• 6 AUGUST - *1907 - Gen. Macario Sakay, one of the Filipino military leaders who had continued fighting the imperialist United States invaders eight years into the Ph...
    8 years ago


The Daily Tribune

(Without Fear or Favor)



World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Philippines

The Philippines Matrix Project

Abetting power blackmail DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 03/26/2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Abetting power blackmail

Herman Tiu Laurel
Anger over the power price issue now erupting in Mindanao is one that this country has not seen since the initial outbursts against the power purchase agreements in Metro Manila almost a decade ago.

North Cotabato Gov. Emilou Talio-Mendoza, for instance, has made direct hits at three power oligarchs operating in Mindanao. Without mincing words, she accused them of engineering intentional power shortages to force Mindanao to accept the privatization of the vast Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric complex, where the cost of generation is less than P0.01 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) given the systems full depreciation. What privatization will do is bring about high power rates, which is what the oligarchs and multilateral financial agencies intend for Mindanao. Good thing she was joined by General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio in opposing this move.

As expected, privatization advocates are pinning the blame on those who oppose power privatization. The March 22 editorial of Malaya, for example, argues that Davao City, which accepted privatization, does not experience blackouts. What they refuse to highlight is that power rates in Iligan City and the larger province of Lanao del Norte, where power outages frequently occur, hover at P6.56/kWh, compared to Davaos independent power producer (IPP) rates of P8.75/kWh that are at least 25 percent higher.

Evidently, their logic is that people can get uninterrupted power, but at the oligarchs price. Its nothing short of blackmail.

Its good that Iligan Citys residents have refused to sign the 20-year IPP contracts that aim to tie them to exorbitant power rates because they know that the current power shortages, which can be abated with the optimization of hydroelectricity, are merely artificial and short-term.

But absurd as the situation already is, blackmail rates in Mindanao are not even uniform. In North Cotabato, a Lopez company is reportedly asking P14/kWh for power from the already privatized Mt. Apo geothermal plants, which is dumbfounding given that the people are being made to choose between the blackouts and the high rates when the geothermal resource sits right in their province.

On the part of our legislators, there has been a growing clamor to look into the issue, too. But, even as such calls are made by Senators Chiz Escudero and Koko Pimentel or Representatives Vicente Belmonte, Rufus Rodriguez and Angelo Palmones, the chairmen of the respective Senate and House energy committees have been less forthcoming.

Serge Osmea, for one, blames Gloria Arroyo for politicizing the rates in yielding to populist demands by ordering the National Power Corp. (Napocor) to reduce its generation charge below costs, arguing that this is why the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) mandates the sale of Napocors plants to the private sector, so that the private owners will not have to compete with government plants whose rates can be subsidized.

Surely, given his position, Serge is well aware of several anomalies in the largely privatized Philippine power sector today, such as the Wholesale Electricity Spot Markets casino-like pricing that has yielded rates as high as P60/kWh from private IPPs; and yet he does nothing. Is that not a case of politicizing policies in favor of price gouging?

Kinship with a known oligarchic clan should have also disqualified Serge from his committee chairmanship due to conflict-of-interest; same with his House counterpart, Dina Abad, whose spouse is the author of the Omnibus Power Bill (precursor to the Epira). But, instead of declining for reason of delicadeza, these solons obediently follow the diktats of the oligarchs and the International Monetary Fund. Dina even kept on weighing down all proposed inquiries on the power issue for the past decade or so.

Strictly speaking, power rates have never been subsidized by government because consumers themselves have paid for these directly and not just as taxpayers. Funding for all the investments of Napocor is also sourced straight from the pockets of consumers and taxpayers. So whats all that talk about subsidies?

