MERALCO RATE HIKE: HIGHEST RATE IN THE WORLD

INQUIRER: The House committee on energy will investigate starting Tuesday the rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt-hour of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the utility firm’s highest rate hike that will result in a P830 rise in the monthly bill of households using 200 kWh. Households using 300 kWh will have an increase in their monthly bill of P1,245 while those consuming 400 kWh will be charged P1,660 more. The increases have drawn the ire of consumer advocates who describe it as “insensitive” and “callous” amid the destruction wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” the huge profits of Meralco, and rising prices of cooking gas and petroleum products.

ALSO: ECONOMY GAP: A new paradigm is needed

THE continuing failure of the current Aquino administration to correct societal malaise and close the economic gap between the overwhelmingly poor majority and the 76 filthy-rich families that control our economy is an indictment of its continuing adherence to the neo-liberal ideology. However, this situation also highlights the need for a new but indigenous political and economic paradigm.

ALSO: Gloria Arroyo Christmas furlough debated

A MEMBER of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Sandiganbayan to grant detained former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a Christmas furlough for “humanitarian and compassionate considerations,” but another member of the minority vowed to block it.


‘Highest rate in the world’ By Rio N. Araja | Dec. 08, 2013 at 12:01am 8


MERALCO (MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY)

MANILA, DECEMBER 9, 2013 (MANILA STANDARD) LABOR leaders continued to assail the record P4.15 power rate hike the Manila Electric Co. wants to impose this month and said this would be highest residential electricity rate in the world.

“This is unjust. When implemented, the P4.15 rate adjustment will be the highest in Philippine history. This will also be the highest residential rate in the world,” said Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa and convenor of the Nagkaisa labor confederation.

“At least 70 percent of Luzon depend on Meralco. Can you imagine how many households and individuals will be affected? “ he asked. “The P4.15/kwh increase in Meralco rate is additional P830 burden for households consuming 200 kwh per month.”

Moreover, Meralco’s ostensible reason for the hike - maintenance work on the Malampaya gas line - was unacceptable because it was an expected event and not force majeure.

“The scheduled maintenance of Malampaya and even other plants was already imputed in the Meralco rate,” Fortaleza said.

“Meralco residential rates currently pegged at P12.46 per kWh will now be hiked to P15.96 per kWh, representing a 28 percent increase,” he added.

For industry, where power rates already constitute 45 percent to 55 percent of operational costs, particularly for small and medium enterprises and outsourcing companies, the rate increase will greatly affect their business viability, he said.

According to Meralco, said the higher electricity bill in December was due to the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility and that the power firm could impose rate increases without further approval from ERC.

Fortaleza, however, disputed the claim and said Meralco has to secure the approval of the ERC which is expected to take up the matter on Monday.

ERC executive director Francis Juan said the commission is also monitoring the pricing of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market in the last month, adding it is closely looking into the energy department’s probe into the matter.

The Samahan ng Mangagawa said the hike rate is unfair since almost all the workers in NCR were only granted P10 per day or P260 per month under Wage Order No. 18.

Moreover, the steep hike could have been prevented because the Malampaya shutdown is part of regular biannual maintenance and had already been factored in Meralco’s power supply agreements with its suppliers, like First Gas’ Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo and Kepco Ilijan.

Based on First Gen’s submission to the Philippine Stocks Exchange on March 20, 2012, it was explained that, “Although the Sta. Rita plant is intended to operate on natural gas, if delivery of natural gas is delayed or interrupted for any reason, the plant has the ability to run on liquid fuel for as long as necessary without adverse impact to its operation or revenues.”

The same business model goes with San Lorenzo, the group said.

The labor groups accused power generation companies of collusion to drive up prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market. With Vito Barcelo

ECONOMY: A new paradigm is needed By Nelson Forte Flores | Dec. 04, 2013 at 12:01am 16 MANILA STANDARD

MANILA - THE continuing failure of the current Aquino administration to correct societal malaise and close the economic gap between the overwhelmingly poor majority and the 76 filthy-rich families that control our economy is an indictment of its continuing adherence to the neo-liberal ideology. However, this situation also highlights the need for a new but indigenous political and economic paradigm.

