The Omen

One rule of thumb I have is never to assume that exposure in one medium will result in exposure in another. What you write in one area may never be read in another, which provides a wonderful (because necessary) justification for repeating yourself. Hence yesterday’s column, which essentially introduced the newspaper audience to something that’s been on this blog for some time.

Calling attention to the idea of the Mandate of Heaven was inspired by Time Magazine’s pointing to the ominous nature of the cyclone that struck Burma:

The people of Burma take omens seriously. For centuries, the paths of planets and vagaries of weather have been scrutinized by astrologers, who divine a relationship between celestial irregularities and earthly mayhem. So when Cyclone Nargis tore across the country on May 2 and 3 – killing tens of thousands of people and leaving hundreds of thousands more homeless - Burmese couldn’t help but note the curious timing: exactly a week later, on May 10, the country’s thuggish ruling junta was set to hold a constitutional referendum, a step toward what the military has called a “discipline-flourishing democracy.”

See Despite Disaster, Burma Has a Forced Vote.

As mentioned in the recent Inquirer editorial, Asean to the rescue, there’s this poignant passage from:

“The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma” (Thant Myint-U)

concerning Thibaw, the last King of Burma, and his decision to accept a British ultimatum:

The Burmese forces in the area were told to lay down their arms, but the lord of Myothit (the fort commander) refused to accept the authenticity of Kyauk-myaung’s message and insisted on a direct order from his king… Only when a telegraph in Burmese Morse code was received at Ava, signed by Thibaw himself, did Myothit agree to stand down. His men then melted away into the surrounding villages, leaving behind piles of Martini rifles. Myothit himself stayed and wept as he saw the steamships slowly make their way the ten miles to the royal city itself.

The Burmese remember that the entire evening, from around seven o’clock until dawn the next day, the sky was filled with thousands of shooting stars and meteors, falling in all directions, appearing and disappearing as people wondered what these clear omens could mean. These were actually the Andromedids in one of the great meteor storms of recent times, seen all over the world. Those learned in astrology prophesied that the country and the Buddhist religion would soon meet hard times.

So it was that a meteor heralded the Norman Conquest, and an earthquake shook Bataan on the night of its surrender to the Japanese. The cyclone could be viewed as an omen for Burma’s junta; and when news began to spread, yesterday, of the massive earthquake in China, I immediately thought of something that seems to have struck other people, too. See The Warrior Lawyer and see Richard Spencer in his Daily Telegraph blog, who points to the enduring power of superstition in China:

A friend points out that this may be a test of residual feudal superstition in China. The Tangshan earthquake in 1976 was said to be an omen of Mao’s death two months later. This would be a bad year for a repeat, though there are no indications this is anything like on that scale.

(nearly all account’s I’ve watched or read of Mao’s final months always includes that earthquake as a foreshadowing of the end of the Great Helmsman)

Spencer, who’s in Beijing, said he wasn’t surprised to feel the earthquake -until he released how far away the epicenter of the quake was. Apparently the quake could be felt as far away as Bangkok.

James Fallows notes how Chinese state media’s covered the disaster and thinks the absence of video hints at the government being unsure how to handle the story.

It will be interesting to see the consequences, economically, of the earthquake. China financial markets provides a snapshot of where things were, a day or two prior to the quake:

April’s CPI numbers were released earlier today and, as the pessimists among us expected, inflation came in at 8.5% year on year, quite a bit higher than most analysts’ predictions. March’s year-on-year inflation was 8.3%. Probably in response to the higher-than-expected numbers, late in the day the PBoC announced that minimum reserve requirements were going to be raised by 0.5%, to 16.5%.

Throughout the past two weeks we had been getting a lot of soothing noises about inflation and confident predictions from analysts and even from Governor Zhou of the PBoC that it would come in at 8% or just above — Bloomberg’s poll of 22 analysts predicted on average that year on year CPI inflation for April would be 8.2%. Even Credit Suisse’s Dong Tao, who has normally been very pessimistic — and very right — about inflation, predicted that April’s CPI number would come in at 8% year on year. It took a bitter, twisted guy like Stone & McCarthy’s Logan Wright, who refused to bask in the good feelings and insisted on counting the numbers up for himself, to throw in an 8.5% prediction. He was right, thereby reinforcing my claim a few days ago that for the past six months you would have always done best by betting on the most pessimistic prediction.

Month-on-month inflation rose by 0.1%. This means that inflation for the first four months of the year is running at an annualized 9.9%. At this rate we would need inflation for the next eight months of the year to be 2.4% on an annualized basis to bring us to the government’s 4.8% target for 2008. Clearly this is very unlikely, and even government officials have acknowledged that the official target is intended more for signaling purposes than as a real statement of government intentions.

Concerning the ongoing drama of Meralco, see this article from the Philippines Free Press, Malacañang vs. Meralco, January 30, 1971:

In Malacañang, Marcos pointed to Meralco’s high rates as one of the principal factors in the rise of prices.

Meralco, of course, did not take Malacañang’s charges lying down. Its board chairman, Emilio Abello, was ready with answers. At the same time, Malacañang strategists got some labor leaders and consumer groups to their side. Their obvious purpose was to show that it is the public itself, not just Malacañang, which is fighting Meralco. The major issue of Malacañang against Meralco is Meralco’s alleged high rates. It is now established, said Marcos, that Meralco’s annual income is P93 million. Which means that the light firm, controlled by the Lopezes, is earning more than it should, in the view of Malacañang. Therefore, it should not have increased its rates last year – the floating rate notwithstanding.

