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Obama’s Visit


Malaya 04.23.14

 

(T)he only thing we can really do is to call on our friends and treaty partners to provide the muscle to our stance as a free nation and it is really only America that can provide the muscle we need to keep the “bully” China at bay.”

 

Obama’s Visit

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

   Maritime challenges are likely to be high on the agenda of US President Obama’s visit to Asia next week. The trip has been considered by a number of observers as a vivid manifestation of US concrete commitment in its “pivot” strategy for the region to hedge against an increasingly aggressive China. Whether it’s simply sheer coincidence, an international conference titled “Maritime challenges to ASEAN and prospects of SCS dispute resolution” is scheduled in Myanmar on April 24.

The one-day event gathers international experts on the South China Sea (SCS). Interesting enough, the conclusion of the event will reveal the convergence of viewpoints among participants, which deserve our keen attention. These ideas, if realized, would compliment very much to the region, especially, to the Philippine position on the West Philippines Sea issue.

 The participants of the Conference will see that maritime disputes have emerged as a major source of tension and instability in Asia-Pacific including the South East Asia region.

 In order to realize the prospect of building the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) into a peaceful and prosperous community, the Association needs to bridge differences and unite strengths to work out a durable solution to the problem, set up a mechanism to maintain good order at sea, ensure non-occurrence of tension which might lead to armed conflicts.

The so-called “nine-dash line” maritime boundary claimed by China clearly lacks international legal basis and is bound to clash with international laws, including UNCLOS-1982. The claim has earned widespread international criticism and has been a major obstacle to dispute settlement efforts in the region. The region has also been alarmed by increase in intensity of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.

The recent establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by China in the North East Asia has been severely criticized. The proposed ADIZ risks fueling tension among countries in the region. Any attempt to impose another ADIZ or similar feature in the SCS South China Sea could lead to widespread provocation and more seriously disturb peace in the region resulting from miscalculation and misinterpretation.

Negotiations and multilateral involvement in maritime disputes settlement has become a viable and desirable option for parties concerned. The option requires a gradual and calibrated approach, from less to more contentious and complicated issues. Under current circumstances, cooperation efforts should focus on safety of navigation and over-flight, marine environmental protection, marine scientific research, maritime search and rescue and combating transnational crimes. International arbitration should be considered to be another preferred option, which some members of the ASEAN might utilize to protect its territorial integrity.

It is necessary for the ASEAN and China to formulate a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) which has been perceived as China’s delaying tactics. The Sultanate of Brunei which chairs ASEAN is expected to play its central role to unite the Group and bridge differences among parties concerned in the regional maritime disputes.

The ASEAN should make concerted efforts at fast-tracking the establishment of a mutually-agreeable group of experts and eminent persons to oversee the drafting of the guidelines for a CoC; seriously consider the establishment of relevant institutional mechanisms to enforce any future agreed-upon CoC.

While moving to seek fundamental and long-term solutions, the parties involved must assure the maintenance of stability and status-quo, avoid the use or threat to use force, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and would adversely affect peace and stability in the region.

The ASEAN’s existing regional mechanisms and frameworks concerning settlement of disputes in the South China Sea should also be fully utilized. Initiatives and new maritime cooperation models such as the ASEAN Maritime Forum, Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum and most recently, the 3-claimants meeting mechanism (between Vietnam Malaysia and the Philippines) should be institutionalized in support of the ASEAN mechanism. The ASEAN should serve as a venue for parties to the disputes and other interested players to exchange views and understanding of maritime issues and work towards solutions to maritime challenges.

While some may doubt the feasibility of the agreed ideas, it should be remembered that with joint and concerted efforts, convergence of viewpoints of nations in the region and enhanced and concrete commitment of the US, the “bully” would have to think twice before taking adventurous activities in the near future.

To our “friends” in the Left, referred to as the “active” sector, the military weakness of our country, results from our natural tendency to seek peace in all our dealings with other nations. Sadly, militarily, the Philippines is a pushover for a resurgent China, which has already placed military installations within our borders in Panatag Shoal and the Spratlys. Thus, the only thing we can really do is to call on our friends and treaty partners to provide the muscle to our stance as a free nation and it is really only America that can provide the muscle we need to keep the “bully” China at bay.

