Editorial cartoon by Sonny Boy Surnit
PERHAPS Ferdinand Marcos had good reason to abolish Congress back in 1973.
With the extent and amount of thievery in Congress and the plunder of public funds reaching unbelievable proportions and spanning several decades, there is more than enough reason to shut down the operation of what critics and a newspaper columnist-magazine publisher describe as the “largest crime syndicate” of the land.
Throughout history, Congress has seen several evolutions and shifts from a unicameral to bicameral system. Marcos abolished Congress in January 1973 with a shift to the parliamentary system of government and the bicameral system was only reintroduced in February 1987 after Corazon C. Aquino assumed the presidency with the ouster of Marcos.
The primary role of Senators and Representatives is—supposedly—to draft and pass laws for the advancement of the nation and the protection of its people. Lawmakers are not supposed to have direct access to public funds. Well, not until the creation of the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Originally called the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) in 1990, the PDAF is designed to allow legislators to fund small-scale infrastructure or community projects which fell outside the national infrastructure program—which was often limited to large infrastructure items. But over the years, the PDAF has been used for things other than countrywide development. It’s been used as a tool for blackmail, coercion as a reward for political loyalty and has been the object of plunder.
Currently, each of the 24 senators has access to PhP200 million in PDAF while the 289 or so representatives receive PhP70 million a year. In total, some PhP25.03 billion of the national budget goes to our honorable men and women in Congress.
Public outcry over the CDF led to reforms in the CDF and its evolution into PDAF. But nothing has changed. The PDAF remains prone to administrative abuse and plunder. And we’re not even talking about the Disbursement Acceleration Package (DAP), which is a different matter altogether but also involves the possible misuse of billions in government money.
PNoy and his administration is in deep trouble. Maybe it’s time to do an FM.
Sheer coincidence or not, but the eloquence of truth is fast overtaking the pack of lies being desperately peddled around by spin doctors of the ruling power.
Thanks to enlightened and alert citizenry, they can’t be easily swayed by any claim to fame and glory in the remaining days of President Aquino’s six-year term in office.
Nothing can be farther from the truth as facts can easily be discerned from fiction, especially as the countdown in the run-up to Aquino’s uneventful tenure begins soon.
That the economic boom being bandied about by the powers-that-be is more imagined than real is simply beyond dispute.
Just look around and bear witness to the fact that the benefits of the so-called inclusive growth have yet to trickle down to the grassroots levels in the countryside.
On the contrary, the supposed growth has become more inclusive to those in possession of wealth and influence to the exclusion of the depraved and ignorant.
Apparently, the boom times those in power refer to are nothing but a self-serving claim meant to inflate certain egos of dyed-in-wool politicians.
Or they could be intended to mislead the people of their country’s true state of affairs as Aquino will deliver soon another sequel of his state-of-the-nation address.
The lingering pork scam, certainly a blot in Aquino’s stay in power, remains fresh in the public mind and any unintended mention would likely dwarf any other issue, either political or economic, because of its debilitating impact on the national psyche.
It’s a seesaw game for a senator from Cebu who defended the EPIRA to his last breath. The people’s temper has changed the playing field. The court and the regulatory bodies are now bent to supporting people’s interests.
That Senator Serge Osmena III is pressing for drastic changes in the 12-year-old Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) betrays what could be his hidden agenda in protecting the interests of his billion pesos clients – the electricity companies.
The recent spate of Supreme Court ruling barring Meralco from jacking up its rates to historic highs must have spurred him to take a look anew at Epira, the power reform bill he ironically sponsored in the Senate as chair of its energy committee.
A major piece of reform meant to address the nation’ persistent electricity woes, that legislation appears to have disappointed power suppliers as it became a stumbling block to their obsession to rake in more profits.
With the Supreme Court actively taking a pro-people stance in the face of surging power rates, electricity companies – including Senator Osmena himself – are certainly mulling over ways on how to amend the law by plugging its gaping loopholes that had given rise to lawsuits lodged before the Supreme Court.
Undoubtedly, Meralco fell short of its profit forecasts in the wake of the High Court’s freezing of what could have amounted to a grand deception in style of gullible consumers.
This is despite that for decades and even prior to Epira’s enactment into law in 2001, Meralco and other money-driven utilities – had been wallowing in profits – all at the expense of the poor consumers.
Where lies the fault? For Osmena, it’s certainly back to the drawing board.
Apparently, Osmena must be wracking his brains and definitely, like any astute politician, he won’t stop at anything not even in the face of a snowballing campaign by well-meaning business groups, both foreign and local, calling for respect – and enough time – to allow the sanctity of the law to gain headway in a democratic setting.
Time to democratize power industry
Being crucial and strategic to the national economy, the power industry has to be democratized, away from the clutches of the profit-hungry oligarchs and other vested interests.
Amending the over decade-old Epira law could be a logical first step, no matter the hindrances it may encounter along the way.
As some jaded lawmakers imply, the law – supposed to bring down power rates – has miserably failed in fostering a competitive environment.
While there’s no such thing as perfect law, the Epira’s implementation has only exposed its flaws as evidenced by the endless rounds of unwarranted rate increases.
On hindsight, there are also perceptions of manipulation by the power players themselves of the rates to jack up their profits at the expense of hapless consumers.
Worse, the new tariff rates come at a time of widespread public anxiety over threats of prolonged power outages.
Nationalizing or de-privatizing power companies may have spawned debates, particularly as it would raise legal or constitutional grounds.
But for those in favor, their overriding consideration is restoring to the consumers their inherent right to help chart the industry’s destiny within the realm of economic freedom.
Those opposed to any form of state control of the power industry fear that it would set back or derail the privatization of inefficient and losing government-owned and controlled corporations.
More than that, however, is the creeping apprehension in the corporate community that such move would drive away potential investors from the ailing industry.
While there ‘s a deluge of pros and cons about the need to restore government control of the power industry,the long-term implication is instability in the power sector.
As some analysts say, you can’t just change horse midstream or risk getting drowned in the process.
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.
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!!!
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 )
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?