Institutions are created to serve society and not the other way around. People, by necessity, are served by the institutions they created. Therefore it is not only appropriate but just that an unresponsive or irrelevant institution/system either needs to be reformed or taken down to give way to a new one.

We are supposedly an independent nation, yet we never have the freedom to institute our own economic and political systems.


PHOTO COURTESY OF http://www.pryo.net/constitutions.html

The short-lived Malolos Republic was established under the “protection of the United States” while the 1935 Philippine Constitution was adopted only after being approved by the U.S. government. On the other hand, the wartime Laurel administration (1943-1945) was totally under Japanese control while the 1973 Constitution was adopted under dubious circumstances and the watchful eyes of the military.

Meanwhile, the 1986 Constitution of Ms. Corazon Aquino is but an improved throwback to the 1935 Constitution. Ms. Aquino’s Constitution just marked the return of the landed oligarchs. In less than nine decades from 1898, we have come full circle.

Without regard to our culture and mindset, our American colonial masters transplanted their “democratic system” to our shores. However, in a bid to have loyal surrogates run the country they did not dismantle the feudal legacy left by the Spaniards or end the dynastic practices of the ruling families. This caused long term societal, political and economic ills, which include among others the now prevailing culture of impunity.

We have adopted modern American institutions but paradoxically we continue to have feudal relations in our economic and political lives. This allowed the old traditional families to maintain their economic and political power. These families continue to treat their respective provinces as their fiefdoms and the masses their subjects. This is why despite the modern trappings in our government, the mafia-like system of patronage politics continues to thrive in our country.

Feudalism is also the reason we have a very shallow pool of political leaders or why there is no credible opposition to those in power. We are currently trapped in a situation where we have no real alternative to whoever we want to replace. Almost all our politicians, be they members of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) or the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), are of the same frame of mind and mediocre caliber. In reality, we don’t have any meaningful choice except the family names. Most of these so-called leaders are political vermin whose difference is measured only by their individual appetite for wealth and power.

Even the supposedly progressive groups of the extreme left are affected by the barren political landscape. They are frozen in time. They want meaningful societal change but cannot do so due to their warped interpretation of the Marxist, Leninist, Mao Tse Tung Thought. Their analysis of the national situation and political line are vintage of the 1960’s, a time when the world has yet to undergo Information Technology revolution. Their proposed solutions to our problem are in all probability worse than our predicament.

These alleged progressives, especially those under the banner of the Communist Party of the Philippines, like our colonizers; also have no regard for our culture and people. They wanted an alien system. They have adopted MLMTT wholesale without any consideration to our belief system and culture. The dismal failure of these extreme leftist organizations to politically advance and sync their beliefs to the Filipino mindset after more than 40 years of struggle is more than enough proof that is something wrong with their political line.

An alien paradigm, like language, is a product of a peculiar circumstance of a particular nation. It has its own nuances. It is based on a specific logic borne by a particular people’s experience. It is foolish for both the government and the CPP-led organizations to hope that in adopting the NSS and MLMTT as guiding principles everything will be alright.

Our history is full of examples how both the NSS and MLMTT ideologies failed to correctly respond to the needs of the Filipino people. Both the government and the communist movements need to change track to be relevant. This is why a new political and economic paradigm is needed for the Philippines.

The writings of Andres Bonifacio, Marcelo H. Del Pilar and Dr. Jose P. Rizal could provide the initial framework from which the new paradigm would be based. This all Filipino model will definitely be suited to the Filipino temperament and culture.

Using this new Filipino paradigm we could expect a country and government that is humane, God-centered, and nationalist.

We don’t need a cold and impersonal NSS ideology of the feudal right or the warped dogma of the materialist left.

What we need is the warmth and humanity of a truly Filipino Ideology.

GMA Christmas furlough debated By Maricel Cruz | Dec. 05, 2013 at 12:01am 2

A MEMBER of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Sandiganbayan to grant detained former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a Christmas furlough for “humanitarian and compassionate considerations,” but another member of the minority vowed to block it.

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, who served as justice secretary during the Ramos administration, has filed House Resolution 537 that says the ailing Arroyo must be allowed to leave the hospital and spend the holidays at home “so she will be given the opportunity to regain her health and be strong enough to face the charges against her and defend herself in court.

