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Brics for progress DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 04/09/2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Brics for progress

Herman Tiu Laurel
The religious holidays are over and we’re back to the realities of the Filipino’s deteriorating everyday life. Very soon — that is next month — electricity bills reflecting yet another hike in the already highest power rate in Asia will confront each and every power consumer anew.

Meanwhile, as the Mindanao power crisis rages on despite the flurry of PR pronouncements about official action on the matter, government still declares that Mindanaoans must either pay up or shut up in the darkness. One electric cooperative not standing down on the blackmail was recently mentioned in an e-mail by our fellow power consumer protectionist crusader, Jojo Borja, a major shareholder in Iligan Light and Power Inc. (ILPI).

Borja relays that “According to Barangay Captain Mateo Cortez, who is also Vice President of the Northern Mindanao Cooperative (Normic)… (at) a public hearing that was attended by Napocor (National Power Corp.) and NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines)… (but which) Psalm (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.) did not attend… members of the 33 Rural Cooperatives of Mindanao… instead opted for darkness as they refused to be blackmailed by Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) into signing very expensive long-term Power Sales Agreements (PSA).”

However, “with the recent ‘orders’ of (Energy Secretary) Almendras that they must buy (power from TMI)… they (have agreed) but only for one year to give Psalm enough time to repair the four power barges (of Napocor),” adding that “If Aboitiz will insist on a five-year take-or-pay contract… the cooperatives would rather choose the rolling brownouts.”

“In the case of Iligan City,” Borja says, “the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) already approved the PSA between Mapalad Energy Generation Corp. and ILPI. In spite of (his appeals) to ERC that the consumers of ILPI own a 104-MW (power plant) and that ILPI should not buy 2 units of 7.5-MW (megawatt) diesel, inefficient, obsolete power generation plants at P400 million, ERC railroaded the approval of an additional generation cost of P2.23 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the next 20 years — a rate that will increase after the first year for cost overruns (similar to what TMI did) and every three years thereafter as the value of the obsolete power plants will be reappraised as… allowed by the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act).”

The first part of the e-mail is self-explanatory; but what is striking is Normic preferring the “rolling brownouts” over paying 50 percent additional to TMI which will provide the electricity from two power barges the Aboitiz Group “bought” from Napocor-Psalm — the two power barges reappraised from $30 million to $80 million to hike the rate base for their electricity supply, to allow the selling of power at P11/kWh compared to the normal P2.60/kWh in Mindanao.

The latter part highlights Epira’s distorted and corrupt consequences — in this case Iligan City, which acquired the 104-MW BOT (build-operate-transfer) power plant from the Alcantaras’ IPP (independent power producer) that was transferred back to Napocor due to non-payment of real estate taxes. As the crisis wore on, Iligan wanted to operate the plant. But for some unknown reason, ERC refused to give it provisional authority and instead approved new capacity at a higher additional cost imposed for the next 20 years.

It must be recalled that the 2001 Epira passage was an imposition of the (International Monetary Fund) IMF and its subalterns, the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in return for approval of stand-by and emergency loans of around $1.2 billion. Today, we find ourselves entrapped in a vicious cycle of power distortion and corruption created by Epira’s privatization and deregulation of power.

For this reason, the recent IMF pronouncements on “reforms” in the Philippines in this second decade of the 21st Century merely smack of rank hypocrisy and deception.

Last March 20, the WB through its country economist for the Philippines issued statements urging the Philippines to “speed up reforms,” saying “there should be measures to lower power rates.” Well, they certainly would never say that these measures are now improbable because of the convoluted rules made into law and instituted by the Epira that make government itself helpless in the face of an escalating crisis — that is, unless the Epira is repealed.

Let us be clear: An amendment to the Epira will just be a delusion since it is privatization itself that is at the crux of the unjust law.

So you may ask: Why the title for this column? The answer will become clear once we zero in on this welcome news: “Brics Bank to Rival World Bank and IMF and Challenge Dollar Dominance.”

Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), in its recent meeting in India, agreed to establish a “Brics Bank” that would fund development projects and infrastructure in developing nations, in order to reduce dependence on the dollar by conducting trade between the five nations in their own currencies, thereby positioning these as internationally-traded currencies.

With the Brics bank, the Philippines in the future would no longer have to be dependent on the exploitative conditionalities and policies of the IMF-WB-ADB three-headed hydra.

Finally, the multilateral financial institutions of the West will have competition and Third World countries can have choices in sourcing financial support for development needs.

If only Brics were around in 2001, the Philippines may not have been entrapped in the Epira nightmare.
Naturally, the Western press has not been happy with this development. Jeremy Warner of London’s The Telegraph (in “Why a Brics-built bank to rival IMF is doomed to fail”) writes: “Outside endemic corruption, uncertain or wholly absent rule of law, and relatively low per capita income and life expectancy, there wouldn’t appear to be much that unites this disparate collection of nations…” Well, news flash: Such statements reflect more the true state of Wall Street, Obama, and the Eurozone now trapped in the death throes of their financial crisis than anything else.

(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 “Fuel price crisis: Solutions” with consumer advocate Dr. Amanda Cruz and FDC; 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/20120409com5.html

Folly continues EDITORIAL 04/09/2012

Folly continues

Click to enlarge
Before the Holy Week break, groups seeking to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona led by the Corona Resign Movement (Core) met at the Liberal Party (LP) headquarters at the old Roxas-Araneta compound in Cubao, Quezon City in what seems to be a mapping out of a major effort during the hiatus prior to the restart of the impeachment trial.

The meeting brought together the most rabid of the yellow groups surrounding Noynoy and the plot appears to be the removal of Corona at all cost, preferably before the trial resumes on May 6.

That the meeting took place at the LP headquarters tied up the loose ends on the strong suspicions that the campaign against the Chief Justice is all being orchestrated from the Palace and that the efforts to remove Corona are but part of the Reclaim the SC movement that will put the judiciary at the end of Malacaangs strings..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120409com2.html

Dirtier than dirty FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 04/09/2012

Dirtier than dirty

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Looks like the Liberal Party (LP) still tries to project a holier-than-thou image, which is quite hypocritical, besides which, the cleaner than clean image they tried to project in 2010 no longer works, considering the even greater corruption in the Aquino government today.

LP bigwig Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, reacting to news reports of VP Jojo Binay’s party, having coalesced with Erap Estrada’s party to form the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said the LP is at this time not thinking of coalescing with other parties, saying, it is too early to make any conclusions, “no matter how tentative, about possible coalition arrangements among parties and personalities.”

He added: “For sure, the Aquino administration will not forge any coalition with parties and personalities where its anti-corruption and good governance will be compromised and weakened,” which was a dig at Binay’s UNA, which apparently may be accepting and fielding the allies of former President Gloria Arroyo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120409com2.html

Pyongyang reveals newest rocket: Specs (PHOTOS)

Pyongyang reveals newest rocket: Specs (PHOTOS)

North Korea has made an unprecedented move, allowing Western journalists to take photos of an up-to-date ballistic missile due for launch this week to put a weather satellite in orbit. Alarmed Japan and South Korea are preparing to shoot it down.

­The three-stage Unha-3 rocket is going to be launched starting from April 12 to 16 from a new Sohae launch pad in woodland some 50 kilometers from the border with China.

The Unha-3 appears to be the upgraded version of the rocket fired by North Korea in 2009. It is the same liquid-fueled three-stage ballistic missile, with a hitting range capability this time greater than 6,700 kilometers. The previous North Korean rocket launched in 2009 went down after a 3,800 kilometer flight – which was enough to fly over Japan. The payload capability could be of up to one tonne, be it a nuclear warhead or a scientific satellite..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/pyongyang-rocket-launch-unha-552/

See-through dress to steal your heart

See-through dress to steal your heart

A dress that allows a woman to wear her heart on her sleeve has been created by a Dutch designer. Made from leather and smart opaque e-foils, Intimacy 2.0 becomes more or less transparent in response to the lady's heartbeat.