Even the rhetorical flourishes and official argumentation evokes the past: see Political War and Martial Law? January 23, 1971. Later of course, Marcos would kiss and make up -on the eve of plunging in the knife. See FM’s March 12, 1972 diary entry in The Philippine Diary Project.

Meanwhile, the cat’s out of the bag. See Meralco breakup eyed: GSIS chair bares plans to lower electric rates:

The GSIS president and general manager said in a phone interview Sunday that he would cut up the P75-billion power distribution company the same way the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) franchise area was divided after it was privatized in 1997.

“We are very much interested, we think Meralco is a good investment,” Garcia said. “My plan is to take full control of Meralco and split it up into two or more sub-franchises. This worked very well in the MWSS privatization.”

Elpi Cuna, Meralco vice president for corporate communication, doubted the company’s 50-year franchise could be subdivided. “It’s a total package and the way it is worded, you have to go back to Congress to get permission,” said Cuna, speaking for Meralco, not for the Lopez family.

The other day, the Inquirer editorial pointed out that what’s going on is a patently political campaign against the Lopezes, who are an easy target because high prices haven’t endeared them to consumers.A pretty thorough report on why electric rates are the way they are, appeared in BusinessWorld, see Expensive Meralco power justified? (alas, a subscription is required; they ought to consider that the subscription-only model for news has failed).

Tongue In, Anew, takes a comprehensive look at the energy sector, and read, in particular, his conclusion, too long to quote here. Basically he points out that the entire energy policy of the government needs to be revisited, and that there are groups close to the President poised to benefit from dismantling Meralco as Garcia plans to do. A taste of what he dishes out in the entry:

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) another product of EPIRA now headed by former Soriano protegé, Jose “Nono” Ibazeta, drew flak recently when it disqualified a consortium headed by mining magnate-brothers Buddy and Manny Zamora who pre-announced their bid of $6B for the whole of TransCo apparently after sensing that the Bid Committee is hell bent on demolishing all threats to the victory of Monte Oro Resources and Energy, known widely in the energy and mining business as the “Mafia Team” composed of FG’s golf and business buddies (and former Ibazeta partners whom we now know bought out Broadband Philippines from Joey De venecia III, among other ventures) Ricky Razon of ICTSI, Endika Aboitiz of the second biggest private energy operators under the flagship Aboitiz Energy Ventures, Andy Soriano III and other small fish collectively called the “Malacañang Mafia”.

The superior bid of $6B notwithstanding, PSALM awarded the prized trophy, TransCo to Monte Oro for a measly bid of $3.95B!

Prior to that PSALM experienced 3 failed biddings in two years. No one was bidding for Masinloc unless there was an assurance of a buyer of its power output. Napocor of course turned to Meralco, I presume, with special power rates just so the bid pushes through. That turned the tide and AES, a US-based corporation won the Masinloc plant for $930M, which I must say is too steep for an old coal plant that operates only at 25% of its capacity. Rule of thumb price for a similar plant is $1 Million per Megawatt. At 600MW, $930M is a jackpot. That’s not all, AES claims it needs to pour in additional $1B to rehabilitate the plant and double its present capacity. Unbelievable. Now where do they plan to get the money to pay their loans to IFC for that purpose? Correct, from generation charge. And since the power sector will not be deregulated anytime soon, it smells like a possible loan default would be inevitable. Hey, don’t tell me this loan is covered by another sovereign guarantee, please!

Blog@AWB Holdings also points to the entry above but asks whether Winston Garcia, indubitably gifted as a corporate raider, is pursuing the best interests of the GSIS.

Meanwhile, stuart-santiago subjects your monthly Meralco bill to a thorough dissection.

I have a hunch that we don’t hear enough about all sorts of ways to generate power, such as wind farms, solar panels, utilizing energy from tides, and biogas, because they skirt the way big money’s made in the energy sector, and so those with the means to invest in it, don’t (and neither is the government backing alternative sources of power in a big way). Read about Daniel Co in Tarlac, from Fortune’s Carbon finance comes of age:

Daniel Co and his family raise about 10,000 pigs on a farm called Uni-Rich Agro Industrial in the province of Tarlac in the Philippines. Until recently pig manure was shoveled into concrete ponds, where it decomposed, emitting methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and a putrid smell. Daniel Co knew that he could install biogas technology to seal the ponds, trap the gas, and produce electricity, but he didn’t want to spend the $200,000 or so it would cost until he heard that pig farms could collect money from Europe for capturing methane: He would be paid not to pollute.

The Uni-Rich farm is a very small player in a very big global experiment that was set in motion when the Kyoto Protocol was ratified in 2005. Thirty-six industrial countries (but not the U.S.) have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time; they can do so, in part, by financing “clean development” projects in the developing world. This has led to a global scramble for cheap ways to reduce emissions, like Daniel Co’s biogas project; the invention of a new tradable commodity, called a Certified Emissions Reduction, or CER; the development of competing markets to buy and sell CERs; and the rise of an army of regulators to oversee the entire business.

Daniel Co got involved when he was approached by EcoSecurities, an Irish company that has developed more carbon-mitigation projects than any other firm. Its experts calculated that trapping his farm’s methane would generate 2,929 CERs a year. A CER is created when the equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere. (Because methane creates more global warming than carbon dioxide, trapping one ton of methane generates 21 CERs.) CERs are sometimes called carbon credits.

