The Scourge of Labor

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Come May 1, the nation will mark Labor Day, but is it worth celebrating?

For as long as labor remains mired in a state of deprivation, no significance – either real or imagined – can be attached to what is supposed to be a day of tributes to the workers.

That the workers are exploited with impunity can hardly be disputed, given the rampant practice by big businesses such as SM of tycoon Henry Sy to resort to contractualization.

Bluntly, contractualization – other than the businesses’ subtle way to rake in more profits — appears to be the hidden cost underlying a struggling economy.

While providing relief to the ranks of the jobless, such measure is but only temporary, exposing indeed the government’s lack of long-term solutions to the nation’s job woes.

Broadly, the malpractice is not only revolting, but also immoral because it deprives workers of their human right to a life of respect and dignity.

Without any moment’s notice, those who entered into such lopsided arrangement can be terminated even in the absence of any justifiable cause.

How and why contractualization continued to thrive under the noses of labor officials defies logic.

The economy, as the government says, has been on a growth track over the past years, creating opportunities for employment.

And yet, based on official statistics, there’s still a growing number of Filipinos who are jobless.

It only buttressed the fact that while growth is welcome news, it can’t be equated by any stretch of imagination with the uplift of the workers’ quality of life. Understandably, we can’t find fault with those who opt to look for greener pastures abroad.

Desperation is just overwhelming, leaving them with no choice but to take their chances in faraway lands.

US Interest Groups

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Remember the classic global war on terror wherein countries were forced to believe that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was actually keeping weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that nations had to form a coalition of the willing in order to put an end to this ‘madness’ by a madman. In the end, there was no WMD and the sovereign nation of Iraq was destroyed and killed thousands of innocent civilians and put the country in chaos for the price of regime change in order to establish a democratic government and save Iraqi people from human rights violation, no thanks to ‘Washington interest groups’.

Once again, this time in Ukraine the US WIG used the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of state and overthrowing the disagreeable political regime (another American WIG regime change). WIGhas supported right-wing extremists groups in Ukraine standing for the spread of ultranationalist ideas under the principle: ”Ukraine for Ukranians”.

The West was not reportedly troubled by the fact that as a result of the rebellion, democratically elected president  who had won the elections that were recognized by the OSCE as open and transparent, was ousted. Rather than wait for the elections in 2015 and try to change the Ukranian leadership democratically, emissaries of the West have provoked illegal military option ignoring all rules of democracy. The so-called Ukranian revolution was accompanied by extreme violence by protesters while Western pro-US media replicated TV reports covering allegedly peaceful protest movement.

The position of the US WIG closest allies in the EU and the Pacific region are stipulated by conservative vision of the world formed by Washington, forced them to sacrifice their own economic interests for the sake of achieving the US WIG controlled foreign policy goals. Japan following the order from Washington has pledged economic aid in the amount of $1.5 billion to Ukraine and has frozen profitable investment cooperation with Moscow, the UK has stopped the delivery of military items to Russia and Germany has suspended the military contract costing 120 million euros. Following the risky course of Washington interest group has caused economic and political damage to ministers and other EU leaders who openly marched among the radical nationalists who profess racist and xenophobic ideas.

In condition of unprecedented pressure by the US and EU associated with the referendum in Crimea on international community, the BRICS countries have taken an independent stand and on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Hague have issued a statement condemning the use of sanctions during Ukranian crisis resolution. They have pointed out that the policy of force and economic sanctions are futile and not conducive to a balanced and peaceful resolution of the crisis.

As Dr. Paul Craig Roberts writes “the American, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, EU propaganda machine has blamed Putin for all the trouble.  But so far the Russian government has not had to do anything except comply with the self-determination of the people in the Russian areas of Ukraine.  Much of Ukraine, as it exists or existed today, consists of Russian territories added to Ukraine by Soviet rulers.

When Ukraine became independent with Russia’s agreement when the Soviet Union collapsed, had the Russian territories first been put back into Russia from whence they came, Washington’s coup would not have resulted in the same level of crisis.

Instead, under Washington’s pressure, the Russian territory was retained by Ukraine, and in compensation Russia was given a 50-year lease on Sevastopol, Russia’s Black Sea naval base.

The purpose of the Washington financed and orchestrated coup in Kiev was to put  Ukraine, with its artificial boundaries, into the EU and NATO and to evict Russia from its warm water port and ring Russia with US missile bases.  Washington and its European puppets described this as “bringing democracy to Ukraine.”

Ukraine already had democracy, a young one trying to put down roots, and Washington destroyed it. As Russian President Putin observed, overthrowing a brand new democracy destroys democracy. Washington’s coup established for Ukraine the precedent that force and propaganda rule, not democracy.

But Washington cares not for democracy, only for its agenda. And Russia, China, and Iran are in the way.

