PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

PINOY GETS EXTRA POWERS, BUT HOUSE ACTION COULD FACE SENATE OPPOSITION 

DEC 11 ---THE House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on third and final reading a resolution granting special powers to President Benigno Aquino III to address a supposed power shortage, but the measure faces rough sailing in the Senate with the opposition of Senator Sergio Osmeña III. The House approved Joint Resolution No. 1 via acclamation on second reading and 149 lawmakers later voted for the resolution’s passage over the objections of 18 congressmen, like Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who said the resolution allowed the suspension of environmental laws. But Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy and co-chair the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said the approved powers would be limited to the use of the Interruptible Load Program that was already being implemented anyway. Besides, Umali said they ensured that consumers will not have to pay extra when the government’s power reserves fall below the usual requirement around March next year. “We approved the emergency powers with a ‘no pass-on’ provision. The government will shoulder the additional cost of electricity. We are eyeing Malampaya Funds as subsidy,” Umali said, adding that the cost for additional electricity would be sourced from the Malampaya Fund. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: PNoy was misled about emergency powers;  Osmeña, Escudero slam House resolution

DEC 11 --PHOTO: Osmena Escudero --PRESIDENT Simeon Benigno Aquino III does not really understand the power sector and is relying on equally uninformed people who misled the Chief Executive into asking for special powers that are not needed in the first place, according to Senator Sergio Osmena III. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate energy committee, made the remark on Thursday after the House passed a joint congressional resolution granting Aquino special powers, but limited only to the Interruptible Load Program that had already been implemented without special powers. Osmeña, related by marriage to the Lopez family which is one of the biggest players in the power industry, reiterated there is no need for special powers and Sen. Francis Escudero echoed the sentiment. “I have already been burned by emergency powers,” Escudero said during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum. “The last time we gave emergency powers related to electricity, prices went up as a result. So we should be careful if we will do that again.”

Escudero also doubted the need for special powers after the Department of Energy admitted to lawmakers that they are actually predicting a shortage in power reserves instead of an actual shortage in power supply. “[The President] does not really know power,” Osmeña said on Thursday when told that the House had passed a measure granting Aquino special powers, but limited only to the Interruptible Load Program that the government has already been implementing since 2010. “So he relies on people who don’t know power either,” he said, referring to Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla, who initially asked Congress to grant emergency powers to Aquino so he could contract generator sets to address a supposed power shortage during the summer months of 2015. Even if the supposed shortage were real, Osmeña said the country’s energy regulators could have found a way to deal with if only they applied themselves. “Believe me, we will have 1,600 megawatts,” Osmena said, referring to the amount of the power shortage that Petilla predicted during the summer months. For one, Osmeña said the government should have talked to resort owners at Lake Caliraya in Laguna so that the CBK power plant there could pump more water it needs to produce more power. CONTINUE READING....

(ALSO) Aquino: Serge’s fault if crisis hits  

BUSAN—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday challenged Senator Sergio Osmeña III to take the blame and be the first to explain to the public if the country suffers from power outages during the summer months next year after the lawmaker opposed the granting of emergency powers that will allow the government to contract additional energy sources. “Senator Serge, with all due respect, is saying all these things and he has convinced some of his colleagues and until now we don’t have emergency powers. Maybe he looks at it half-full and we look at it half-empty,” Aquino said. “If we suffer from power shortage, I hope he volunteers to answer to the public why we do not have enough energy supply. The government was not lacking in efforts to avert this problem. Maybe they will give it to us on March 1, and then the public will blame us. For our part, perhaps he (Osmeña) can volunteer to explain. Mauna siya,” the President added. The senator earlier said Aquino does not really understand the power sector and is relying on equally uninformed people who misled the President into asking for special powers that are not needed in the first place. Osmeña, who chairs the Senate energy committee, said the Interruptible Load Program is already enough to expand the country’s reserve power. “[The President] does not really know power... so he relies on people who don’t know power either,” said Osmena. Osmena found an ally in Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who on Friday tagged as “dangerous” the “calendar accommodations” in rushing the grant of emergency powers to the president. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Senate on Noy powers: No rush  

 DEC 12 ---PHOTO: SENATOR OSMENA, ENERGY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN---Philippines - The Senate won’t be rushed into passing its version of a resolution granting President Aquino emergency powers to address an imminent power shortage in summer next year, Senate committee on energy chairman Sergio Osmeña III said yesterday. Osmeña said he saw no need to immediately approve the joint resolution, which the President certified as urgent and was approved by the House of Representatives the other day. The senator said that if the purpose of granting special powers to Aquino is to make the interruptible load program (ILP) work, such power is unnecessary because the program is already in place and working in Cebu and Davao. “Very generally, in order to obtain additional generating capacity, we are authorizing the President to do what? I don’t know what they are authorizing the President to do,” he said. “But they are just saying that, we are hereby exempting companies that join the ILP from certain laws. There’s the VAT law, the Biofuels Act, but we don’t need this. We don’t have to give those exemptions at all.” In his previous statements, Osmeña said that several big corporations and industries with generator sets have committed to participate in the ILP without any incentive except for a guarantee that the government would shoulder the costs of running these generators. READ FULL SUPPORT...

