Thursday, July 31, 2008

All in the Family

by Perry Diaz

In an age where just about everything is powered by electrical energy, it is no wonder that the stage has been set for total -- or perhaps absolute -- control of the Philippines' energy industry. The ongoing battle for control of Meralco -- the country's largest distributor of electric power -- is just the tip of the iceberg. So far the Lopez clan has managed to maintain control of Meralco. The question is: how long can they remain in charge?

The Lopez's control of Meralco has made them one of the most politically powerful families in the nation. It's not surprising then that the Arroyo administration is determined to wrest control of Meralco through GSIS President Winston Garcia.

One government agency that plays a pivotal role in the energy "power" play is the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). It's official mission is to "promote and protect long-term consumer interests in terms of quality, reliability and reasonable pricing of a sustainable supply of electricity." It's objectives are: 1) To promulgate/approve rules, regulations, guidelines and policies; 2) To enforce rules, regulations including issuance of permits and licenses; 3) To resolve cases (rates and other cases) and disputes; 4) To promote consumer interest; and 5) To become a dynamic organization of professional people with the highest degree of technical competence and integrity. With these objectives, whoever is appointed head of the commission would wield immense power in the fast-growing -- and very profitable -- energy industry.

With the spiraling rates of electricity, public distrust of the government has increased tremendously. A recent poll conducted by IBON Foundation showed that seven out of 10 Filipinos have trouble paying for their electric bills. However, the government has been blaming Meralco for the high rates which was the basis for the aborted takeover by the government. But one of the major reasons why Meralco rates have been going up is because of state-owned Napocor's alleged overpricing schemes. Not too long ago, Napocor -- the country's largest provider and generator of electric power -- awarded two coal supply contracts totaling P1.27 billion to Transpacific Consolidated Resources Inc. (TCRI), a very small company with a paid-up capital of only P62,500. According to a news report, Napocor invited TCRI to bid a coal supply contract worth P319 million. TCRI was awarded the contract. Two weeks later, TCRI was awarded another contract for a whopping P956-million. Although, Napocor claimed that the first contract was awarded through competitive bidding, it's not clear if the second -- and larger -- contract was awarded in the same manner as the first.

TCRI was incorporated in Cebu on October 25, 2007 using an address at the business center of Danara Hotel, a small hotel in Quezon City. The incorporators were Leslie Ducut, Ressie Ducut, Lilia Yolanda Tuadles, Wilfredo Tuadles and Lorna Arceo. Four months after TCRI came into existence -- and with a zero track record -- it bagged the "second biggest contract in Napocor's coal procurement" history.

Nobody paid too much attention to the TCRI transaction until recently when President Arroyo appointed Zenaida Ducut, her deputy chief presidential legal counsel, to head ERC. Right after her appointment, fireworks flared up from all sectors. Ducut's appointment was branded as "politically motivated" and perceived to serve Gloria's political agenda. It is said that whoever controls energy power controls political power.

Aside from being a town mate of Gloria, Zenaida Ducut is a close political ally of Gloria's son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo. Ducut was a three-term congresswoman of Pampanga's second district. Termed out in 2004, she was succeeded by Mikey. A lawyer by profession, she practiced law for a while and her biggest client was the reputed "Jueteng King" of the illegal numbers game, Rodolfo "Bong" Pineda. Incidentally, Gloria, Bong and Zenaida all hail from Lubao, Pampanga.

As to Zenaida Ducut's relationship with Leslie and Ressie Ducut, Zenaida did not only deny that she was related to Leslie and Ressie, she also denied knowing them. Lubao is a small town where virtually everybody knew one another. Since Zenaida served as the second district's -- which included Lubao -- representative in Congress for nine years, would it not be fair to presume that she would know Leslie and Ressie? After all, the three of them share the last name "Ducut," a surname that is not as common as "Garcia" or "Santos."

With Gloria calling the shots in Malacanang and the powerful -- and influential -- House Energy Committee dominated by her two sons, committee chairman Mikey and Dato Arroyo, and her brother-in-law Iggy Arroyo, Ducut could become the perfect puppet of the Arroyo family. However, Ducut asserted that she will remain neutral and independent. If she would be able to maintain neutrality and independence, then more power to her. Her first order of business -- and first test of her "independence" -- should then be to look into the anomalous TCRI contract. Was there overpricing involved in awarding the P1.27 billion contract? And, are the Ducuts only acting as "dummies" for certain people? If so, who were the real people behind TCRI?


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The national problem: We only see the trees

By William M. Esposo
Thursday, July 24, 2008

When the lost person in the middle of a very dangerous jungle can only see the trees in front of him — then the odds are against that person from ever getting to find the way home.

Having a sense of where one is located and what route will bring him to his objective is what strategic thinking is all about. Strategic thinking does not necessarily equate to the fastest and cheapest route, especially if that equates to the quickest route to doom or failure.

Strategic thinking is what will deliver ultimate victory regardless of the cost. And in life, great victories are attained with enormous prices to pay — the greater the plum the greater the resistance.

China is the best example of what strategic thinking coupled with the right tactical adjustments can do. It may have been in the era of Chairman Deng Xiaoping when China accomplished its economic boom but there is no denying that Chairman Mao's revolution, with all its bad marks, laid the foundation for what China enjoys today.

The Chinese economic miracle could not have been possible if they did not remove the warlords and democratized opportunity. Now, every Chinese has the opportunity to reach for the stars.

We Filipinos could only look up to the stars.

The Vietnamese are now starting to register their own successes in attracting foreign investors. They have been beating us in luring foreign investors, even tourists. However, the Vietnamese, as we all know, paid the stiff price to get to where they are now. Where they are now was paid with blood and lives — their struggle to be rid of foreign domination.

For us Filipinos, we are stuck in the muck because of these problems:

1. We can only see the trees and we don't have a sense of where we are. Thus, we can't develop our strategic route to the Promised Land.

2. We have displayed time and again the lack of courage and will to pay the stiff price in order to really be emancipated. Heck, we cannot even get ourselves to rally in order to demand transparency, truth, integrity from our rulers. Compare that to what the Chinese and Vietnamese had to pay to get to where they are.

3. We have not really evolved yet into a nation. We only pretend to be one. For most Filipinos, they feel attached to their tribe. They are Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Warays and so forth — rarely Filipinos.

4. We are easily divided and thus prone to foreign domination. Not only that, we are plagued with an unusual infestation of Quislings and they proliferate in every generation.

5. Being a weak nation, we have a tendency to be distracted by the most insignificant matters and we seem unable to recognize the essential. Some people here posture to teach history and yet miss out on the biggest unexplained aspect of our history — continued foreign domination since 1521!

Filipinos should draw inspiration from the Vietnamese and how they removed the meddling tentacles of France and the US in their national affairs. They fought the two world powers and won. Now, they are treated with respect by their former enemies while we continue to be looked down upon and manipulated by our so-called "friend" — the US.

Because the Vietnamese asserted their sovereignty, the US now treats them with respect that is rightly due a former foe that vanquished them. Because Filipinos are ever too willing to sell themselves cheap, we continue to be treated as harlots.

You may be praised every now and then — condescension actually, the way Bush praised Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recently — then wined and dined in fancy restaurants or maybe even given a pricey car. But if all that is just the price for your purity, then you're really nothing but a harlot.

Like a dyed-in-the-wool harlot, Filipinos are now shifting from one keeper to another, from US domination to Chinese domination.

The leaders know it but willingly submit to it. Their rationale at best is that of allowing themselves to be a prostitute in order to feed their children. But we all know that is nothing but a lie, an excuse to be a Quisling that is personally benefiting from the rape of the country.

Most Filipinos don't know the historical truth, part of the effects of the information and education gaps I often talk about. Media hardly talks about it even when, in truth and in fact, it is the real core problem of the country. Our history courses are also not teaching the historical truth.

Per the eminent Prof. Manoling Yap, Webster defines an idiot as one who does not recognize and know the truth. For all the humbug and braggadocio we get, people forever pretending to be smart and in the know — what we truly have are lots of idiots.

But then again, if Filipinos knew the historical truth and recognized the real core problem of the country — do Filipinos have what it takes to do something about it?
* * *
Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's The Economy, Stupid

by Ellen Tordesillas
July 21, 2008

Executive Secretary is finding it hard to understand why the Filipino people do not like Gloria Arroyo despite her working so hard, traveling all over the country doling out crumbs from the billions of pesos that she rakes in from the citizenry. Following the release of the SWS survey for the period June 27 to 30 where dissatisfaction over how Arroyo runs the country was reflected in an all-time low rating of -38 , Ermita said, "Of course people have to wonder why after the many things that she is doing for the well-being of our citizens that that should still be the perception."