The neoconservatives, who have controlled US foreign policy since the Clinton regime, concluded that the Soviet collapse meant that history has chosen America as the socio-economic system for the world. They declared the US to be “exceptional” and “indispensable” and above international law.  Washington had a free pass to invade, murder, destroy, and dominate.  The neoconservative claims of “American exceptionalism” sound like Hitler’s claims for the German nation. When the White House sock puppet expressed in a speech the claim of American exceptionalism, Putin replied: “God made us all equal.”

Washington’s opinion is that the exceptional and indispensable nation–the US–is above not only all other nations but also above law. What Washington does is legal.  What anyone else does in opposition is illegal.” Dr. Roberts concluded.

So what else is new? The continuing effort of ‘Washington Interest group’ through their government witting tool agents together with its willing allies will put the entire planet into the brink of another war.

This is what Putin thinks (taken from the article by Dr. Roberts), Americans have no intention of working anything out. They intend to subjugate Russia. Washington wants Russia powerless, surrounded with ABM bases that degrade our strategic deterrent to uselessness. These Americans will not work with me.  They will not listen to me or to Russia’s Foreign Minister.  They only hear their own call for American hegemony over the world. My only alternative is to prepare for war.

What was not told was that the puppet master in China is believed to be secretly dealing with the US WIG to save themselves from the peoples anger, fanning intrigues and also pushing the government of China to analyze Washington’s war plans for war against China and be fully aware of Washington’s “pivot to Asia,” in which the “indispensable nation” announced its “safe-guarding of peace” by surrounding China with naval and air bases, understands that it has the same Washington enemy as does Russia.

What the entire world faces, every country, every individual regardless of their political orientation, is a global reptilian elite engineered confrontation with US against Russia and China. This confrontation is enabled by WIG’s

bought-and-paid-for European and UK puppet states. Without the cover provided by Europe, Washington’s acts of aggression would result in war crimes charges against the government in Washington.  The world would not be able to enforce these charges without war, but Washington would be isolated.

The cat is out! According to Brian Wingfield of Bloomberg news (April13,2014 Businessmirror), Washington Interest Groups owe Russian President Vladimir Putin a big thank you. Putin’s annexation of Crimea is being cited in Washington as a reason to do everything, from building an oil pipeline to accelerating private space flight and even boosting export of natural gas. US is also dependent on Russian made rocket engines.

What emboldened China to bully us? Despite the published support of the US to the Asian against the bullying of China, action speaks more than words. It’s not a secret anymore that US owe China trillions of dollars. US first lady Michelle Obama, Defense secretary Chuck Hagel even visited Beijing lately. There’s even a talk concerning the US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty(BIT). It is now clear that these super elites self-interest among superpowers dictate the global scenarios coming. Not even governments and leaders can stop their evil agenda.  Be wary!!!

Obnoxious Brats

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By: Ronald Roy 

“I have a whole hour to spend with you, sir , before my Political Science class starts at 3,” said 18-year-old William Chang, staring at his watch. A sophomore of a private university located in Makati, Billy, born in Malolos, Bulacan of pure Chinese parentage, had earlier asked me what I thought of the debilitating tensions between China and the Philippines. I laid down the newspaper I’d been reading and asked him to join me as I asked a waiter to clear my table.

Billy, who spoke with a Chinese accent, was familiar to me as a regular customer of the burger restaurant, and must have felt he might gather the courage to speak with me, possibly after having heard my socio-political views in chats with friends on previous occasions. I welcomed an opportunity for a talk with him myself. He would surely furnish me an idea of how people his age and nationality were affected by deteriorating ties between the two countries.

As he prepared to carry his back pack to my table, I sat up eager to answer the still unanswered question: “Sir, will there be a war between China and us?” It was clear that his words ‘China’ and ‘us’ identified his sentiments as Filipino, not Chinese, hence, the assurance my task would not be a problem, although I did stress that all he would be getting from me was a mere opinion, and not an authoritative one at that. So, dear Readers, hereunder are some highlights of my conversation with Billy Chang.

No, I do not believe a full-scale war will erupt between China and us, although isolated shooting incidents shouldn’t be discounted, even in the face of an American-access-to-PH-military-bases agreement. Well, it’s really nice to feel reassured that nobody wants a war where everyone ends up losing, but given China’s history of hotheaded warmongers, one can never really tell.

It’s often said that it will take a moron to press the proverbial red button to trigger a nuclear holocaust. The trouble is: instigators in present-day warfare are madmen, not morons. The distant past had its share of supercilious schizos, like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte; and it is feared that today’s Chinese leadership could be what Deng Xiaoping once predicted in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly: murderously mad.