ALSO: Phl to answer questions from UN tribunal on sea row

DEC 12 ---The Philippines will answer questions from the United Nations tribunal on the West Philippine Sea dispute with China during an oral argument in The Hague, the Netherlands. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said the tribunal will give the questions after the Dec. 15 deadline for China to submit its counter-memorial. “And if we will be asked to go to The Hague for oral arguments then that could take place maybe in the middle of next year,” he said. China has indicated in its last position paper that it will not participate in the arbitral process. Jose said the tribunal will also take China’s side into account. “Anything in that position paper already serves that purpose,” he said. “China is stating its position so I think that will be taken into account by the court.”  In a position paper released on Sunday, China outlined its arguments against the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to take up the case filed by the Philippines last year that could have implications on its claims over nearly all of the West Philippine Sea. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: ‘Double entries’ in additional budget? 

PHOTO: KABATAAN REP RIDON: AN opposition lawmaker said there were “suspicious double entries” for five big-ticket items amounting to P3.14 billion in the supplemental budget for 2014 during plenary debates Thursday. During the session, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon grilled the bill’s sponsor, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, for including several items in the P22.4 billion supplemental budget “that just repeat items already funded by the 2014 and 2015 budgets.”  Ridon identified the five projects with double entries as the Department of Interior and Local Governments’ procurement of fire trucks, the Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Railway Transit rehabilitation, the National Greening Program and the Treasury Single Account Program. “Isn’t appropriating funds for a program or project that’s already been given funding in the national budget a sort of corruption in itself? In accounting, this is called a double entry—two budgets for only one project,” Ridon said in the plenary session. “The proposed P22.4-billion supplemental budget for 2014 is replete with suspicious double entries,” Ridon said. He said the Department of Budget and Management and the House leadership kept saying that the items that they included in the proposed supplemental budget were not funded by either the 2014 or 2015 General Appropriations Act. “However, a simple check of these budget laws show that there are proposed items in HB 5237 that are already funded by the annual national budget,” Ridon said. Items 1 and 2, for example, sought P903.8 million for the implementation of the “Treasury Single Account” even though in the 2014 national budget, some P515.6 million had already been appropriated for the same project, with a capital outlay of P501 million and P14.6 million for Maintenance Operating and Other Expenses or MOOE. Item 3 sets aside P11.2 million for the hiring of 294 former rebels under the National Greening Program, but the 2014 national budget already appropriated P403.5 million for the same, he said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Transactional politics oozes in budget supplement 

PHOTO; SC CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO ---The 2014 supplemental budget is shaping up as a pork repository exclusively for allies of President Aquino in the House with its approval coming right after the swift approval of emergency powers that the Palace had vigorously sought for President Aquino purportedly to address a power crisis next year. Aside from the House’s plan to scrap the P700-million allocation for the Supreme Court’s Enterprise Information System Plan in the P22-billion budget supplement, it was found to contain several double entries. The proposed P22.4-billion supplemental budget for 2014 is “replete with suspicious double entries,” Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon pointed out yesterday. The House move to scrap the funding for the Supreme Court was contained in the Committee Report of House Bill 5237 or the P22 billion supplemental budget for 2014. The Palace allies in the House are still smarting from the removal of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which were both declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).The SC’s sought funding was, in turn, committed by the Palace which was suspected as the reason for the high court holding up a final verdict on the DAP which is on appeal by Malacañang. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Leni Robredo's ‘waiting for a bus’ photo from Facebook went viral  

A photo of Camarines Sur third district Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo while waiting alone for a provincial bus to Naga City has gone viral and has since drew admirations from netizens. The photo, which was taken by the lawmaker’s friend Keisha del Castillo last December 4, showed a woman waiting alone at a gas station in Magallanes, Makati City, donned in a striped shirt and denim pants and carrying two bags. Del Castillo’s caption for the photo says: “The art of riding the bus to Naga: if you can’t catch it in Cubao, you can always try to flag it down at the Magallanes Shell Station. Like Cong. Leni Robredo.” Robredo, a lawyer and widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, confirmed that she was the woman in the photo. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

PNoy gets extra powers, But House action could face Senate opposition

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, DECEMBER 15, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD)  By Maricel Cruz, Macon R. Araneta -  THE House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on third and final reading a resolution granting special powers to President Benigno Aquino III to address a supposed power shortage, but the measure faces rough sailing in the Senate with the opposition of Senator Sergio Osmeña III.

The House approved Joint Resolution No. 1 via acclamation on second reading and 149 lawmakers later voted for the resolution’s passage over the objections of 18 congressmen, like Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who said the resolution allowed the suspension of environmental laws.

But Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy and co-chair the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said the approved powers would be limited to the use of the Interruptible Load Program that was already being implemented anyway.

Besides, Umali said they ensured that consumers will not have to pay extra when the government’s power reserves fall below the usual requirement around March next year.

“We approved the emergency powers with a ‘no pass-on’ provision. The government will shoulder the additional cost of electricity. We are eyeing Malampaya Funds as subsidy,” Umali said, adding that the cost for additional electricity would be sourced from the Malampaya Fund.

But Colmenares argued that the resolution was not only unnecessary because the Department of Energy itself admitted that the additional energy to be generated will only only cover shortages in reserves and not in the actual power used by consumers.

Morerover, Colmenares said the resolution also allowed the suspension of environmental laws, like the Biofuels Act, Clean Air Act, the Philippine Grid Code, and the Philippine Distribution Code, which are meant to regulate the price of electricity.