­You have to be careful wearing Daan Roosegaarde's tricky dress as it will give away your emotions whenever you feel aroused or embarrassed.

For one thing is certain, the Dutch dress will make sure your heart is in the right place..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/daan-roosegaarde-intimacy-dress-525/

TV presenter eggnogged over neo-Nazi guest (VIDEO)

 TV presenter eggnogged over neo-Nazi guest (VIDEO)

A Greek TV host has become the target of a massive egg-and-yoghurt attack carried out by leftist activists angry that he had invited a member of a neo-Nazi party onto his show the previous week.

­Panagiotis Vourhas was interviewing a local politician on Friday when a group of 17 intruders with their faces hidden behind handkerchiefs broke into the studio, Associated Press reports, citing private channel Epiros TV1..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/eggs-yoghurt-greek-presenter-522/

Urban poor likens President Aquino to Pontius Pilate

Urban poor likens President Aquino to Pontius Pilate

Urban poor residents held a senakulo to protest against the “three crosses” they have been bearing namely, massive demolition of communities, oil price increases and power rate hikes.

MANILA — Urban poor groups and rights advocates dramatized the Filipino peoples’ sufferings in a Lent-inspired protest procession. They blamed President Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino III for causing sufferings to the lives of the already burdened Filipino people.

“The daily survival stories of Filipinos trying to cope with high prices of oil and electricity, as well as the lack of decent, secure homes for their families could be likened to the passion of Christ and his crucifixion at Calvary,’ said Paulo Quiza, spokesperson of Bayan National Capital Region.

The annual “Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan” or People’s Calvary is a Lenten season protest action patterned after the senakulo, a traditional play depicting the life and passion of Jesus Christ. Progressive groups held this year’s Kalbarya at North Triangle in Quezon City on April 3, 2012, Holy Tuesday. Bayan National Capital Region and Sining Bugkos said, in a statement, that their protest is against the “three crosses” that are being shouldered by poor Filipino families namely, massive demolition of communities, oil price increases and power rate hikes.

The procession dramatized the sufferings of poor Filipinos under the administration of President Aquino, who was portrayed as Pontius Pilate, and his minions.

(Photos by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)
Quiza added, “The inaction and admission of Malacañang that the government could do nothing about the high prices of basic services and commodities, like oil and electricity, could be compared to Pontius Pilate’s washing of hands on the fate of Jesus Christ. For the longest time, President Aquino has been doing nothing but wash his hands on the sufferings of our people, in an attempt to evade his responsibility.”

Coping with the hard life

Estrellieta Bagasbas, national spokesperson of Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon, said their daily struggle is not just about the threats of demolition of their homes, but also about daily survival, especially with the increasing prices of almost everything. Bagasbas added that with the constant threat of demolition, she hardly has time to earn a living.

Bagasbas used to sew and sell rags, earning around $16.30 a week. She could no longer afford to earn a living with her busy schedule, which include attending meetings, dialogues, forums and protest actions. Jose Andres, her 14-year-old son, at times, fetch water for their neighbors so he could raise his allowance for the following day. If time permits, he also sews and sells rags.

“Before, $2.33 is enough for two meals. We would be able to buy a viand and charcoal. But now, it is hardly sufficient for a meal,” she told Bulatlat.com..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/04/06/urban-poor-likens-president-aquino-to-pontius-pilate/

Gov’t solution to power crisis tagged as ‘blackmail’ By Charlie V. Manalo 04/09/2012

Gov’t solution to power crisis tagged as ‘blackmail’

By Charlie V. Manalo 04/09/2012

A militant lawmaker yesterday branded as a blackmail the government’s decision to bring in expensive power barges as a stopgap solution to the power supply shortage in Mindanao, saying that the measure will jack up power bill payments in the region.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño yesterday said the Department of Energy (DoE) is blackmailing the people of Mindanao into accepting artificially high power rates in order to solve the power crisis.