Deng was a 4′ 11″ runt, a midget with the mind of a colossus whose reformist capitalist theories opened avenues for the rapid development of China’s market economy into what it is today: the second strongest in the world, and perhaps the largest creditor-nation ever in the the history of mankind. One’s mind is boggled, indeed, by how America can manage such an enormous debt in the trillions of dollars.

And the same mind comfortably concludes that it would be idiotic and asinine for the two mightiest nations on the planet to annihilate each other in a nuclear confrontation. Yes, indeed, why should they destroy each other when the earth can be theirs by mutually arranged manipulations?! Don’t look now, but already Chinese nationals have been marrying into American homes, and investing in numerous top US companies and business conglomerates at a pace never before thought possible.

The trouble is: this analysis is too rational, too orthodox even for Deng Xiaoping’s comfort if he were alive. The perspicacious Deng had seen too much of the dark side of his country’s leaders which even today’s nations have not yet seen. And Deng strongly warned the world against them. For, Deng knew that it was only a question of time — and that time is now, Billy — that his country would be a daunting economic and military threat to America and the rest of the free world.

And he feared that a resurgent China, the oldest civilization that had once ruled the world (long before our country was discovered), would strive to surge to the top in ruthless disregard of the UN Charter, international law and such other principles and norms of human decency that are intended for the fostering of peace among all nations of goodwill. He recalled the brutal 1964 sinking by a Chinese vessel of an unarmed Vietnamese fishing boat three times smaller, killing over 60 innocent fishers and leaving a similar number missing.

Ironically, however, he would be held accountable by government quarters for the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square that happened under his watch.The reformist Deng was twice purged by the Politburo for his radical views, but it was his dynamism that brought him back on track in his quest for the pinnacle of power, the same dynamism that had him trepidatiously declaring before the UN General Assembly that, once given a chance at world domination, a reawakened China would most likely bamboozle its neighbors in the Asean region, and should be stopped by other countries acting in concert with its own citizens.

The Chinese people’s cultural trait of settling disputes among themselves without resorting to trial, arbitration, conciliation and the like, has no place in a community of Asean peoples who all disagree with that settlement mode. It’s time China’s leaders stopped behaving like obnoxious brats.

( http://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )

Boon or Bane?

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The Philippines is not ready for the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) in 2015. The Initiative for ASEAN Integration refers to reducing various forms of disparities among and within member States where some pockets of underdevelopment persist, which could narrow the development gap in the region.

With the integration, people would be allowed to purchase, sell products and services, work and invest in any of the member countries of the ASEAN with lesser restrictions unlike strict protectionism. This would be enjoyed by all ASEAN member countries.

But according to Asian Development Bank, the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will likely not be attained by 2015. Although various reasons were cited for the continued difficulties of attaining the AEC targets, what stands out is the unawareness of the private sector.

Since 2010 when this integration was first hatched, the Philippine government failed to prepare for it. In trade relations alone, where products are supposed to be exported to a less-restricted environment, the recipient chooses which products to accept or to reject.   Naturally the more superior product in terms of quality and price are allowed into the member country. How can we export cheaper products when the cost of production is high? Electricity and labor costs, which are factors to production, are high.

Also, promoting greater mobility of skilled workers and better regulation and management of unskilled labor movements are to be addressed. In the Philippines, unemployment and underemployment are pervasive. Skills do not commensurate with job requirements. Can we compete with our ASEAN neighbors in the labor market?

What about our infrastructure?

There are so many things that we have to prepare for in order to be competitive. If we are not competitive, what benefit can the Initiative for ASEAN Integration do for us? Nada.


A Bad Reflection

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The latest tirade of Senator Serge Osmeña III thrown against The Philippine President and his cabinet does not bode well of his stature as senator. This can be likened to a man uttering vindictives to a reflection in a mirror.

When there is a remiss in governance by government officials, it is construed as a failure in legislation. The legislature in any society performs the important function of deliberating policies for the people and passing them in the form of statutes- statutes that govern any act of the three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. These are all provided in the Constitution. Any act that is not within the purview of the Constitution is deemed unconstitutional.

This function of making or enacting laws is vested in the legislative branch of government. This branch is composed of The Lower House and the Upper House that do legislation and these laws are a guide to all functions and functionalities of government. The legislative act is a formal written enactment produced by a legislature or by a legislative process.

Senator Osmeña being a member of the Senate is also to blame in the malfunctioning of government. The economy will fail and basic services jeopardized not only because the President is not a good manager but also basic governance guidelines were not enacted into laws.

The power mess is a good example of a problem that has emanated from a flawed Electric Power Industry Reform Act that can be traced to the wheeling and dealing of those in the Legislature which Senator Osmeña is a member. Has he done something to amend these flaws? What is he Chairman of the Energy Committee of the Senate for?