“This is a joint resolution not to cure any shortage of supply. This is a joint resolution to facilitate the establishment of power plants even if they violate our environmental laws and other rules requiring consent, consultation,” Colmenares told reporters in a news briefing.

“The matter is not really about electricity, but the power to suspend environmental laws and fast-track the application of power plants so they don’t have to comply with the requirements of the law,” he added.

The resolution was meant to empower the President to purchase or rent generating sets that would have cost between P6 billion to P12 billion to prevent massive outages that could be as long as 3-5 hours over 5 days.

But the DOE later admitted that the additional capacity needed was only to ensure the amount of reserves and not to fill up a shortage on supply.

The DOE said it needs to maintain reserves of 1,004 megawatts to cover for heavier energy usage during the summer months of 2015. Of the figure, 600 megawatts worth of dispatchable reserve power is needed while 404 megawatts will be reserved for contingencies.

After the DOE failed to justify the need to purchase or lease generator sets, the House watered down the proposal to focus more on the ILP.

Osmeña, chairman of the Senate committee on energy, also questioned the need for emergency powers and rescheduled hearings until Senate President Franklin Drilon asked senators to prioritize the deliberations on the budget.

“Right now, all senators are busy to pass the most important law every year, which is the national budget. There are instructions already from the Senate President’s office that there will be no hearings until the national budget is passed,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña also also said he doubted the Senate can tackle the emergency power measure before the end of the year because the measure was serious and complicated and needed to be scrutinized by Congress.

“I think they will mostly have to do with appropriations and the use of the Malampaya fund. So it might not be an amendment or exemption to the [Electric Power Industry Reform Act] but an exemption to the Malampaya fund,” Osmeña said.

On the other hand, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza blamed Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for the supposed power crisis and urged the Cabinet officials to resign if he could not solve the problem.

“He should get an emergency exit and not emergency powers,” Atienza said of Petilla, adding that Umali should not blame power consumers for the supposed crisis because the problem was created by Petilla.

“If they already knew that there will be a problem next year, they should have acted on it. There are other alternatives to address the problem. Granting emergency powers is not the solutionm,” Atienza said.

“If our power plants are breaking down, does that not reflect on the persons managing them? Then we should get better and more efficient managers so we can avoid breakdowns like the ones we are facing now,” Atienza said.

On the other hand, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. welcomed the passage of the resolution and stressed that it provided that “additional generating capacity shall be sourced from the Interruptible Load Program” in addition to the power plants that are already in the pipeline.

The ILP program involves asking malls, factories and other establishments to use their own generator sets when the National Grid Corportation of the Philippines expects the supply of electricity to fall short of demand.

Under the ILP, customers with large power loads such as commercial establishments will be asked to operate their own generators when the power grid could not meet power demand and the generator owner would be reimbursed later.

Belmonte encouraged heavy power users like malls, industrial plants and similar big establishmentys to enlist participation in the ILP and that the participants shall be properly compensated by the government.

Umali, meanwhile, maintained the resolution would not result in higher electricity rates for consumers because it specifically rules out buying or leasing generator sets as originally proposed by the DOE.

The special authority given to the President will last only until July 2015 unless earlier withdrawn by the President and upon the recommendation of the Joint Congressional Power Commission.

The House will transmit the approved Joint Resolution to the Senate for reconsideration.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

PNoy was misled about emergency powers;  Osmeña, Escudero slam House resolution By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz | Dec. 12, 2014 at 12:01am

PRESIDENT Simeon Benigno Aquino III does not really understand the power sector and is relying on equally uninformed people who misled the Chief Executive into asking for special powers that are not needed in the first place, according to Senator Sergio Osmena III.

Osmeña, chairman of the Senate energy committee, made the remark on Thursday after the House passed a joint congressional resolution granting Aquino special powers, but limited only to the Interruptible Load Program that had already been implemented without special powers.


Osmena Escudero

Osmeña, related by marriage to the Lopez family which is one of the biggest players in the power industry, reiterated there is no need for special powers and Sen. Francis Escudero echoed the sentiment.

“I have already been burned by emergency powers,” Escudero said during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum. “The last time we gave emergency powers related to electricity, prices went up as a result. So we should be careful if we will do that again.”

Escudero also doubted the need for special powers after the Department of Energy admitted to lawmakers that they are actually predicting a shortage in power reserves instead of an actual shortage in power supply.

“[The President] does not really know power,” Osmeña said on Thursday when told that the House had passed a measure granting Aquino special powers, but limited only to the Interruptible Load Program that the government has already been implementing since 2010.

“So he relies on people who don’t know power either,” he said, referring to Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla, who initially asked Congress to grant emergency powers to Aquino so he could contract generator sets to address a supposed power shortage during the summer months of 2015.

Even if the supposed shortage were real, Osmeña said the country’s energy regulators could have found a way to deal with if only they applied themselves.

“Believe me, we will have 1,600 megawatts,” Osmena said, referring to the amount of the power shortage that Petilla predicted during the summer months.

For one, Osmeña said the government should have talked to resort owners at Lake Caliraya in Laguna so that the CBK power plant there could pump more water it needs to produce more power.

“[The resort owners] have to take a backseat to the people’s needs for power. That’s an extra 100MW to 150MW,” said Osmena, stressing that Lake Caliraya was created as a water imponding facility and not as a resort lake.

He said the CBK plant has a stalled capacity of 750MW, but only delivers 500MW because they could not get additional waters after resort owners complained that they might be drowned.

