PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

PUTIN, SHUNNED BY WEST, VISITS INDIA, A FRIEND WHOSE INTERESTS MAY LIE  

PHOTO RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN ---President Vladimir V. Putin flew into New Delhi on Wednesday in need of a friend. China is a friend, but a giant and possibly a threatening one, inclined to use Russia’s vulnerabilities to its advantage. Japan was becoming friendlier, but it joined the West in its campaign of economic sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, and a planned visit by Mr. Putin was scrapped in November. The same month, after being browbeaten over Ukraine at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Australia, Mr. Putin left before the event officially ended. India, however, is a warm and sentimental friend. Shared mistrust of the United States bound the two countries throughout the Cold War. As recently as July, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, reassured Mr. Putin that nothing had changed. “Ask any child in India who is India’s best friend internationally, and they will tell you that it is Russia,” he said. Still, Mr. Putin’s 22-hour visit comes amid some uncertainty in the old relationship. The new decision makers in New Delhi say they are less interested in geopolitics than in jump-starting the economy as fast as possible. With its own economy swooning, Russia is unlikely to offer game-changing investment or trade agreements. And it is not the only world power vying for India’s attention. China’s president visited for two days in September, and President Obama will attend Republic Day celebrations in January. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pope Francis Makes Forbes' List of Most Powerful People

More Pope Francis was selected as the No. 4 most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes. Pope Francis was selected as the No. 4 most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes. (Courtesy) Pope Francis was No. 4 on Forbes' list of World's Most Powerful People. Vladimir Putin, Russian president, was first on the list, followed by American President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping. Pope Francis was elected by the papal enclave in February 2013 after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. CONTINUE READING...Pope Francis Meets With TV evangelists, Kenneth Copeland, James Robison...----FIRST EVER PAPAL HIGH-FIVE: What does it take to produce the first-ever papal high-five? A meeting with American televangelists, apparently. The gesture came during a three-hour meeting of Pope Francis and Texas televangelists Kenneth Copeland and James Robison, just weeks after the pontiff met with televangelist Joel Osteen and other religious leaders. At the June 24 meeting, Robison said he was so moved by Pope Francis' message of the gospel that he asked the translator to ask Francis for a high-five. The pope obliged, raised his arm and the two men smacked hands. CONTINUE READING....

ALSO Inquirer Opinion: Isis’ Achilles’ heel 

PHOTO: "The strategy that once propelled ISIS to the heights of success will become the source of its downfall." COURTESY OF THE NATIONALINTEREST.ORG by Sean MirskiThe blunder of ISIS is the same as that of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one, no matter how vastly superior, can occupy a place with a hostile population forever. The United States boasts that it conquered Iraq in just 12 days. True, but it was an illusion of victory because in the end, US troops had to be pulled out after killing so many, mutilating society, and causing a complex power vacuum that triggered unrest, civil wars, and the entry of Isis when the smoke cleared. Indeed, the Isis monster is a US creation. It is the same in Afghanistan. The United States withdrew its troops, thinking that the Afghan people could now take care of themselves, then changed its mind when the Taliban renewed offensives. Now it wants to send in more troops and “reoccupy”—but for how long, as US deficit spending mounts? Invasion is easy but hostile occupation is hard. That is the weakness of conventional warfare. Warriors from the Pentagon and Isis have a common weakness. They are militarily sophisticated but sociopolitically naive. They cannot see beyond the gun. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon talked of “winning hearts and minds,” but it hardly did. You cannot have a gun behind the bread you are offering. People, in fear, will pretend you are an ally, but the United States never won hearts. China is now making inroads in Iraq, offering economic partnership. America cannot do that with its image of viciousness. READ FULL COLUMN BY BERNIE LOPEZ....