Power Running Amok

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by Mentong Tiu Laurel

FIFTEEN years ago, in 1999 at a Max restaurant in downtown Manila where a media Kapihan was being held, I chanced upon then Congressman Butch Abad walking into another function room where a Liberal Party caucus was being held. Linggoy alcuaz was with me and Butz Aquino somewhere in the background. Spontaneously, I screamed at fellow activist Abad, “P.I.M., akala ko para sa Masa tayo, bakit mo tinutulak mo ang Omnibus Power Bill (OMB)?” The OMB was the precursor for the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) of 2001 which is now throwing the national economy and the lives of 100 million Filipinos in deep shit.

After P4.15/kWh, Another P8/kWh Hike

Meralco, ERC (Energy Regulatory commission), WESM and PEMC (Wholesale Electricity Spot Marcket and Philippine Electricity Market Corporation), and the IPPA (Independent Power Producers Association) sent the country into an uproar in December 2013 when it hiked power rates by P 4.15/kWh pushing Meralco rates to P 16.50/kWh—the highest in the World! That was stopped by a TRO from the Supreme Court and thanks only to citizens action, but that temporary reprieve isn’t even over and Meralco is now scheduling to hike rates by another P 8/kWh pushing prices to P24.50/kWh if this amok of the power privatization system is not stopped and reversed.

Only Manila Standard carried the report from Alena Mae S. Flores last Jan. 10, reporting that Meralco said “…this would be felt yet because of the SC’s 60-day restraining order…” which means all hell will break loose after the TRO.

Butch Abad is quoted to say, “When Meralco announced the P4.15 per kilowatt hour, the negative reaction was already huge. How much more with this new hike announcement.” This is why I flashed back to that day in 1999 when I cursed Abad and his OMB. The curse is now upon us all and the task is to un-hex our nation of this curse of privatization, yet it is a task I doubt the country knows how to unravel until a violent explosion shreds it asunder.

Corrupt Elite Conspiracy

The Epira was born in the orgy of pathological profit and power seekers’ privatizations in the World and in Filipino society—the IMF-World Bank, the Philippine feudal-corporate elite, its politicians of almost all stripes, its mendicant intelligentsia.
Epira was passed by Congress after then Speaker Soy Belmonte’s office distributed P500K payola to all signing “sow-lons” and P10-M “O Ilaw” projects from Gloria M. Arroyo while the latter got US$ 800-M standby loans from the World Bank to sign it into law.

With sovereign guanratees, bankrupt U.S. companies like Mirant joined the Epira IPPs in and raked in billions. This was one of the motives behind Edsa Dos, to oust the anti-sovereign guarantee Estrada. The corrupt intelligentsia is integral to the selling of the Epira, such Randy David in his Inquirer pieces arguing that President BS Aquino can do nothing about the ERC’s policies; to which I wrote: ”. “If a corrupt congress and president passed Epira into law, a “Daang Matuwid” president can repeal it through a Congress which he coaxed to oust a Supreme Court justice.”

In 2004 in a debate on presidential candidates organized by Fr. Ed dela Torre at the Bahay Kalinaw, Arroyo factotum Rigoberto Tiglao threw a tantrum to disrupt my exposition on the Epira which would indict the Arroyo candidacy. I am glad Tiglao is now lambasting the Epira.

Silent Black Nazarene

If the Black Nazarene, which has just been dusted and taken out of its parking slot for the recent procession, would speak what would it say about the country’s exorbitant power cost. Would it perform a miracle and instruct the Catholic hierarchy to speak on behalf of the suffering poor and demand the lowering of rates, take profit out of the equation (as Chirst did at the Temple) and lash the whip at the money monsters?

Cardinal Tagle had a field day during the procession pontificating against the politicians and their corruption—but what about the corruption of the oligarchs? This is why the Black Nazarene will never speak, as the Church cannot turn against their mundane benefactors.

Our very good Bishop Tobias at a symposium organized by KME (Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya) of economist Jimmie Regalario, enthusiastically agreed with our praise of SC Justice Reynato Puno’s 2003 decision prohibiting Meralco from passing its income tax on to consumers, causing a P 30-B refund.

Tobias wanted to protest the high rates, but when ILPI’s (Iligan Light) Jojo Borja mentioned that Manny Pangilinan is one of the major benefactors of the Church the good Bishop piped down. Let’s be truthful, in all of history the Vatican has always stood beside the oligarchs while distracting the masses with preaching of justice for the poor the same way Pope Francis is doing now.

Beware the “Trolls”

“Trolls” on the Internet are very well known to the social media now. They are the planted Twitters and Facebook participants in discussed, often paid for by interests behind the scenes, to disrupt certain lines of thought or promote some misinformation or disinformation. The “trolls” also exist in real life, in NGOs and the likes. In ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) hearings there are “trolls” sent in to pose as consumer champions and advocates who are actually the fifth column of Meralco, the ERC and the IPP, the WESM (Wholesale Electricity Sport Market).