He said the government can also generate more power if the Energy Regulatory Commission exempts hydro drams in Luzon from December to March from Wholesale Electricity Spot Market rules which prevent them from giving an additional 100-250MW during summer.

The hydro-electrict plant owners, Osmena said, are composed of the Aboitiz group, which owns Magat Dam, Ambuklao dam and Binga Dam; businessman Ramon Ang, who operates the San Roque dam and the Lopez group which operates the Pantabangan dam.

Osmena said he will ask the ERC to exempt the plants from WESM’s must-offer rule so that during summer, “we will have more power, so that’s another 100-150MW.”

At present, he said the Senate is still trying to get all the details on the cost and the legalities involved like the need for exemptions from the biofuels law for the Ilijan-Kepco.

“We might want to exempt the natural gas plant of Kepco-Ilijan from the Biofuels Act because the biofuels are very dirty so they have to clean the plant right after using the biofuel and it takes them five days to clean the plant.,” he said.

When that happens, the plant is offline and unproductive for five days and Osmeña does not want that to be lost. “Let’s exempt them from that, it’s a very small price to pay,” he said.

“And then, we want to keep hold of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) because it will pay the extra storage to deliver diesel to Kepco Ilijan for their 2nd 600MW plant that they would not be operating because they lack storage facilities,” he said

“It costs less than a million dollars. Don’t let PSALM be left holding the financial bag there. So, we will be authorizing the President to use the Malampaya Fund,” Osmeña added.

But even if the government had the 1,600 megawatts it says it lacks, the DOE still will not be able to assure that there will be no power outages.

“Yes, we will still have outages, but short brownouts. Very short. Maybe 1-2 hours. It depends on the hottest day. Or if by accident, suddenly three big plants go down or a boiler explodes. We cannot predict that. That’s an act of God,” he said.

“It’s up to God. There will be so many (systems) that will go down during April and May, which are the hottest months. But I think normal outage we will be limited to three or four brownouts a year,” he also said.

Osmeña said the country, under its current situation, really has very low reserve power of about 19% and we expect 3-5 brownouts every year.

“In a situation where, like Singapore you have a 50% reserve, not 90, not 20%, but 50% you expect 1 brownout every 3 years,” he said.

Osmena reiterated that he does not see the need for the emergency power since everything seems to be in place. He said the ILP is in place to address the power outage.

“We have found certain solutions that would expand our reserve power. So, what is the House asking for? The 750MW? We have already looked for 600MW, plus another 300MW of hydro, plus another 300MW in full peaking plant in Malaya the moment it is fully repaired plus the ILP,” stressed Osmeña.

He said that in the ILP alone, we can already access 1000MW, and that is already de-rated, meaning we expect 1400 MW at 70% efficiency, it will be de-rated to 1000MW.

“So we will have sufficient power to say that our reserve of 1600MW will be covered,” said Osmena. “Now, I cannot answer why were they saying that the 1,600MW would not be enough.”

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, who voted in the House against the special powers, also saw no need for House Joint Resolution 21 which will result in “an open season for environmental degradation and abuse” because of the suspension of environment compliance certificates.

“Imagine, for five months, laws that protect our environment from exploitation and destruction together with labor laws that protect our workers from abuse, will totally be inoperable. It’s a very large window open for abuse,” Ridon said.

“Essentially, HJR 21 will exempt power industry players from any liability if they commit infractions against pertinent laws during the period covered by the measure. If ever a large-scale environmental disaster happens in that period, generating companies will go unscathed,” he added.

But Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali allayed Ridon’s fears, saying the special power to be granted to the President will not result in an “open season for environmental destruction” since power plants will still be required to comply with environmental protection laws, albeit belatedly.

“Just because the laws are suspended for those five months doesn’t mean that power plants can ignore meeting the requirements to obtain an ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate).

“After July, the companies would have to comply. If they don’t, their plants would have to stop [operating],” Umali told reporters at a press conference.

Umali said the cited Unit 1 of the Malaya Power Plant in Rizal which will be rehabilliyated soon as this would benefit once the implementation of environmental laws are suspended once the special power of the President is in effect.

“Malaya has emission problems and violates the Clean Air Act because it uses bunker fuel. If we don’t suspend the implementation of the Clean Air Act from March to July, we can’t operate Malaya. Its capacity of 300 to 500 MW can’t be tapped,” he said.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Aquino: Serge’s fault if crisis hits By Joyce Pangco Panares, Macon R. Araneta, Sara Susanne Fabunan and Alena Mae Flores | Dec. 13, 2014 at 12:01am

Miriam also blasts House for grant of extra powers

BUSAN—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday challenged Senator Sergio Osmeña III to take the blame and be the first to explain to the public if the country suffers from power outages during the summer months next year after the lawmaker opposed the granting of emergency powers that will allow the government to contract additional energy sources.

“Senator Serge, with all due respect, is saying all these things and he has convinced some of his colleagues and until now we don’t have emergency powers. Maybe he looks at it half-full and we look at it half-empty,” Aquino said.

“If we suffer from power shortage, I hope he volunteers to answer to the public why we do not have enough energy supply. The government was not lacking in efforts to avert this problem. Maybe they will give it to us on March 1, and then the public will blame us. For our part, perhaps he (Osmeña) can volunteer to explain. Mauna siya,” the President added.