Privatization merely transferred consumers investments in state-owned power plants and, consequently, these plants surpluses or profits multiplied several times over to private pockets. The standard modus operandi is epitomized by the Aboitiz Groups purchase of Napocor Power Barges 117 and 118 three years ago for $30 million, which were then revalued at $80 million to form the basis of new rates worth P14/kWh.
In the same way, the intentional power crisis in Mindanao is aimed to force a privatization of the single biggest public asset there that can keep power rates down against the price predation of the power oligarchs. Sadly, successive Yellow regimes supported by the oligarchs (Cory, Ramos, Arroyo and PeNoy) have all done a Noynoying of the Agus-Pulangi by failing to dredge it at the very least, thereby reducing its generating capacity.

Meanwhile, captive government agencies continue to sell off Napocor assets for pitiful ditties while concocting efficiency formulas that give incentives to IPPs, raising their rates of return to as high as 17 percent, and allowing no-bidding on equipment and supplies purchases that are overpriced by up to 1000 percent. The Performance Based Regulation schemes three-year revaluation of all assets based on replacement value alone makes these asset values always go up (never to depreciate) and, as a result, the rate base as well.

The Epira was passed in 2001 after P500,000 individual payolas were allegedly circulated. Thereafter, the oligarchs legislative stooges were given free rein to stifle any questions or objections. Indeed, no progress can happen while they remain in their posts; but then, replacements must be thoroughly vetted by the public, too, lest the new ones proceed to milk the power oligarchs for their mutual benefit.

Amid all the gloom, the courageous Mindanaoans have already prepared a P5-billion class suit against government officials responsible for this intentional power crisis in Mindanao. My only advice: Make sure that the case does not land on the oligarchs assets in the judiciary, most especially those being bandied about by Malacaang and the Yellow media as cleaner than clean.

(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m.; watch Destiny Cable GNNs HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m., after Lent, on Mining: Bomb or Boon?; 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/20120326com5.html

Ol’ FVR gimmick EDITORIAL 03/26/2012

Ol’ FVR gimmick

Click to enlarge
One of the most notorious local industries is the power sector. Not only does the country have the highest cost of electricity in the world but the sector also harbors the most lopsided government contracts ever known to man.

Imagine most of the contracts entered into by the government. Such contracts carry the much criticized take or pay provision that guarantees payment to a power plant operator whether or not it renders any services.

Consumers have even been charged for undelivered fuel and electric power due to the take or pay provision in these lopsided contracts that benefit only the independent power producers (IPPs) that clinched the juicy contracts.

Calibrating the power needs of the country in relation to economic growth is in itself a science, something that would take great effort to accurately predict. This peculiar characteristic of the power industry makes it open to abuse, as it has been abused throughout time..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120326com1.html

Mali coup led by US-trained captain

 Mali coup led by US-trained captain

A US Africa Command official confirmed on Friday the leader of military coup d’état in Mali has visited the US on several occasions, receiving professional military education.

­Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo participated in the America’s International Military Education and Training program, sponsored by the US State Department, Public Affairs representative Patrick Barnes revealed to The Washington Post.

Foreign officers are handpicked for the program by US embassies in respective countries. The Malian army is very small, consisting of only 7,000 personnel. With the given small number of officers in this army, it is no wonder that Sanogo had a good chance to get to the US..... MORE


URL: http://www.rt.com/news/mali-coup-american-trained-377/

Scot-free: US says no case to answer over Pakistani air strike

Scot-free: US says no case to answer over Pakistani air strike

The US military will not charge or discipline its troops involved in a deadly NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The latest inquiry follows a previous US investigation which exonerated American troops from inappropriate use of force.

The second US inquiry into the deadly cross-border incident at the Salala checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan last November was tasked with determining if any American military personal should be punished.

“We found nothing criminally negligent on the part of any individual in our investigations of the incident,” one senior American military official involved in the inquiry told the New York Times on condition of anonymity..... MORE


URL: http://www.rt.com/news/us-pakistain-airstrike-apology-422/

EU reveals names of 17 sanctioned Iranians

EU reveals names of 17 sanctioned Iranians

The EU’s “blacklist” contains names of those private persons in Iran whom Brussels would like to apply personal pressure on, in addition to numerous sanctions already burdened on the Islamic republic.