Casiño added DoE Circular DC 2012–03-0004 will force consumers to pay an additional 50 to 80 centavos per kilowatthour (kwh) for their electricity cost as it obliged electric cooperatives into getting electricity supply from power barges like those owned by Therma Marine Inc. which needs expensive oil fuel to run..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120409hea5.html


Erap-Binay party alliance a ‘sleeping giant’ — JPE

By Angie M. Rosales and Gerry Baldo 04/09/2012

Alliances are shaping up in the country’s main political forces with the joining of the parties of Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada being seen this early as an emerging threat to the dominant Liberal Party (LP).

The Estrada-Binay coalition may not be a threat yet but Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile described it as a “sleeping giant” and a likely force to reckon with come election day in 2013.

Enrile described the newly created coalition formed by Estrada and Binay, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), for the midterm elections as a likely David battling a Goliath in the LP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120409hea1.html

RP population hits 92M in 2010 04/09/2012

RP population hits 92M in 2010

The Philippine population as of 2010 has reached 92.34 million, higher by 15.83 million than the 76.51 million in 2000, the National Statistics Office (NSO) has reported.

Data from the NSO show that the population increased by 1.90 percent annually, on the average, during the period 2000 to 2010.

This means that two persons were added per year for every 100 persons in the population.
In 1990, the total population was 60.70 million.

Among the 17 regions, Calabarzon (Calamba, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) had the largest population with 12.61 million, followed by the National Capital Region (NCR) with 11.86 million and Central Luzon with 10.14 million..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120409nat7.html

Benefits for veterans now being upgraded — PVAO By Mario J. Mallari 04/09/2012

Benefits for veterans now being upgraded — PVAO

By Mario J. Mallari 04/09/2012

An official from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) has announced that the benefits for World War II veterans are already being improved to better respond to their needs.

PVAO Administrator Lt. Gen. Ernesto Carolina said the old age pensioners, particularly the World War II veterans, receive only P5,000 a month which is not even enough to support their maintenance medicines. Thus, he said, the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives has approved the increase of old age pension. PVAO plans to increase the old age pension to P10,000 a month, albeit gradually, by adding P1,000 per year for five years.

He also said that the augmentation of burial assistance has already been approved at the bicameral level, raising the benefit from P10,000 to P20,000..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120409nat4.html

Dellosa promoted to 4-star general By Mario J. Mallari 04/09/2012

Dellosa promoted to 4-star general

By Mario J. Mallari 04/09/2012

President Aquino has promoted Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa to four-star general after almost four months in the top military post, while 14 other officers, including the second female general, were also promoted to the next higher rank.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1979, Dellosa was named by Aquino as AFP chief of staff on Dec. 12, 2011 or a day before the retirement of former AFP chief and now newly appointed Clark Development Corp. chief Eduardo Oban.

Dellosa welcomed his promotion as a challenge to further serve the country and people..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120409met3.html

MMDA urges vacationers to return early to avoid gridlock in metropolis 04/09/2012

MMDA urges vacationers to return early to avoid gridlock in metropolis

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday urged Holy Week vacationers in the provinces to return early to Metro Manila to avoid getting caught in the expected traffic congestion in the metropolis tomorrow.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino made the appeal even as some vacationers already started trekking back to Metro Manila from the provinces where they spent the Lenten break.

“Panawagan natin sa ating mga kababayan na umuwi ng probinsya noong Holy Week na agahan po ninyo ang pagbalik sa Metro Manila, at kung maaari po huwag sa Martes para hindi kayo maabala sa problema ng trapiko,” Tolentino said, adding that the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the “number-coding” scheme would also be back in force tomorrow..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120409met4.html

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