The senator earlier said Aquino does not really understand the power sector and is relying on equally uninformed people who misled the President into asking for special powers that are not needed in the first place.

Osmeña, who chairs the Senate energy committee, said the Interruptible Load Program is already enough to expand the country’s reserve power.

“[The President] does not really know power... so he relies on people who don’t know power either,” said Osmena.

Osmena found an ally in Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who on Friday tagged as “dangerous” the “calendar accommodations” in rushing the grant of emergency powers to the president.

“Since this emergency power will begin March till July, why do we have to approve it now?” asked Santiago.

In a press briefing following her speech on Renewable Energy in the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation-sponsored conference at the Grand Ballroom of Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City, Santiago noted that many people haven’t read yet what this emergency powers is all about.

She also questioned the need for everything to be rushed when Congress is set to adjourn for the Christmas break by December 19.

She also asked why the country, an archipelago, is not generating energy from the ocean.

She noted that the Renewable Energy Act has not been implemented because six years after the law has been in operation, action remains too slow and the country’s renewable energy supply is too small.

But Senate President Franklin Drilon said that Osmena’s energy committee, might still report out to the plenary on the Emergency Powers Act (EPA) by January next year.

Drilon said Osmena will not actually junk the EPA, but will first study its implications.

“From what I know the emergency powers will just ensure that the power generators in the private sector can be used by the public, the so-called Interruptible Load Program (ILP),” said Drilon.

He said this would mean that big malls can be required to allow the use of their generator sets to help cope with the scarcity in power supply during the months of March and April in 2015.

Drilon added that If Osmena will not submit a committee report on the emergency powers, there will be nothing for the senators to vote.

“But I don’t think that will happen,” said Drilon.

But the president said the delay in granting him emergency powers will also delay its implementation.

“Even if they agree to give us (emergency powers) by Monday, we might not be able to use it anymore because the problem might start by March. And it will take us six months to physically transfer and put up the plants that we will rent for two years,” the President said.

“They are saying that if the problem does not arrive, then we would have wasted money in renting the power plants. But what will we do when the problem arrives? If it doesn’t happen - then thank you. What we would have spent will be like an insurance for us...Our policy has always been prepare for the worst but hope for the best,” he said.

“I am hoping that they are right, that they have the perfect solution from the get-go and we don’t need it. Having said that, I am worried that if we do get there, will we have the wherewithal to address the problems,” the President added.

Aquino also warned that the expected power shortage could turn off investors.

“Businessmen have a saying - the most expensive power is power that is not there,” he said.

Energy Department Jericho Petilla and Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda also warned of the consequences of not granting Aquino emergency powers to address the anticipated power shortage.

Petilla said that without the emergecy powers, consumers will have to bear the cost for the interruptible load program.

Petilla said that joint resolution filed by Congress will ensure that consumers will not have to pay for the additional compensation to participants of the ILP.

He added that the ILP works by calling on business customers with loads of at least one megawatt to run their own generator sets, if needed, instead of drawing power from the grid.

ILP is a demand side management program that is regarded as one of the counter measures to help mitigate the projected power supply strain in summer.

“ILP will be implemented on March 1, but if its passed this time, because the assurance of this is the people will not have to pay for the additional compensation for ILP,” Petilla said.

He added that the resolution would also ensure that LLPs will be compensated, so they will be encouraged to participate in the program.

“The earlier that we release it, probably the more participants we will get. Because probably right now, we have 600 MWs of participants, we’d like to raise it to over 1,000,” the energy chief said.

Petilla said that while the House of Representatives has endorsed the joint resolution he said “we cannot blame the Senate, if they want to scrutinize the details of the authority.”

The department earlier urged companies to express commitment to the ILP on or before December 31, 2014.

Petilla, however, cautioned that slightly more than half of the committed capacity of ILP participants is expected to run based on historical and technical simulations and constraints.

This means that out the 600 MW total committed capacity to date, around half 370 MW is expected to be available.

Lacierda, on the other hand, also hit critics of the administration and dared those who opposed the granting of emergency to the president to come up with a solution to address the possible power shortage in 2015.

Lacierda added that the Senate and the House of Representatives should “marry” their respective proposals to address the looming power shortage.

“The most expensive power is no power. If there is no power, it affects the economy; it affects the convenience of the consumers. What we are trying to do is come up with the solution with the safeguards in mind,” Lacierda said.

“We are certainly hopeful na magkakaroon ng solution provided by both Senate and House, mag-marry sila (ng solution),” he added.

“[The President] does not really know power... so he relies on people who don’t know power either,” Osmena said.

Lacierda said that he understand that Osemna is very “blunt about his opinion” and assured the lawmaker that all of the concerns will be taken into consideration.

“Senator Serge Osmena, I am very certain, is looking at the best solution also that would best address the situation,” he said.

“Senator Serge Osmena, while he may differ with Secretary (Jericho) Patilla, has also the best interest of the Filipino in mind. Knowing that there is a potential power outage in May of 2015, he’s looking also at the situation as how to mitigate or how to address the potential issue come 2015,” Lacierda said.

He added that the Palace will leave it with the House and Senate to come up with a concrete proposal to address the power situation.

“Both the House and the Senate as well as the executive branch, are working towards a solution to address that particular issue,” he said.

“Hopefully everything and everyone will be able to be on board, will be in sync to address the power situation,” he added.