Thus, instead of condemning the Unites States at every turn, an expected event during their President’s forthcoming visit, how about also a condemnation against China the bully, too? The “bully” in the present state of our affairs?

* * *

An interesting event during the Obama visit will be the presentation of The Comet, a battery-powered Jeepney bult by an American company in the Philippines, which could also ne used as a multi-purpose vehicle in the U.S. and elsewhere, This is a vehicle designed from the ground up as a purely battery powered vehicle, which means that it will be lightweight and will recharge faster and be more affordable to maintain and use. In Pasig City, at the City Hall itself, one can pick up and use a battery powered “tutubi”, a battery-powered bicycle funded by the Asian Development Bank  (ADB). All you need is to register as a “tutubi” user. which will give you a card that would release the “tutubi” from its   secure parking slot. If I were still a teen-ager, I would have applied on line to be able to use the “tutubi” during the summer vacation from school.

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hvp 04.22.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Gigi Returns, PHI’s Resurrection

To our President, as long as people care for each other and let God guide them, the nation will achieve the fulfillment of its prayers and aspirations.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes returned home on Black Saturday. For those eager for the Sandiganbayan to  start hearings  on the plunder cases of the three senators and their staffs., one more new witness only means even more delays. When wil the traditionally slow wheels of Philippine justice actually start moving?

The 51-year-old former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile arrived on a Philippine Airlines flight from San Francisco without the knowledge of her former boss, according to her brother, Patrick Gonzales.

“I’m ready to face the charges. I’ve always faced it,” Reyes, a lawyer, told airport reporters on her arrival..

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Saturday appealed to Reyes’ patriotism and turn state witness.

“She’ll be acquitted of a crime and at the same time clear her reputation,” according to Santiago, who has been Enrile’s enemy since the old man was still Senate President. “She will also be doing a service to the country,” added Santiago.

“It would be a firsthand account of the culpability of Enrile …. If she applies for state witness and her application is accepted … then Enrile’s goose is cooked,” said Santiago.

Gigi’s brother Patrcik was among those who fetcvhed his sister from the United States and acccompanied her home. He also said his sister’s return to the country did not have the blessing of Enrile.

“Definitely not,” he said. “He might have known now because it’s all over the news,” he said. “It was her decision to come home and we don’t have any choice but to support her.”

He said that except for the immediate family, nobody knew about the homecoming, eight months after Reyes left the country. She went to Macau a month after the scandal involving the alleged diversion of lawmakers’ allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.

Gonzales declined to answer questions about the possibility of Reyes turning state witness. “

The Ombudsman said there was sufficient evidence to file the plunder charges—a nonbailable offense punishable by life imprisonment—against the accused in the Sandiganbayan. One of them has offered to turn state witness—Ruby Tuason, a former Malacañang social secretary and confessed Napoles bagman. She told the Senate blue ribbon committee that she delivered millions of pesos in kickbacks to Reyes for Enrile.

Motions for reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s findings are being considered in a process that could take years. This is the first time that senators have been found liable for plunder in the case that has triggered widespread indignation against the pork barrel, including a massive protest in August and a subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court declaring the PDAF unconstitutional.  One wonders if and when the Sandiganbayan can even just begin to hear the cases.

Daniel Daganzo, head of the National Bureau of Investigation’s foreign liaison division, said the agency had no information if Reyes had applied as a state witness. “We are not privy if there’s one,” he said.

Another NBI source said Reyes’ visa and passport had expired, forcing her to come home. “The chance of her getting a fresh visa could be slim,” the source explained.

President Aquino’s spokesperson, Herminio Coloma, said yesterday he expected those accountable for the scam, including Reyes, “to fully disclose what they know.”

“Their willingness to shed light on the ongoing legal proceedings is vital to our people’s  quest for justice,” Coloma said.

* * *

Seeing is believing. In the case of the Philippines, those who used to question the government are now believers, according to President Benigno Aquino III.

Aquino, in his Easter message likened Jesus Christ’s suffering and resurrection to the country’s economic revival.

To the President, Christ’s resurrection allowed mankind to bask in the light, with many people regaining and strengthening their faith. However, there were also others like the apostle Thomas who doubted it.

“Gaya po ng landas na piniling tahakin ni Hesukristo, nanindigan at muling bumangon ang ating bayan mula sa malubhang katiwalian at kahirapan,” he said in a five-minute video message released Sunday.