Ermita is wrong. People do not wonder because they know and they feel it. It's the economy, stupid.
(The phrase, "It's the economy, stupid" was used widely during Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush, father of the current U.S. President. Coined by campaign strategist James Carville, the phrase harped on bad shape of the U.S. economy at that time which they blamed on Bush's mismanagement.)

Ermita cannot understand it because he does not bother with the pesos and centavos of survival. He should listen to the lament of housewives whose P1,000 can no longer buy enough of her family's basic needs. He should listen to a taxi driver whose choice is either to ply the streets and earn barely enough to pay for gasoline and his "boundary" fee with almost nothing for his family, or stay at home and see his family go hungry. He should see the children rummaging garbage bags for plastic materials they can sell to buy food during hours when they are supposed to be in school.

"Let the people be judge of GMA," Ermita said.

The survey score is the people's judgment. The reality is, majority of the Filipino people do not like Arroyo.SWS is one of the reputable survey firms and its integrity is much, much higher than the Commission on Elections who gave Arroyo dirty votes in the 2004 elections.

It's worthy to note that the survey was taken during the last two days of Arroyo's visit to the United States while the country was reeling with the devastation wrought by typhoon Frank. On the last day of the survey period, Arroyo was already back in the country and had resumed her dole outs in typhoon-ravaged provinces. It just shows that the people are not fooled by her charity act using funds that contribute to making daily life a difficult struggle.

People see VAT as a curse and for Arroyo to take pride in the P8 billion windfall and her tax collectors getting bonuses for it is criminal. It's unforgivable.

The poor know how to make the connection between the 12 per cent VAT and the increase in jeepney and bus fares. They know the connection between VAT and the increase in prices of rice, fish, meat, sugar, milk and other basic goods.

Why would the "lifeline users", those who are the lowest consumers of electricity, thank her when she makes them go through the hardships and humiliation of queuing for hours just to get their P500 instead of just deducting it from their Meralco bills? Why would they be grateful to her when they know very well that the money she is doling out is the people's money which should not have been collected in the first place?

The demand is for her to scrap the VAT which contributes to the upward spiraling of prices of everything. But Arroyo will not do that because her greed makes her think people are stupid. She has not grasped the degree of the people's distrust and anger towards her.

Malacañang yesterday announced that responding to Arroyo's appeal, Petron and Shell, two of the country's three biggest oil industry players, agreed today to roll back the pump price of diesel fuel by P1.50 per liter effective today.

If they think people will be jumping with joy and thank them for it, they are wrong because motorists know that in the coming weeks, they will again raise the prices double, even triple. They did it with gasoline prices two weeks ago only to raise it again after a week.

Who does Gloria think she is fooling?

* * *
There's a Malacañang-commissioned survey (not SWS) sometime ago that is providing amusement even among some Palace insiders. It was a popularity survey and Imelda Marcos got -45, Osama bin Ladin – 46, Mike Arroyo – 47 and Winston Garcia -50.

I asked what's what GMA's score. The source said she was also minus 40 plus, which more or less coincides with the SWS finding. But what many in Malacañang found enlightening is that Filipinos dislike Mike Arroyo and Winston Garcia much more than Bin Ladin.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The 'seven curses' of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Posted by Isa Lorenzo

EVEN before she could deliver her eighth state of the nation address (SONA) this coming Monday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has already been weighed and found wanting by over 80 former senior government officials.

In their own take on the state of the nation after seven years of the Arroyo administration, the former officials, who served in the four post-Marcos governments and collectively called FSGO, castigated the President for being "the worst threat to the state of our nation."

"The person pretending to tell us about the dire state of our nation next Monday," FSGO said, "is the very same same person who has done the most to destroy the very foundation of our nation, sell its future to its exploiters and abusers, and consign the poor and middle class to deeper poverty and worse despair."

The group identified seven curses that it said Arroyo has wrought upon the nation.

1. The curse of a country unable to feed its own people

FSGO noted that rice self-sufficiency was a priority in Arroyo's first SONA in 2001 and that she reiterated the promise of food on every table in her 2003 address. "Yet, in every year throughout her administration thus far, the country was importing increasing quantities of rice every year, that this year the Philippines achieved an odd milestone in rice self-sufficiency: our becoming the world's largest rice importer."

The government has also failed to implement the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization program, says FSGO. It adds that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has never received P17 billion in incremental funds provided for by law. Worse, the President "let loose" people like Jocelyn 'Joc-Joc' Bolante in the DA. A former agriculture undersecretary, Bolante has been implicated in diverting P728 million in fertilizer funds allegedly for Arroyo's 2004 election campaign.

Furthermore, the agricultural trade deficit ballooned to over P1.5 billion in 2006.

"The high food prices pushing more people into hunger and poverty are a direct result of our government's neglect of agriculture," the group added.

2. The curse of worsening poverty and increasing disparity between the rich and poor

This, said FSGO, is due to "economic mismanagement that ignores the needs of the many to serve the interests of the few." It pointed out that the ranks of the unemployed number 2.9 million, while another seven million are looking for additional work to supplement their income.

Poverty incidence increased to 26.9 percent in 2006 from 24.4 percent in 2004. This means that there are 4.6 million poor families. Elementary school attendance fell to 83.2 percent in the school year of 2006-2007 compared to 90.3 percent just three years ago.

Again, the group said, the government is to blame. "Public education's ability to rescue poor families from the poverty trap has suffered due to severe underspending by the government."

The Estrada administration had a "more constrained" budget, but it spent P5,830 per student from 1998-2001 while the Arroyo government spent only P5,304 per student from 2001-2006. The country remains one of the lowest spenders on education in Southeast Asia, FSGO pointed out. Once a leader in education-for-all indicators during the 90s, the country now lags behind Indonesia, Mongolia and Vietnam.

3. The curse of deteriorating basic social services essential to the survival and welfare of the people

"Our current fiscal state was improved, not by sold revenue effort, but by deep cuts in social and economic spending," FSGO said, pointing to the government's allocation of resources for development expenditures which has been the lowest in the region. Worse, the group said, the allocation, management and use of public funds are "marked by such greed and disregard of the public good that can only be condemned as scandalous."

While much of Visayas was being devastated by Typhoon Frank last month, Arroyo and her entourage were on a "junket" to the U.S., said FSGO, estimating the cost of the Philippine delegation visit to be at least P300 million. "In contrast, how much did our government spend on relief for the typhoon victims?" asked the group. Of the eight million people affected by disasters from 2004 to 2006, it said, only half received assistance from the government and private sector.

Meanwhile, a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, already contracted and delivered in 1997, has yet to be implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communication.

4. The curse of the national government gripped by a metastatic cancer of corruption

The Philippines has made a dismal showing in global corruption rankings. In 2007, it was reported as the "most corrupt" among ten of East Asia's leading economies by the World Bank. In 2005, Transparency International ranked the Philippines in the category of countries perceived to suffer from severe corruption, the 117th most corrupt out of 159 countries.

"Corruption has become pervasive, persistent, prolific. And the President, instead of fighting it, has become its prime practitioner and protector," said FSGO, accusing Arroyo of corrupting "the already weak" electoral process, "the already diminished" civil service, and the "already politicized" public investment and fiscal programs.

5. The curse of wanton abuse of presidential prerogatives

FSGO said that the balance of power within the Arroyo administration between its "dark and bright sides" has tipped radically in favor of the dark side. "A new type of presidential appointee along the Joc-Joc Bolante brand dominates. The appointments of others already rejected by the electorate in 2007 will further darken the complexion of her Cabinet."

Social Security Services administrator Romulo Neri merits special mention. Neri, a former socioeconomic planning secretary and higher education chairman, "became one of the keepers of evil secrets, protected by the talisman of 'executive privilege' as long as he remains in a Cabinet position."

The government has also been packed with ineligible bureaucrats.

6. The curse of an illegitimate president

The president has consistently promised clean, computerized elections — in her 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 SONAs. But the group said that after seven years, she has yet to take any sure steps toward this. Nor does her recent appointment of unknown commissioners to the Commission on Elections bode well for future elections.

"President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promised us a strong Republic. We have realized that she is running a stolen Republic. Thus far, we have seen her trying to keep only what was stolen."

