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Power blackmail, fascism DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 03/19/2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Power blackmail, fascism

Herman Tiu Laurel
If we continue to have the kind of political leaders and economic managers that we have today, then this nation is a goner. Speaking to ANC last week on the current Mindanao power crisis, National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Assistant Director-General Ruperto Majuca practically admitted government sabotage for the non-dredging of the Agus-Pulangui hydroelectric river network despite ample warnings over the past decade. Besides this, he adverted to the absence of political will in making use of available power barges to get interim supply (which this column has repeatedly called for). Most importantly, he revealed the real agenda behind the engineered power shortage, saying, “Mindanao must soon get used to higher prices if the people want power.” Then, he even capped it off with an asinine “You cannot have your cake and eat it too” remark as a veiled threat to all Filipinos — that they should be happy to have electricity even at exorbitant prices (the highest in all of Asia), or else live without it.
Our GNN show over Destiny Cable and 300 other cable networks nationwide also tackled the same topic.

But our guests were the more genuine stakeholders in this issue, namely, Jojo Borja (stockholder of Iligan Light and Power and an irate anti-power oligarchy crusader) and Wilson Fortaleza (formerly with the Freedom from Debt Coalition electricity consumer advocacy). Borja confirmed that as the power crisis continues to ravage Mindanao’s economy, everything from Internet cafés and restaurants to major manufacturing concerns have been forced to shut down, despite the fact that one power barge in Davao dedicated to the Holcim cement plant, as well as two power barges in Iloilo and one in Luzon, are merely lying idle. Fortaleza, who just came from a National Power Corp. (Napocor) union-sponsored visit to Agus-Pulangui, stressed that the system could still recover its full capacity to provide all the power Mindanao needs today — given the proper maintenance — and still at the current level of Mindanao’s hydro power production cost below one centavo per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Borja even adds that another source of ready supply are the two power barges sold off by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp. to Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) for $30 million last 2009, which assets were priced a few months later at $80 million in order to be used as the basis for doubling electricity cost to consumers. The flipside, of course, is that the 33 electric cooperatives (ECs) in Mindanao are deterred from buying TMI-generated power, hence, the current quagmire the region is in.
But, instead of providing real solutions, what Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary and former Ayala and Aboitiz executive Jose Rene Almendras wants is to issue an order that will force all Mindanao power utility operators to purchase power from TMI even at a high cost. According to a March 5 report in Business Mirror (“Mindanao power problem nearing solution: DoE”), Almendras said that as “there are about 100 MW (megawatts) of undispatched power… they are now verifying reports that some of the electric cooperatives are hesitant to buy because (of the) the price differential… (prompting) the DoE (to possibly) issue a directive to compel the electric cooperatives to buy power even at a higher rate… (because) “At the end of the day, it’s the distributor who’s supposed to buy the necessary power to sell.’”

The “undispatched power” mentioned, of course, refers to the TMI power barges’ allocated capacity. As Almendras wants to force this down the throats of Mindanao’s utilities and consumers through a DoE order, those who fail to comply will certainly come under some pain of punishment, such as what was mentioned by a DoE undersecretary, who said that the Energy Department’s proposed circular “will allow the grid operator, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, to cut off power to erring utilities… (so that it would force them) to secure available power generation in the region at a higher price.”

This contemplated action is simple blackmail and fascism, with the DoE as the “muscle” and Almendras as the “enforcer,” all doing the bidding of the capo di tutti capi, the power oligarchs. All those “public” but privately-owned officials of the DoE, form the time of Gloria Arroyo to the present PeNoy Aquino administration, will someday face the wrath of the people and the courts of a new government — the way Iceland’s prime minister is now facing jail term for betraying his people in the financial and economic crisis since 2008.

The present oligarchy-controlled government will not always be on top and the more these oppressive impositions are pushed down the throats of our people, the earlier the day of reckoning shall be. The last example we cited is just a case of the debacle from the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 that gave way to the power sector’s massive privatization.

In 1993, the Alcantara Group was granted and commissioned a BOT (build- operate-and-transfer) project with Napocor’s $110-million 104 MW diesel-fired power plant complex (designated NMPC-1 and 2).

Since Mindanao always had surplus power, these were hardly used. Ten years later these were turned over to Iligan City after Napocor failed to pay municipal taxes. But the city cannot operate the plants anymore as Epira bans government from engaging in power generation, besides the fact that the plants were built on an alleged overpriced Alcantara property that is now being refused for their operation.

The reason the Mindanao ECs and handful of private utilities refuse to buy overpriced TMI power is that this would lock them into paying for these high prices in the next 20 years for an engineered short-term power crisis, which the rains will resolve in a few months. The DoE and the oligarch-conspirators want to force these high priced contracts so that they can do the same when the Agus-Pulangui is privatized when the public will momentarily let down its guard.