Aquino then enumerated the achievements of his administration, from the expanding scope of social services, through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and PhilHealth, and to the thousands of Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) scholars who have found work in various sectors.

He assured that students were receiving quality education while shortages in chairs, books and classrooms have been addressed.

The successful signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was also mentioned as a start of good relations and peace in Mindanao. Aquino said the Transition Commission has already submitted the draft bill creating the new Bangsamoro political entity and that it will soon be sent to Congress for approval.

“Ilan lang po ito sa mabubuting balita ng pagbangon ng ating bayan. Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa mga naniwala, at patuloy na naniniwala, gayundin sa mga nagduda noong una, at ngayon ay nakikiambag na sa ating mabuting agenda,” he said.

The President promised to devote the remaining years of his term to strengthening the institution, making accountable corrupt individuals and uplifting the lives of the Filipino people.

He reminded the people of Christ’s challenge to shun evil and live by His example – of doing good, loving, and caring for others.

“Dahil sa ating pagdadamayan, lumiliwanag na ang kinabukasan ng ating bansa. Bilang inyong pinuno, may hangganan po ang ating termino at serbisyo. Tungkulin po nating ipagpatuloy ang ating magandang nasimulan, at gawing permanente ang tinatamasang transpormasyon ng ating  lipunan,” Aquino said.

To our President, as long as people care for each other and let God guide them, the nation will achieve the fulfillment of its prayers and aspirations.

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hvp 04.22.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Roxas vs Binay

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

   Tama ang Malacanang sa kanilang pa-alala kay Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya na hindi pa panahon ng eleksiyon kahit na ang ilang gustong tumakbo ay nagsisimula nang gumalaw na parang bukas na ang halalan. Ika nga ng Makakanyang na hindi pa nararapat na simulan na ang “election mode.” Sa  isa kasing talumpati ay tinawag ni Abaya na “President” si Roxas pagkatapos nitong magsalita: ‘Thank you, President Mar Roxas.”

 “We’re not on election mode, to put it quite frankly,” ‘ika ni deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Dagdag pa nito: “I understand that his follow up statement was that he referred to Secretary Roxas also as president of the Liberal Party, which is why he called him like that.

“Perhaps Secretary Abaya was really just joking. I don’t think any offense was meant by that nor was it meant to signal anything.”

At meron pa ring paliwanag na dagdag si Spokesman Edwin Lacierda:  “The Liberal Party has not started the selection process, and the President already said that he will announce it (standard bearer) at the proper time.”

At dinagdagan pa ito: “Let’s wait until the President’s final imprimatur as to who his choice will be. Let’s just wait for that.

 “We can hear other people saying (it’s Roxas) but it’s not the President (saying that). ”

Pati na rin ang Presidente’y nagsalita na:  “I will announce at the appropriate time. Right now I am focused on the problems facing our country instead of the 2016 elections.

 “We are just in the first quarter of 2014 and I think the public will understand if that is not our priority. The rainy season is just around the corner as well and we have to prepare for it.”

* * *

Sa totoo lamang, mukhang palabo ng palabo ang pagtakbo ni Mar sa pagiging Pangulo. Una, tinalo na siya ni Binay sa huling halalan sa pagka-bise kahit na kinampaniya pa siya ni President PNoy. Kaya lamang merong mga nasa campaign team ni PNoy na ang binotong Bise ay hindi si Roxas kundi si Binay dahil na rin sa kanilang pananaw ay hindi naging todo ang suporta ni Roxas sa Pangulo.

Sa pananaw ko’y medyo tagilid na si Mar kung sila na naman ni Binay ang tatakbo para sa pagiging Pangulo. At lalo pa kung ang mga lililitaw na balita tungkol kay Mar ay gaya noong pangyayari sa Wack -Wack Golf and Country Club, kung saan sinisingil siya ng Green Fee sa isang sinasama niya sa paglalaro kahit hindi naman ito maglalaro at wala ring dalang mga golf club.