7. The curse of a nation robbed of its dignity, unity and future

Aside from the country's "global reputation for pervasive corruption, " the Philippines has also been investigated by international organizations for extra-judiical killings. FSGO said that our national patrimony, from mineral resources to possible oil deposits have been peddled to foreign interests like ukay-ukay (used clothing). "The loss of our country's good international standing and credibility has been a sad victim of Arroyo's bad governance."

While the President cites the legions of overseas Filipino workers as an achievement of her administration, the group warned of the ills of a remittance-driven economy, including reduced competitiveness of manufacturing and tradeables from export and impot-competing sectors, and less demand on infrastructure, which has led to less necessary public investment.

FSGO described this type of economy as "limited and self-undermining because remittances cannot be expected to remain high and grow at an increasing rate."

In response to the FSGO statement, Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde told the Inquirer: "These people would know how difficult and how challenging governance is…this administration can stand on its record, and its record is better than how [they] managed their respective government positions during their time."

FSGO, however, disagreed. In an internal survey among its members, the former government officials rated the current administration a dismal 1.1 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.

Despite its bleak assessment, however, FSGO remains hopeful. It plans to continue working with political institutions as "instruments for reform and justice, not parties to anomalies and scandals," and to continue the "search for a presidency that fights the enemies of social justice instead of serving its cronies."

"We can re-imagine the nation as something far better and more capable than the one that the President will paint in her SONA this Monday," the group said. "This administration may have stolen the Republic, but it will not rob us of our hopes."

Signs now clearer that GMA won't exit in 2010

By William M. Esposo
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trust Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to exceed herself. In the June 27-30 SWS (Social Weather Stations) survey that was released last Friday, GMA registered a –38% net satisfaction rating, topping her mark of –35% in March.

My friend Ely Saludar, radio station DZXL's top commentator, called at 6:30 a.m. last Saturday to get my take on the SWS survey. Ely makes it a point to call me from time to time, coinciding with developments that account for our being in what are called interesting times.

Ely was puzzled that the dole-outs GMA has been giving all over the place didn't make a positive impact on public sentiment. The dole-out recipients, the class E, gave GMA a devastating -45% net satisfaction rating in the June SWS survey — topping the previous -37% of March 2008.

In the Visayas, GMA's strongest support base, she fell by 18 points from -15% in March to -33% in June. Overall, only 22% nationwide were satisfied with GMA's performance versus 60% who were dissatisfied.

I told Ely that the following factors delivered the worst ever net satisfaction ratings of GMA:

1. The unstoppable steep rise of gas and food prices and practically all other items in what is the country's worst economic condition since 1946.

2. The sad spectacle of a leader who was in the US while the country was reeling from the effects of Typhoon Frank.

3. The people felt that there was nothing happening that would even suggest deliverance or relief.

4. The period also coincided with a perceived rise in criminality.

As to the failure of GMA's dole-outs to soften the negative impact, I believe that this stems from two reasons:

1. Most people saw it as a sort of consuelo de bobo, a token for the failure to shield them from the gas and food crises.

2. As proved in many cases pertaining to the culture of mendicancy, recipients of dole-outs develop a resentment of their donors because the act of donation made them feel inferior — eroded their dignity.

As if attempting to dig themselves into a bigger hole, GMA's apologists are trying to explain the devastating net satisfaction rating as the result of "unpopular reforms" GMA has implemented. They may be fooling themselves but they are not fooling anyone else.

Why GMA insists on pursuing the counter-productive course of resorting to costly dole-outs (that could only worsen the budget deficit) cannot be dismissed as simple stupidity or stubbornness. I believe that this is indicative of what is foremost on GMA's mind these days — how to stay in power beyond 2010.

She could easily lessen the misery index by reducing taxes on oil and power generation and distribution — generating the needed revenues from hiked sin taxes and taxes on luxury consumption – but she does not. That to me is a political decision as she opts to keep the loyalties of Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan who will both be affected by increased sin taxes.

Ask yourself: Why would GMA fear losing the support of Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan if she is intent on easing the price crisis and exiting in 2010 with a semblance of having achieved something for the country?

If it is a 2010 exit GMA is bent on doing, the satisfaction of the majority of Filipinos would be of greatest priority to her and not keeping the political support of Messrs. Cojuangco and Tan.

The re-emergence of GMA's lapdog, former AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon, now MILF Peace Panel Adviser, recommending the amending of the Constitution in order to accommodate the granting of the Moro ancestral domain is highly suspicious. I am not alone in suspecting this move as a cover up for the real intention of changing to a parliamentary form of government which will allow GMA to stay in power as Prime Minister.

All those billions being earmarked for more dole-outs are all about campaign kitties and not relieving the people's misery. The appointment of 'Blue Chicken' Romy Neri as SSS Administrator is seen by many, including SSS employees and stakeholders, as part of a plan to fund a "power beyond 2010" campaign.

The attempt to wrest control of Meralco from the Lopezes becomes more understandable when seen as a part of a big plan to control the power and energy sector which is very political. Of all the Congressional committees available, it then comes as no coincidence that Mikey Arroyo sits on the Energy Committee.

But what is worrisome in all this has to be the fact that they do not care at all at how unpopular these moves are. Far from being "bold unpopular reforms" as they like to brand it – these moves are brazen political acts that are undertaken regardless of public sentiment and opinion. This can only reveal a regime confidence that they can do anything no matter how unpopular and evil it is.

That GMA plans to stay in power beyond 2010 has become clearer and clearer. Now, let me ask you: What are you going to do about it?

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ang ELECTRIC BILL natin! Bow!

Pakibasa po nang malaman nyo

Bilib ako sa commercial ni Juday, biro mo naipaliwanag niya in 30 sec ang masalimuot na system loss na yan..:)

Tama si Juday sa kanyang paliwanag ng system loss, pero kung tayo ang bibili ng yelo at ayaw talaga nating mabawasan ang yelong binili, siempre magdadala tayo ng styrofoam ice box o Coleman...

Ang tawag diyan ay increase the efficiency.. Kung baga sa mga distribution utilities ayusin nila nang husto ang electrical network, pati na ang mga sub-station and step-down transformers para nago-operate sila sa maximum efficiencies. Kung lumang-luma na,palitan o di kaya imaintenance. Tapos, ireduce, at kung maaari ay alisin, ang mga administrative inefficiencies, tulad ng wrong meter readings, pilferage at kung ano ano pa...

At alam ba ninyo na hindi lang meralco ang nagpapasa ng system loss? Pati ang TRANSCO na government owned at siyang nag me-maintain ng power grid. Balak ipasa or naipasa na ng TRANSCO ang 2.98% ng system loss nya sa Meralco.. at shempre kanino pa ba naman iyan sisingilin ng Meralco..

Ngayon alam na natin kung bakit natunaw ang yelong binili ni Juday... pero part pa lamang yan ng equation kung bakit mataas ang singil ng ating koryente, kunin ang electric bill.. at heto ang component ng ating electric bill :

Generation charge
Tax on Generation charge
Transmission charge
Tax on Transmission charge
System loss
Tax on System Loss
Distribution, Metering and Supply charges
Lifeline rate subsidies
Tax on distribution, metering and supply charges and lifeline rate
Local franchise tax
Universal charges

I-add mo lahat yan at yan ang total electric bill mo... pero napansin nyo ba sa isang electric bill 5 tax ang babayaran natin?

Para lalo nating mapansin, ganito ang flow ng kuryente bago dumating sa bahay naten..

Ang napocor or IPP ang mag po produce ng koryente...bago pa maka-alis ng planta ang koryente, magbabayad na tayo ng tax na 51 cents/kwh.

Ang kuryenteng iyan ay padadaanin ngayon sa TRANSCO, papunta sa distribution utility natin gaya ng Meralco.. Muli tayong bubuwisan ng gobyerno, this time 11 cents/kwh

Pag nakarating sa meralco ang kuryente, muli sisingilin tayo ng buwis ng gobyerno, ng distribution tax at franchise tax...

At dahil magbabayad tayo ng system loss muli na naman tayong bubuwisan ng gobyerno... ng system loss tax..

t eto pa ang kwela sa lahat, after i-total ang iyong electric charges.. papatawan kang muli ng tax... this time yung 12% e-Vat.Imagine 5 Taxes na binayaran mo, yung tax na yun eh bubuwisan pang muli ng isa pang tax...