One has been caught with a P5-million “education on Epira” contract with the WESM.

The “trolls” in real life and in social media have taken a heavy toll on the Filipino people’s clear-headedness, muddling issues and waylaying the best intentions of the public. The Epira was passed on the lies of the trolls that “competition will bring down power rates”, just like the anti-pork core group of Peachy Bretaña, Inday Varona, Junep Ocampo, et al used the “Million Man March” hypes supported by oligarch’s media ABS-CBN, TV5, Inquirer, Star et al. The anti-pork campaign has just enhanced the “super pork” of BS Aquino’s DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) fund and the executive prerogatives over “pork” which Congress now has to submit to BS Aquino for release to their projects.

Power Play

While the power struggle between oligarchs and the people are stalemated with the TRO, mainstream media of the oligarchs is spewing threats from the IPPs that “power brownouts” may ensue from the delay in approving the exorbitant rates. That’s blackmail that was inevitable when the power industry was placed in the hands of profit-seeking, greedy owners. The nation and the economy is being taken hostage for the ransom of price gouging rates. It’s a choice between being killed by high power rates or now power at all. There should be a better choice, that re-nationalizing or socializing the power sector, which won’t happen without ousting BS Aquino and company.

The Magdalo’s Senator Trillanes lashed out at the chief power oligarch in Meralco, Manny Pangilinan as “walang kabusugan” (insatiable) and proposed to use the Malampaya Fund to cushion consumers’ bill, but with another P 8/kWh increase that fund will run out fast and sacrifices energy development that should bring lower cost power in the long run. The Makabayan Coalition led by Colmenares’ group went to the SC and got the TRO, but the long run program of this group may hold the only solution, revolution—unless the AFP’s young officers can fast track developments as in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez.
(Watch “Power Struggle 2014” with, GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)

EDITORIAL : Cheap, Not Overpriced

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AMID reports of overpriced bunkhouses and other shenanigans in the Yolanda relief and rehab program, it looks like the government will be spending more than what was initially estimated in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of communities in the typhoon-damaged Visayas region.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad said typhoon reconstruction this year could run up to PhP138 billion (about US$3.1 billion), or 50 percent higher than initial government estimates. In effect, the total bill for the four-year reconstruction program “will be steeper than the estimated PhP631 billion”.

Government has set aside PhP54 billion for the rebuilding effort from a supplemental budget passed late December. Another PhP80 billion more would come from concessional loans offered by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The PNoy administration says it can fund the rehab effort. Question is, can government absorb all this spending? Part of the government plan includes the building of not only typhoon-resilient structures, but also permanent evacuation centers equipped with generators and supplies, an initiative that was not part of the original plan.

Government is also considering major infrastructure projects in the central Philippines, such as relocating the coastal airport in Tacloban, the city that bore the brunt of typhoon Yolanda. Abad says they (government planners) have grossly underestimated the costs of providing temporary shelter, jobs, restoring water health and sanitation services—and even the cost of documenting and burying the dead.

Simply put, government is primed to pump in more money into the relief and rehabilitation program and—with the PDAF on hold—this influx of money could provide an opportunity (God forbid!) for thieves in government to strike again. Abad said, construction planners “failed to factor in the need to introduce resiliency” a statement which—to some extent—provides an explanation as to why the temporary bunkhouses are made of light (or flimsy) materials.

There you go. The bunkhouses are cheap, not overpriced.

Privatization: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

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By Mentong Tiu-Laurel

ONE of my youngest (twins) who has been on his first job came home last week and said over the dinner table, “My officemates were shocked to see what the impact of the P 3/kWh Meralco increase is going to be. Many of my officemates, first time job holders, are now the ones paying for electricity at home. They complained that their presents for X’mas to parents and relatives would have to be cut down. But, (anticipating what I would be asking) they don’t think they can do anything about it.” A day later I asked my son to invite these officemates to the house for dinner so I could explain the history of the Grinch who stole their X’mas and what we can do about it.

The government privatization program started Corazon C. Aquino and continues to this day, that’s the Grinch stealing the Filipino people’s Christmases. The Grinch is a popular children’s story by Dr. Seuss that tells of“a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature with a heart ‘two sizes too small’” who decided to stop Christmas by stealing children’s presents, trees, and food for feasts. Disguised as Santa Claus with a sleigh, he steals and tries dump all the presents into an abyss. Foreign and Filipino oligarchs incarnates the Grinch who stole “our crown jewels” – publicly owned power plants, water systems, toll ways, telecommunications and profits greedily from them.

