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A new Psalm-ERC-IPP con game? DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 11/04/2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

A new Psalm-ERC-IPP con game?

Herman Tiu Laurel
In 2009, amid looming water and power shortages, alarm bells rang over the threat of El Nio to Mindanaos hydro-electric plants. At that time, state holding firm Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) sold off the states Power Barges (PB) 117 and 118 to the Aboitiz group for $30 million.

Following Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) rules, Aboitiz then submitted these to an independent third party appraiser that established their fair market value or depreciated replacement value (emphasis added) at an astounding $84 million the basis for the ERCs approved setting of the companys rate base.

In 2010, the power crisis that was feared by most came in full swing. Virtually every quarter attributed it to El Nio. Cagayan de Oro power expert David Tauli, however, maintained that the shortfall occurred because the National Power Corp. (Napocor) issued a directive that wasted away the energy it should have stored in Lake Lanao in order to help supply the load in the next six months when there is low inflow to the lake.

Soon after, other news sources pointed to overlapping maintenance schedules as another major culprit.
At the opportune time, Aboitiz happened to be ready with the much needed supply from PB 117 and 118, which it had earlier bought from government but now at a cost three times higher.

Many Mindanao NGOs, electricity consumer protection advocates, businessmen, as well as House representatives stood up to oppose the said transaction but to no avail. The series of decisions Psalm took, i.e., ordering Napocor to deplete the dams, which created the power crisis; the sweetheart sale of PB 117 and 118 to Aboitiz; followed by the ERC manna that turned a $30-million investment to an $84-million rate base in a few months, certainly spelled disaster for Mindanao business and household consumers.

The troika of Psalm, the private sector independent power producers (IPPs) and the ERC must have found the game so easy that they are apparently trying a repeat of the same 1-2-3 formula.

Last Oct. 28, a newspaper item entitled, Red alert issued on Mindanao grid, said that the operator of the countrys power transmission grid, the NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines), had issued warnings of a generation deficiency caused by (the) scheduled maintenance of some power plants and the unexpected shutdown or reduced capacity of others.

Couldnt Psalm, Napocor and the ERC, being the expert bodies charged with ensuring reliable and least cost electricity to the entire country, have foreseen this? If every year we, the public, are subjected to such sudden shocks of electricity shortages, then obviously these agencies are being remiss in their duties. Shouldnt they be subject to review, investigation and complete overhaul?

Worse, such calamitous state of affairs only gives rise to suspicions of a deliberate conspiracy to create a similar situation as the 2010 power crisis in Mindanao.

Just four days before that red alert was issued in the papers, I recall this piece (Psalm to push through with sale of power plants) that said, (Psalm) president and CEO Emmanuel Ledesma said in a phone interview that Psalm will push through with the planned sale of four diesel-fired power barges 101, 102, 103, and 104 by December concluding privatization activities for the year.

I predict those four power barges will be sold off at the same bargain basement prices (that PB 117 and 118 were) to one or several of the usual power oligarchs who will quickly have them appraised by independent appraisal agencies for thrice the amount, which the ERC will then approve as the basis for setting very high rates.

The destination of these power barges will again be Mindanao as no such red alert exists for Luzon and other regions; so poor Mindanao will once again be subsidizing the oligarchs entire acquisition costs and more from consumers power rates.

Just as some Mindanao solons did in 2010 opposing the sale of PB 117 and 118, some of them are again standing up to oppose the sale of the four power barges today. One of them, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, has threatened to delay, if not stop, the sale as it would adversely affect Mindanao power consumers. It still remains to be seen if they will be more successful this time.

The nation is in rage over the blatant abuses committed by the power oligarchs in cahoots with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira)-mandated power privatization and regulatory agencies.

In the past months, in addition to the usual anti-power plunder advocates and NGOs, known business and labor federations have also raised their voices. The latter two were even more aggressive, maybe making up for lost time, and sent their complaints directly to Malacaang.

Unfortunately, the Chief Executive never reared his head to face the issue and had only his spokesman, that little colegiala-ish know-nothing, to refer everyone back to the embodiment of regulatory capture, the ERC.

Meanwhile, Napocor is set to add more charges to our already bloated bill another P15 billion for the missionary grid on top of the lifeline rate and Maximum Average Price-translated rates favoring large industrial/commercial users, all subsidized by us residential consumers.

But we shouldnt fret that these government officials and agencies are taking no heed of the pleas and plaints of the people. The rage will only grow and the final outburst, only greater.

Just this past week, a large nationwide lay organization already reached out to the electricity consumer protection movement to extend its hand in solidarity. This is one clear sign that the groundswell against the electricity plunder and abuse continues to grow; which can only mean that the outcome will be a tectonic shock strong enough to change the Philippine political-economic landscape.