­The new names extend the “big blacklist” of Iranians subject to travel ban and assets freeze in the EU to a total of 78 people. The list was agreed at the EU meeting on Friday.

Among the newcomers are Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of the judicial system of Iran, Reza Taqipour, the minister of information and communication, and Ezzatollah Zarghami, the head of Iran's state broadcasting network (IRIB)..... MORE


URL: http://www.rt.com/news/eu-iran-persons-sanctioned-399/

Pentagon creating new-generation cyberweapon

Pentagon creating new-generation cyberweapon

A next-generation cyberweapon capable of knocking out enemy networks, even if they're not connected to the Internet - this is a primary goal for the Pentagon's research and development teams.

According to the Washington Post, the US military is ramping up its cyber-efforts in anticipation of a possible showdown with Iran or Syria.

The Pentagon had wanted to use cyber warfare technology during the NATO mission in Libya, but realized that it would have needed at least a year to properly develop the necessary weapon..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/cyber-weapon-us-report-920/

Lies, blatant lies CROSSROADS Jonathan De la Cruz 03/26/2012

Lies, blatant lies

Jonathan De la Cruz
As of Wednesday, March 21, the “45” properties trumpeted by the House prosecution panel as proof positive of Chief Justice (CJ) Corona’s “unexplained wealth” has been reduced to “21” (the prosecution’s count); “11” (as stipulated by both the prosecution and the defense) and “6” (as determined by Sen. Ralph Recto, grudgingly affirmed by the prosecution but confirmed by the defense). Recto’s count is closer to Corona’s count of 5 which was the latter’s original claim anyway as indicated in his SALn. This reduced count has put the prosecution’s case in near shambles and unless it can come out with additional documents to prove that indeed the chief magistrate is living beyond his means it can count their chances of convincing the senator-judges and the public goodbye. Clearly, the prosecutors lied about Corona’s properties.

What shattered the prosecution’s pretensions of making truthful manifestations and, yes, responsible use of the power of impeachment even more was the testimony of LRA Administrator Eulalio Diaz III about the origin of the wild claim of “45” properties. As attested by Diaz himself, the following facts about this operation which, for all intents and purposes, was meant to embarrass the Coronas more than proving their “wealth” in support of the impeachment complaint are established:.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120326com4.html

Two killed, 270 families flee as Moro groups clash 03/26/2012

Two killed, 270 families flee as Moro groups clash

Fighting between rival armed insurgent groups left two persons dead and sent around 270 families fleeing their homes in the strife-torn southern Philippines, a military spokesman yesterday said.

Eight houses were also burned as members of the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) battled fighters from the older Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Col. Prudencio Asto said.

After a week of sporadic gunshots, MILF fighters attacked members of the MNLF in the agricultural town of Carmen in the southern island of Mindanao last Saturday, leaving one dead on each side, he added.

MILF spokesman Von al-Haq said the fight was sparked by a personal feud between an MILF leader called Commander Karim and an MNLF leader called Com-mander Teo and that it was not a wider war between the two groups..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

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

RP retained on US drugs, dirty money watchlist 03/26/2012


RP retained on US drugs, dirty money watchlist

Widespread corruption and the lack of judicial and investigative capability against drug trafficking keep the country in the US government’s list of the world’s major transit points for illegal substances, a US State Deparment report recently submitted to the US Congress indicated.

The two-part “2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report” listed the country in the US watchlist on drug and chemical control concerns and money laundering and financial crimes jurisdictions.