How to Get Back Our Presents

First, the people must be informed what presents they had under their X’mas coconut trees. When power plants, water systems, toll ways, telecoms were under public government control and strict regulation they all existed to serve the Public Welfare, never solely for profit. But a grand swindle before the very eyes of the people was conducted by Cory Aquino and her oligarchy cohorts behind mainstream media’s blinding éclat of the “democracy icon” Cory, like a political Santa Claus with the gift of sham democracy. Twenty-five years later the Philippines has among the highest if not the highest power, water, toll ways, telecom charges in Asia and the World.

Secondly, the people must be shown how to get those presents back – by taking action, informing others of the Grinch and how they stole our presents, by taking concrete action like signing petitions, going on “social media” to wage the information campaign, join pickets and rallies, and support political candidates that vow to fight the Grinch. This is not a Revolution, but it is these small things that begin revolutions. In April 2013 in Bulgaria, in protest against electricity price hikes Ventsislave Vasilev burned himself to death. We are not asking for such drastic sacrifice, just daily efforts in anti-privatization social media, reading “A Radical’s Nut”, joining protest pickets, etc.

The Facts on Oil, LPG, Power

World market prices of energy sources are going down due to the peace talks between the U.S. and Iran, take note of these global headlines: Agence France Press, Nov. 25, 2013 “Oil prices drop on Iran nuclear accord”; Star.com, U.S. Nov. 22, “Good news! Gas prices to drop ….until the end of the year continuing a trend begun in August.”; The Observer, U.S. Nov. 19, “Propane (LPG) prices down 14.3 percent”. With global oil and gas prices on the down trend, why are Philippine gasoline and diesel prices going up, Meralco’s electricity up by 30% and LPF up by 25%? One reason is manipulation by the oligarchs: Shell-Chevron shutting down Malampaya natural gas and Saudi-Aramco’s arbitrary hike.

Cory Aquino started the privatization madness in 1986 by turning over Meralco to the Lopezes without any payment but which government paid for in 1973, then signing IPPs (Independent Power Producer) contracts in 1992, followed by Ramos and the Gloria Arroyo’s EPIRA in June 2001 in exchange for World Bank bribery standby loan of $ 800-million. Oil company Petron was privatized during Ramos’s time, to Saudi Aramco. Water was privatized from 1997 on by fooling the people that rates would go down, but Marcos had started modernizing the water system with huge investment that Cory Aquino sabotage to provide the excuse for privatization.

In concrete, after returning public utilities to public control: government should increase buffer stocks of oil and LPG from one month to at least four months, buying low and releasing during world market price peaks or when global players are manipulating the commodities; in the power sector return to a fixed and low return-on-rate base of 12% or below allowable profit and depreciate assets according to regular accounting rules (now assets are always adjusted to latest valuations); likewise in water and telecommunications sectors. All the buy-back can be done with the surplus foreign reserves of $ 20-B and Special Deposit Account of $ 40-billion with the Bangko Sentral, and installment.

Aquino’s Boss: Oligarchs

“Gov’t can’t stop oil, power rate surge”, Dec. 4, 2013, BS Aquino’s spokesman sonny Coloma said. So what is government for if it can’t protect the people from the oligarchs’ manipulation, abuse and profiteering. We will tell BS Aquino what government can do: follow 1) the Constitution which command government to “promote the common good” and not profits of the oligarchs; 2) the EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) that demanded “stable and reliable supply at a reasonable price” of power; 3) BS Aquino’s own words “Kayo ang boss ko” and not the oligarchs. The highest power cost in Asia is destroying industry and employment, living standards and the National Economy as a whole.

Some have the mistaken belief that only local oligarchs are the culprits behind Aquino. No, they are together with the global oligarchs in imposing Philippine compliance to global privatization rules. Filipino water consumers were supposed to get 10% to 20% reduction in water rates in October due to MWSS ban on Manila Water and Maynilad from passing on income tax and other expenses to consumers. This reduction is on hold forever when the water companies raised the issue to the International Commercial Court where international business protection rules will be superior to the Philippine Constitution and all its laws designed to protect the people. We need to withdraw from these.

Million Man March vs. Price Hikes?

There were many anti-pork “leaders” who claim the credit for the Million Man March against pork. I wonder if they can organize such a march against the power, LPG, oil products price hikes, and still get the massive propaganda support of the oligarchs controlled mainstream media like ABS-CBN, ABC 5, GMA7, and the major dailies. The Catholic Church was also active in the anti-pork, why have we never heard anything from them on the P 850-billion annual scam that is the privatized power industry of the country which charges exorbitantly based on up to 500% overprice of power transformers and 1,00% overprice of power poles that go into the rate base computations.