(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/20111104com5.html

Things remain the same EDITORIAL 11/04/2011

Things remain the same

Click to enlarge
The military needs to set aside its buttoned-up and restrictive nature over the death of the 19 members of the Army’s Special Forces, the cause of which was investigated and now contained in a report that appears headed to the military steel lockers and away from public view.

The soldiers’ death was a national tragedy not only because some of the finest members of the Armed Forces were slaughtered but also because the government of the slain troops has become powerless to bring those responsible for their deaths to justice.

The Basilan report is not at all an internal matter for the military. It involves governance and a murky rumor about sending the young soldiers to the wolves in the hunt for a prize pot in dollars put up by the American government on one of the targets..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111104com1.html

Turning tail FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 11/04/2011

.Turning tail

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
In the end, it was Malacaang that blinked.

After Noynoy and his military generals issued a threat to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to surrender Dan Laksaw Asnawi and other wanted fugitives, or face the consequence of military action, the same government officials are now saying that diplomatic channeling will be exhausted, and that they will adhere to the ceasefire pact, adding that the military will be coordinating with the MILF to enter the MILF-held territory in Al-Barka, Basilan, in search of these fugitives.

The military officials, however, stressed that they will not be asking for permission to enter, but will coordinate with the MILF for their entry, which is no different from seeking permission from the rebels to enter their lair, in their search of the fugitives.

That is for course meant to save Malacaang and its militarys face.

It is clear to all that coordinating with the secessionists in their lair will automatically provide the rebels with the opportunity to ensure that none of these fugitives wanted by the government would be around the area, for various logical reasons.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111104com2.html

w/ VIDEOS: Occupy Oakland strike vs tear gas, flashbangs, rubber bullets

Occupy Oakland strike vs tear gas, flashbangs, rubber bullets

New clashes have erupted in Oakland, California, between anti-corporate protesters and police, who have entered their camp. Up to 100 people have already been arrested, and the standoff at the camp continues.

According to unconfirmed reports, many police officers are not wearing badges and have tape covering their names.

Police officers are using tear gas and bullets which, basically, consist of heavy pellets of cloth, RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports from the site. She also added that the camp has been completely surrounded by police, whose numbers by far exceed those of the protestors – by approximately 200-300 to 100-150. Many police officers are wearing gas masks..... MORE

URL: http://rt.com/news/occupy-oakland-general-strike-467/

‘Little Meccas’ prepare Indonesians for hajj FEATURE 11/04/2011

‘Little Meccas’ prepare Indonesians for hajj


PONDOK GEDE — Even before arriving in Mecca for this year’s hajj rites Indonesian housewife Irawati has felt the emotion of beholding the Kaaba, the cubic structure in Islam’s holiest city toward which all Muslims face to pray.

Just days before leaving for Mecca the 30-year-old is finishing a mock hajj, part of a three-month training that tens of thousands of Indonesians complete every year in readiness for an annual pilgrimage that draws some two million Muslims from across the globe.

Every year as the hajj grows near, hundreds of little Meccas sprout across Indonesia, from lifelike setups complete with a replica of the Kaaba, to simple arrangements of chairs and tables at hotels or mosques outside the larger cities or towns.

“I feel like I’m in Mecca already,” Irawati said as she beheld the large Kaaba replica at her training site in east Jakarta, her voice breaking and eyes welling with tears..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111104com7.html

Planned sale of Mental Hospital land opposed

Planned sale of Mental Hospital land opposed

 “In the end, this planned sale of Welfareville may just diminish the mental health services into mere psychiatric desks in various hospitals, or the mental hospital may end up privatized.” – Rey Quinto, employee of National Center for Mental Health


MANILA – Some patients of National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City have to stay there for weeks or months for treatment. Others were forced to stay for years, particularly those who are no longer being visited by their relatives. The latter number up to a hundred patients at present.

They are among the Filipinos who reportedly lose their grip on reality because of poverty-related problems and difficulties in life and love. Some became patients of the public mental hospital in Mandaluyong because they entered a depression which they failed to escape from, or their minds got the worst of the effects of drug addiction. These are the frequent reasons cited in cases brought in by thousands of patients in mental hospital, said Armando Palaganas, vice-president of the National Center for Mental Health Employees Association- Alliance of Health Workers (NACEMHEA-AHW).

But these Filipinos and others who may soon join them including those left wandering the streets may soon lose their chances to get treatment with the planned sale of the 118-hectare Welfareville property. The mental hospital, its employees and patients are threatened with dislocation.