“Based on Mrs. Arroyo’s most recent medical update, the doctors in the [Veterans Memorial Medical Center] found no medical improvement in the condition of Mrs. Arroyo and they have certified that due to her confinement, the ability of her body to heal has been impaired and will eventually result in permanently damaging her health and even endangering her life,” Bello, a chief peace negotiator during the Arroyo administration, said in his resolution.

But Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, a deputy minority leader and a staunch Arroyo critic, thumbed down Bello’s proposal, saying “no special treatment” should be extended to Arroyo despite her debilitating health condition.

“If all those in jail with pending cases have no furlough, why give a congresswoman or a congressman with a pending case a furlough?” Colmenares told reporters.

Colmenares, member of the so-called Makabayan Bloc that also belongs to the opposition, said the law should apply equally to all whether the accused was a public official, a former president or an ordinary citizen.

“There should be no special treatment to [Arroyo],” Colmenares said.

But Bello rejected Colmenares’ claims, saying Arroyo deserved a furlough not because she was a congresswoman or a former president but because “she is sick, she needs it physically, psychology and even mentally.

“I would do the same thing to all prisoners or detainees...any detainee is entitled to a furlough if he or she desires upon proper motion or request.

“When I was a secretary of justice there were prisoners who were getting sick, and I allowed them to be brought to the hospital and if the doctor advised us that they needed their families, we also allowed that.”

Bello, in his resolution, noted Arroyo’s doctors’ medical analysis and advice that her prolonged confinement in a hospital would slow down her healing.

“Mrs. Arroyo would be better off released from detention and granted liberty, even a temporary one, to allow her to recover from her illnesses and prevent her continuous and progressive deterioration,” Bello said.

He said her doctors also believed that her full recovery from certain illnesses required a holistic approach that included family support and emotional stability that a patient could not get in a hospital.

Arroyo is under hospital arrest on plunder and electoral sabotage cases.

EARLIER REPORT

Gloria ‘getting sicker by the day,’ docs say By Christine F. Herrera | Aug. 10, 2013 at 12:02am MANILA STANDARD

FORMER President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has asked the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court to order her release from hospital arrest and subject her to house arrest instead due to her failing health.

Arroyo has been confined at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center for one-and-a-half years, where the doctors have told the Sandiganbayan that she has “not been cured of her illness and is getting sicker by the day.”

They said only a house arrest could reverse Arroyo’s deteriorating health.

“Clearly, President GMA is a suffering sick lady. I say this without any fear of contradiction,” Dr. Ernesto Palanca said.

“I say this because I have seen her three times in the past 10 years when she was in the pink of health.

“She has a degenerative bone disease and this is being addressed. She has a narrowing in her esophagus. How can she by her own increase her antibodies and enhance her own immune system if authorities continue to detain her as an accused criminal?”

In a separate progress report, spine surgeon Antonio Sison said Arroyo was diagnosed to have cervical spine radiculopathy and degenerative lumbar spine disease.

“Mrs. Arroyo has not been cured of her illness and she continues to feel its effects to date. It is doubtful whether her current medical management regime will result in any marked medical improvement of her condition,” Sison said.

He said it had been one-and-a-half years since surgical procedures were performed on Arroyo.

“It is not healthy to keep a patient in continued confinement in a medical facility for over a year,” Sison said.

He said Arroyo continued to complain of cervical radicular pain and low back pain with radiculopathy.

“Also, she has recurrent dysphagia or difficulty swallowing solid food due to esophageal stenosis, which contributes to poor appetite and weight loss,” Sison said.

Palanca said he did a medical examination on Arroyo on July 30. He submitted pictures of Arroyo showing her deteriorating health to the Sandiganbayan, along with the motion to detain her at home, on Aug. 2.

“In my opinion, one mode worth trying to reverse the ongoing deterioration of President GMA’s health is to release her from detention even on a temporary liberty, so that her body can rally the protective forces only her mind can command to combat the negative forces that are making her sicker by the day,” Palanca said.

“It is a common medical fact that prolonged confinement in a hospital not just as a patient but as an accused in a criminal case is not conducive to a feeling of a sense of well-being.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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