FROM PHILSTAR

Senate on Noy powers: No rush By Marvin Sy and Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 12, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


ENERGY COMMITTEE CHAIR, SEN. SERGE OSMENIA

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate won’t be rushed into passing its version of a resolution granting President Aquino emergency powers to address an imminent power shortage in summer next year, Senate committee on energy chairman Sergio Osmeña III said yesterday.

Osmeña said he saw no need to immediately approve the joint resolution, which the President certified as urgent and was approved by the House of Representatives the other day.

The senator said that if the purpose of granting special powers to Aquino is to make the interruptible load program (ILP) work, such power is unnecessary because the program is already in place and working in Cebu and Davao.

“Very generally, in order to obtain additional generating capacity, we are authorizing the President to do what? I don’t know what they are authorizing the President to do,” he said. “But they are just saying that, we are hereby exempting companies that join the ILP from certain laws. There’s the VAT law, the Biofuels Act, but we don’t need this. We don’t have to give those exemptions at all.”

In his previous statements, Osmeña said that several big corporations and industries with generator sets have committed to participate in the ILP without any incentive except for a guarantee that the government would shoulder the costs of running these generators.

The ILP requires companies or big establishments with generator sets to run them at certain hours on any given day whenever the supply at the grid is low, in order to reduce the demand for power and free up some for households.

Since the generators run on diesel fuel, the companies would have to shell out money otherwise invested or spent on something else.

Misled president

Osmeña said the President was apparently misinformed about the situation, hence his pushing vigorously for the approval of the joint resolution.

“Because the President is being misled. He does not really know power, so he relies on people who don’t know power either,” he said.

“But believe me, we will have 1,600 megawatts. If we do not have 1,600 MW, that’s beyond already the control of the Senate, it’s up to God,” Osmeña said.

Through the ILP alone, Osmeña said 1,000 MW of power would be made available to small consumers without burdening the grid.

He said that the Ilijan power plant operated by KEPCO in Batangas could generate as much as 600 MW as long as certain conditions are met, which he said the Senate intends to address in its own version of the joint resolution.

Osmeña said that the Senate’s version would also give powers to the President, but such powers would be very different from ones being pushed by the House.

In the case of the Ilijan plant, Osmeña said the Senate would push for the exemption of the plant from the Biofuels Act so that it could run on pure diesel and generate more power during the critical months.

“Because biofuels are very dirty and they have to clean the plant right after using the biofuel and it takes them five days to clean the plant. Let’s exempt them from that, it’s a very small price to pay,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña noted that KEPCO also lacks a storage facility for diesel fuel if ever its plant is allowed to run on pure diesel. He said the resolution of the Senate would also cover this issue.

He said that the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) would have to carry the cost of providing storage facility, which he estimates would run to less than $1 million.

“We should not let PSALM end up holding the financial bag there. So we will be authorizing the President to use the Malampaya Fund,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña said that the Malampaya Fund would also be tapped to finance the dredging of the Pasig River in order to address the fuel delivery issues of the Malaya power plant in Pililia, Rizal.

One unit of the 600 MW Malaya thermal power plant is undergoing rehabilitation and should be ready by the end of the year.

Once the two units run on full capacity next year, Osmeña said a fuel delivery system must be in place to ensure that operations are uninterrupted.

Since the fuel pipeline between Batangas and Sucat was already shut down, Osmeña said delivery of fuel to Malaya now has to be done through barges along the Pasig River.

“But Pasig River has since silted so much that unless you dredge, it will be hard to get the barge up. Because it’s an energy-related issue, the President can get that out of the Malampaya Fund,” he said.

“We can pass the resolution authorizing that even in February, that will be perfectly fine. There is no time to pass it this year. And besides, it is completely unnecessary anyway. We’ll just pass it next year. If it were necessary, we would have passed it already,” he added.

Checking abuses

At the House of Representatives, committee on energy chairman Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said lawmakers would be on guard for possible abuses in the exercise of emergency powers granted to President Aquino.

“We can’t help but there could be abuses, just like in any other law, but we will be on top of the situation,” Umali, who also co-chairs the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC), said. “The JCPC will continue to function precisely to oversee the implementation of this so we will avoid excesses.

“We did not dissolve the technical working group of the JCPC so that it will continue to function to foresee its implementation, so we will avoid excesses or abuses,” he said.

The chamber passed on Wednesday Joint Resolution 21 that suspended certain laws and authorized the allocation of funds to allow Aquino to establish additional generating capacity.

He said the JCPC will regularly meet with concerned government agencies and industry stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the joint resolution apart from getting monthly updates from Aquino as mandated by the measure.

The emergency powers will be in place from March to July unless otherwise revoked by Congress.

Umali estimates that the ILP will cost P200 million at most during the five-month period that the emergency measure is in effect, if the shortage is at 300 MW.

The Department of Energy said there is no actual shortage but only shortfall in reserves. Umali said reserves are much needed in summer when power plants often break down.

With the suspension of environment laws during the period, it is possible that the government would have to resort to “dirty power” to address any shortage. He said this is something that the people may just have to bear.

“For example, even if this plant has an emission problem, we will allow it just for the five-month period, after that, we will no longer allow it to operate because it has a problem,” Umali said.

“What we’re saying is that, if we’re in a crisis, we can’t be choosers,” he said in Filipino.

He emphasized, however, that based on his data, there would be no need to tap problematic power plants in the event of a shortage.