ALSO: Swiss man returns home after Philippines hostage ordeal 

PHOTO: ESCAPED. Swiss birdwatcher Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 49, with Filipino soldiers after his escape from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in southern Philippines. Armed Forces file photo --GENEVA: A Swiss man who escaped from Islamic militants in the Philippines described Friday the moment he decided he could not spend a third Christmas in captivity, as he returned home to Zurich. Lorenzo Vinciguerra, a 49-year-old birdwatcher kidnapped in February 2012, escaped on Saturday after a fierce struggle with one of his captors over a machete and a frantic run to freedom under gunfire.Speaking to reporters at Zurich airport after flying in Friday morning, Vinciguerra said it was a “huge relief” to be back home and thanked all those who had worked behind the scenes to try to secure his release. Looking frail and gaunt but apparently having recovered from an injury to his cheek, he said he decided on his birthday last month that he could stay no longer. “I knew I had to get out,” he said, according to the ATS news agency, adding that he seized his chance when his kidnappers were celebrating a wedding. Vinciguerra said he now wanted to spend some time with his family. “I’ve missed so much,” he said.
The Philippines military said Vinciguerra took advantage of a pre-dawn assault by soldiers on his Abu Sayyaf abductors in the jungles of the remote southern island of Jolo to make his bold escape. They said that one of the kidnappers caught up with him as he ran away and there was a scuffle over his machete, resulting in Vinciguerra being slashed on the cheek and stabbing the other man in the head. There were unconfirmed reports that the man later died. AFP THIS IS THE FULL REPORT FROM THE MANILA TIMES.

ALSO: Aquino's emergency powers favor big, dirty power plants  

DEC 12 --Owners of coal- or biomass-fired power plants are expected to benefit from President Aquino’s special powers allowing him to bypass rigid regulations meant to protect the environment, a party-list lawmaker said on Thursday. The House of Representatives has approved Joint Resolution No. 21 granting the President special powers to address the expected power shortfall in summer. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares identified the plants and their owners as follows: — 600-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant in Subic Freeport, Zambales province, owned by the consortium of Aboitiz Power Corp., Manila Electric Co. and Taiwan Cogen Corp. — 135-MW Puting Bato coal plant of South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. owned by Ayala Corp. and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. — Twin 150-MW plant in Calaca, Batangas of DMCI Holdings’ South Luzon Power Generation. — 2-MW biomass-fired plant of San Jose City Power Corp. — 12.5-MW rice husk-fired plant of Bataan 2020 Inc. — 20-MW biomass plant of Isabela Biomass Corp. Colmenares said a key provision in the joint resolution suspending environmental laws practically gave the President a “blank check” to allow big and dirty power plants to degrade the environment. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Palace willing to work with Osmeña despite ‘very blunt’ opinion  

DEC 12 ---Malacañang is not closing the door on Senator Sergio Osmeña III despite his comment that there is no pressure to grant President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to address the impending power shortage next year. “You know Senator Serge Osmeña is very blunt about his opinion, but all these will be taken into consideration,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a Palace briefing. Osmeña is the chair of the Senate energy committee. On Thursday, he claimed that Aquino was being “misled” about the power situation and that there is no need for emergency powers. He said the Senate can pass the resolution in February. On the other hand, the House of Representatives on Friday approved on third and final reading House Joint Resolution No. 21, which seeks “to provide for the establishment of additional power generating capacity as mandated by Republic Act No. 9136, also known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), to effectively address the projected shortage of the supply of electricity in the Luzon grid from March 12 to July 2015.”  But Lacierda said they are already working on a “workable” solution to the potential power crisis in the summer of 2015. “Senator Serge Osmeña, while he may differ with Secretary (Jericho) Petilla, has also the best interest—has the interest of the Filipino in mind,” he explained, adding that the senator is also looking at other ways to mitigate and address the problem. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO:

Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program 

These improvements will mean: :

  • Faster processing
  • Faster family reunification
  • Better career opportunities
  • Better protection against potential workplace vulnerability and abuse

These reforms aim to address key concerns by:

  • bringing down the backlog and processing times for permanent residence applications,
  • ending the live-in requirement for caregivers who wish to apply to two new pathways to permanent residence, and
  • improving the long-term outcomes of caregivers in the Canadian labour market. CONTINUE READING MAIN STORY....

READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Putin, Shunned by West, Visits India, a Friend Whose Interests May Lie Elsewhere


President Vladimir V. Putin Credit Adnan Abidi/Reuters

NEW DELHI, PHILIPPINES, DECEMBER 15, 2014 (NEW YORK TIMES)   By ELLEN BARRYDEC. -  President Vladimir V. Putin flew into New Delhi on Wednesday in need of a friend.

China is a friend, but a giant and possibly a threatening one, inclined to use Russia’s vulnerabilities to its advantage. Japan was becoming friendlier, but it joined the West in its campaign of economic sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, and a planned visit by Mr. Putin was scrapped in November. The same month, after being browbeaten over Ukraine at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Australia, Mr. Putin left before the event officially ended.

India, however, is a warm and sentimental friend. Shared mistrust of the United States bound the two countries throughout the Cold War.

As recently as July, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, reassured Mr. Putin that nothing had changed.

“Ask any child in India who is India’s best friend internationally, and they will tell you that it is Russia,” he said.

Still, Mr. Putin’s 22-hour visit comes amid some uncertainty in the old relationship. The new decision makers in New Delhi say they are less interested in geopolitics than in jump-starting the economy as fast as possible. With its own economy swooning, Russia is unlikely to offer game-changing investment or trade agreements. And it is not the only world power vying for India’s attention. China’s president visited for two days in September, and President Obama will attend Republic Day celebrations in January.

President Vladimir V. Putin Credit Adnan Abidi/Reuters Russia has already begun to worry that it will lose its advantage as the dominant arms supplier to India, a point that was underlined recently when Moscow sent a Defense Ministry delegation to visit India’s rival, Pakistan.

In New Delhi, Mr. Modi and Mr. Putin will try to reinvigorate their countries’ ties with a long list of possible projects, including deals to export Russian diamonds to India for polishing, build nuclear reactors in India, strike a long-term fixed-price oil contract and construct an oil and gas pipeline between the two nations.

Over the long term, however, many of those around Mr. Modi have come to see the relationship with Russia as “stagnant,” said C. Raja Mohan, a policy analyst with the Observer Research Foundation, a policy research group based in New Delhi.

“There are two or three generations of diplomats who have found Russia to be India’s” most loyal ally, he said. “But ask Modi’s Gujarati friends, and they say, ‘Where’s the beef?’ They are looking for business. There is no real business there.”

The Russian and Indian leaders are said to get along well. Both grew up poor, and both arrived in their capitals as outsiders, suspicious of the entrenched elites surrounding them. Each projects self-discipline and toughness, which helped win the confidence of publics craving order and international standing.

“Both are self-confident, a little bit assertive leaders, who are nationalist — let’s not get that wrong,” said Ajai Malhotra, who was India’s ambassador to Russia until last year.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story Mr. Modi’s team is said to be less reflexively pro-Russian than the administration it has replaced. Still when Mr. Modi took power in June, he stuck with the previous government’s decision to refrain from criticizing Russia over Ukraine. That has sent an important message to Mr. Putin’s domestic audience, allaying the fear that he has led Russia into overdependence on China.

Indian statements on the conflict in Ukraine have been studiously neutral, and some officials have gone further, expressing support for Russia’s view. In July, Western leaders excoriated Russia over the downing of a civilian aircraft over eastern Ukraine, suggesting that it was the work of separatists wielding a Russian-supplied missile. But India held back and was unwilling to join a campaign of economic sanctions.

“We would never support sanctions against a country that has been friendly and supportive of us and whom we regard as a strategic partner,” Mr. Malhotra said. Until the official inquiry into the cause of the crash is completed, he added, “all theories have to be considered conspiratorial.”

