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On oil, on all: BSA III useless DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 01/23/2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

On oil, on all: BSA III useless

Herman Tiu Laurel
Last Wednesday, Jan. 18, newspapers reported Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras as saying that government “cannot control” and has “no right to dictate oil prices because that would be tantamount to regulation,” which he argues is “against the law.”

If that were true, then why do we have an energy department at all? The oil companies can have absolute rein on the market, and we can remove all the playacting that government is still there to keep them in check.

The reality is, a Department of Energy (DoE) does exist. It is supposed to be implementing what Almendras mouths as “the law,” which, in plain English, is simply regulation. Government is supposed to regulate by putting up protective measures to help Filipino families and the nation’s economy from suffering economic collapse.

However, Almendras is doing the opposite. By championing deregulation, he wants to ensure that our people continue to remain defenseless against the predatory pricing and market manipulation of transnational oil corporations in cahoots with the local oligarchs.

What is the “market” that Almendras invokes? You will find a thousand ways of defining it, such as from Economy Watch, which says, “a market is an environment that allows buyers and sellers to trade or exchange goods, services and information. These interactions define demand and supply characteristics;” or from Wikipedia, which defines it as “one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange.”

Is this like my baker preparing pan de sal that I later buy — end of story? If it were that simple, then there should have been no market chaos in the “deregulated” world economy of the past 20 years that was brought in by the US-UN-promoted free trade and globalization.

If “deregulation” were that great, then why is it that the “regulated” economy of China, with its controlled yuan and state-led system, is doing better than all the rest?

Moreover, is the oil sector of China deregulated? For that matter, is the US oil sector really deregulated? These two countries maintain secret oil stockpiles that extend far into the future to ensure their fuel security.

On June 24, 2011, it was reported in US media that the “US releases oil from stockpiles to aid economy,” spurred by the “Obama administration’s decision… to release 30 million barrels of oil from… emergency stockpiles… designed to bolster the economy and soothe consumers’ concerns amid political unrest in Libya and the Middle East… (which) move coincided with a similar 30 million-barrel release by other International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries… (sending) oil prices to a four-month low in trading…”

Is this an action that characterizes regulation or deregulation? What is clear is that the US government and the IEA do intervene to “bolster the economy… soothe consumers’ concerns… (and send) oil prices to a four-month low…” Now, isn’t that regulation?

Free market apologists will argue that “intervention” is not “regulation;” but intervention is certainly not “deregulation,” at least in the sense that Almendras uses it — that is, never to touch the free market play of oil.

This certainly brings us back to the proposal I have put forward for years now, which is for the Philippines to have a 12-month oil or fuel stockpile bought with excess foreign exchange in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and some in US bonds in the US Treasury, or part of the Special Deposit Account sleeping in the BSP vaults. A solon or two had echoed this same idea; but they were immediately rebuked by Platts oil consultancy, whose “expert,” ironically named Montespeque opined that stockpiling would only raise oil prices and hurt the Philippines.

And so we ask: Are China and the US hurting themselves by stockpiling oil? Wasn’t that June 24, 2011 release by Obama and the IEA of some of this stockpile timed to send “oil prices to a four-month low?”

There are very many forces that actually intervene in the “deregulated” oil market, influencing and turning it to their advantage. Commodities traders buy, sell and resell oil futures while big traders consciously and deliberately influence market prices through their bet placements, pushing up oil prices in cahoots with other players (e.g., global media giants and politicians of the major powers, who create events for the benefit of their finance and oil principals — the major contributors to their political campaigns).

Imagine sheep herders and sheep dogs with tags on them, like “oil giants,” “market speculators,” “oil traders,” “business media wires,” “business cable news,” “US president,” “Israel,” acting in unison, herding the sheep (aka the market) this and that way.

Since late last year up to now, the oil market has been attributing its volatility to the US-Israel vs Iran et al. scenario. Yet there was nary a note from BSA III and Almendras in all that time save for their sudden announcement of ”rationing” oil once a crisis erupts. Aside from this, the Palace has only one other measure, the “Pantawid Pasada,” which one newspaper headlined, “Pantawid Pasada card is free — DoE.”

Well, the measly P300 may be free for the drivers who receive it but it should be made clear that government is budgeting and paying the oil companies for the oil that drivers draw from the cards. It is therefore really not a subsidy for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers but for the oil companies. And if government cuts the excise tax allegedly to help the public, that is still no help at all as it cuts government revenues, which will then have to be raised somewhere else. It is only the oil companies that win in every one of these scenarios.

BS Aquino III, Almendras, and the DoE are all useless and inutile. They are actually the greatest obstacle to reestablishing a people and economy-friendly oil sector, as well as a regime of people-oriented re-regulation that seeks to dismantle an oligarch-enriching “deregulated regulation.”