Ang alam ko po sa batas bawal ang double taxation.... pero sa ginagawang ito ng gobyerno.. cguro naaayon na sa batas kase lampas
na sa double eh (sarcastic lang po)

At upang madagdagan pa ang sama ng loob nating mga filipino... Ang Napocor, ayon sa batas ay kinakailangan mag imbak ng supply ng coal na tatagal ng 5 taon.. pero ano ginagawa ng napocor... sasairin nila yung supply nila ng coal upang tumagal lamang ng isang taon, at dahil paubos na, mapipilitan silang mag-conduct ng emergency purchase na di na dadaan sa bidding.. or kung dumaan man, dahil sa ikli ng timetable, walang makakapag-bid.

SO si Napocor bibili ng coal, hindi sa lowest bidder, kundi sa kanilang preferred supplier.. ang masaya pa neto, anlaki na ng patong.. higit pa sa doble ng actual price ng coal sa market..
idagdag pa jan ang arkila ng mga barko na gagamitin sa pagta-transport ng coal... na shempre muling pagkakakitaan ng mga Napocor executives.. .

Sobra na nga pinapataw na tax sa atin ninanakawan pa tayo ng gobyerno natin..:( Ansaya ng buhay sa pilipinas no?!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


By Randy David

continuation from yesterday..

If our country were Japan or South Korea, where personal honor is still highly valued, Mrs. Arroyo would have long bowed out of power in shame for disgracing her office. She would have drunk poison, or thrown herself into the murky waters of the Pasig. If this Germany or Great Britain, where law and politics are taken seriously, the party in power would have instantly and decisively distanced itself from its discredited leader as an act of mortification if not of self-preservation. If this were the US, she would have been convicted for obstruction of justice on multiple counts, and hounded out of the presidency.

Our tragedy is that we are neither bound by traditional mores nor governed by the rule of law or the dynamics of a modern party system. We have a head of state who is impermeable to guilt or shame, but is not respectful either of the ethos of the law. We have no real political parties; only parties in name– paper organizations of perennially shifting alliances based on transient interests. They do not command nor expect any enduring loyalty from their members. And worse, our justice system is manipulable.

As both a political and legal process, the idea of impeachment is based on the notion of democratic politics as an ongoing debate between a dominant and an opposition party. Where political parties do not function as aggregations of collective interests, there cannot be a meaningful political opposition. This is the reason why in societies like ours the public is called upon to play a catalytic oppositional role that one does not find in mature democracies. This explains why social movements, NGOs, and popular coalitions of civil society have had to be at the forefront of the struggle to build a better nation. This, of course, has its downside. For as long as social movements are forced to perform the function of the opposition, I'm afraid we will continue to project the image of a society in a permanent state of mobilization. But how do we cure this image?

For the moment, however, we seem to have no choice but to play that role. Our people have become disenchanted not only with the administration but with the political opposition as well. That is why the question of alternatives won't go away. Our people have come to distrust not only the politicians in power but also those presently out of power. For this reason and many others, we should not wonder if they treat the impeachment process as though it were a useless exercise.

They see impeachment in exactly the same way columnist Boo Chanco imagines it in one of his recent columns–a process that only serves to fatten a bunch of greedy congressmen and local government officials. Boo's advice is that the impeachment idea ought to be dropped, "unless the House Opposition can gather more than enough sure votes for the impeachment of Ate Glue to progress," I find this kind of reasoning somewhat illogical, but I am sure it makes sense to a lot of people. Boo Chanco argues that the danger of being impeached has forced Gloria to make decisions that are useful to her political survival but detrimental to the nation's interests. The opposition, he says, must bow to political realities; if they do not have the numbers, they should give to Gloria the period of political calm she needs in order "to undo some of the things she did that are inimical to public welfare."

This kind of reasoning assumes that Mrs. Arroyo's controversial rise to the presidency in 2001 and her equally controversial bid to keep it in 2004 have not tied down her hands so completely that she could still actually govern well if only she is not distracted by her critics. It assumes, above all, a well-meaning and principled president. First, I think we all know that in both 2001 and 2004, Gloria accumulated enough political debts that she would likely need another lifetime to repay all of them. Today, the situation is such that the greatest threat to her remaining in power comes not from her political opponents, but from the very same people who have an intimate knowledge of what she did to become president. I do not think these people have been repaid, or if they have, it is likely that not all of them are happy with what they got, I think that if you asked many people to help you lie, cheat, and steal in the course of your rise to power–it would be next to impossible for you to have calm and peace of mind.

We have no choice but to pursue the impeachment cause regardless of whether we can muster the requisite votes at the House. Let me show you why we should pursue impeachment without any illusions.

1. First of all, to remain quiet is not an option. A quietist attitude rewards thieves, opportunists, and dishonest people. Democracy is anything but quiet. The day citizens shut up will be the day they lose their stakes in the nation. The well-documented findings and recommendations of the Citizens Congress for Truth and Accountability constitute a good beginning, and we can only be thankful for the painstaking work that went into the making of the CCTA Report. The findings should make everyone's blood boil.

2. Yet I also believe that our people are not ready for anything radical at this time. Out of exasperation, they may welcome a revolutionary government, but I am almost certain that if they were not part of it from the start, they would not have the energy to support or defend it. It will not take long before they start to question the basis of its authority, its legitimacy.

3. Our people are worried for their families. That is why, by the thousands everyday, they vote with their feet. They fail to see any hope of redemption for the country under any of the existing political leaders. They're skeptical of almost all our present leaders. We must persuade them that there is hope for the country, but we must remind them as well that hope can only be forged in acts of sustained resistance, Impeachment is an act of resistance, even if, in the context of the comprehensive failure of our social system, it seems such a mild response. It is at least a fitting response to the fraudulent ballgame that the Arroyo government has thrown at us–the so-called "People's Initiative" for Cha-cha. I've always believed that it is in the course of resistance that new leaders are born, new ideas are conceived, and new solidarities are formed.

4. Fourth, I believe the 2007 midterm election is unavoidable. It presents our people with an opportunity to see where their representatives stand on a crucial moral and political issue. They will be watching how they their congressmen will vote on the impeachment of the most unpopular president this country has ever had. We cannot ignore elections, no matter how meaningless they might seem to many of us.

In the years following the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, foreign observers ridiculed our people by calling us a nation of 65 million sheep ruled by two clever thieves. Our seeming patience with the Marcos conjugal dictatorship was inexplicable to foreigners. Marcos himself thought he could be president forever when he called for a snap election. We all knew he would rig the election, but for our people, it didn't matter. They would use the election to show how angry they were. Thus the snap election became the nursery of people power.

I think the situation today is not so different. As in 1985-1986, we may create the constituency for reform in the very process of opposing the existing government. We learn more about ourselves or what has become of us as we take our institutions seriously. I think we should begin to regard our actions as experiments–as attempts to find out something about ourselves. We hope to see the new leaders emerge from all corners of our country as we focus on the failings of the present leadership. The new impeachment complaint may be killed again by Mrs. Arroyo's technicians of opportunism even before it could be heard. If this happens and our people don't get angry, then maybe it's time to quit and have our heads examined. As I said, we can't even be sure that the voting at the House will be any different from the way it went last year. I have no illusions.

But if, perchance, we can persuade our people–especially the young–to once more take up the challenge of political involvement as we go through the process of explaining the case against Mrs. Arroyo, I think we shall have contributed to restoring our people's confidence in the nation as a whole. At no other time has this become more important. By the power of negative example, Mrs. Arroyo has done a lot to cultivate in our people not only an intense dislike for politics, but also a comprehensive distrust for government. If our nation is to survive in the long term, we must do what we can to help repair the damage that has been done. It is not going to be easy, it will take a while. But we must seize the initiative whenever it presents itself, and begin from there. I think the impeachment of an unworthy leader is always a correct starting point for a nation's political rebirth.

Thank you.

Friday, July 25, 2008


by Randy David

We need to file a new impeachment complaint against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because it is the only constitutional procedure left to us if we wish to put a closure, once and for all, to the political crisis that has been spawned by the fraudulent 2004 presidential election. In its ruling on Proc. 1017, the Supreme Court said we cannot implead the President. How then do we make a president accountable? The answer is by impeachment.

To impeach Mrs. Arroyo, is to protect the constitutional order. It is to defend what remains of our democratic institutions from the relentless assault to which they have been subjected by a reckless politician and her civilian and military allies. There is no guarantee, of course, that we will succeed in removing Mrs. Arroyo from the office she has usurped. But that is only one goal of impeachment The other goal is to actively engage our people in the political resolution of the crisis, preparatory to the long term rehabilitation of our society. In this sense, impeachment is not the end, but only the beginning.