FROM PHILSTAR

Phl to answer questions from UN tribunal on sea row By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will answer questions from the United Nations tribunal on the West Philippine Sea dispute with China during an oral argument in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said the tribunal will give the questions after the Dec. 15 deadline for China to submit its counter-memorial.

“And if we will be asked to go to The Hague for oral arguments then that could take place maybe in the middle of next year,” he said.

China has indicated in its last position paper that it will not participate in the arbitral process.

Jose said the tribunal will also take China’s side into account.

“Anything in that position paper already serves that purpose,” he said. “China is stating its position so I think that will be taken into account by the court.”

In a position paper released on Sunday, China outlined its arguments against the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to take up the case filed by the Philippines last year that could have implications on its claims over nearly all of the West Philippine Sea.

China has denounced the Philippines for putting it under pressure with an international arbitration case over disputed waters, and refused again to participate a week ahead of a deadline to respond.

China rejects claims to parts of the West Philippine Sea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

It also has a dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

China has long rejected arbitration, insisting it would resolve disputes bilaterally.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said China will not present its counter-memorial to the arbitral tribunal despite being given until Dec. 15 to do so.

“We have taken note of the issues but China will not answer,” Zhao said.

“Because China only ratified the Convention on the Law of the Sea and made it very clear that China will not accept any arbitration by the courts. So it’s a legal right for China as a party to the convention.”

China’s stand against participating in the proceedings has not changed, Zhao said.

On March 30, the Philippines submitted a nearly 4,000-page memorial detailing its arguments and evidence against China’s nine-dash line and other aspects of its expansive and excessive claims in the West Philippine Sea to an arbitral tribunal at The Hague.

Consistent with its peaceful and rules-based approach to settle disputes in accordance with international law, the Philippines initiated arbitration proceedings against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on Jan. 22, 2013.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

‘Double entries’ in additional budget? By Christine F. Herrera | Dec. 12, 2014 at 12:01am


KABATAAN REP RIDON

AN opposition lawmaker said there were “suspicious double entries” for five big-ticket items amounting to P3.14 billion in the supplemental budget for 2014 during plenary debates Thursday.

During the session, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon grilled the bill’s sponsor, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, for including several items in the P22.4 billion supplemental budget “that just repeat items already funded by the 2014 and 2015 budgets.”

Ridon identified the five projects with double entries as the Department of Interior and Local Governments’ procurement of fire trucks, the Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Railway Transit rehabilitation, the National Greening Program and the Treasury Single Account Program.

“Isn’t appropriating funds for a program or project that’s already been given funding in the national budget a sort of corruption in itself? In accounting, this is called a double entry—two budgets for only one project,” Ridon said in the plenary session.

“The proposed P22.4-billion supplemental budget for 2014 is replete with suspicious double entries,” Ridon said.

He said the Department of Budget and Management and the House leadership kept saying that the items that they included in the proposed supplemental budget were not funded by either the 2014 or 2015 General Appropriations Act.

“However, a simple check of these budget laws show that there are proposed items in HB 5237 that are already funded by the annual national budget,” Ridon said.

Items 1 and 2, for example, sought P903.8 million for the implementation of the “Treasury Single Account” even though in the 2014 national budget, some P515.6 million had already been appropriated for the same project, with a capital outlay of P501 million and P14.6 million for Maintenance Operating and Other Expenses or MOOE.

Item 3 sets aside P11.2 million for the hiring of 294 former rebels under the National Greening Program, but the 2014 national budget already appropriated P403.5 million for the same, he said.

Item No. 5 in the supplemental budget sets aside P199.1 million for 33 fire trucks for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, but the 2014 budget already appropriated P1 billion for fire trucks, Ridon said.

Ridon also said that while the supplemental budget seeks P957.1 million for the MRT rehabilitation and capacity extension, the 2014 budget already appropriated P4.5 billion for the same purpose.

For the LRT 1 and 2, the government was asking P977.7 million in the supplemental budget, when Congress had already appropriated P2.8 billion for the same purpose in the 2015 budget.

“We believe Congress should exercise prudence in passing supplemental budgets, given the limited fiscal space that we have. A supplemental budget should be passed only for projects that are truly urgent, not just a mix and match of favored projects that already have prior funding in the regular national budget,” Ridon said.

In reply to Ridon’s queries, Ungab said the supplemental budget would fund either phases of or the completion of those projects.

“There is no double entry. These are different allocations altogether, although it may fund the same projects,” Ungab said.

“The procurement and implementation were done in phases, whenever funds were available so these are additional funds to complete those projects.”

Ridon also pointed out that there are several items in the supplemental budget that were clearly set aside for “pork projects” of favored Cabinet members.

He said such items include the PNP Operational Transformation Plan worth P2.8 billion under the DILG-Office of the Secretary, which Ridon said may be a pork project of Secretary Manuel Roxas II; retrofitting of Presidential Management Staff Office Building worth P210 million, which may be a pet project of the Budget secretary’s daughter and PMS head Julia Abad; renovation of the Department of Finance-OSEC property worth P32.2 million, which may be a pork project of Secretary Cesar Purisima.

“It is clear that the supplemental budget is not for urgent projects, but for the benefit of President Benigno Aquino III’s favored men. Definitely, we can call this additional budget as ‘supplemental pork’,” Ridon said.

Despite Ridon’s objections, the House was expected to approve the supplemental budget today (Friday) after lawmakers said they would hold a marathon session Thursday night to pass it before sunrise.