The 43-hectare public mental health institution that services these patients lies inside Welfareville property. The mental hospital is composed of separate low building, many called as “pavilions” housing different types of patients. The buildings are scattered within a relatively lush greenery that officers of the AHW said are favoured by health workers and patients’ relatives for various therapeutic exercises of their mental patients.

Picket protest of mental health center’s workers and allies (Photo by Jhun Dantes / bulatlat.com)
Up to now, however, there are no clear-cut plans for the mental hospital, the (NACEMHEA-AHW) said in a statement. Instead, what is ringing more clearly for all of the affected is the bidding for Welfareville scheduled five to six months from now.

Massive dislocation for huge sale
The workers of National Center for Mental Health, its patients’ relatives and the community residents in Welfareville are opposing the public bidding of the land scheduled on July 2012. They are also opposed to the impending transfer (or rather, one of the rumoured planned transfers) of the mental hospital to what they described as a smaller, still underdeveloped lot in Antipolo.

If this planned transfer of the mental hospital to Antipolo is true, Palaganas told Bulatlat.com that many patients will likely no longer be cared for nor admitted, because the area is less than a fourth of their current location. The union has also previously expressed doubts as to its accessibility.

At the sidelines of their protest action against the bidding of Welfareville late last week, Palaganas expressed gratitude for the support of lawmakers like Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño.

Casiño filed last September a bill and a resolution that aim to stop the sale of Welfareville property. His House Bill No. 5257 seeks to repeal Republic Act 5260, the law signed in 1968 by then President Ferdinand Marcos authorizing the public bidding of the Welfareville property to generate funds supposedly for “children’s welfare services.”

House Resolution No. 1700, also of Casiño, directs the Committee on Health to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the “misdirected planned sale of the Welfareville Property.”

Palaganas asked other government officials, especially President Benigno Aquino III and Social Welfare Sec. Dinky Soliman, to “take the cue and prioritize the welfare of patients, health workers and residents over and above the interests of local and foreign business.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/11/04/planned-sale-of-mental-hospital-land-opposed/

Human rights in Aquino’s ‘righteous path’

 Human rights in Aquino’s ‘righteous path’

"We have a democracy in name but not in fact.” – Manuel Diokno, president of the Free Legal Action Group

MANILA –Fr. Fausto Tentorio was finally laid to rest. Well-loved by members of the Manobo tribe whom he served for more than 30 years, Tentorio was shot at eight times by a lone gunman while he was getting into his pick-up truck parked inside a church compound in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, October 17.

A day after the Italian missionary was murdered, President Benigno S. Aquino III said, “Regardless of who did the crime, they will have to pay. That has been the direction of this administration from the start—you do the crime, you will be in jail.”

Three days after the incident, at the sitio Upper Lumbo, brgy. Kabalantian of the same town,peasant leader Ramon Batoy was shot at close range in front of his pregnant wife and two children by suspected state agents, human rights group Karapatan reported. Col. Joven Gonzales, commanding officer of the 57th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army claimed that the death of Batoy was a result of a legitimate encounter with the New People’s Army (NPA) . Two other civilians, Noli Badol and Celso Batol, were reportedly arrested and tortured by the soldiers.

In his first State of the Nation Address (Sona), Aquino delivered a strong message against impunity. His words, however, have not resulted in stopping human rights abuses. Fifteen months since Aquino assumed the presidency, human rights violations continue. Karapatan documented 54 victims of extrajudicial killings, eight victims of enforced disappearances and 29 victims of torture.

In a report released in July, Human Rights Watch pointed out that there have been only seven successfully prosecuted cases of extrajudicial killings, resulting in the conviction of 12 perpetrators.

The New York-based human rights watchdog added that while the military and police, as well as paramilitary forces, have been implicated in many of these killings, there has not been a single conviction of active military personnel. The group also noted that no senior military officer has been convicted either for direct involvement in these violations or as a matter of command responsibility.

The charges filed in relation to killings of journalists are not promising either.

Apart from the Ampatuan trial, there are 15 cases in court in relation to killings of journalists. Preliminary investigation in the murder of Palawan journalist Gerry Ortega led to the filing of charges against the alleged gunman but the perceived masterminds were dropped from the case.

Prima Quinsayas of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) said that of the 122 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1986, only ten had convictions. Not one of the masterminds was included, only the gunmen and accomplices, said Quinsayas.

Measures wanting

Aquino did not heed most of the recommendations put forward by various human rights groups. In fact, upon Aquino’s inauguration in June 2010, human rights watchdog Amnesty International put forward concrete recommendations to put an end to the killings.