(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 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 “Hocus PCOS used two software;” 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/20120123com5.html

From the horse’s mouth EDITORIAL 01/23/2012

From the horse’s mouth

Click to enlarge
Noynoy who was having a major ego trip during an anniversary bash of his Liberal Party (LP), bared in the open that the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona was the handiwork of the party and some other allies in the House of Representatives and that the whole plot was laid out in early December. A few days after came the railroaded move against the Supreme Court head at the House.

He said in all candor that the plot was hatched by the LP and some other congressmen who are Liberals at heart and in deed even if they are not members of the party.

He bragged that Corona’s impeachment was one of the brightest moments of the party.

This ended any argument about Noynoy instigating the removal of a co-equal head of the judicial branch of government because of the admission. It also gave credence to what Corona has been crying about, which was the looming dictatorship being set up by Noynoy..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120123com1.html

Libyan Resistance and western hypocrisy

Libyan Resistance and western hypocrisy

by Konstantyn Scheglikov

An important and expected event has occurred in Libya. Resistance leaders spoke about the creation of a temporary government in Libya. People all over the world, who comprise the world community, expected this moment. Now our task is to demand that our countries' governments withdraw recognition of the NTC occupational regime because they are not the legal representatives of the Libyan nation, and to begin diplomatic relations with the real Libyan government.

This government is being launched on a temporary basis until full Libyan liberation from the NATO invaders. This is because after that, People's Committees of different levels will be reinstated, and they will continue to govern Libya as it used to be prior to the invasion in February 2011. Certainly all encountered mistakes will be taken into serious consideration to prevent further causes for a new intervention..... MORE


URL: http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/terror/18-01-2012/120272-Libyan_Resistance_and_western_hypocrisy-0/

Syria: Arab League roadmap is ‘attack on national sovereignty’ (w/ Video)

Syria: Arab League roadmap is ‘attack on national sovereignty’

The Syrian leadership has rejected the Arab League's transition plan aimed at curbing violence in the country. The authorities say it does not reflect the will of the people and violates the country's sovereignty.

"Syria rejects the decisions taken which are outside an Arab working plan, and considers them an attack on its national sovereignty and a flagrant interference in internal affairs," state TV quoted an official as saying..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/syria-rejects-sovereignty-attack-413/

Iran 'definitely' closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo

Iran 'definitely' closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo

Tensions in the Gulf could reach a breaking point as a senior Iranian official said Iran would “definitely” close the Strait of Hormuz if an EU oil embargo disrupted the export of crude oil, the semi-official Fars news agency reports.

The announcement came in response to a decision by the European Union on Monday to impose an oil embargo on Iran over the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/iran-close-strait-hormuz-embargo-455/

OFWs slam planned 150% hike in Philhealth premiums

OFWs slam planned 150% hike in Philhealth premiums

MANILA — Overseas Filipino workers and their families are up against what they say is yet another ploy to milk them for money: a whopping 150 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

Migrante International and its chapters in Hong Kong and the Middle East have issued declarations against the announcement recently made by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth Board that it will raise Philhealth premiums effective July 2012.

The board recently issued Circular No. 022 imposing the 150-percent hike in premium fees to the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). It will affect all members and enrollees of Philhealth, including OFWs.
Premiums from members will increase to P600 (US$13.95) from P300 (US$6.97) a quarter, or an annual premium of P2,400 (US$55.81). This was explained as a way to offer better benefits for members and to achieve the goal of universal health care.

The new policy is expected to cover all agency-new hires as the Philhealth is a requirement for the Overseas Employment Contract, and overseas professionals.

Migrante chairman Garry Martinez said that OFWs are outraged by scheduled premium increase policy, saying that they are already burdened with many tax impositions. He said that the Benigno Aquino administration has already slashed budgetary expenditures for OFW services, but it continues to charge other questionable fees on OFWs without implementing proper consultation processes with the sector and other stakeholders.

The migrant group staged a picket protest in front of the Philhealth main office in Pasay on Friday, January 13. It has also launched an online petition campaign to oppose the premium hike.

Martinez said that they are also studying allegations that the Philhealth premium may also be a direct violation of Republic Act 8042, as amended by RA 10022, which prohibits increases in government fees for services rendered to OFWs and their dependents.

The migrant leader said that aside from being an unjustified and arbitrary state exaction, the Philhealth premium betrays the true nature of the Aquino administration’s overall economic program in the coming years.

“As we see it, in lieu of implementing direct taxation on the people which are immediately and easily opposed by the public, the government is resorting to schemes that intend to earn direct revenue from the people through fee hikes and impositions on government services and by government owned and controlled corporations like the Philhealth,” he said.