A full year has quickly passed since Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye, in a frantic effort to cover up the crime of his boss, first publicly announced the existence of the so-called Hello Garci Tapes. These tapes, as we now know, contained 152 highly incriminating conversations between former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and various individuals including Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself and her husband Mike Arroyo. Countless media reports, notably those printed by Newsbreak magazine, have pointed a finger at a unit of the ISAFP, the intelligence arm of the armed forces, as the source of these tapes. Yet, until now, no agency of government has been able to tell the public who exactly performed the wiretap, on whose orders, how, and for what purpose. Strictly from a security perspective, perhaps nothing can be as alarming as the wiretapping of the President.

What we know is this: Hardly anyone today disputes the fact that the familiar voice in those tapes belongs to Mrs. Arroyo. Secretary Bunye said so himself, even as he claimed that in the "original" tape the person Gloria was talking to was not Garcillano, but a man named Gary Ruado, a staff member of Rep. Iggy Arroyo, Mrs. Arroyo's brother-in-law. A few days later, unable to provide a believable account of where he got the tapes, and why he knew which recording was original and which one was tampered, Bunye dropped out of circulation. He later retracted his story.

Bowing to public pressure three weeks after the existence of the tapes became known, it was Mrs. Arroyo's turn, on June 27th, to address the issue on national television. Reading from a carefully-crafted speech, she said that she owed it to the nation to set the record straight on the Hello Garci tapes. She admitted having called a Comelec official during the canvassing period. She called it a lapse In judgment for which she wished to apologize. In English, and then in Filipino, she said she was sorry. From there, she urged the nation to move on.

In subsequent interviews, she deftly avoided answering any further questions about the tapes. Each time the issue was brought up, she gave a stock answer: the question of the tapes should be raised in the proper forum at the right time. She was entitled, she said, to the rights of an accused. Clearly, she was bracing herself for an impeachment. She begged the public not to prejudge her. In one interview, she said she should be allowed to have "her day in court."

I do not believe that she ever meant to answer the charges against her in a proper impeachment proceeding. From the start, she was bent on using every legal technicality available in order to avoid moral and criminal culpability.

Many of us then, who had already poured out into the streets, thought that this shrewd politician would do everything to forestall the explosion of public outrage. Given the critical nature of the circumstances at that time, we knew that the shift to the impeachment mode would slow down the gathering storm and give her time to consolidate her defense. But, having just emerged from the turbulence of 2001, the public wanted to give the constitutional processes a chance to work. This we could not ignore.

Impeachment was a decent option that was cynically manipulated by an indecent presidency. Mrs. Arroyo was not at all interested in having her day in court. She was instead hell-bent on rigging the whole process. With the connivance of legal mercenaries masquerading as luminaries, she and her allies in the House successfully killed the complaint before it could even reach first base. She personally phoned every single congressman she thought would listen to her. She talked to their spouses, to their siblings, and to their patrons. It wasn't their sense of justice that she was appealing to, but rather their opportunism that is latent in every person. She knew, more than any other politician of this generation, that everyone has a need, a weakness, and a price. And she was prepared to pay the asking price.

One doesn't need to be a moral philosopher to know that such behavior is foul and reprehensible. But from a legal standpoint, the question is what law is being violated? How does one tell a bribe from a pork barrel release?

Theoretically, all laws have moral origins. But in the hands of an amoral practitioner, the law is nothing more than a guide to calculation, Perhaps this is modernity's principal weakness–having rendered moral values increasingly irrelevant, it encourages crimes of calculation. This is especially evident in societies undergoing the painful transition from tradition to modernity. Here, the rules are no longer fastened to any moral foundation. The old values that gave to everyday behavior the imprint of an ethical instinct have been eroded. What should have taken their place–the rule of law and its accompanying institutions–have not fully taken root. Clearly, the old is dying, but the new hasn't been born. This is where we are.

When one reviews the events that have transpired since the crude murder of the first impeachment, one cannot avoid feeling suffocated in a self-sustaining miasma of moral brazenness and repression. Consider the following: A Senate committee, headed by Sen. Magsaysay, that is investigating the possible diversion of public funds intended for agricultural inputs to Mrs. Arroyo's electoral campaign suddenly finds its quest rudely blocked at every point. A crucial witness, Jocjoc Bolante, a former undersecretary in the Dept. of Agriculture and a known underling of Mike Arroyo, cannot be located. This man freely goes in and out of the country, yet no police officer nor any NBI agent has been able to identify and bring him to the Senate.

Another Senate committee, headed by Sen. Blazon, has been investigating the role played by key officials of the Armed Forces and the PNP in the manipulation of the 2004 elections. Two Marine officers, Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan, dutifully appeared before the Senate to answer questions. Both were severely reprimanded by their superiors. They now face the possibility of a court-martial. On the same day they were summoned, Malacanang issued EO 464 requiring high officials of the government and of the armed services to first secure permission from the President before they could appear in any congressional hearing. This was quickly challenged by the senators no less before the Supreme Court, But it took a while before the high court would rule on the petition, and so the investigations could not proceed. Crucial portions of EO 464 were subsequently declared unconstitutional. The appearance of government officials other than president in congressional hearings in aid of legislation is mandatory, said the SC. If executive privilege is invoked, the reason must be explained. But the Palace has appealed the decision, and so the ban on such appearances in hearings in aid of legislation remains.

The popular movement in the streets has kept alive the spirit of protest despite the seeming indifference of many from the middle and upper classes. The weekly demonstrations, no matter how small, have made sure that the issues against Mrs. Arroyo would not be forgotten. To put an end to these noisy rallies, Mrs. Arroyo ordered her Executive Secretary, a former general himself, to adopt the so-called "calibrated preemptive response" in lieu of the existing policy of "maximum tolerance" in dealing with rallies without permits. A firestorm of legal challenges greeted CPR. Again, it took a while for the Supreme Court to act on the petitions. When it finally did, it categorically struck down GPR as invalid and declared it as having no place in our democratic firmament. Forced to fall back on the existing BP 880 governing public assemblies, the PNP has nonetheless continued to use repressive measures to confront demonstrators. When reminded of the high court's rejection of CPR, their cocky response is: So sue us! Such arrogance is enshrined in the perpetual smirk of Gen. Vidal Querol, the PNP commander of the National Capital Region.

Emboldened by the Supreme Court's seeming silence on the petitions against EO 464 and CPR, Mrs. Arroyo, on Feb. 24th, Mrs. Arroyo issued Proc. 1017, declaring a state of national emergency. Through General Order No. 5, she ordered the military and the police to suppress all lawless violence, acts of terrorism, and rebellion. On the authority of this proclamation, ail rallies were banned, warrantless arrests of critics were made, and government forces raided a newspaper office, claiming the right to issue standards to govern mass media, as well as to take over public utilities during the emergency. Malacanang claimed it had unearthed a conspiracy between leftwing militants and rightwing soldiers to overthrow Mrs. Arroyo's government. What this supposed conspiracy is all about, and who the plotters are, remains a mystery to this day. What we know is that it is the civilian critics who have borne the main blow of state repression since the issuance of 1017. In a deft maneuver that has now become familiar, Mrs. Arroyo lifts 1017 before the Supreme Court could rule on it, claiming that the emergency has passed. Instead of pronouncing the issue moot and academic, this time, the SC acted with dispatch. In sharp language, it reminded the President that civil liberties are so basic to a democracy that they cannot be set aside by a declaration of a state of emergency. In a separate concurring opinion, the Chief Justice minced no words. Replying to Justice Tinga's dissenting opinion, CJ Panganiban wrote: "Some of those who drafted PP1017 may be testing the outer limits of presidential prerogatives and the perseverance of this Court in safeguarding the people's constitutionally enshrined liberty. They are playing with fire, and unless prudently restrained, they may one day wittingly or unwittingly burn down the country. History will never forget, much less forgive, this Court if it allows such misadventure and refuses to strike down abuse at its inception. Worse, our people will surely condemn the misuse of legal hocus pocus to justify this trifling with constitutional sanctities."

To be continued tomorrow.......

