implementation by the DoH and DFA of the decking or referral system which had long been outlawed by RA 10022..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111103met1.html

BSP bares winners of top Scouts search M E T R O F I L E 11/03/2011

BSP bares winners of top Scouts search


The Boy Scouts of the Philippines announced yesterday the winners of the search for the 10 outstanding Boy Scouts of the Philippines. The winners were chosen from the 25 finalists representing the 10 Scouting Regions in the country and were selected from among the hundreds of candidates from 117 Local Councils nationwide. Now on its 22nd, the search began at the Local Council level, then the Regional level up to the National level. The last leg of the competition was the interview held at the BSP National Office last September 29. Exclusively sponsored by Coca-Cola Export Corp., the annual search is the biggest event in the Scouting calendar for the country’s two million Scouts..... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111103met5.html

Trade groups slam Noy’s fiscal thrusts 11/03/2011

Trade groups slam Noy’s fiscal thrusts

The government’s fiscal policy is under fire from business groups particularly its underspending thus far this year and its plans to impose higher taxes on so-called sin products, as trade groups said these policies will contribute to slowing down the economy.

The influential Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCCI) expressed strong reservations over the government’s plan to either increase tax rates or impose new taxes on alcohol products.

In a statement, the FCCCI said the government’s revenue goals and programs come at a time when the entire manufacturing sector in the Philippines in on a down cycle and the debt crisis in the country’s major markets gave rise to more uncertainties.

“The manufacturing industry is slowing down as an aftermath of the debt crises in the West and market uncertainties weigh on trade and private consumption. It would be preferable for the government to increase pump-priming efforts to boost the local manufacturing sector,” FCCCI president Tan Ching said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/business/20111103bus1.html

Buddhist nun honored COMPANY NEWS 11/03/2011

Buddhist nun honored


The University of the East (UE) will confer the degree of doctor of humanities (honoris causa) on Dharma Master Cheng Yen on October 5 at 2 p.m. at the UE Conference Hall, UE Manila, as part of the nearly month-long festivities for the 65th UE foundation anniversary celebration this year with the theme José Rizal: Nasa Puso Ng UE. Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun, is UE’s 27th honorary doctorate recipient. She is the third woman, as well as, the ninth UE Doctor of Humanities honoree. The other women recipients of the said distinction were Elisabeth Waldheim, wife of former United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim (Feb. 12, 1976) and Elena Lim, UE outstanding alumna and chairman emeritus, Solid Group Inc. (Sept. 24, 1996). Master Cheng Yen founded the Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-profit organization providing better social and community services, medical care, education and humanism in Taiwan for nearly 40 years..... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/business/20111103bus11.html

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