Some crusaders should also be asked, why did they support the EPIRA and privatization when it started in 2001? This includes many in the middle class and professional sectors. They were used in 2001 by the Grinch. Are they really on the right opposition track now, to demand the end of privatization and return to public or socialized ownership of the public utilities to include not only power, but fuel, water and other industries essential to the “common good”. There are some congressmen who made token protests about EPIRA, like the former customs man Mindoro solon Rey Umali who said in Sept. 2013 the Epira flaws cost more than pork, but now he’s silent. He, a BS Aquino compadre, is likely a Grinch too.

Revolt, Prosecute and Reform.

Anti-EPIRA crusader Mr. Jojo Borja, in memory of the late Mang Naro Lualhati who helped with the P 30-billion refund from Meralco’s overcharging back in the 90s, is reviving a case drafted by Atty. Alan Paguia, to sue Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut (of pork barrel fame too) and Meralco CEO Manny Pangilinan before the Ombudsman – someday putting them behind bars. The BMP led by Leody de Guzman initiated a picket in front of Meralco last week, and we will follow through with more mass actions in the next few weeks. In the past we had countless “light out” campaigns at night, which should be revived. At some point we should “occupy” Meralco and ERC, and then Malacañang, over these issues.

(Watch “The Power Grinch who stole X’mas” with Mr. Jojo Borja and Arnold Padilla: GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri.5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)

Who Cares About Climate Change?

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NO country on earth has more to fear from climate change than the Philippines—a nation of 7,100 islands and some 98 million souls. The climate has always wrought havoc here and—as shown by Typhoon Yolanda—it’s getting worse. Storms coming to our islands have the entire Pacific Ocean to draw strength from. Sitting astride shifting tectonic plates, we have experienced 13 magnitude 6.0 or stronger earthquakes since 2001—the latest of which was a magnitude 7.2 quake that hit Bohol and killed 222 people.

Since 2002, we have recorded 184 natural disasters. Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) was the 30th named storm of the 2013 Pacific season and the second Category 5 (with winds in excess of 150 miles per hour) to hit the Philippines in the last 11 months. Yolanda—which killed over 5,000 people in the Visayas—is the most powerful storm in history to hit land.
New scientific evidence simply tells that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.

But who cares about climate change?

Days after Typhoon Yolanda hit the country Naderev Saño—Philippine Climate Change Commissioner—was delivering an impassioned plea during the 19th Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland.

That it is the 19th convention of its kind and that it is still in its “framework” stage, means that Saño’s decision to go on a hunger strike—“until some concrete agreement on climate change is reached in Poland”—was a very bad idea.

Rich countries simply won’t pay up even if they are the biggest culprits in the destruction of the environment and largest contributors to climate change. For now, writing checks and making donations whenever a natural disaster strikes will have to suffice.

But without serious, sustained attention and the kind of sacrifices in lifestyle that few nations seem prepared to make, every coast will feel what our Visayan coasts felt.

Perhaps not as violently, but every bit as surely if nothing is done about climate change.

Bothered, Bewildered and Bewitched

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By Mentong Tiu-Laurel

“PEOPLE are always blaming circumstances for what they are. But the people who get on in this world are those who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

We’ve see the tragic result of this nation complaining about its circumstances but incapable of defining what it wants and taking steps to making them happen. Vision and planning – strategic thinking, without this activity is just as Einstein described – insanity, repeating a thing over and over expecting a different result. The Philippines has a history of natural calamities and tragedies from Ormoc in 1990 with 5,100 dead to Sendon’s 1300 dead in 2011, and now Yolanda’s 5,000 and still growing number of casualties. It was not always like this, in Marcos’s time government had helicopters, amphibious vessels, and the disciplined government machinery – then Edsa I and the Yellows arrived on the scene.


In Yolanda’s wake we find this nation’s “dependent personality disorder” become a trait of the national psyche. A people bothered and blaming ceaselessly, many had in 2010 actually voted to power the inexperienced and clueless government they are blaming today. The circumstances they bellyache about today are also caused by two decades of Edsa I that a majority of the population also supported – including dismantling and privatization of the nation’s strategic assets (power, water, infra, etc.) to local oligarchs backed by global monopoly-finance-capital (Goldman Sachs, Salim, IMF, etc.) siphoning trillions out and leaving the people impoverished, a plundered economy and a government bereft of resources.

The bothersome mendicancy of the Filipinos and its government, was perfected since Edsa I for the resurgence of neo-colonial control by its traditional master – the U.S. which supports corrupt and inept political leadership (Amb. Thomas congratulated BS Aquino even before proclamation) performed with perfect ineptitude in the Yolanda crisis, allowing the “international community” to takeover all aspects of rescue and recovery to smother the last breath of national dignity and sovereignty. The petty Philippine “social media” joined in self-deprecating everything Filipino, contributing to CNN’s blog the insults damning all Filipinos as an incapable of changing their corrupt rulers.