Under the version of the bill approved by the bicameral conference committee, some P715.36 million that was supposed to go to the Supreme Court’s computer system was realigned to other purposes, including emergency shelter assistance for victims of typhoon Yolanda. – With Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Transactional politics oozes in budget supplement Written by Charlie V. Manalo and Gerry Baldo Friday, 12 December 2014 00:00

The 2014 supplemental budget is shaping up as a pork repository exclusively for allies of President Aquino in the House with its approval coming right after the swift approval of emergency powers that the Palace had vigorously sought for President Aquino purportedly to address a power crisis next year.

Aside from the House’s plan to scrap the P700-million allocation for the Supreme Court’s Enterprise Information System Plan in the P22-billion budget supplement, it was found to contain several double entries.

The proposed P22.4-billion supplemental budget for 2014 is “replete with suspicious double entries,” Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon pointed out yesterday.

The House move to scrap the funding for the Supreme Court was contained in the Committee Report of House Bill 5237 or the P22 billion supplemental budget for 2014.

The Palace allies in the House are still smarting from the removal of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which were both declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

The SC’s sought funding was, in turn, committed by the Palace which was suspected as the reason for the high court holding up a final verdict on the DAP which is on appeal by Malacañang. The House, instead, increased the allocation for the Emergency Shelter Assistance for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the fund for the obligations arising from implemented infrastructure projects most of which was covered by the DAP.

From P1.5 billion, the budget for the Emergency Shelter Assistance for Yolanda victims was hiked to P2.16 billion. On the other hand, the budget for the obligations arising from implemented infrastructure projects was augmented to P1.9 billion from a previous amount of P1.8 billion.

Members of the political left argued that the supplemental budget was also pockmarked with “double entries” such as the P11.2 million for the National Greening Program even if the P2.606 trillion budget which was already allocated P403.5 million for the same program.

According to Ridon, also in the supplemental budget is the procurement of firetrucks amounting to P199 million despite the presence of another allocation for the same purpose under the 2015 General Appropriations Act.

“We believe Congress should exercise prudence in passing supplemental budgets, given the limited fiscal space that we have. A supplemental budget should be passed only for projects that are truly urgent, not just a mix and match of favored projects that already have prior funding in the regular national budget,” Ridon pointed out.

As of press time yesterday, the House in plenary is still debating on the supplemental budget.

Opening the period of interpellation for House Bill 5237 or the proposed supplemental budget this morning, Ridon grilled the bill’s sponsor and House appropriations committee chairman Isidro Ungab for including several items in the proposed budget “that just repeats items already funded by the 2014 and 2015 budgets.”

“The Department of Budget and Management and the House leadership keep on saying that the items that they included in the proposed supplemental budget are not funded by either the 2014 or 2015 General Appropriations Act. However, a simple check of these budget laws shows that there are proposed items in HB 5237 that are already funded by the annual national budget,” Ridon said.

“Isn’t appropriating funds for a program or project that’s already been given funding in the national budget a sort of corruption in itself? It is called in accounting as double entry, two budgets for one project,” the lawmaker said.

“We believe Congress should exercise prudence in passing supplemental budgets, given the limited fiscal space that we have. A supplemental budget should be passed only for projects that are truly urgent, not just a mix and match of favored projects that already have prior funding in the regular national budget,” Ridon said.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Leni Robredo's ‘waiting for a bus’ photo from Facevook went viral Aries Joseph Hegina @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 4:32 PM | Thursday, December 11th, 2014


Photo from Atty. Leni Gerona Robredo’s Facebook account

MANILA, Philippines – A photo of Camarines Sur third district Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo while waiting alone for a provincial bus to Naga City has gone viral and has since drew admirations from netizens.

The photo, which was taken by the lawmaker’s friend Keisha del Castillo last December 4, showed a woman waiting alone at a gas station in Magallanes, Makati City, donned in a striped shirt and denim pants and carrying two bags.

Del Castillo’s caption for the photo says: “The art of riding the bus to Naga: if you can’t catch it in Cubao, you can always try to flag it down at the Magallanes Shell Station. Like Cong. Leni Robredo.”

Robredo, a lawyer and widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, confirmed that she was the woman in the photo.

In Robredo’s official Facebook account, she explained why she needed to stake out at a gas station to catch her bus: “Yes, that is definitely me. Taken by Keisha del Castillo at the Magallanes Shell Station as I was waiting for my bus last night. Keisha brought me there from McKinley Hill in Taguig after I delivered my Freedom Speech for FNF. Definitely my worst angle but can’t resist posting. Nakakatawa lang. Parang nag alsa -balutan at naglayas ang drama.”

She added that she opted to wait at the gas station because she won’t make the trip if she decides to go to the bus station in Cubao in Quezon City.

The photo has been liked by 14, 488 people and has been shared 2,110 times.

Netizens praised the lawmaker for being humble and a good example for other public officials.

Facebook user Jun Ramirez said “I admire you for being humble, you take the public transport like majority of the Filipinos. Unlike some of your peers in Congress who parade their #8 license plate wherever they go.”

Gomer Coronel said that “the picture personifies the humbleness of any human being, let alone a politician. please take care, Cong Atty. Leni Gerona Robredo.”

Tata Liceralde said “God bless you always Cong. Atty. Leni Gerona Robredo! I still believe there is hope in the Philippine politics because of servant- politicians like you.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE