By Erick A. Fabian
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is on the warpath against critics of the LRT-1 PPP project, and they are not helping in quelling public suspicion by being defensive.
The PPP in itself is already controversial, because it threatens to diminish public services into profiteering enterprises by big business oligarchs, who all have their men carefully placed in strategic positions in the Aquino administration.
Rather than open up the records and show transparency, as befitting a public servant, DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya has played the ‘us-versus-them’ card.
“This is clearly an attempt to block progress. The project will give residents of Paranaque, Las Pinas, and Cavite convenient and affordable transportation to the metropolis. Those who cannot afford to live in the business districts and economic centers will be given access to jobs and educational opportunities. Intrigues shouldn’t prevail over the interest of the riding public,” said DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.
The DOTC’s insistence that the bidding process for the Php65 Billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) Cavite Extension (Cavex) project was fully in accordance with law is moot.
Rather than demonize the protesting public by accusing critics, the DOTC should just come clean and expose the corruption within its ranks.
One way to arrive at solutions to problems besetting the country is to identify the actual causes of the problem.
Appealing to the public’s sympathy over a controversial bid is like asking for more of the public’s ire.
The Lica Group-Ayala Connection
Abaya even went further and addressed the mounting criticism from the media by saying, “We disagree with the assertion that this project does not need to be awarded yet. We cannot honestly say this to the riding public who have been waiting for this project for many years, those whose lives will be uplifted with the opportunities and quality of life that the project presents.”
The DOTC denies the allegation that Undersecretary Rene K. Limcaoco’s brother is an officer of the winning bidder.
Supposedly, there is no Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco listed as a director, officer, or shareholder of AC Infrastructure or any other member company of the Light Rail Manila Consortium.
But one look at the Bloomberg listing of executives online would reveal that there WAS a Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco who worked as an executive for the Ayala Corporation.
Whether the latter is still with Ayala Corporation on an official basis is not the point. That he is affiliated with them is already questionable in itself.
The consortium is composed of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, which has a 55% interest, AC Infrastructure (an Ayala infra arm) with 35%, and Macquarie with 10%.
It should be noted that Undersecretary Rene K. Limcaoco and his brother’s family business is the Lica Business Group.
The group is involved in real estate projects via Lica Land, which is seeking expansion in the Metro and in surrounding provinces.
Lica Land malls are slowly sprouting near significant roadways, and it is a telling sign that the Limcaocos have vested interests in the LRT-1 PPP project.
Influencing the outcome of the LRT-1 project will mean potential benefits for the Lica Group, as it is vying to gain a seat among the ranks of the country’s corporate giants.
Same Old Circus
The country’s public transport system is turning into a playground by the same group of political and big business bullies who want to keep the pie to themselves.
The MRT-3 transactions in the past have practically remained under the control of Manny Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific group, despite government takeover.
In fact, the DOTC’s takeover of the light rail system has not really improved the worsening service of the MRT-3.
It is no different from flogging a dying horse to run, and squeezing the last billion pesos from a train system that has been plagued with controversies over the years.
Meanwhile, the commuting public suffers, and safety hazards due to below-standard maintenance is threatening the lives of commuters.
It is not hard to do the math on the millions that the DOTC is spending just to send out public rebuttals disguised as press releases to the media.
This is being done to distract us consumers from the intentions of politicians who want to cement the PPP program into public legislation.
The DOTC’s defensive front shows the public that the government agency has a lot of things to hide.
The corruption within its ranks is already brimming over, and people are already noticing it.
Yet, rather than be true to the ‘inclusive’ motto that the Aquino administration likes to throw around, the agency only manages to keep us all in the dark as to its machinations.
Government and big business in this country sleep in the same bed, and if suspicions by online journalists do come to pass, the ‘Cavite mafia’ that reportedly operates in the DOTC’s agencies are poised for a major power takeover.
As a variant of a common saying goes, nothing is so visible than what you want to hide.
A year ago, this week, July 12-15, 2013, the PDI came out with a four part series on the Napoles PDAF/Pork Scandal. The PDI Expose came out of the three months “Serious Illegal Detention” of Benhur Lim Luy by Janet Lim Napoles and brother, Raynald “Jojo” Lim from Dec 19 to March 22. Then there were attempts (the retention of the MOST Law Firm and a letter to President Aquino from JLN seeking assistance against harassment by the NBI.) to cover up and hush up the said crime. Atty. Baligod and the Family of Benhur Lim Luy went to the PDI on April 27, 2013 and turned over Benhur’s Computer Hard Drive with 2,156 folders and 20,103 files.
Since then, we have been analyzing, projecting, wondering, what will be the end result of all of these. Our predictions and projections have swung back and forth, to and fro, principle to practical. A mere month and a half after the first PDI series, we thought that we were on the verge of another popular revolution (July 12-August 26). However, every month that passed since then, September, October, November, December and so on, the instant indignation and mobilization of July and August was disassembled and whittled down.
Even, the Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Supreme Court decision that PDAF was unconstitutional seemed to contribute to the pacification of public opinion. The proverbial final nail on the coffin was the paltry and pathetic June 12, 2014 Coalition or Movement Rally at the Bonifacio Shrine behind the Manila City Hall. Meanwhile, Bayan and other likely suspects held their rally at the Liwasang Bonifacio and proceeded to Mendiola after. The quantity as well as the quality of the Million People March to Luneta had been dissipated by Disunity, Dogma, Pride, Purism, Selfishness, Suspicion, and what have you.
Before you read on: Beware “Do Gooders”, “Holier Than Thous”, “Mayabangs”, “Pharisees”, “Purists” and Swapangs”. You might not like what you will read. Welcome “Balimbings”, “Half Breeds”, “Mestizos” “United Fronters”. Pray, keep your Hearts and Minds Open!
People are born, develop and grow up with two sides to the brain – Art and Science, Creativity and Logic, Language and Numbers, Love and Likes. My Left Brain must have been bigger. I was better with numbers than with language. However, in my late High School years and even more during College, my Right Brain caught up with my Left Brain and even overtook it. This was just in time for the 70’s as in the “First Quarter Storm!”
Subsequently, I realized that six decades of Politics and Protest taught me a new Political/Protest kind of Math. I learned that: 1 + 1 is not = 2, its 3. 10 divided into two is not 5 and 5, its 3 & 3. The other 4 just evaporated. I learned the value of Coalitions, Compromise, getting together and Unity. I learned too the other side of the coin, Disunity, Division, Dogmatism, Going It Alone and Purism.
Both at close range and from a distance, I learned about and observed political failure and success. One of the longest running political failures was the Jesuit/Ateneo inspired purist third force that fielded a separate slate of candidates in the National/Presidential Elections of 1957 and 1965 (PPP – as in Party for Philippine Progress and Progressive Party of the Philippines), and the Local/Midterm Elections of 1959 (Grand Alliance). Double blinded Noynoy (an Atenean like Manglapus.) may yet turn the success story of his parents’ double deaths and martyrdoms into the biggest family tragedy because of his narrow mindedness. On the other hand, we have had a myriad of political successes when even strange bed fellows got together. The following are examples of how the heterogeneous as opposed to the homogenous came about achieving their common objectives.
In 1946, the Liberator, Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur supported the Collaborator, Manuel Acuna Roxas for President. In 1953, the Nacionalista Party adopted LP President Elpidio S. Quirino’s Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay as its Presidential candidate. The latter had been an LP Congressman.
Then, in 1961, the Grand Alliance/PPP and the LP coalesced as the United Opposition Party (with Diosdado Macapagal and Emmanuel Pelaez for President and Vice President. Raul S. Manglapus and Manuel Manahan of the GA/PPP captured the first two slots for Senator.) and defeated the NP’s incumbent re-electionist President Carlos P. Garcia.
In 1965, former LP Congressman, Senator and Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos won the NP nomination for Presidential candidate. With Fernando Lopez as his Vice Presidential running mate, they defeated the incumbent LP President Diosdado Macapagal and running mate Senator Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas. Senators Raul S. Manglapus and Manuel Manahan, the Purists, came in third.
In the 1970’s, Moderates and Radicals came together and came apart several times over. In the February 7, 1986, Snap Elections, Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino and Salvador “Doy” Laurel were perceived as having been the real winners because they had come together in one slate at the last minute.
In 1992, Lakas, NUCD and UMDP coalesced to field FVR. After he won the count and proclamation, Ramos made peace with all of his rivals, namely, NPC”s Danding Cojuangco, LDP’s Ramón V. Mitra, LP’s Jovito Salonga, KBL’s Imelda Romualdez Marcos and Unido’s Salvador “Doy”: Laurel, except for PRP’s Miriam Defensor Santiago. In 1995, in a Marriage of Convenience, Lakas and LDP put up a common twelve man Senatorial Slate.
In 1998, the LDP, LP, NPC, PDP and PMP coalesced behind Erap against the Lakas, NUCD, UMDP, Kammpi and defeated Speaker Joe de Venecia. However, the Kammpi’s GMA beat Angara for the VP. In March 2000, the Binamira’s, Pedrosa’s, Jun Enriquez and Linda “Inday” Montayre and Linggoy Alcuaz launched the Exclamation Point Sticker in the Silent Protest Movement. In the run up to EDSA II, Boy Saycon and Popoy Lagman, Peping S. Cojuangco and Vic Ladlad teamed up to Oust Erap. In 2004, Erap and Jun Enriquez got together. From 2004 to 2009, Orange and Red worked side by side.
From sometime in the past until November 29, 2007, the RA and RJ factions of the Left were often in the same coalitions. In 2007, Uno and GO defeated GMA and the Lakas’s Coalition at the Senatorial level. In 2013, Grace Poe ran under the LP and came out # 1. The future may show Pastor “Boy” Saycon and Erap together again.
All of these examples don’t mean that in this more complicated age that the strange bedfellows have to be formally together and united in their objectives to defeat the enemy. After all, as the lesson of the lost August 26 Million People March to Luneta shows, it is impossible to unite everybody. All they have to do is to aim their attacks at the same targets – Aquino and Abad, and not at each other. The Supreme Court Decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional lays the foundations for a common target range. The targets are now much bigger than Napoles of the Ten Billion Scam.
Happy Birthday Pastor Boy Saycon!
By Ray L. Junia, Publisher
THIEVES continue to steal the future of this country.
Nothing can be more unreal than the government claim of economic gains trumpeted by Malacañang spin masters as the best in our part of the world.
The latest gesture of courtesy by an honored guest to his host, a World Bank top official saying the Philippines is on its way to become Asia’s economic tiger, made the headlines in our national media. This made us laugh. This WB seer is either the worst prophet or best in PR that envoys are trained to be.
Motoo Konishi, WB country director for the Philippines, cited macroeconomic strength of the economy for his trust in our future. He fails to see the sick trees inside what appears to be a beautiful forest. This is unfortunate as we expect bankers to be more forthright and honest and if they cannot be honest they better just shut up.
The Philippines is doomed to become tail ender in the race for economic gains in Asia if not the world. It is our destiny to be always poor. We have our reasons to believe so.
Corruption is the root cause of the country’s economic miseries. Cost of living, driven by high cost of basic necessities, is too high, seventy percent of the population has been declared poor.
Stealing from government coffers has not abated, even got worse with the President illegally spending Php177 Billion on DAP from the national budget. To think that other agencies are victims of the same thievery that ultimately ends up with the people suffering.
This thievery and corruption is the first reason responsible investors are not coming in and may even be packing up.
Latest report from the Philippine Statistics Authority on the foreign investments (FI) shows a sharp decline in the first quarter of 2014 compared to same period last year.
In the first quarter of 2014, FIs approved by seven investment promotion agencies amounted to Php37.4 Billion. This is 25.6 percent lower than the take in the same period last year. In 2013, FIs were Php50.3 Billion.
FDIs tell the story
On foreign direct investments (FDI), the Philippines is the tail ender, far way below the second lowest.
The average take by the country on FDIs between 2002 and 2012 was US$2.7Billion, the lowest while Singapore, a city state, got the highest at US$52.8Billion. Vietnam got second lowest with US$8.5B, better by over US$5B.
Even the numbers on FDIs in relation to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can cause investors to shy away from us. In the first two years of the Aquino administration, we registered again the lowest in ASEAN countries.
In 2010, net FDI was 0.7 percent of GDP and this declined to 0.6 percent in the following year, 2011. Compared with neighbor countries our net FDI was the worst and almost sick situation. Our neighbors did much better: Singapore 25.1%, Vietnam 6.2%, Malaysia 4.3%, Thailand 2.8% and Indonesia 2.2%.
In the measure of impact of the FDI to population or per capita shares, it will tell a clearer picture of the cause of our economic woes. On this measure, our FDI per capita is lowest at US$ 13.3 while Singapore registered the highest at US$ 12,347.00.
These figures covering the period ended 2011. Three years after, when poverty incidence has gone up and prices of basic goods and services have hit the ceiling, this situation could be lot worse.
The first look at our numbers will not encourage serious investors to come in. discouragement will set in when they find out why we are the cellar. The reason is massive corruption that has worsened during the Aquino administration.
It’s corruption, stupid!
Pulling down interest and trust by foreign investors in our country and national leadership are several reasons: high cost of electricity, lack of infrastructure and worsening peace and order and corruption.
While corruption is last in the list of reasons, it is the principal cause of reasons the country is losing the trust of investors.
The cost of electricity in the Philippines being highest in Asia and second highest in the world can be traced to massive corruption in the highest offices of the land, from Malacañang to Congress, down to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
On infrastructure, the national leadership has turned over this responsibility to the private sector. From supply of power, to supply of water, to use of roads, to building of transport, and airports, these are all now being given out to private investors.
Our national leaders call this Public-Private Partnership or PPP. This is one marriage that was intended to legitimize rape.
How else would one describe a situation like what the Filipinos are going through now. Before privatization, cost of electricity was one of the lowest in Asia, roads were free to use, cost of water was affordable and cost of living allowed free money to spend outside of the essentials.
The national economy is now controlled by forty families. Eighty percent of national wealth is owned by 10 percent of the population. Ninety percent share the remaining 20 percent of national wealth. This situation has led to daily “rape” of every poor Filipino’s right to a decent living.
Now we have to pay for use of highways we call toll roads. The national leadership intentionally stopped building big roads to the big city to justify entry of toll roads.
What happened to cost of electricity and cost in use of roads are examples of well planned grand robbery. Government neglected building new power stations while neglecting national roads, stirring consumers to demand for better services. Privatization became the only solution, offering lower cost that never happened and, worse, cost doubled if not tripled.
Government leaders said privatization saves the government of funding services that are obligations of government. These government duties are supposed to be supported by our taxes. This cost transfer led to savings that allowed Malacañang to “steal” Php177 Billion for DAP and tens of billions for PDAF.
Theft came from many points: at the privatization arrangement when investors would show interest and put his money where his mouth is. Second, at the national budget that would have been spent for these basic services given to the private group. This savings turns out be pork barrel of Malacañang, in the case of Aquino is Php177 Billion in two years, misappropriated and misspent.
Even when privatization became a solution to our infrastructure needs, still serious investors are saying the country is short of what are needed to gain their trust.
One leading complaint is our problem in communications. Even when Smart earns billions of pesos for Manny V. Pangilinan and Globe has multiplied several folds the billions of the Ayalas, the foreign groups are not still happy with our communications system.
Truth is not only the foreign investors are complaining but the locales are also complaining of being short changed by these telecom companies.
Privatization not free
Privatization is not free to the taxpayers. In 2012, President Aquino gave the DOTC Php8.6 Billion and the DPWH Php3 Billion for the preparation of business cases, pre-feasibility studies and feasibility studies for various PPP ventures.
In inviting private sector participation, the government waives many requirements that would have earned the national treasury billions of pesos. Of course these exemptions are always suspect to be products of under-the-table negotiations that line up the pockets of government executives and legislators.
The sum total of reasons this country will not move forward and bring economic relief to the poor is we have elected officials who serve the interests of their masters and not the interests of the people. We have national leaders who boldly steal, unmindful of constitution and laws, as if the public does not exist.
The “theft” of Php177 billion by Malacañang is just a symptom of a more serious malady. The effect of this disease is a society that will always be abused and used to enrich further enrich the billionaires and make new millionaires of those we trust to lead our government. This is because we have elected thieves to run our government.
By Andrea Lim
The privatization of public hospitals under Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program makes it clear that the government is not concerned with developing the country’s health sector, which it considers a burden and not a service that needs to be improved.
Among the first PPP projects implemented in the health sector was the construction of a private Philippine Orthopedic Center inside the National Kidney Transplant Institute compound in Quezon City, which will replace the government-run POC in Banawe Street in the same city.
Aquino’s health secretary Enrique One declared that 72 public hospitals were subject to privatization, and defended the P5.69B budget allotted to privatize the POC to winning bidder Megawide Construction Corp.-World Citi Inc, saying that it will be used to build a 700-bed tertiary hospital within the NKTI compound.
The new POC will be called the Center for Bone and Joint Diseases, Trauma and Rehabilitation Medicine. Once it becomes operational, it will permit Henry Sy’s Megawide to allocate only 10% of its beds to impoverished patients, while the rest will be allocated to paying patients who will either be shelling out cash or paying through PhilHealth or other private insurance accounts.
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned the Aquino administration for its anti-poor program, saying that the privatization of health services is a “death sentence to workers and the poor.”
KMU Secretary-General Roger Saluta says that the privatization of the POC is the first step in the government’s abandonment of its responsibility to subsidize health services.
Selling out public hospitals to big capitalists is proof that the administration has decided to put the fate of its patients in the hands of private businesses that will certainly prioritize its profits over services.
Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag claims that the new POC will still remain a ‘government hospital’ despite being part of the PPP program. However, the question is not whether it will remain a government hospital or not, but if health care will still remain accessible.
Aquino has made it evident that his real interest in privatizing public hospitals is to help big corporations gain more profits at the expense of sick Filipinos.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasized that healthcare is a human right and should be provided by the state.
The administration actually has the funds to modernize the country’s public hospitals, but instead these funds are going to the pork barrel of Aquino and other politicians, other sources of corruption, and payments for foreign debt.
Allan Reyes: Nationalization=Crony Capitalism.
Arnel Endrinal: Sometimes funny about people who want nationalization of industries… They are the same people who say government is very corrupt and inefficient yet often they want government to run everything.
Anders Juhl Jensen: Allan Reyes, nationalization is bad, but it is not crony capitalism. How can it be? The debate is destroyed, when we use terms wrongly. It renders the term crony capitalism meaningless, if used to cover every thing we don’t like. If we are to fight crony capitalism, we need to understand precisely what is crony capitalism. The first step is to differentiate it from other phenomena. The power industry is a complex issue. A state run power sector has problems with resource utilization etc., privatization has big problems with corruption and crony capitalism, nationalization of private power companies has sinister problems concerning property rights and concealed political power struggle etc, unregulated private power sector will have huge problems with monopoly and collusion. There is no perfect way to organize the power sector. No simple answers or solutions.
Trevor Bailey: There is a solution, and it is a mix, some parts are managed by the government and others are privately owned and operated. It is again just a matter of thinking outside the box. For example the infrastructure which carries the power from source to the delivery points is a government managed network, but the supply to the consumers is not, it can be competitive. The various sources can be privately owned as well or PPP. The idea is the suppliers buy load capacity on the network, the company’s selling to the end user buy load from the suppliers, and pay a fee to the government for using their network to deliver it. You could have numerous companies in the retail market competing for the consumer dollar, the suppliers are competing to get the retailers to buy from them, all the government does is provide the “highway” to deliver it. It is then a matter of who owns the meter box at each house, change retailer, you get your meter changed.
Steven Egay: I think one solution is that government should maintain control of the NGCP (not 100% just controlling share). So that government have more leeway in power distribution instead of being controlled by some private concerns. And at the same time open up investments in power generation to as many players as possible. This way the supply availability and costs are addressed. This will work if the power distribution sector does not influence the power generation companies which is a big possibility if NGCP is privately controlled.
Trevor Bailey: Yes I visualize it like agriculture. A farmer grows his crop, he uses a government owned road to drive his truck to the wholesale market, once there he sells it to whoever retailer gives him the best price. The same works with water and telcos, it levels the playing field and generally keeps a lid on costs.
Anders Juhl Jensen: Trevor Bailey, in North Europe we have the Nord pool spot market. It works pretty good. Power producers will bid in according to their marginal cost, (except wind power that will just flood the market whenever the wind blows). The only problem is that you cannot get people to invest in new capital intensive power plants such as nuclear or wind farms, unless you get a subsidy, which will basically pay the capital cost (http://www.nordpoolspot.com)
Trevor Bailey: You do not say what the infrastructural mix is, in the places I am familiar with the producers are a mix of private, PPP and government. Demand drives construction. Often the government is the one who builds, but once established will sell off into PPP with the private company providing the management and maintenance and the government the asset, the Private part does not perform, the government finds a new manager.
Trevor Bailey: It is kind of funny, everyone wants the cash flow, but no one wants to invest the capital.
Anders Juhl Jensen: If government builds and then sells, you will have the problem with corruption and rigged bids.
Trevor Bailey: In the cases I am familiar with they register a State owned Corporation, then sell shares. Almost using a co-operative concept, preference is given to the individual, and what is not sold on the open market is then offered into the corporate market. They seldom let more than 49 percent go however.
(Courtesy of Get Real Philippines Community Facebook Page)