Luckily, Mindanaoans today are not yielding. Having learned the bitter lessons from Luzon and Visayas’ power woes, their struggle may yet inspire the rest of the country to reverse the Epira totally and shove the pain it brought down those greedy power oligarchs’ sorry backsides.

(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 “Mining: Bomb or Boon?;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

(Reprinted from permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120319com5.html

Impeach the accountant EDITORIAL Click to enlarge 03/19/2012

Impeach the accountant

Click to enlarge
The House prosecution panel seems to have pinned the bulk of its case against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona on what is not contained in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALn) in that the impeachment trial has been reduced to a primer on the proper filing of the SALn among public officials.

It is an expensive primer but a positive result is that the SALn process is being revamped now to include the daily expenses of public officials that would not only provide a window into the lifestyle of each government official but act as a deterrent as well against graft.

That, however, will not resolve the arguments in the impeachment trial on the full disclosure of his assets in the SALn he filed..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120319com1.html

NATO 'covers up' Libyan death shame

NATO 'covers up' Libyan death shame

NATO has failed to investigate scores of civilian deaths incurred during its seven-month military campaign in Libya, Amnesty international says. NATO expressed its “regret” for civilian casualties but has taken no steps to initiate an investigation.

"It is deeply disappointing that more than four months since the end of the military campaign, victims and relatives of those killed by NATO airstrikes remain in the dark about what happened and who was responsible" said Donatella Rovera, the Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International on Monday..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/amnesty-strikes-civilians-deaths-887/

Mossad and CIA concur: Iran isn’t seeking nukes

Mossad and CIA concur: Iran isn’t seeking nukes

Israel’s intelligence service Mossad has acknowledged, just like their American counterparts, there is no proof Tehran is carrying out a nuclear weapons program, a source in US intelligence told the New York Times.

­An unnamed former senior US intelligence official told the paper “Mossad does not disagree with the US on the [Iranian] weapons program.” The consensus among US spy agencies remains that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons research several years ago..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/mossad-iran-nuclear-programme-851/

Mega court blunder could see Kim Dotcom’s fortune returned

Mega court blunder could see Kim Dotcom’s fortune returned

An incorrect court order issued against the founder of Megaupload has been declared “null and void” by a New Zealand judge. The legal bungle could lead to the return of the internet tycoon’s multi-million dollar fortune.

New Zealand police reportedly made a procedural error and applied for the wrong kind of restraining order. As a consequence internet mogul Kim Dotcom, formally known as Kim Schmitz, was not afforded the opportunity to defend himself prior to the seizure of his assets eight weeks ago by the police..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/dotcom-megaupload-assets-return-853/

Soldier killed in Texas for not believing in God

Soldier killed in Texas for not believing in God

Texas authorities announced last month that they had recovered the remains of Jose Ramirez seven years after he went missing. But as the investigation is renewed, they add there is now reason to believe the soldier was killed for being an atheist.

Law enforcement in Clay County, Texas arrested 30-year-old Justin Green for the murder of Ramirez only earlier this year for a crime they suspect to have occurred back in 2007. As investigators try to find a motive for the alleged murderer's actions, they’ve ended up speaking with a handful of associates also accused of aiding in the homicide. While details on the death and the reasoning for why it was carried out are still vague, one of those close the matter believe Green gunned down Ramirez for his lack of faith..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/soldier-texas-green-ramirez-771/

Three months after Sendong, Iligan residents still far from rebuilding their lives

Three months after Sendong, Iligan residents still far from rebuilding their lives

Residents of Iligan City got no help from local and national government. Where did the hundreds of millions of pesos in donations received by the city government and the Dept. of Social Welfare & Development go?

ILIGAN CITY–Three months after Tropical Storm Sendong (international name Washi) hit Mindanao’s northern provinces, residents of the most affected areas such as Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City have yet to fully recover from the devastation brought about by the typhoon. According to the February 7 report of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), Region 10, a total of 69,666 families with 384,431 members were affected.

Of this figure, 47,009 families comprising 281,740 individuals are from Misamis Oriental. Further breakdown of the victims from Misamis Oriental revealed that 38,071families with 228,576 members are from Cagayan de Oro City (CDO), while the rest come from eight of its municipalities, namely: Lugait, Manticao, Naawan, Alubijid, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, and Kinoguitan.

(Photos by Ina Alleco Silverio / bulatlat.com)
Figures from Iligan City revealed that 20,249 families with 90,285 members were affected. Affected residents in Bukidnon belonged to 2,408 families (12,406 members) from Valencia City and the towns of Baungon, Libona, Malitbog, Cabanglasan, Manolo Fortich, Talakag, and Impasug-ong.

As of February, the Office of Civil Defense, Region 10, said 4,572 families with 18,273 members still remain in 35 evacuation centers, of which 18 are located in CDO and 17 in Iligan City. The centers in CDO serve as temporary shelter for 1,795 families with 7,390 members. In Iligan, the evacuation centers collectively house 1,617 families with 5,657 members. Finally, 1,159 families with 5,226 members were taken to various transitory relocation sites.