One of these is the issuance of an executive order that clearly states the administration’s commitment to stop the practice of enforced disappearances in the country. In particular, the group called for the establishment of a presidential commission that will review all cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances during the last decade, in cooperation with independent bodies, with the aim of enabling speedy prosecutions..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/11/03/human-rights-in-aquino%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%98righteous-path%e2%80%99/

Erap men tell Palace: Take responsibility for P31M ABB funding 11/04/2011

Erap men tell Palace: Take responsibility for P31M ABB funding

With Malacaangs penchant to lay the blame on previous administrations for the millions in funding armed rebel groups by the Aquino administration as its justification for certain treasonous acts, former President Joseph Estradas Cabinet members yesterday called on the Palace to start taking responsibility for its acts, instead of passing these on to the previous administration.

Members of the Estrada administration are scratching their heads on the accusation leveled against the Estrada government by the Palace that it was under the Estrada presidency that his adminis-tration had entered into a P31-million deal with the Alex Boncayao Brigade.

There was no such deal was the recollection of Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, PMS head Eki Cardenas and Agrarian Reform Secretary Horacio Boy Morales..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111104hed5.html

DoJ keeps WLO vs GMA hanging By Benjamin B. Pulta, Charlie V. Manalo and Virgilio Bugaoisan 11/04/2011


DoJ keeps WLO vs GMA hanging

By Benjamin B. Pulta, Charlie V. Manalo and Virgilio Bugaoisan 11/04/2011

President Aquino and his Justice secretary, Leila de Lima, continue to keep former President Arroyo and her health condition hanging, as De Lima has again put off her ruling on Arroyo’s request to be allowed to leave the country and seek medical treatment abroad.

“It would appear from all indications and from the report of Secretary Ona, that the former president is recuperating very well. (Her) condition is improving and, therefore, there seems to be no immediate necessity at this point for us to grant the request of the former president,” De Lima said at a press briefing yesterday morning before going on leave.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona was quoted as saying that Arroyo can be treated in the Philippines for any illness she has, pointing out that during his visit to check on her condition, she could already walk around the house, and is recuperating well, even as he admitted to her experiencing discomfort and loss of appetite after her three surgeries..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111104hed1.html

Syndicate encashing HR victims’ checks, says lawyer 11/04/2011

Syndicate encashing HR victims’ checks, says lawyer

Checks issued to claimants of victims of martial law being encashed in banks were asked to be stopped by human rights lawyer, Rod Domingo, after members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group nabbed members of a syndicate who it said are pretending to be the victims of the strongman rule of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

In the same breath, Domingo condemned the said incident, adding that they are conducting their own investigation as to how the unscrupulous persons got hold of the checks that belonged to human rights victims..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111104nat2.html

Government urged to recognize IPs 11/04/2011

Government urged to recognize IPs

The Indigenous Peoples are as Filipino as you and the rest of the population.

According to Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Taada III there is a need for the government to address the seeming lack of respect for the indigenous peoples.

There is a need to acknowledge their culture and traditions and recognize them as regular citizens, Taada said yesterday.

Tanada said he agrees with Rep. Teddy Baguilat, House committee chairman for Indigenous Peoples, that the government has neglected the well-being of IPs, many of whom were driven from their ancestral lands because of mining operations..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111104nat4.html

Bautista extends assistance to QCPD stations by partially paying their water bills By Gina Peralta-Elorde 11/04/2011

Bautista extends assistance to QCPD stations by partially paying their water bills

By Gina Peralta-Elorde 11/04/2011
The Quezon City government has made partial settlement of the water arrears incurred in prior years by the QC Police District (QCPD) with the two concessionaires of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

While the city is not obligated to do so, Mayor Herbert Bautista decided to extend the assistance as a gesture of the city government’s continuing support and concern to the city police.

Already, as of July this year, the city had paid Maynilad Water Services Inc. P955,788. 56 as partial payment for the prior years’ obligations by the local police from 2005 to 2009..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111104met4.html

Probers maintain sibling rivalry triggered killing of ‘Ram’ Revilla By Gina Peralta-Elorde 11/04/2011

Probers maintain sibling rivalry triggered killing of ‘Ram’ Revilla

By Gina Peralta-Elorde 11/04/2011
The Philippine National Police-Task Force “Ramgen” has maintained sibling rivalry triggered the killing of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla’s half-brother Ramgen “Ram” Revilla.

Task Force Ramgen head Chief Supt. Enrique Sy said they are digging deeper into the conflicting statements made by Ram’s girlfriend Janelle Manahan who survived the attack.

Manahan recounted to police investigators that masked men barged into the house of her boyfriend in Parañaque City last Friday night minutes after Ramona, Ram’s sister, arrived.

Sy insisted that with Manahan’s testimony they gathered strong evidence showing Ramona as one of the suspects..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111104met3.html

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