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Who Cares

Jose Ma. Montelibano

The world reels from a dangerous twin crisis, fuel and food, most of the world, that is. It used to be only the poor, the two thirds of the world who are poor, who had to struggle from the moment they wake up to the moment that they sleep. Today, even Americans are feeling the pinch, loss of homes, loss of jobs, loss of comfort. While the Chinese and Indians take giant strides to leap leave behind a traditional and massive poverty, fuel and food prices slow down almost everybody else.

It is all from context. China and India had seen suffering from collective poverty. While fuel and food prices affect them, their momentum of growth insulates them from the worst. A little sacrifice from them today in trying to adjust to additional costs of fuel and food is nothing compared to the great suffering they endured as impoverished nations. On the other hand, developed nations who had been living in a world of convenience and comfort compared to the rest of the world are badly shaken by gas prices and the closure of more companies.

Economics, though, affects everything else, just as most everything else affects economics. While most of the world stands stunned from shock of runaway prices, there is also uneasiness at a world that is growing more violent. Africa and the Middle East host intense conflicts that keep global leaders from fully concentrating on solving economic problems. Communications technology and global media have kept most of the news revolving around developed countries and succeed in keeping their global audience still largely unaware of the fearful dynamics that threaten mankind. The few minutes of reporting on these global threats in no way accurately depict their true impact, but I am sure that the United Nations has its hands full in trying to be a referee between contestants who are trying to hard to permanently eliminate each other.

In short, who cares about the Philippines? In the throes of their own challenges, dangers and opportunities, no other people or nation cares about the Philippines beyond a perfunctory or hypocritical acknowledgment. There are, of course, slight exceptions to the rule. Beneath the niceties of diplomacy, the United States and China have been engaged in a quiet rivalry over control of the Philippines. In the world of business and commerce, China is way ahead. Directly and indirectly, China has regained what must have been a pre-Hispanic relationship with our country where China is the dominant partner. Chinese and Filipino-Chinese today dominate trade and equity in the Philippine market, just as it had from before Spain's takeover of our islands.

It used to be that the richest in the Philippines were those who had the most land, which means those who either received a lot from the Spanish government or those who bought a lot and allowed to do so by the Spanish government. Today, it is mostly Filipino-Chinese who comprise the list of the most rich, and they are all wired to businesses in China. It is beyond question that Filipino-Chinese control the Philippine economy and very possible that Chinese money and influence can be helping fuel their businesses. 

The United States has seen its economic dominance fade away, and not in favor of natives whose minerals, forests and farms were the most exploited by a former colonial master. In fact, as the United States was slowly distancing itself from its former colony, waves and waves of Filipino immigrants chose to seek new opportunities in the land of their former master rather than stay with a native effort to rebuild itself from centuries of colonialism. The last 60 years is just a short period of an effort to be on our own, but from the very beginning, Filipinos already left in the 50's and 60's. Meanwhile, America is less interested in our economy as it is in our strategic location in a region of Chinese and Muslims.

The experience of the last 60 years can be traumatic to many Filipinos as it scared those who left to live abroad even before the worst had come. When it did, the worst, I mean, another wave of Filipinos rushed to become Filipino-Americans. But the worst was not only about a lack of democratic freedom, it was also about economic oppression which kept opportunity away from those who had the least in life, tens and millions of them. Thus, the 80's and 90's created the most recent wave of fleeing Filipinos.

What about us now who are here? What do we do, where do we go? 

I must admit that it is difficult for me to be completely detached emotionally whenever this question is asked, even when I am the one asking it. I have to take the great conscious effort to merge feeling and objectivity without distorting reality, only enhancing truth with heart. The work of focusing on the poorest of the poor, which I have joined in a collective effort with thousands of other like-minded Filipinos, reminds me constantly of a life that the rest of Philippine society just gloss over.  Poverty up close, poverty as a priority for attention and action, is really different from poverty in academic papers, in newspapers, from poverty as a study or an intellectual advocacy.

It used to be that I was shocked why priests became rebels. I am now shocked why they don't. I was once awed by the grandeur of cathedrals, respectful of the pomp and circumstance of Church hierarchy. I am now saddened at a focus that has veered away from the least among man. I had once aspired to be among the ranks of the powerful in governance. I am now repulsed by most of them.

My objectivity is part of a personal discipline I strive to maintain at the worst of emotional times. This is another one such moment. But my objectivity is also grounded on the harsh reality that anger and violence do little to ease the suffering of the poor, but instead forces them to go through more intense suffering for the slim chance that destruction will lead to victory over the oppressors.  For my sanity, for my deep desire to see the impoverished find opportunity, for the marginalized to find empowerment, and even for the greedy to find the generosity, I can cry inside but stay focused on the work outside.      

Responses may be sent to

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oryang's autobiography

Looking Back
By Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer –
8 July 2008

MANILA, Philippines—Last monday, july 7, was the 116th anniversary of the establishment of the Katipunan. Since it is not a national or even a local holiday, we are glad when some people care to remember. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim held a simple memorial service at the Bonifacio Shrine beside City Hall, and in attendance were descendants of Andres Bonifacio from his sister Espiridiona. Wreaths were laid at the shrine, speeches were read, and one can only hope that the elementary and high school students who were given front-row seats in the event appreciated this impromptu history lesson.

Unfortunately, Carmen Guerrero Cruz Nakpil, chair of the Manila Historical Commission, was not around. Her first husband was a grandson of Jose Rizal's sister Maria, and her second was related to Andres Bonifacio's widow Gregoria "Oryang" de Jesus, who married Julio Nakpil and settled in Quiapo.

It was significant that Nakpil's "Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan" was played by the City Hall Band. I forgot to remind Mayor Lim that it was one of the stirring tunes of the Revolution, together with "Alerta Katipunan" and "Jocelynang Baliuag." Nakpil's tune was considered the anthem of the Katipunan and, if not for the tide of history that saw Emilio Aguinaldo installed as head of the revolutionary government and later as president of the First Philippine Republic, we would probably be singing the Nakpil anthem today rather than "Lupang Hinirang" by Julian Felipe of Cavite.

After the ceremony at the Bonifacio Shrine, the mayor invited me to join him in his car for a quick trip to Recto Avenue to visit the site where the Katipunan was founded on the night of July 7, 1892, the same day that Rizal's exile to Dapitan was announced in the newspapers. What people forget is that Rizal founded a civic society called La Liga Filipina in a house on Ilaya Street, Tondo, on July 3, 1892. It was in this organizational meeting that he met Bonifacio face to face. What they discussed (maybe they only exchanged pleasantries?) is lost to history and historians.

From the still-born Liga was born the Katipunan. While both words mean "league," the direction shifted with the change in leadership. The original house on 72 Azcarraga Street (now C. M. Recto Avenue) is no more. A bronze marker used to stand on a sidewalk to remind vendors and pedestrians that history took place on that spot. Now there is yet another tableau in bronze on the site to commemorate the event. Again I wonder if people who pass by notice, or take the trouble to read the markers and remember history made on that hallowed spot.

No speeches were delivered there, just a floral offering and a very impressive execution of arrival honors by the Philippine Marines, complete with gunfire that no doubt made some startled pedestrians dive for cover. If I weren't safe with the mayor of Manila, I would have looked for a safe place to hide at the first crack of gunfire, friendly or otherwise.

When speeches are made to young people in the 21st century about the exploits of heroes of the late 19th century, I wonder if the story sinks in. This is why reading the first-hand accounts of historical events by actual participants is more effective.

Gregoria de Jesus wrote a short autobiography in 1928, "Mga tala ng aking buhay," that talks about her experiences:

"I had no fear of danger, not even death itself, whenever I accompanied the soldiers in battle, impelled as I was then by no other desire than to see unfurled the flag of an independent Philippines, and I was present in and witnessed many encounters. I was considered a soldier, and to be a true one, I learned how to ride, to shoot a rifle, and to manipulate other weapons which I actually used on many occasions.

"I have known what it is to sleep on the ground without tasting food for the whole day, to drink dirty water from mud-holes or the sap of vines which, though bitter, tasted delicious because of my intense thirst. When I came to think of my life in those days, considering my youth then, I am surprised by how I stood it all, and how I was spared."

Oryang's narrative reads so much better in the original Tagalog, but then this is an English language column so we have to make do with the translation.

She returned to her parent's house in Caloocan and gave birth to a son they christened Andres Bonifacio. That child did not survive. When the Revolution broke out in August 1896, she had to move from place to place to evade arrest:

"While I was with my parents, through friends, I learned that I too would be apprehended. I therefore decided to escape right away and I did so at 11 at night with the intention of returning to Manila under cover, going through the rice fields direct to La Loma. I was treated like an apparition ('isang katatakutan'), for, sad to say, from every house where I tried to get a little rest, I was driven away as if the people therein were mortally frightened."

The places she visited were searched, and friends and relatives were arrested, tortured and exiled.

It is one thing to learn about the Revolution from textbooks. It is gut-wrenching to read the actual accounts, the primary sources. I reread Oryang's autobiography every year to remind me of the sacrifices our heroes made so we can take freedom for granted today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chino Taipans Hurting RP Economy

By Frank Wenceslao

I'm elated in learning my previous column "The Lucio Tan Story" was posted online by PNC magazine, an organ of Philippine Military Academy graduates that lifted it off Perry Diaz's USA-Balita.

The news coincided when Pamusa organizers, supporters and volunteers (anonymous supporters) emailed agreement to support implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Enhancement and National Food Security Program ("Program") to address the rising fuel and food prices caused by growing demand for oil that supply couldn't cope with.

Funding the Program relies on recovering Marcos' and cronies' ill-gotten wealth the Presidential Commission on Good Government has failed for over 20 years. After almost two years of investigation the recovery can be hastened by PCGG granting Pamusa a Special Power of Attorney and evidence on who have custody of the illicit assets and their whereabouts which we've proposed since last year.

Pamusa intends to recover Marcos' equities in the companies of Chino businessmen such as Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and others that without his favors couldn't have achieved the incredible growth of their businesses and overseas investments. They've thus far kept the latter below PCGG radar.

For instance, Sy's mall building program began when Marcos approved the lease of the public land for the site of Sy's first mall (SM City EDSA) and other accommodations. Marcos wouldn't have done the favor without being guaranteed 60% equity in Sy's proponent-company as Tan did I discussed in his story.

Fortunately for Sy the 1986 EDSA Revolt intervened. The question is: Has Sy acquired the SM City EDSA's site from whom and at what price? If not, which office has granted him continued lease and is receiving how much rental?

The Chinos aren't helping the Philippine economy to grow. In fact, they're hurting the economy by exploiting and stunting the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In other countries including USA, SMEs are the backbone of national economy and biggest employers of low and middle income workers.

The Chinos raise capital on SMEs' backs by squeezing their prices to rock bottom supplying goods and services for their downstream industries and retail merchandising. They defer payment up to 90-120 days enough time to sell the goods, deposit cash receipts in their banks and loan out 4-5 times the amount depending on CB reserve requirement at market interest rate.

They've had multilayered profit centers from SMEs' prices for supplying goods and services, interest on payments due SMEs loaned out by their banks and their retail profits. With taxes on the profits evaded, Sy continues his incredible expansions and acquisitions.

The Chinos' exploitative business practices are nauseating. While waiting to be paid, SMEs either borrow on their receivables from the Chinos' banks with interest, of course, or are victimized by predatory lenders at usurious interest to buy their needs and meet payrolls in order not to interrupt operation.

How could SMEs grow in this hand-to-mouth existence, create new jobs and effectively contribute to national economic growth?

By building a series of malls without evidence of capital build-up from other investors, it can be concluded that out of such profits and unpaid taxes, Sy's family has increased equities in San Miguel Corp. where they have 2 board seats, acquire control of China Banking and Equitable Bank and high-end property development such as Tagaytay Highlands, etc.

BIR and SEC officials are either sleeping or surely in the take without finding out where the funds are coming from used by Chino businessmen for business expansions, acquisitions and overseas investments without significant investments of other local and foreign shareholders and continue to maintain control of their companies.

It therefore begs a question: Are they paying correct taxes or, like Tan, they have billions of pesos in deficiency taxes?

All of which is why the Philippine economy is like a carnival ride that goes up and down to suddenly stop at the same place. Foreign investments come in trickles because these businessmen use Filipino citizenship for convenience to crowd out foreigners by corrupting government to put up high tariffs and barriers to competitors while they squeeze SMEs like sugar cane. RP loses foreign investments to other countries where they are more welcome and investors don't have to go through unfair competition and bureaucratic maze to do business in the Philippines.

Thanks to UNCAC and Bush's initiative to internationalize efforts to combat public and corporate corruption, the Chinos should show the funds they've used to capitalize and start up their companies, expansions, acquisitions and overseas investments are in the realm of statistical probability. Or the funds are what the USDOJ and FBI define as "income of illegal origin concealed, disguised, or made to appear legitimate (main objective); and to evade detection, prosecution, seizure, and taxation" used as basis to combat organized crimes, terrorist organizations and public and corporate corruption.

Obviously, the Chinos have been involved in public and corporate corruption since Marcos time to the present; hence, they can be sued to recover their fruits of corruption and deficiency taxes under US laws mandated by Bush's initiative to enforce the UNCAC. This is a golden opportunity for GMA to exercise leadership, take these big shots to account and bring them to justice.

Pamusa has "think-tankers" who're former employees of Chino businessmen and had hand-on experience how they exploited SMEs. These Pamusa volunteers now work with US federal, state and local governments, big corporations and private think-tanks and are the sources of information I put together into Pamusa's studies.

This is payback time. Our think-tankers want Pamusa to help GMA turn around the deteriorating Philippine conditions as this is the best way overseas Filipinos can help suffering relatives and friends at home. GMA should direct PCGG to send Pamusa the SPA and evidence against people keeping Marcos' and cronies' ill-gotten wealth.

The Ombudsman and Presidential Anti-Graft Commission should likewise send their evidence even though not proven yet in court against those accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act during post-Marcos administrations that stole public funds, foreign aid and loans salted abroad which can be recovered faster under US laws.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Evil Called Jueteng

by Among Ed Panlilio

What is Jueteng?

Jueteng is a game of chance is the form of an illegal numbers game. It is fundamentally playing with numbers that is prohibited by law. There is a regular set of numbers which can be combined in so many ways as 'dreamt' 'interpreted' 'felt' – or in any similar way determined such as through simple 'kursonada' by the bettor. This then places money on his/her chosen numbers. The amount won depends on the amount of the bet made.

What is basically wrong with Jueteng?

There are very disturbing facts about it. 1. It is mostly poor people who play so their little money is gambled away. 2. There are very few 'winners' compared to the thousands of bettors. 3. Only about 15% of every peso is given as prizes, with the remaining 85% remaining the portion mostly destined for the pockets of the Jueteng operators. 4. The numbers which win are drawn with neither fixed nor regulated norms, but with deceit or misdeed, if not determined simply through the mental choice of the operators. 5. The criminal syndication of this supposedly 'lowly' game of the poor and simple tao is now in the hands of hierarchically organized operators.

Is Jueteng morally evil?

Yes, betting in Jueteng is morally evil for the following reasons, 1. Hard earned small amounts of money destined to sustain life are wasted in gambling. 2. little and continuous betting amounts to a large amount of money lost not only to the bettor but to their families. This can cause bitter domestic quarrels and lead to broken families. 3. Playing Jueteng which could have started as a little pastime or a matter of curiosity becomes a vice which is sinful.

Does Jueteng offer anything good in return?

No. Regular betting in Jueteng is a waste of hard earned and much needed money. We work, we sweat, we earn to support our families, send children to school and set aside some money for the future.

Jueteng as with any gambling does not generate wealth but sucks in money from the hands of the gullible. Jueteng does not really provide 'work' to its collectors ('cobradores') heads ('cabos') and others involved.Jueteng results in indulgent and indolent living for those at the top and does not involve real work that is hard, honest and decent. In the eyes of hard working people there is no honor in being a gambling lord, a Jueteng purveyor or aficionados

How widespread is Jueteng?

In 1992 the Bishops of Northen Luzon wrote a joint pastoral letter about Jueteng. In it they commented on the rampant and widespread proliferation of Jueteng from the cities and big towns to the barrios and sitios. They noted their concern that there was no place in their Region that was Jueteng free. What was true in Northern Luzon could not be false in other parts of the country – Luzon as a whole and the Visayas. In Mindanao another form of illegal game is played – 'Masiao'.

Why is Jueteng a social evil?

Jueteng which is widespread in its coverage, rampant in its operation and pervasive in its patronage is a serious social evil. It is illegal in itself, thus criminal in nature and disturbs peace and order in communities. The poor bettors become poorer while the wealthy operators – commonly known as 'gambling lords' become wealthier, more powerful, influential and thus more corrupt and corrupting.

What are the evils arising from Jueteng?

The evils of Jueteng do not arise simply because it is evil. It is evil because it gives rise to the following 1. It helps to destroy the moral imperative of industry and gives rise to the vice of indolence. 2. It promotes the mentality of chance and the culture of dependence. 3. It manipulates the poor, encouraging them to part with their money, luring them with quick returns. 4. it offers bad example to youth who at an early age can be enticed to gambling. 5. It contributes to corruption among public officials for their silence and police authorities for their protection. 6. It deceives people by appearing as a small but innocent pastime of people – hiding the fact that it is a well organized big syndicate from local to regional to national level.7. It is also deceptive in presenting itself as a benevolent and helpful donor – giving money to charitable institutions including church projects.

How does Jueteng promote graft and corruption?

Graft means payoffs, bribes, hush money and the like with one final aim to make public officials and /or police authorities act exactly counter to their sworn duties and obligations. This in turn leads to their corruption. For its continued existence, continuity and territorial expansion Jueteng uses money to promote graft and corruption in public offices, such offices which should be public trusts thus become public liabilities.

Besides promoting graft and corruption what other negative social effects does Jueteng have in society?

Jueteng does not promote peace and order. It breeds goons. It provides guns. It buys people. It promotes stealing and dishonesty. It feeds avarice and greed. It sucks in fortunes. It degrades people. It destroys families.

Jueteng does not bring economic prosperity to people. Those who prosper from it are the purveyors and their cohorts, corrupt public officals and authorities. Jueteng is a source of shame and dishonor to the community where it is played. It is a big liability to the country where it thrives.

Jueteng does not produce industrious and productive people, nor a proud nation. Illegal numbers games are a sign of weak and indolent people and a corrupt and dependent country. Where illegality is practically the rule, criminality and injustice are the order of the day blocking off the hope of a promising future.

Can Jueteng be eradicated?

Yes, but only if public officials and police authorities wish this to happen.

What can the community do to eradicate Jueteng?

They can cooperate with and support public officials and police authorities who are determined to do away with this social plague.

What can individuals do to eradicate Jueteng?

Primarily, individuals can help by not placing their bets. Without bettors, jueteng cannot prosper.

(PAGC - Pampanga Anti-Gambling Council, Inc.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Federal Snake Oil

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on July 14, 2008
For the Standard Today,
July 15 issue

Those who claim that "federalism is an idea whose time has come" or that "there is nothing wrong with federalism" – without offering a shred of empirical evidence to justify their statements – can be forgiven their naivete since they are merely parroting the official party line.

But those who are actively pushing for federalism as a political advocacy have no excuse or alibi, other than political expediency, to explain their positions.

Sen. Nene Pimentel, principal author of Senate Resolution no.10, seeks to engineer a shift to the federal form of government before the end of President Arroyo's term in June 2010, and he wants it done through a kami-kami lang constituent assembly (ConAss), not through a nationally elected constitutional convention (ConCon).

It can be foreseen that the question will be raised on whether the Lower House and the Senate will vote separately or as one body, and that this question will be raised to the Supreme Court for a decision. And based on its most recent major decision – that on Romulo Neri's use of executive privilege - it can be assumed that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Arroyo government, namely that the ConAss should vote as one body.

In such a unicameral body, even if it includes six or seven senators eyeing the presidency or the vice-presidency in 2010, the numbers would be overwhelmingly in favor of Lakas and Kampi, which will dictate the thrust of the ConAss and determine its goals..

Which will certainly include a simultaneous shift to the parliamentary system, which is at present being pushed in the provinces by a road show organized and led by Albay Gov. Joey "Lucky Bitch" Salceda.

This two-pronged campaign is meant to give President Arroyo the constitutional right to stay in power beyond 2010, either as prime minister or as president without term limits..

And if Sen. Pimentel cannot see that, then he is either more naïve than I thought he was, or he is actually complicit in building a Trojan Horse for President Arroyo. Sen. Pimentel should know that people are speculating that his reward for building this Trojan Horse is that his son Koko would be "allowed to win" his electoral protest against Migz Zubiri.

And what is his motivation for pushing for a shift to a federal union? In his Senate Resolution no. 10, he alleges that such a shift would "spur economic growth."

This is naïve and uninformed. It suggests that a unitary state is not capable of spurring economic growth, at all or at least not one of sufficient strength.

In my rebuttal to Sen. Pimentel in Ricky Carandang's TV program "The Big Picture", I named the countries in East and Southeast Asia which have achieved phenomenal economic growth as unitary states: Japan, which joined the First World in the 1960s; South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, which joined the First World in the 1990s; China and Vietnam, which for the past decade or (in the case of China) two, have registered the fastest economic growth rates in the entire world; and Thailand, which has been growing faster than the Philippines in the past 30 years, although both countries were about equal in all economic indicators in the 1970s. The Philippines used to be superior to all these countries (except Japan) in standard of living and economic growth until the late 1960s.

There are only two countries in this part of the world that are federal unions: Malaysia and Myanmar. One is a success, the other is a failure. Contrary to the fatuous claims of federalists, federalism, by itself, is not a guarantee of economic success.

So there is nothing wrong with the unitary state and there is no need to change it. It is the people running the Philippine unitary state that need to be changed. But by pushing for a ConAss before June 2010, Sen. Pimentel helps guarantee that the trapos and political dynasts who have been running the Philippine unitary state to the ground for the past 30 years will continue to run it to the ground after 2010.

The rationale that federalism "will spur economic growth" in the Philippines is based purely on wishful thinking. Sen. Pimentel offers no empirical evidence for making such claims.

So is another of his claims, aired in his interview with Ricky Carandang at the time of Ces Drilon's kidnapping, that a federal union may reduce kidnapping. What utter nonsense. Ms. Drilon's kidnappers were motivated solely by criminal greed, not by any longing for a federal union.

Crime has no ideology. Three of Third World countries with the highest crime rates are Brazil, Mexico and South Africa – all federal unions. The industrialized democracy with the highest number of crimes in the world committed with handguns (more than 11,000 a year) is the USA, another federal union. On the other hand, countries with the lowest crime rates in the world are: Japan (about 100 crimes a year committed with handguns) and Singapore, and the five Scandinavian countries, all unitary states.

Sen. Pimentel and his federal confederates are even blaming the alleged slow delivery of aid to the victims of Typhoon Frank on alleged defects of the unitary state, claiming that such aid would have arrived faster under a federal union. Again, what utter nonsense!

The whole world admires how China has been able to cope successfully with one natural disaster after another, even as it feverishly makes preparations to host the Summer Olympics in August 2008.

First there was unusually heavy snowfall last February which stranded 5.2 million passengers in airports and railway stations as they vainly tried to go home for Chinese New Year. Then there was the earthquake in Chengdu in May that killed more than 70,000 people and destroyed five million homes. Followed by heavy floods in southern China in June that displaced more than a million people. And in July, the seacoast off the city of Tsingdao – site of the Olympic yachting events – was covered by a thick carpet of algae bloom that is taking more than two weeks to remove by hand. Disasters that were swiftly and efficiently attended to by the Chinese unitary state.

Compare that record with Myanmar, which has been a federal union since independence in 1948. More than two whole months after a cyclone devastated the Irrawaddy River delta and killed 78,000 people, dead bodies remain unattended, decomposing in the open fields and entire villages are still without adequate food, water, medicine and housing, as reported yesterday (July 14) by Betty Nguyen on CNN.

If Myanmar is too poor to cite as an example, try a major First World city that was ripped apart in August 2006 by a severe weather disturbance. About 80 percent of its area was flooded, 204,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 800,000 residents were forced to flee. The national government was also criticized for mismanagement, delayed response and lack of preparations.

More than six months and $41 billions later, the national (federal) government finally declared in January 2007 that "the City of New Orleans has been successfully returned to its pre-Katrina state." To which a critic added:…"of decay and deterioration…and its streets are again safe for poverty and vice…"

Like snake oil salesmen, Sen. Pimentel and his confederates are making outlandish claims for their magic tonic, without offering any empirical evidence to support their claims, that it will spur economic growth; that it may reduce kidnapping, that it will guarantee speedy disaster relief. Anyone who believes these claims might as well also believe in Santa Claus.. *****

TONY ON YouTube: My interview with Ricky Carandang on federalism can now be seen on YouTube. Go to Click Tony on YouTube. Then scroll down.

Or you can go directly to the following URLs:

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