As of March 14, there are still evacuation centers in both provinces Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte. It is still uncertain what happened to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who , as of last count by the RDRRMC, numbered 46,245 families with 262,682 members.

The situation in Iligan 

The house of Yamcy and Johnamae Diaz was all but destroyed by Sendong. When the killer typhoon struck in the hours near midnight on December 19, the young couple and their two-year old son Cyrus John immediately evacuated the area. They said they immediately saw how the water was quickly rising so they placed their son inside a Durabox container (a cabinet for clothes made of plastic) and packed a small bag they filled with necessities. By the time they exited their small house, the water level had reached their necks..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/03/16/three-months-after-sendong-iligan-residents-still-far-from-rebuilding-their-lives/

Learn from Fukushima, RP, other emerging nuke energy countries told By Michaela P. del Callar 03/19/2012

Learn from Fukushima, RP, other emerging nuke energy countries told

By Michaela P. del Callar 03/19/2012

A Japanese disaster management expert has warned countries, including the Philippines, that are considering turning to atomic power as an alternative source of energy to carefully study this option and to
heed the fatal lessons of Japan’s nuclear disaster when a huge earthquake and tsunami struck the country a year ago.

Japanese envoy Hatsuhita Takashima, former Foreign Ministry Press Secretary and chief commentator and director-general of Japan’s public network NHK News, said while he is not totally discouraging countries from using nuclear power, “necessary safety precautions and transparency” must be in place before starting such energy program..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120319hea5.html

Court in caucus grapples with acquisition cost query By Angie M. Rosales 03/19/2012

Court in caucus grapples with acquisition cost query

By Angie M. Rosales 03/19/2012

The Senate court in a caucus today would try to resolve whether or not to consider the failure of Chief Justice Renato Corona to use the acquisition cost of properties he disclosed in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALn) is a violation of constitutional requirements and constitutes an impeachable offense, impeachment court presiding officer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday.

How the Senate court would treat Corona’s non-disclosure of the acquisition costs of some of the properties in his SALn in relation to the impeachment charges against him remains unclear and this would be addressed in the caucus, Enrile said on radio.

Enrile also conceded the likelihood of the impeachment trial not wrapping up prior to the Lenten break of Congress on Friday..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120319hea1.html

Illegal miners befoul rice terraces By Ted Boehnert 03/19/2012

Illegal miners befoul rice terraces

By Ted Boehnert 03/19/2012

Illegal small-scale miners from Nueva Vizacaya have started entering the neighboring tourism-oriented Ifugao Province to engage in mining activities there, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat confirmed to the Tribune yesterday.

Baguilat said he was saddened over reports that certain money personalities from the mountain areas of Nueva Vizcaya and who have ancestral roots in Ifugao have reportedly entered the latter province to conduct exploratory activities small-scale mining.

“It is very sad that these people are even using mercury in the process of gold which is not regulated,” Baguilat said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120319nat1.html

Seven RP cities qualify for New7Wonders Cities search 03/19/2012

Seven RP cities qualify for New7Wonders Cities search

After the first phase of nomination, seven cities of the country made it to the first phase of the prestigious New7Wonder Cities search.

The cities of Vigan, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Paraaque have moved on to the qualification phase, which runs from March 7 to Nov. 23.

The Philippine cities who qualified in the first phase will join over 300 cities worldwide to vie for inclusion in the list of 77 cities to be elevated to the next stage..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120319nat4.html

Caloocan mayor asks DILG to probe fire at Gotesco By Arlie O. Calalo 03/19/2012

Caloocan mayor asks DILG to probe fire at Gotesco

By Arlie O. Calalo 03/19/2012

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will conduct an investigation into the alleged mysterious fire that gutted the biggest shopping mall in Caloocan City following reports that it was intentionally set.

DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s action was an apparent and immediate reply to Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri who sought a thorough probe by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) which is under the department.

Echiverri told the Tribune in a text message that the BFP should determine if the fire, that burned the Ever Gotesco Grand Central Shopping Mall owned by the Gotesco Investments Inc. (GII) and located near Bonifacio Monument Circle in Rizal Avenue Extension, was intentionally set.

The mayor said he found it strange that it required more than a day to completely put the flames out..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120319met3.html

Suspect in Tribune reporter’s attack yields By Mario J. Mallari 03/19/2012

Suspect in Tribune reporter’s attack yields

By Mario J. Mallari 03/19/2012

One of the suspects in last week’s beating and shooting of the Tribune reporter Fernan Angeles, who is still recuperating inside a hospital in Pasig City, voluntarily surrendered to police authorities over the weekend, leaving at least two more suspects in the run.

Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr. said Faisal Ragung Sancopan surrendered to Rizal police authorities along Westbank Road in Taytay at around 5 p.m. Saturday.

Cruz said the surrender was made possible through the assistance of Pasig City Councilor Rodrigo Asilo and some friends of Sancopan..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120319met1.html

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