Much of the discussion this week will center on the arms trade, where Russia faces rising competition. Russia’s ambassador to India, Aleksandr Kadakin, told reporters in New Delhi that Russia was keenly aware that President Obama will be discussing many of the same issues when he visits in six weeks.

In the five years ended in 2013, Russia accounted for 75 percent of India’s arms imports, and the United States for only 7 percent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Resource Center. But the trajectory of Russia’s sales is downward, and Indian officials have complained about cost overruns and equipment malfunctions.

If Russia has an advantage in winning Indian business, it is that it is “ready to share extremely sensitive strategic technologies,” said Pyotr Topychkanov, an associate in the nonproliferation program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. Though India may be interested in purchases from the United States and Israel, he said, “no one from these countries is ready to codevelop nuclear submarines.” That trust, he said, will become increasingly important as China builds up its military.

“I can’t tell you what the relations between Russia and China will be in 20 years,” he said. “In fact, in the Asian region, we have only one trusted partner, which is India.”


FROM CHARISMANEWS.COM

Pope Francis Makes Forbes' List of Most Powerful People Print WATCH: Pope Makes Forbes' List of Most Powerful People 6:18PM EST 11/7/2014 JESSILYN JUSTICE

Pope Francis was selected as the No. 4 most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes. Pope Francis was selected as the No. 4 most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes. (Courtesy) Pope Francis was No. 4 on Forbes' list of World's Most Powerful People.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president, was first on the list, followed by American President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Pope Francis was elected by the papal enclave in February 2013 after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Televangelists, including Kenneth Copeland and James Robison, met with Pope Francis -  (LIFE Outreach International, Kenneth Copeland Ministries)


TV evangelists James Robison and Kenneth Copeland resulting in the first ever papal "high-five."

What does it take to produce the first-ever papal high-five? A meeting with American televangelists, apparently.

The gesture came during a three-hour meeting of Pope Francis and Texas televangelists Kenneth Copeland and James Robison, just weeks after the pontiff met with televangelist Joel Osteen and other religious leaders. At the June 24 meeting, Robison said he was so moved by Pope Francis' message of the gospel that he asked the translator to ask Francis for a high-five. The pope obliged, raised his arm and the two men smacked hands.

The televangelists are among some wealthier U.S. evangelicals who have recently met with Francis, who has called for a focus on the poor and a simple lifestyle for clergy. In March, the pope met with members of the Green family, the Oklahoma billionaires whose company, Hobby Lobby, won their challenge to President Obama's contraception coverage mandate at the Supreme Court last week.

Robison said he was born into the Episcopal Church but didn't have a "born-again" conversion until later in life, the kind of story he sees among many Protestants and Catholics. "There are a lot of evangelicals and Catholics who don't know Christ," he said.

In fact, Francis' meeting may reflect a shift in emphasis within the papacy. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, regularly bemoaned the decline of Christianity in his native Germany and across Europe. In contrast, the Argentine Francis comes from a region where competition from Pentecostalism is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church, Peppard said.

As unusual as it might seem for a pope meet with celebrity Protestant preachers, the potential awkwardness goes both ways. While some praised Robison for going to Rome, others said Protestants and Catholics have too many differences, on issues that include the role of the Bible, saints, the status of the Virgin Mary and the nature of salvation. "Very disappointed in you James and Betty. Never forget the Inquisition—Never forget!" one commenter wrote on Robison's website.

But Robison said he and Francis found common ground in caring for the poor.

"I don't see him as presenting himself as infallible," Robison said of Pope Francis. "He's been to confession. He asks for prayer. He's anxious to apologize on [behalf] of Catholic leadership."

Osteen's meeting with Francis on June 4 was part of a larger gathering coordinated by the International Foundation, also known as "the Fellowship." Osteen was joined by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Mormon; California pastor Tim Timmons; and Gayle D. Beebe, president of evangelical Westmont College.

The June 24 meeting leaned particularly toward charismatic Christianity. Other guests were Anthony Palmer, a bishop and international ecumenical officer with the independent Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches; Geoff Tunnicliffe, the outgoing head of the Worldwide Evangelical Alliance; and John and Carol Arnott of Catch the Fire Toronto, which grew out of a Pentecostal revival 20 years ago.

The pope met with more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics in Rome last month, admitting he was not always comfortable with the way they prayed. Still, he knelt on stage as they prayed for him and spoke in tongues. "Where does division come from? The devil!" Francis told them. "Division comes from the devil. Flee from internal struggles, please!"

Pentecostal and charismatic Christians—charismatics are often Pentecostals in other churches, including the Catholic Church—share much in common, such as speaking in tongues and healing. Together, they make up at least 584 million people in the world, about 9 percent of the global population and one in four Christians worldwide, according to the Pew Research Center.

And that's probably partly why Francis extended the invitation to the U.S. pastors. The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, a veteran of Catholic-Protestant ecumenical groups and the author of From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church, said Pentecostalism is growing in the Global South at three times the rate of Catholic growth, especially among the poor.

"My guess is that Francis knows this community can't be ignored," Granberg-Michaelson said. "Certainly, Francis would want to encourage Catholic charismatics to feel at home, as well as build ecumenical relationships with the Pentecostal community—and those reinforce one another. That's also why what he is doing is both ecumenically creative, and makes sense."


FROM THE INQUIRER

Inquirer Opinion: Isis’ Achilles’ heel Bernie V. Lopez @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:50 AM | Friday, December 12th, 2014


"The strategy that once propelled ISIS to the heights of success will become the source of its downfall." COURTESY OF THE NATIONALINTEREST.ORG by Sean Mirski

The blunder of ISIS is the same as that of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one, no matter how vastly superior, can occupy a place with a hostile population forever.

The United States boasts that it conquered Iraq in just 12 days. True, but it was an illusion of victory because in the end, US troops had to be pulled out after killing so many, mutilating society, and causing a complex power vacuum that triggered unrest,

civil wars, and the entry of Isis when the smoke cleared. Indeed, the Isis monster is a US creation.

It is the same in Afghanistan. The United States withdrew its troops, thinking that the Afghan people could now take care of themselves, then changed its mind when the Taliban renewed offensives. Now it wants to send in more troops and “reoccupy”—but for how long, as US deficit spending mounts?

Invasion is easy but hostile occupation is hard. That is the weakness of conventional warfare. Warriors from the Pentagon and Isis have a common weakness. They are militarily sophisticated but sociopolitically naive. They cannot see beyond the gun. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon talked of “winning hearts and minds,” but it hardly did. You cannot have a gun behind the bread you are offering. People, in fear, will pretend you are an ally, but the United States never won hearts. China is now making inroads in Iraq, offering economic partnership. America cannot do that with its image of viciousness.

Isis is not even trying to win hearts and minds. It occupies areas and beheads anyone who does not share its belief. There are reports that the Sunni-based Isis has killed more Sunnis than Shiites in occupied areas. It does not believe in fostering an image of a messiah out to save people. It is basically and medievally totalitarian and authoritarian.

Such regimes may induce artificial unity, as those under Tito of Yugoslavia, Franco of Spain, the Shah of Iran, or Hussein of Iraq, but in the end, they fall due to their viciousness. But when they fall, blood flows.

Now, Isis is committing the same blunder as the United States. Its approach in waging war is occupation of key strategic places, but it cannot hold on to these places forever, as US bombings and Iraqi and Kurdish counterattacks mount. The more it is inducing a hostile people in occupied lands, the faster it will leave. Isis is actually as naive as the US generals.

The rallying point of Isis is religious, ideological and global. There are many in India and Indonesia, and a handful in the Philippines, who believe in its cause. But Isis attracts the minority extremists, the warriors, and alienates itself from the majority Muslims who want peace. So the global clout of Isis is an illusion and overstated. The

sudden increase in the number of its troops to 30,000 is not something to fear. It is still a small ragtag army in modern conventional warfare.

The seeming invincibility of Isis, eroded by US bombings and the counterattacks, lies in the helplessness of America to send troops. Air superiority can help, but it cannot win wars; it can delay, but not completely stop, Isis initiatives.

It was reported that the French used chlorine against Isis. This is gray-area chemical warfare, which will aggravate the Western position of condemning chemical warfare but using it. This will only help Isis recruit more fighters. For every Isis fighter “chemicalized,” 10 will rise, more resilient, more vicious. It will also encourage Isis to use chemicals.

What if Isis takes over Iraq? It will be a short reign, with the majority Shiite, backed by the West, waging a protracted bloody guerrilla war never before seen in Iraq. It will sap Iraq dry, which is what Israel wants. That is why it is quietly supporting Isis. For Israel, Isis is the key to destroying its Arab and Persian enemies.

The idea of a modern “caliphate” is medieval and may not easily apply to modern times. Caliphates are borderless, Islamic-based, authoritarian, empire-oriented regimes. Empires are obsolete in our modern world. A caliphate or empire overrunning the entire Middle East is a ridiculous notion, an illusory dream of Islamic extremists. Although the Sunnis are the majority globally, they are not in the Middle East, and there lies the Achilles’ heel.

My humble prediction is that Isis will fizzle out, not in a few months, but in a few years. But before it does, blood will flow into every nook and crevice of the Middle East. The key is troops against troops, not planes or chemicals against troops. Isis may even induce World War III if the ingredients are there for a polarized confrontation, with what the Persians historically call the “bridge of victory” (a reference to Iran becoming the “bridge of annihilation”). As long as Iran, the bridge between East and West, is untouched by the West, there will be stability in the Middle East.

But America and the West drool over Iran’s gas and oil. The Bible’s Book of Revelation prophesies that a seven-headed monster will consume the world in the end times. Is this possibly the Group of Seven (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States)?

Bernie V. Lopez (eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com) has been writing political commentary in the last 20 years. He is also a radio-TV broadcaster, a documentary producer-director, and a former Ateneo professor.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Swiss man returns home after Philippines hostage ordeal  MANILA TIMES December 12, 2014 7:59 pm


ESCAPED. Swiss birdwatcher Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 49, with Filipino soldiers after his escape from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in southern Philippines. Armed Forces file photo

GENEVA: A Swiss man who escaped from Islamic militants in the Philippines described Friday the moment he decided he could not spend a third Christmas in captivity, as he returned home to Zurich.

Lorenzo Vinciguerra, a 49-year-old birdwatcher kidnapped in February 2012, escaped on Saturday after a fierce struggle with one of his captors over a machete and a frantic run to freedom under gunfire.

Speaking to reporters at Zurich airport after flying in Friday morning, Vinciguerra said it was a “huge relief” to be back home and thanked all those who had worked behind the scenes to try to secure his release.

Looking frail and gaunt but apparently having recovered from an injury to his cheek, he said he decided on his birthday last month that he could stay no longer.

“I knew I had to get out,” he said, according to the ATS news agency, adding that he seized his chance when his kidnappers were celebrating a wedding.

Vinciguerra said he now wanted to spend some time with his family. “I’ve missed so much,” he said.

The Philippines military said Vinciguerra took advantage of a pre-dawn assault by soldiers on his Abu Sayyaf abductors in the jungles of the remote southern island of Jolo to make his bold escape.

They said that one of the kidnappers caught up with him as he ran away and there was a scuffle over his machete, resulting in Vinciguerra being slashed on the cheek and stabbing the other man in the head.

There were unconfirmed reports that the man later died. AFP


FROM THE INQUIRER

‘Aquino's emergency powers favor big, dirty power plants’ Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:25 AM | Friday, December 12th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–Owners of coal- or biomass-fired power plants are expected to benefit from President Aquino’s special powers allowing him to bypass rigid regulations meant to protect the environment, a party-list lawmaker said on Thursday.

The House of Representatives has approved Joint Resolution No. 21 granting the President special powers to address the expected power shortfall in summer.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares identified the plants and their owners as follows:

— 600-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant in Subic Freeport, Zambales province, owned by the consortium of Aboitiz Power Corp., Manila Electric Co. and Taiwan Cogen Corp.

— 135-MW Puting Bato coal plant of South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. owned by Ayala Corp. and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp.

— Twin 150-MW plant in Calaca, Batangas of DMCI Holdings’ South Luzon Power Generation.

— 2-MW biomass-fired plant of San Jose City Power Corp.

— 12.5-MW rice husk-fired plant of Bataan 2020 Inc.

— 20-MW biomass plant of Isabela Biomass Corp.

Colmenares said a key provision in the joint resolution suspending environmental laws practically gave the President a “blank check” to allow big and dirty power plants to degrade the environment.

“During the effectivity of the President’s special powers from March to July next year, ‘all national government agencies and local government units are hereby authorized to suspend the operability of pertinent laws, rules and regulations including, but not limited to, mitigating measures adopted for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, the Biofuels Act, the Clean Air Act, the Philippine Grid Code, the Philippine Distribution Code, that may affect the operation and transmission of the contracted generation capacities under this Joint Resolution, to ensure the timely commissioning and utilization thereof,’” the resolution said.

Colmenares said that in a country like the Philippines “visited regularly by supertyphoons like ‘Yolanda’ and ‘Ruby’ caused by climate change, it is best that we must do all we can to protect the environment and not add to its destruction.”

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, energy committee chair, assuaged fears that the President would abuse his powers to bend the rules in favor of big power firms.

“The resolution demands that power be immediately available within the crisis period and this exempts power plants that would operate after the risks,” Umali said in a press conference.

He said lawmakers felt that whether the power supply came from “clean or dirty sources,” their overriding concern was to avert power outages at any cost.

He placed the maximum cost of getting additional power from excess supply and interruptible load program suppliers at P200 million.

Umali said he expected the Senate to approve the joint resolution next month, claiming that he and Senate energy committee Chair Sergio Osmeña III were on the same page on granting the President emergency powers.

But Osmeña on Thursday said there was no need to pass this month a Senate resolution granting Aquino emergency powers to avert the looming power shortage.

Mothballed coal plant

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said the joint resolution would offer the mothballed coal plant Mount Redondo in Subic a golden opportunity to operate without the need for compliance with environmental laws.

Ridon served as legal counsel for environmental groups that sought a writ of kalikasan against the Meralco power plant in the Supreme Court in 2012.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said Meralco should be taken to task for any shortfall in power because of its decision to choose the Redondo project rather than other more viable proposals at that time.

“Isn’t the energy crisis, to a great extent, created by the inability of the Redondo plant of Meralco to come on stream? Meralco is in fact a company that is controlled by Beacon electric, First Philippine Holdings, Metro Pacific and First Pacific, all of which are tied in to the Salim family, an Indonesian family,” Bello said.

“This is a matter of national security. Meralco controls 70 percent of the distribution of electricity in Luzon and we have an electricity distributor that is in fact an Indonesian-owned company,” he said during his interpellation on the floor during the plenary debates.

Bello said he and his colleague, Rep. Barry Gutierrez, voted no to the joint resolution because they were not convinced that the emergency powers were necessary for what he called an “artificial power crisis.”

Malampaya maintenance

Bello blamed Shell Corp.’s unilateral decision to do its maintenance work on the Malampaya natural gas field off Palawan province—which provides up to 45 percent of Luzon’s power requirements—in March and April next year when demand for power would be at its peak.

“Instead of passing this bill giving the President emergency powers, I have proposed a simple alternative and that is for Congress to ask the President to order Shell to do its maintenance work later in the year. He has the full authority to do this, as the Department of Energy (DOE) admitted during the committee hearings,” Bello said.

He said the DOE was hard-pressed to give “a good, consistent reason” why the shutdown could not be delayed “so Philippine energy security would come ahead of Shell’s corporate bottom line


FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace willing to work with Osmeña despite ‘very blunt’ opinion Kristine Angeli Sabillo @KSabilloINQ INQUIRER.net 5:10 PM | Friday, December 12th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang is not closing the door on Senator Sergio Osmeña III despite his comment that there is no pressure to grant President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to address the impending power shortage next year.

“You know Senator Serge Osmeña is very blunt about his opinion, but all these will be taken into consideration,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a Palace briefing.

Osmeña is the chair of the Senate energy committee. On Thursday, he claimed that Aquino was being “misled” about the power situation and that there is no need for emergency powers. He said the Senate can pass the resolution in February.

On the other hand, the House of Representatives on Friday approved on third and final reading House Joint Resolution No. 21, which seeks “to provide for the establishment of additional power generating capacity as mandated by Republic Act No. 9136, also known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), to effectively address the projected shortage of the supply of electricity in the Luzon grid from March 12 to July 2015.”

But Lacierda said they are already working on a “workable” solution to the potential power crisis in the summer of 2015.

“Senator Serge Osmeña, while he may differ with Secretary (Jericho) Petilla, has also the best interest—has the interest of the Filipino in mind,” he explained, adding that the senator is also looking at other ways to mitigate and address the problem.

He said he was still hopeful that the House of Representatives and the Senate will agree.

“We have already certified this bill as urgent, so all we know (is) that Senator Serge Osmeña is also concerned, and we’ll leave it with the House and Senate to come up with an answer to address the power situation,” the spokesperson said.

“As to the timetable, hopefully it will be early enough to address whatever concerns that we have in 2015… We will leave it with the Senate,” he said.

Asked about concerns that the additional authority will only benefit power producers, as well as encourage corruption, Lacierda said that safeguards will be in place.

“If there is no power, it affects the economy; it affects the convenience of the consumers,” he said. “I am certain that safeguards will be provided to make sure that we are able to address the power situation in 2015.”

“So all these are all speculations on the part of those people, but certainly, government is mindful of how to address the situation and how to best safeguard and ensure that it will redound to the benefit of the Filipino people,” he added.


FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program

These improvements will mean:

These reforms aim to address key concerns by:

Reducing the backlog

Ending the live-in requirement

Improved pathways to permanent residence

On November 30, the Government will launch two new pathways for caregivers that will:

Caring for Children Pathway: A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided child care in a home, either living in the home or not.

Eligibility would be based on:

Work experience: Minimum of two years of Canadian work experience as a home childcare provider, with a work permit.

Human capital criteria: A one-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and language level of at least initial intermediate

Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway: A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided care for the elderly or those with disabilities or chronic disease at higher skill levels in health facilities or in a home

Eligibility would be based on:

Work experience: Minimum of two years of Canadian work experience as a registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse aide, orderly, patient service associate, home support worker or other similar occupation, with a work permit.

Human capital criteria: A one-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and an appropriate level of language proficiency to practice their occupation, ranging from initial intermediate to adequate intermediate

All current LCP applicants, and any who apply for an LCP work permit based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment submitted before

November 30th, will be assessed under the current LCP criteria, if they wish.
 

Learn more about these changes:

Bookmark this page. It will be updated with additional information prior to the changes on November 30, 2014.

CANADA'S JOB BANK: http://www.jobbank.gc.ca/home-eng.do?lang=eng


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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