EcoSecurities offered to pay Uni-Rich $4 per credit, or $12,000 a year, every year, until Kyoto expires in 2012, and to handle all the paperwork at the UN, which registered the project late in 2006. Uni-Rich then installed the methane digesters.

Now, thanks to the magic of carbon finance, Daniel Co and his family treasure their pig waste. They use it to produce electricity, which has reduced their utility bills by about $48,000 a year. They collect their $12,000 a year in carbon revenues. EcoSecurities, in turn, will sell the credits for about $18 each, or $54,000 a year, to a big French bank called Caisse des Dépôts. Caisse des Dépôts can hold onto the CERs as an investment, betting that their value will rise, or sell them to a client, most probably a European power generator or industrial firm that needs credits to meet its regulatory obligations.

You’d think that environmentalists, often at loggerheads with hog breeders because of all the poop pigs produce, would be hailing this example; any reasonably progressive government would have given this swine breeder a medal and tried to replicate his achievements throughout the hog raising industry; hell, such pooptastic news should have sparked a proposal, crazy as it might sound, to attend to the -what is it, 5 million?- shortage of toilets for Metro Manila residents by building communal toilets where human waste can be turned into biogas. But I’ve been asking around for over a month now, and no one, it seems, even noticed the Fortune story.

Am I the only one who thinks the government has been strangely quiet, despite being confronted with the strong possibility that the Burma cyclone has swept aside assumptions that rice supplies will stabilize? A Canadian paper published a rather lurid article, All eyes on price of rice, which however does point to something the opposition, if it did its homework, could legitimately take the administration to task -neither calming people at home and spreading panic overseas.

Mon Casiple ties things together:

The question therefore arises. What for did the GMA administration drum up the rice “crisis”? The only logical answer I can find–apart from the political distraction–is that somebody or somebodies are making a killing in the rice market. The price of rice is shooting through the roof. Yet, the mystery tales from the farmers are that the middlemen are not buying in extraordinary quantities in these times of an alleged demand market. The inescapable conclusion is that the same somebody or somebodies already had the supply before it happened–probably through technical smuggling (NFA conduit) or direct smuggling. They are now reaping the superprofits.

These acts, particularly of government people, are simply treason.

The sudden interest by the administration in Meralco, on the other hand, provides an interesting insight into the problems of the transition from power of the GMA administration. The Lopezes are both an economic and a political giant with capability for major intervention in the presidential elections in 2010. They have the connections to all the presidentiables.

Throw in the current situation where none of the presidentiables have even intimated–despite prolonged negotiations–their openness to give the Arroyo people a practical immunity from suits once they are out of power. Add the debatable–and increasingly narrowing–charter change option. Time also ticks towards a political lameduck scenario. You have the ingredients for many desperate moves. The Meralco arm-twisting is one of them.

Apart from it, however, there is the real desire to get hold of Meralco itself–the same ambition that only Marcos was able to bring to reality during his heyday as a dictator. It is an economic jewel and in the EPIRA aftermath, the apex of ambition for GMA cronies in the industry (remember the Transco bid).

What ties together the rice “crisis” and the Meralco arm-twisting is the observable trend since the Garci tapes scandal emerged–to make considerable hay while the sun shines (or before it inevitably sets). This is supposedly the major reason for the Cabinet revamp, but that’s another story.

In other news, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon retires: but never fear, A post awaits Esperon and Arroyo pardons 9 Magdalo rebels as gift to Esperon; the MILF, Palace in word war over peace.

A big deal gets consummated: PNOC approves Petron sale to hedge fund firm, Roxas questions move. And LTFRB chief: P0.50 jeepney fare hike ‘reasonable’.

Conrado de Quiros and John Nery with contrasting views on the ongoing schism within Couples for Christ and the direction Gawad Kalinga should take.

The joys of gerrymandering: House panel OKs bill creating 2 districts for Camarines Norte. Systems 101: P15-M hi-tech House voting system fails test . Taxation 101: House okays tax relief bill:Exemptions raised for wage earners; stricter limits for professionals (obviously, the following is of interest to people like me):

The bill amends the Tax Code by increasing the personal tax exemption to P50,000 for all workers, whether single, married or a breadwinner. It is currently at P20,000 for single workers, P25,000 for a family head, and P32,000 for married individuals…

…Aside from the increased tax exemption, it also increased exemptions for up to four dependents, to P25,000 each from P8,000. However, the fourth child born after Dec. 31, 2010 and a third child born after Dec. 31, 2012 cannot be claimed as dependents…

…Also adopted in the tax measure was the Simplified Net Income Taxation Scheme, which would simplify the income tax for self-employed individuals but limits allowable deductions.

Under the SNITS, individuals engaged in trade, business and the practice of a profession, such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, certified public accountants, architects, artists and athletes, may deduct a standard 40% from gross income instead of the current 10%.

At only 10%, taxpayers would rather itemize their deductions via various business expenses that tax authorities found hard to check. For those who do not want the 40%, the itemized listing is stricter under the proposed bill…

While 80% of government revenues come from individual wage earners, only 20% is collected from self-employed individuals and professionals… “And while the effective tax rate of wage earners is 15.25%, for the self-employed and professionals it is measly 1.14%, because these self-employed individuals are usually over-deducting,” he said.

Under the approved measure only the following deductions will be allowed:

* reasonable allowances for salaries of officials and rank-and-file employees occupying administrative and selling positions;

* reasonable allowances for supplies, telecommunications, electricity, fuel, light and water;

* reasonable allowances for rentals;

* interest paid or accrued within a taxable year on loans contracted from accredited financial institutions; and

* taxes paid or incurred within the taxable year in connection with the taxpayer’s trade, business or profession.

Rhetoric 101: Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s response to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Proving we are idiots, well worth quoting in full:

When Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago called the House “idiots” in connection with the Spratlys/baseline issue, I trembled for my beloved chamber. Miriam knows an idiot when she sees one. After all, she has worked with the idiots close at hand, especially in the Senate, most of her political life. But now she was accusing us of being idiots. Did she have proof? Not yet.

But this chamber is about to furnish her with some. It seems we are taking seriously her jocular proposal to junk the House version on its third and purely formal reading, and substitute a joint commission to study the matter all over again; in the case of the Senate, for the first time. Only idiots will accept that idea. For two reasons:

Uno. She doesn’t even speak for the Senate since it hasn’t even started to craft a version, least of all adopt her own. So what is there to jointly study? Our completed version and the Senate’s nothing?

Dos. Nowhere and at no time has the abortion of a bill on third reading ever been superseded by a joint commission – or anything else for that matter – just to take it back to square one, before first reading. Except in one 17th matriarchal society in South Africa whose elders adopted a proposal to enlarge the territory of their kraal and the Queen ate them.

But this is now and this is here. There is no precedent in parliamentary practice anywhere and at anytime when a measure was aborted to make way for study period.

Besides, Miriam’s proposal is a redundancy. When and if she ever gets a version passed in the Senate, we can both meet at the bicameral conference committee as a joint commission, for as long as it takes to convince ourselves which version would be best for the country. Once we agreed, we wouldn’t have to go back to square one and reintroduce the common version in both chambers. We would merely take it back for our respective ratifications. That way we will have more time to re-study, in the case of the House, and to finally study, in the case of the Senate, an issue which would be high treason to mishandle.

I know Miriam was just baiting us. That is why I love her mischievous sense of humor. Let us not take the bait and prove we are her idiots after all. Thank you.

In his column, Joaquin Bernas, S.J. discusses the problems caused by our sloppily-written Constitution, particularly when it coems to figuring just how, exactly, Congress should go about deliberating on proposed constitutional amendments. He thinks the courts will have to weigh in. For those with stars in their eyes over Federalism, a timely reminder: Texas to look into requiring Amazon to collect sales tax.

And Malaysia Ponders How to Handle its Bloggers.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

45 thoughts on “The Omen

  1. That is probably good news, what the constitutional historian Bernas says —- that the the sloppily-written 1987 constitution stands in the way of proposed constitutional amendments for federalism. Couple this with many Filipinos’ distaste for surges against the Malacanang gates that hopefully, the focus is put on getting the job done (with laws like Freedom of Information or streamlining the civil service bureaucracy) as opposed to discussing how to re-write the rules on how to get the job done.

  2. Which means that the light firm, controlled by the Lopezes, is earning more than it should, in the view of Malacañang. Therefore, it should not have increased its rates last year—the floating rate notwithstanding.

    But this is the way I judge big business. I measure how much burden the rates (electricity, water, telephone, Internet) have on me and the profits of the providers and distributors. I look at how much a cabbie makes and you forgive them for trying to squeeze more money out of you. But these big companies are spoiled rotten. The owners have been consistently getting richer while we are getting poorer.

  3. Passing on to consumers the system losses, including their own consumption, is the height of rent-seeking.

    What happened to the regulators?

  4. OMEN in the Philippines:”MAREA” tide;marea alta : high tide
    marea baja : low tide

    E:strada or Ejercito

  5. OMENS:

    Myanmar – Beating up Buddhist monks

    China – Roughing up Tibetan monks

    Philippines – Coddling Bishops.


  6. “Uno. She doesn’t even speak for the Senate since it hasn’t even started to craft a version, least of all adopt her own. So what is there to jointly study? Our completed version and the Senate’s nothing?”

    14th Congress
    Senate Bill No. 1467
    Filed on August 14, 2007 by Trillanes IV, Antonio “Sonny” F.

    Long title
    Legislative status
    Pending in the Committee (9/17/2007)

    just want to point out that it is not true that the senate has nothing.

  7. “the “Mafia Team” composed of FG’s golf and business buddies (and former Ibazeta partners whom we now know bought out Broadband Philippines from Joey De venecia III, among other ventures) Ricky Razon of ICTSI, Endika Aboitiz of the second biggest private energy operators under the flagship Aboitiz Energy Ventures, Andy Soriano III and other small fish collectively called the “Malacañang Mafia”.”

    Endika Aboitiz gave up supeferry just to concentrate on Power. Ricky Razon of course has that issue with Madrigal on Transco .

    speaking of Razon’s ICTSI….

    Ibazeta and Soriano are board members of ICTSI and one Aboitiz scion is also on the board.

  8. With Psalm and Transco on the palm of the hands of Razon.

    I wonder who is using who,concerning Razon and Macapagal-Arroyo.

  9. why is abs-cbn not demanding transparency from Meralco? It seemed everyone there is soooo silent.
    Where are truth seekers of abs-cbn..

  10. why is abs-cbn not demanding transparency from Meralco? It seemed everyone there is soooo silent.
    Where are truth seekers of abs-cbn..

    do we even have to wonder about this?
    everyday that progresses, abs-cbn becomes more like fox news.
    i should worry about NAPOCOR more though. giving everyone retirement benefits worth billions and then hiring them back on again after they got the bonuses is garapalang corruption if i ever saw one. then dragging their feet on the privatization issue… seems to me someone is unwilling to let go of the milking cow..

  11. “do we even have to wonder about this?
    everyday that progresses, abs-cbn becomes more like fox news.
    i should worry about NAPOCOR more though. giving everyone retirement benefits worth billions and then hiring them back on again after they got the bonuses is garapalang corruption if i ever saw one. then dragging their feet on the privatization issue… seems to me someone is unwilling to let go of the milking cow..”

    long time no talk.
    ako nacurious ako na baka meron naman,dahil nanonood din naman ako ng televised radio broadcast nila, at least dun kinukwestion din naman nila,(with permission malamang)

    well bakit nga ba pinatulan ko pa yung commment na yun.
    What you say about Napocor retirees returning and foot dragging on privatization is so true.

    True many blame napocor for evat,blaming npc as the gocc with largest debts na sinasalo ng mga taxpayers.

    So knowing about it makes no difference after all.

  12. ‘and neither is the government backing alternative sources of power in a big way’

    Because the Philippines has a former soldier as secretary of the DOE. Put in someone who has a background in energy development.

  13. OR

    Put someone in the DOE with a common sense.
    Filipinos can probably save a lot of electricity if they will use compact flourescent bulbs instead of incandescent. The bulb is expensive but last longer and consumes less electricity. Why not ask GE or Phillips to manufacture that bulb in the Philipines tax free to bring its cost?

  14. The Philippines can also go into solar panel production. Solar grade Silicon can be obtained from rice husk(darak?).

  15. I agree with Supremo. The government, instead of fantasizing about broadband which would only waste more public sector man-hours watching YouTube, updating Friendster profiles and instant messaging, it should now recruit the best Filipino minds, invest generously in Solar Panel Technology R&D and help finance private manufacturers who are willing to mass produce and compete globally. It is one product that has an available global market long waiting for economical alternatives to fossil
    fuel energy. I bet Winston Garcia and his “friends” will be the first to block such an initiative, heheh.

    I’ve been told the company that helped assemble DLSU’s entry to the solar car competition is quietly operating a logistics facility in Santa Rosa Laguna where they collate orders, package the inverters, batteries and panels, and ship out to wholesale buyers worldwide. The size of the orders are so overwhelming they are operating in full capacity yet they have a two-year backlog, they now have stopped taking new orders. Imagine the demand! The sad thing is that all components are imported.

  16. Let me add, recent discoveries in solar cell research have enabled labs to convert the full solar spectrum into energy 100%, using indium gallium nitrides instead of the traditional silicon, which at best is only 30% efficient. I saw it last week on Planet Green (tama ba?) over at Discovery Channel.

    Solar panels are actually the reverse of LCD wherein electricity is introduced to a crystal array to produce various colors of light. Despite the billions of colors visible on LCD, it is still a fraction of the whole spectrum.

    I suggest we pirate Samsung’s LCD Engineers if we are serious about this.

  17. “i just want to point out that it is not true that the senate has nothing.” kg

    introduced by trillianes? that really amounts to nothing, as far as i’m concerned. he’s not even there to defend and promote it. what a waste. serves us right for electing a jailbird.

  18. There are other things that the Philippines can do. Hybrid cars can be imported tax free. Several years from now the government should only allow the manufacture and sale of hybrid cars.

  19. On alternative renewable energy, wind power is also a good source. Like solar energy, capital outlay per kilowatt-hour is higher than oil or coal power plants, but once in place the fuel is free.

    I believe they have been quite successful in the Iocos region.

    Better tap the good wind than the bad air of politicans. Now, if RP could find a way to store the stong winds from the typhoons.

  20. ‘store the stong winds from the typhoons’

    There’s a battery for everything and the biggest so far are dams. Build dams along the coast of Samar. Use the wind turbines to supply electricity to pumps. Pump water from the Pacific Ocean to the dams. Release the water to the hydroelectric plants to generate electricity when needed.

  21. OR

    ‘NaS battery technology has been demonstrated at over 30 sites in Japan totaling more than 20 MW with stored energy suitable for 8 hours daily peak shaving. The largest NaS installation is a 6MW, 8h unit for Tokyo Electric Power company. Combined power quality and peak shaving applications in the U.S. market are under evaluation. Commercial production of the basic building block – the NAS 50kW, 360 kWh module – is targeted for early 2003.’

  22. sounds like one can replace the department of energy minister.i would say: out with the olds and in with the NEW ( young talents)

  23. i just want to point out that it is not true that the senate has nothing.” kg

    “introduced by trillianes? that really amounts to nothing, as far as i’m concerned. he’s not even there to defend and promote it. what a waste. serves us right for electing a jailbird.”

    sabi mo eh!

  24. “Put someone in the DOE with a common sense.
    Filipinos can probably save a lot of electricity if they will use compact flourescent bulbs instead of incandescent. The bulb is expensive but last longer and consumes less electricity. Why not ask GE or Phillips to manufacture that bulb in the Philipines tax free to bring its cost?”

    Supremo back here in Pinas, Meralco has commercials promoting flourescent bulbs.
    Doe also has such an order to government offices to replace all incandescent bulbs with flourescent.

  25. Bencard,
    in addition Miriam, wants to start from scratch and form her own commission,as Locsin has been pointing out.

    if that happens, then even the house version becomes nothing.

    i may have a different opinion on trillanes,but I have to respect all your opinions.

  26. This might be months old, but at least those remote villages in Mindanao,can now enjoy solar power.

    ang tanong ko,pang remote villages lang ba ito.
    sa senate hearings paulit ulit ko nadinig na nawala ang mga industrial users(factories) kaya nahihirapan ang meralco makabawi in more ways than one.

    Sigurado ako pag nangyari na madaming residente nagtayo ng solar powered homes,may panibagong explanation na naman sa system loss at sa unused capacity ng mga planta.
    basta kung anu mang dahilan yan,madidinig natin yan.

  27. The Clean Air Act also aggravated the problem when it banned all incinerators. Aside from wasting the opportunity to generate power while systematically burning garbage, it produced more problems with more leachate reaching the water tables, accelerated land pollution, more methane released to the atmosphere adding more to our global warming woes than what they had originally planned to prevent. Where do you think hospital hazardous wastes are now disposed?

  28. Payatas: From Waste to Energy

    That only addresses the concern of maiking use of methane.

    The thing with hospital wastes is they are just mix it to gether with the usual garbage,meaning in the long run, those guys in payatas and the generations that follow them will live in toxic wastes.
    In some hospitals, they even have the nerve to dump it in the streets.

    Yes, to incinerators,especially for those hospitals.
    Al Gore might be inconvenienced,but it’s for him time to know the actual inconvenient truth.

    Green Peas should be left to the dining peace should also consider this inconvenient truth.

  29. Going back to trillanes….

    A position paper

    Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV


    Last August 2007, this author filed Senate Bill No. 1467 entitled “An Act Defining the Archipelagic Baselines of the Philippine Archipelago, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 3046, as Amended by Republic Act No. 5446.” or otherwise known as the “Archipelagic Baselines Law of the Philippines.” The bill was the result of a series of consultations primarily with former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, who first pushed for the Baselines bill way back in 1993. It basically defines the archipelagic baselines to include the Scarborough Shoal and designates the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) as a “regime of islands.” To further facilitate the passing of the bill, the technical details provided by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) as enumerated in House Bill No. 1202 filed by Congressman Antonio V. Cuenco as well as its other provisions were adopted in toto. Congress, however, filed HB 3216 that substituted for HB 1202.

    Recently, controversies arose with the discovery of the particulars of the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) being conducted by RP, China and Vietnam within the waters off Palawan. Thereafter, Malacanang pressured Congress to revert HB 3216 back to the Committee on Foreign Relations ostensibly to push for certain amendments. These two seemingly unrelated events inevitably pushed the baselines issue at the top of the national policy agenda. Given this context, now is the best time for us to finally resolve this issue.

    This paper intends to explain and justify the position adopted in SB 1467 and differentiate it with the other options, as well as to clarify other closely related subjects surrounding the baseline issue.

  30. MLQ3 contends that if the government under a dictator stole someones property than when the the dictatorial regime is toppled restitution must be made.

    However history tells us more of the details of what transpired.

    If ever the phrase “the road to hell was paved with good intentions” and “the devil is in the details” can be applied it can and should be applied to Cory Aquino’s revolutionary government. She was the executive, legislative and the justice system.

    Accroding to her executive secretary the Joker she need not have written any executive declaration or proclamation returning Meralco to the Lopez family. She just did it based on the premise that it was stolen by Marcos. Under her revolutionary government it was legal. I wonder if John Q. Public can now challenge that bequest in the SC to claim that the state was short-changed. Otherwise only another regime change or revoltuoion can make the change. We could be coming once again to extraneous events that might make that possible to happen in the name of national survival. Let us see what happens.

    Today Oscar Lopez has written an open letter to the Queen in waiting explaining the families perspective on Meralco’s history.

    He writes that in 1971 due to the increase in the price of oil and the subsequent devaluation of the peso the pendelum swung to the public side due to the inability of the private sector to fund capital intensive energy projects.

    Please note that Meralco was technically insolvent due to the twin events of massive devaluation and the massive increase in the price of oil. All of Meralco’s plants were bunker oil fired thermal plants. It would have been impossible for the consuming public to absorb such an increase to cover the surge in the peso cost of capital and the surge in the price of oil.

    So it is a fact that Juan de la Cruz had to absorb the loses over a period of time. No matter what form of government we would have had the so called energy sector in the Philippines is heavily import dependent.

    Cory Aquino in fact gave the Lopez family more assets than it was due as they were technically bankrupt in 1972. Out side forces caused it but now we are still fighitng the same battles. Now the nominal cost of light sweet U.S. crude oil for immediate delivery in dollars is over $ 120 a barrel. In the 50’s and 60’s it was lower at only $1-2 a barrel.

    World trade was based on the gold exchange standard and fixed rate of exchanges was the norm. That changed completely in 1972-73.

    Juan de la Cruz is still paying for these startegic errors in government policy all around.

    Normla practice is when a private enterprise is short on equity it declares bankruptcy and restructures. It is a legal process to sort out things to allow the business to continue in theory. More so a strategic business.

    However in the Philippines it becomes distorted by the anarchy of the feudal families who control the country.

    Till today the fundamentals of the economy, politics and culture of the country are still detrmined by the feuding families. Juan de la Cruz still bears the brunt of this myopic system.

    Meralco broke their long term contract with NAPOCOR after the Asian crisis and they naturally signed a long term contract with Shell and Chevron for taking up natural gas at a price indexed to the price of oil. Why only God knows? He should make public that contract.

    Oscar Lopex also informs the government that the Malampay project has paid off its invesment already and is operaitng now without any depreciation cost. He suggests another look at taxing the companies operating the oil fields.

    Let us see if this country will grow the balls to institute some sort of sovereignty over its own territory, resources and monetary systems for the common good of Juan de la Cruz or continue only serving the few.

    In present day monetary policy of some advanced countries they look only at core inflation with food and energy costs not included to try to see if there are imbalances in the physcial markets. However when inflation is caused by rising energy and food costs Central banks are useless and sometimes add to the problems. It becomes a fundamental economic problem of systems and structures.

    In the Philippines we have not gone past these fundamental problems and until these issues are looked at through the prism of economic structures and systems nothing will change.

    So everyone can go back to stroking themselves and playing with themselves like what you see on TV and the rest of the media.

  31. The role of modern global financial systems instigated and unilaterally imposed by the dollar regime after 1972 simply because the Americans had printed more money than they had gold in Fort Knox forced the U.S. to renege on its obligation.

    Almost all major utility and infrastructure development projects carry with it an implicit sovereign guarantee to creditors and investors.

    They are also subsidized by governments. Multilateral financial institutions are fundamentally governmental institutions. Unless grants are given they are sovereign obligations of the receiving state.

    So pray tell where is the privatization process wherein private capital will come in to take the risk and the gains.

    For major capital intensive utility and infra projects they require state participation.

    Why is Juan de la Cruz not informed by his representatives like Mikey and Villafuerte. Villafuerte’s wife sits in the Monetary Board while Mikey’s mom is our ‘uber economist.’ Now ‘Two tapes’ Bunye, a lawyer, will be also sitting in the Monetary Board.

    How many people know the difference between banking and monetary systems?

    It all boils down to what Adam Smith said, on the two most important technological inventions of man – writing and money.

    One for communicating and the other for communicating value. Pray tell which unit of account unlike kilos and pounds change their actual value based on the natural supply and demand of expectations and other fundamentals? National currencies…..

    Why was the natural price of the dollar vis a vis the peso at Php 55 to $1 at some time back and why is it now much lower? It is after all also a unit of account.

    After the gold exchange standard was abolished the political standard was put in place. That is also called statism. A nation state manages the supply and demand of their own currency through the fractional reserve banking system wherein the sovereign debt is the main reserve. That means we have made and monetized credit as money. The entire world revoles around the creation of monetized credit (or debt) which functions as money.

    All this under control of so called nation states. Think Zimbabwe…….

  32. “In the present world of financial capitalism, would it be best to go back to “free banking”
    and abolish all national central banks and let markets simply decide valuations. Markets are very good disciplinarians for individual mistakes. People will only learn through failures.

    Remove all deposit insurance and simply allow people to become fully accountable for their actions. Poverty and overpopulation would eventually self-correct.

    The history of the great depression affected the behavior of people that went through the contradiction. Keynesian economics abused by governments has made people dependent on the State – the ultimate moral hazard.

    Posted by: R Hiro Vaswani — 02 December 2006 12:23 am”

    “Wouldn’t it be neat if the Central Banks simply stepped aside and let the financial markets correct [themselves]?

    Let the markets play chicken with deflationary pressures even to the extent of bringing down the financial markets.

    Dometic political pressures then could be brought to bear when the realities of a hard crash happen.

    Nothing educates as much as letting people experience market failures.”

    Posted by: R Hiro Vaswani — 24 March 2008 1:32 pm

    Don’t worry one day,people will look back and wonder,after playing with themselves.

  33. Manolo is correct,
    if you are read in one medium,it is not necessarily true that you are also read in another medium,or in this case,the same medium.
    That is always a perfect opportunity to repeat yourself.

  34. Under the SNITS, individuals engaged in trade, business and the practice of a profession, such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, certified public accountants, architects, artists and athletes, may deduct a standard 40% from gross income instead of the current 10%.

    Problem is not in the deduction. It is the non-reporting of the real income of these professionals.

  35. “Cambridge – Today’s soaring commodity prices scream a fundamental truth of modern life that many politicians, particularly in the West, don’t want us to hear: the world’s natural resources are finite, and, as billions of people in Asia and elsewhere escape poverty, Western consumers will have to share them. Here is another truth: the price mechanism is a much better way to allocate natural resources than fighting wars, as the Western powers did in the last century.”

    “The United States’ ill-considered bio-fuels subsidy program demonstrates how not to react. Rather than acknowledge that high fuel prices are the best way to inspire energy conservation and innovation, the Bush administration has instituted huge subsidies to American farmers to grow grains for bio-fuel production. Never mind that this is hugely inefficient in terms of water and land usage.”

    “Moreover, even under the most optimistic scenario, the US and the world will still be relying mainly on conventional fossil fuels until the hydrocarbon era comes to an end (which few of us will live to see). Last but not least, diverting vast tracts of agricultural land into fuel production has contributed to a doubling of prices for wheat and other grains. With food riots in dozens of countries, isn’t it time to admit that the whole idea was a giant, if well-intentioned, mistake?”
    Kenneth Rogoff – The Silver Lining in High Commodity Prices

  36. Why Meralco, NAPOCOR and the country itself should look towards bankruptcy as a way out of this mess.

    Mirant one of the former owners of the largest IPP’s in the country was in bankrutpcy during the period when they owned their IPP’s in the Philippines.