Dependency pervades the Filipino mind, including its bewilderment on climate issues led by environmental groups controlled by Western interests and institutions. Remember W.H.O. peddling the 2009 Swine Flu panic for global Big Pharma’s multi-billions sales of vaccines; the panic was baseless. The IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is another, peddling a “consensus” on Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming (AGW) where there is none, while the global financial institutions rake it in on “cap-and-trade” of carbon credits. Haiyan/Yolanda became the “strongest” typhoon to dramatize the Warsaw Climate Change Conference and further instill in Filipinos the false AGW theory.

Meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue at Weather BELL Analytics, LLC, Florida, formerly with Naval Research Laboratory, Twitted: “Over past 1,000 years, Philippines have been hit by 10-20 thousand tropical cyclones. Don’t be so arrogant to believe Man caused Haiyan.” And demolishes claims that Typhoon Haiyan was ‘strongest storm ever with the “‘Fact: Haiyan is 58th Super Typhoon since 1950 to reach central pressure of 900 mb (1 millibar = 0.145 lbs. /sq. inch) or lower from historical records’ — Maue: ’50 of 58 Super Typhoons with pressure of 900 mb or lower occurred from 1950-1987 — only 8 in past 25 years’” but Philippine media and crying Yeb Sano claims it is the strongest ever.


Bewitching PMSM, Phil. MainStream Media, serves Western propaganda and discounts China’s view, as in “US bombers enter China’s claimed air defense zone” highlighting U.S. spokesman Jen Psaki “This will raise regional tensions … “. ADIZes are not new, from Wiki:  “An air defense command … was developed in 1950 … The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is an area – in which the ready identification, location, and control of civil aircraft over land or water is required … under … North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) … aircraft entering an ADIZ is required to radio its planned course…” Jets and missiles fly 60 km. per minute, crossing China’s ADIZ takes only 3 minutes.

From Yomiuri Shimbun Nov. 27, 2013, “Countries such as Japan, the United States, South Korea and Taiwan have set their ADIZ in areas surrounding their airspace, asking aircraft that pass through the zones to give prior notice for the purpose of confirming whether such aircraft pose a threat.” But as far as PMSM is concerned the Western interpretation of news is highlighted and China’s ADIZ is treated pejoratively. PMSM is also biased for dumbing down the pubic, like making boxers heroes (like Pacquiao) and quibbling over his tax tiff with government while scant priority is given to meager salaries of weather experts who are thus leaving the country in droves for high paying foreign jobs.

Also, befuddled

News touted the World Bank’s $ 500-M loan for Yolanda assistance, but in July 2012 the Philippines lent $ 1-billion to Europe! Media trumpets that GDP will not be direly affected by Yolanda, yet the P 2-Billion the privatized NGCP’s (National Grid) will charge taxpayers for damage to its grid in Yolanda’s wake – that goes into the GDP “growth”. A business daily headlined “National government debt drops to P 5.61T” – fantabulous good news, but behind the lead is the real story: “The total national government debt, however, increased by 7.6 percent if compared to the P 5.213- trillion recorded in September last year.” Arroyo’s 2010 debt was P 4.9-T, Aquino added almost P 600-billion in three years.

The Filipino is really befuddled in his economics. The U.S.-Iran “detante” changing the face of Middle East politics has brought down world oil prices. U.S. gasoline prices have gone down as a consequence, equivalent to P 42/liter in peso terms, but in the Philippines gasoline is still P 52/liter while auto LPG has gone up by almost P 2.00/liter. People complain not about this but about the BIR’s Pacquiao tax persecution (reportedly because he didn’t drop by Malacañang after winning vs. Rios). Two top Inquirer columnists wrote about Pacquiao, i.e. “Being a hero” and “TKO” but nothing on these befuddling material issues (get it?). No wonder this nation is befuddled in almost all the important matters.

Strategic thinking

The Filipino nation is bothered, bewitched, bewildered and befuddled because it has no strategic view – a strategic vision – of what it wants, how to attain it and who can lead the nation with intellectual honest and executive ability. Observe the leadership choices in the past five elections and two coup d’états disguised as “People Power” – the social elite, the PMSM (mainstream media), the social media and its core of “civil society” political-socialites defined the circumstances. The people were hoodwinked to accept BS Aquino, they’ll be hoodwinked again with a new set of false hopes (especially one poe-seur) who are from the same storeroom of puppets of the Status Quo.
The People’s Struggle should be focused on clarifying this strategic vision and leadership. Keep reading this space for it. (Watch “Nature’s defence for shoreline communities” with environmental “Bakawan” advocate Jaime Layug: GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)