On the report related to the country as a major illegal drugs transit point, stated that last year, while law enforcement agencies enhanced intelligence and operational cooperation despite limited resources, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the main anti-drug agency, should be adequately funded and staffed..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120326hea1.html

Corona belies blog linking him to 2 prime US properties By Gerry Baldo 03/26/2012

Corona belies blog linking him to 2 prime US properties

By Gerry Baldo 03/26/2012

The vilification campaign against Chief Justice Renato Corona channeled through blogs which are then picked up surreptitiously by pro-Aquino media was very evident anew yesterday after news broke out in a broadcast station website which is known to be a major backer of Aquino, citing a blogger, that two expensive properties in the United States are being linked to Corona.

The family of Corona denied owning real estate properties in the United States but admitted that apartments were being rented by his two daughters, who are licensed physical therapists in the United States at separate periods in the past 14 years.

Corona said in a statement that the questioned addresses in the blog were apartments rented by her two daughters..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120326hea6.html

Friar lands remain a legal curse a century of disputes after By Chito Lozada 03/26/2012

Friar lands remain a legal curse a century of disputes after

By Chito Lozada 03/26/2012

After more than a century of legal disputes since the US government tried resolving the friar lands question in the Philippines, the vast estates owned by Spanish Catholic monastic orders remain a labyrinthian issue among local courts and the much-assailed irregularities in the bureaucracy and the justice system had further made life difficult for those staking their claims on these prime pieces of land.

When the Americans took over the Philippines from 300 years of Spanish rule in 1898, among the first problem that confronted the new colonizer was the disposition of the so-called friar lands.

These huge tracts of land are owned mostly by three predominant Spanish religious orders, the Dominicans, Augustinians, and Recollects, and comprise about one-tenth of all the improved lands in the islands.

The Philippine Revolution prior to the American takeover was mainly fueled by discontent among local peasants with the feudal practices among these estates..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120326hea3.html

South Korea mulls relaxing immigration, labor policy By Michaela P. del Callar 03/26/2012

South Korea mulls relaxing immigration, labor policy

By Michaela P. del Callar 03/26/2012

South Korea is considering relaxing its immigration and labor policy to allow more foreign workers, including Filipinos, to work in the country’s hotel and restaurant industry, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay, currently in Seoul for a global nuclear summit, said he met with Korean businessmen, who informed him of the South Korean government’s plan to open its labor market in the service sector to foreigners in preparation for its hosting of the Asian Games in 2013.

“This will be another great opportunity for our countrymen, especially those who have a degree in hotel and restaurant management,” Binay told a gathering of Filipinos on Sunday..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120326nat2.html

BI acts on rising number of undocumented foreigners in South 03/26/2012

BI acts on rising number of undocumented foreigners in South

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has deployed additional immigration officers in Mindanao due to the alleged increase in the number of undocumented foreigners in the South.

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. recently signed a memorandum order creating a border crossing coordinating committee (BCCO) that will oversee the fielding of BI personnel to border crossing stations near the country’s borders with Indonesia and Malaysia.

The memorandum also spelled out the guidelines for deploying the border crossing officers who shall be deployed in the South on a rotation basis..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120326met5.html

EPD defies Palace order to get rest of reporter’s attackers By Rocky Nazareno 03/26/2012

EPD defies Palace order to get rest of reporter’s attackers

By Rocky Nazareno 03/26/2012

It is peculiar that in the near-fatal shooting of Fernan Angeles, the Eastern Police District (EPD), under whose jurisdiction the incident happened, has continued to go after the Tribune reporter for alleged drug offenses, blatantly ignoring calls from the highest office in the land to just concentrate on going after his assailants.

“(EPD) should just coordinate with (DILG) Secretary (Jessie) Robredo on the progress of the investigation — on how to go about the investigation — and concentrate on finding the rest of the assailants who did this to Fernan,” deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte yesterday said in an interview over Radio ng Bayan.

She also reiterated that “even President Aquino, himself, has said that he is expecting movements and that the EPD, whatever its involvement in this incident is, should really focus on solving the case at hand..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120326met1.html

Blog Archive