    So since they sold out at a tremendous profit there is no stigma associated with a bankruptcy process.

    The entire financial system of the U.S. is now undergoing a quiet bail out by the Federal Reserve which is exchanging U.S. debt papers for their (the private instituions) toxic wastes indirectly subsidizing banks accounts with a contingent debt of the Republic. That is what statism is all about.

    Bankruptcy is one way on how to erase all the debasing and devaluation of the peso associated with the energy industry.

    Income taxes, duties, VAT and the existing cross subsidy of electric cost is borne by the small middle class. Those consuming 200kwh hours and above. It is like a tax. So we promote the use of jumpers because of the price arbitrage.

    Hence residential, commercial and industrial consumers are subsidizing the costs of the have nots. That anomaly makes business and industries cost of power expensive. Then we enable export processing zones also with lower rates to the detriment of high paying domestic industries. We play sectors against each other. All in the name of market competition.

    “When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree, there is scarce, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid. The liberation of public revenue, if it has ever been brought about at all, has always been brought about by a bankruptcy; sometimes by an avowed one, but always by a real one, though frequently by the raising of the denomination of the coin has been the most usual expedient by which a real public bankruptcy has been disguised under the appearance of a pretended payment. [in a depreciated currency] . . .”

    “When it becomes necessary for a state to declare itself bankrupt, in the same manner as when it becomes necessary for an individual to do so, a fair, open, and avowed bankruptcy is always the measure which is both least dishonourable to the debtor, and least hurtful to the creditor.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations…

    I doubt if Confucius or Smith could have dreamed of the form or character of currency today but the substance remains the same. It remains an alien abstract of labor!!!!!

    Now the next big question is this – do countries with surplus resources have an obligation to share their bounties with the world? Are they free to charge whatever they like for it for themselves only to the detriment of the global common good?

    If so which side will be siding with, the U.S. and the West or the emerging economies led by China, Russia, India and Brazil.

    Do we settle this through the means of an American led jihad or does the world start to concetrate on preparing and working towards the next revolution in energy generation away from fossil fuels?

    As the Chinese say the character for the word crisis in Chinese comes with a side for pessimism and optimism.

    I know the side of the jihadists. So far very little in the mainstream media is heard from the optimists.

    Man, we still have the Queen in waiting and her own Big Mike to worry and fret about and get more of the same thing soon. Man we should pray for oil to hit $200 a barrel. The turmoil that will surely ensue in some countries might just be good for the planet.

  37. Preparing for War over resources and markets

    Preparing for a new System of International Cooperation

    “It is shocking, and worrisome, that public financing remains slight, because these technologies’ success could translate into literally trillions of dollars of economic output. For example, according to the most recent data from the International Energy Agency, in 2006 the US government invested a meager $3 billion per year in energy research and development. In inflation-adjusted dollars, this represented a decline of roughly 40% since the early 1980’s, and now equals what the US spends on its military in just 1.5 days.”

    “The situation is even more discouraging when we look at the particulars. US government funding for renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, geothermal, ocean, and bio-energy) totaled a meager $239 million, or just three hours of defense spending. Spending on carbon capture and sequestration was just $67 million, while spending for energy efficiency of all types (buildings, transport, and industry) was $352 million.”

  38. “Govt still owns Meralco’: Sen. Enrile says government can retake company”

    now he tells’t di nya sinabay ito nung senatorial campaign nya,siguro tama na yung PPA exposes nya!Well,timing is everything. But At least I can see where Jude is coming from, based on the link provided.

    the historical presentation of hvrds,also told me more on the debts of meralco at the time.Kakapanganak ko pa lang nun, malay ko ba.

  39. HVRDS,

    Interesting wall street journal article.

    “The rich nations are predominantly service economies, with manufacturing having a relatively small share.”

    We are not rich,but th service sector is growing,with manufacturing also having a small share.Iba talaga tayo.

    Now what happens when the factory of the world becomes rich, another anomaly is bound to happen.

    Going to the defense spending;maybe that is what saved the US economy from outright recession for the time being.(but spending for the right reasons, like alternative energy,must happen.)

    I wonder if he democrats win,if things would change. Al Gore will certainly be still around, and of course who can forget Bill Clinton.

  40. Before we think of bankcruptcy, let’s go back to the role of World Bank.

    How bankcruptcy works:

    First, it must get approval from world bank and the IMF. (I cannot find a book that a country is allowed to bankcrupt unless all assets will be owned by creditor, the US).The other lenders like China or Germany would have to give permission on a case-by-case basis.)

    Second, it must be demonstrably insolvent—the country needs to prove that it can’t make future debt payments or that it has already missed debt payments for lack of funds.
    = we are not insolvent because of high overseas remittance revenue.

    Third, the country must want to get out of financial trouble, and it must have made a good-faith effort to negotiate with its creditors before filing for bankruptcy.
    = the third one is the best way to go… negotiate our interest rates and try to mitigate the loan considered as odious debts.

  41. Leytenian,

    HVRDS was quoting Adam Smith from the book Wealth of Nations published in March 9,1776.

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