No consultations with OFWs 

In Hong Kong, the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK) said that the news of increased premiums is also most unwelcome to OFWs in the special administrative region.

Unifil chairwoman Dolores Balladares said that the government had previously forced OFWs to become mandatory Philhealth members.

“Now it’s again forcing us to pay higher premiums. This is an added to all OFWs. We’re already burdened by so many financial requirements such as the illegal recruitment fees of recruitment agencies. Many of us are also buried in debt to trying repay loans made to financing agencies,” she pointed out.

She also expressed fear that the increased fun in PhilHealth will only be used for corruption.

“There are still a lot of controversies surrounding PhilHealth and how it’s being run. Among these is the issue of bogus claims being funded. What happened to the P530 million (US$ 123,255.81) transferred from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Medicare account to the electoral coffers of ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? OFWs are war that increasing Philhealth’s funds will lead to worsened corruption in the agency,” she said..... MORE

Source: Bulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/01/13/ofws-slam-planned-150-hike-in-philhealth-premiums/

JPE: No delay but trial speed depends on House panel By Angie M. Rosales and Gerry Baldo 01/23/2012


JPE: No delay but trial speed depends on House panel

By Angie M. Rosales and Gerry Baldo 01/23/2012
Depending on the skills of the prosecution, Impeachment Court presiding officer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile estimated that it would take them a month to present their evidence against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona since evidence presented in the trial does not need specifications.

Enrile also denied allegations that the proceedings are being delayed.

“There’s really no delay in the proceedings. What’s delaying the trial is the marking of the documents. That’s why I told both parties not to be too detailed in their evidence.

Complaints of “delays” even among his colleagues, some senator-judges, have been aired lately..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120123hed1.html

Lawyers, judges appeal anew to senators to be impartial By Ted Boehnert and Benjamin B. Pulta 01/23/2012

Lawyers, judges appeal anew to senators to be impartial

By Ted Boehnert and Benjamin B. Pulta 01/23/2012

The bias of some senator judges in the impeachment trial is becoming too obvious for comfort and local judges and lawyers are now calling on members of the Senate impeachment court to put off politics as usual and try the case of Chief Justice Renato Corona objectively.

The Metropolitan and City Judges Association of the Philippines (MetCJAP) also appealed to the senators to disregard political affiliations and even public opinion when they cast their votes on whether the Chief Justice is guilty or not of the eight articles of impeachment filed against him by the House of Representatives.

“As senator judges, they owe it to the people not only to be impartial, independent and honest but they should be perceived to be impartial, independent and honest as well,” MetCJAP president and Cagayan de Oro City Judge Cesar Merlas said, in an interview..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120123hed3.html

2 cargo ships sink in RP; crew safe 01/23/2012

2 cargo ships sink in RP; crew safe

A Panama-registered cargo ship sank off the Philippines’ eastern seaboard yesterday, but all 14 crew members were rescued, the Coast Guard said

The m/v Sun Spirit was carrying iron ore bound for China when the accident occurred while passing in waters off the island of Catanduanes.

The exact cause of the accident has not yet been determined, officials said, but maritime accidents are frequent in perennially turbulent waters off the country’s eastern side facing the Pacific Ocean..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120123hed4.html

Groups to fight eviction of ‘informal’ settlers 01/23/2012

Groups to fight eviction of ‘informal’ settlers

Different urban poor groups nationwide under Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon, a network against demolition of homes and forced eviction, were gearing up against threats of eviction from their homes that have escalated unprecedentedly under the Aquino regime.

The groups announced its plan for a big march of the urban poor to the Supreme Court and Malacañang before the end of the month, to clinch a nationwide “moratorium” on demolition.

In its statement, the group also condemned the National Drive Against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates (Ndapsss) that the Aquino administration has claimed to answer the worsening problem of squatting in the country..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120123nat3.html

CoA asks DoTC to justify contract with ad firm By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/23/2012

CoA asks DoTC to justify contract with ad firm

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/23/2012

Government auditors are asking Palace ally and Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II to substantiate the basis for Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) contract with an advertising firm for the lease of advertising space in three stations of the Edsa MRT 3.

A complaint for graft and corruption was filed in October 2011 against five individuals, including four senior officials of the DoTC for anomalies in the lease of advertising space by the Edsa MRT 3 to Trackworks.

In a 3-page Audit Observation Memo submitted to Roxas and DoTC, MRT 3 general manager Honorio Vitasa, audit team leader State Auditor Lolita Marquez and Atty. Aristotle Ilarde recommended that the DoTC submit an explanation why it failed to hold public bidding for the conduct of advertising activities in Buendia portions of Ayala and Shaw stations..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120123met4.html

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