Naniniwala ako na hindi nalalaman ni Mar na sa halos lahat na Golf Club ay ganito na ang naging patakaran mula noong 2003, dahil sa napakarami ang sumasama lalo na sa mga pulitiko na kanilang mga security, staff at kung sino-sino pa. Kung minsan napakaraming mga alalay ang nasa loob ng golf course. Para matigil ito, halos lahat ng golf course ay nininingil na ng “green fee” sa lajhat ng sasama sa flight, kahit hindi maglalaro. Ngunit bago pa lamang na patakarang ito at maaari namang hindi pa nalalaman ni Mar. Sa pahayag rin ni Rey Pagunsan, na golf pro, na inimbitahang panuurin sila Mar maglaro at turuan sila, hindi naman raw inabuso ni Mar ang mga staff ng Wack-Wack at hindi ito nagmura. Humingi na rin si Mar ng patawad sa kagulohang nangyari sa golf course dahil sa kaniya at binayaran rin naman niya ang P5,500 para sa “Green Fee” ni Pagunsan. Sana’y wala nang mga ganitong kwento ang lalabas pa tungkol kay Mar.

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hvp (04.21.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

A BCDA-Ayala Plot?

Republic Act No. 7227, which created BCDA in 1992, provided for autonomy for the sprawling former Clark and Subic bases, while authorizing it ‘to own, hold and/or administer’ former American military reservations and ‘portions of Metro Manila military camps which may be transferred to it by the President.’”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

The President and CEO of  the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Arnel Paciano D.  Casanova has been pulling out all the stops in his quest to become a legend in his own mind as consummate builder of cities and exponent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program.

Casanova is even peddling BCDA’s rise on his watch as the biggest land bank in the Philippines that is capable of transforming vacant military lots into modern cities, as supposedly exemplified by how his BCDA  turned Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City into the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

On the other hand, is it possible that this emperor actually has no clothes and that his lasting feats have been his Gestapo-style antics in Taguig and his relentless torpedo attacks on his main BCDA client  in Camp John Hay (CJH), now a special economic zone in Baguio City?

* * *

What makes things worse for Casanova is the suspicion of  a hidden agenda of advancing the interests of Ayala Corporation over those of BCDA tenants SM Group in Taguig and the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) in Baguio.

 Casanova has allowed Ayala Corp to dominate business at BGC on the basis of the 55% controlling stake of the Ayala-Campos consortium (as against BCDA’s 45% interest) in the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. (FBDC)) that is in-charge of the economic conversion of the former army camp.

Note BCDA’s 2013 armed blockade at SM Aura’s opening three years after Sen. Vicente Sotto III sought the creation of an oversight committee to look into BCDA-forged contracts and its disbursement of over P50 billion in conversion and development funds.

* * *

Republic Act No. 7227, which created BCDA in 1992, provided for autonomy for the sprawling former Clark and Subic bases, while authorizing it “to own, hold and/or administer” former American military reservations and “portions of Metro Manila military camps which may be transferred to it by the President.”

In filing Resolution 439, adopted by the Senate in May 2011, Senator Sotto noted that “despite its billions of pesos in earnings, BCDA has not significantly contributed to the modernization of the AFP,” which was BCDA’s  primary beneficiary under RA 7227.

It’s a testament to the clout of the FBDC taipans in Congress that SR 493 has to this day gathered dust in the Senate, thus perpetuating the apparent regulatory capture of the otherwise untouchable BCDA.

* * *

 When BCDA tried and failed to oust its developer-partner CJHDevco  “by  hook or by crook,” Ayala Corp., which is already a CJH locator, stood ready to take over as BCDA’s preferred partner.

 “By hook” through BCDA’s arbitrary issuance of a termination of contract in May 2012 just before the Baguio Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted the developer’s petition for arbitration, and “by crook” through a planned forcible takeover that was only aborted by a court injunction in February 2012.

A compromise agreement was reached in October 2008 that guaranteed all permit issuance within 30 days in exchange for the developer’s consent to BCDA’s accounting of its arrears and a waiver of BCDA liability for breach of contract.

But the conflict resumed in October 2009 when CJHDevco, noting that BCDA was reneging on the 2008 pact, was again forced to suspend payments to compel arbitration, which is actually a contractual remedy—ignored time and again by BCDA—in cases of dispute.

Apparently to divert attention, Casanova and his BCDA/JHMC underlings then resorted to a still ongoing hatchet job against CJHDevco in the media, that earned them a libel indictment in a Pasig City court for maligning the reputation of  CJHDevco executives.

President Casanova seems to  have found an ‘administration ally’ in the Baguio’s neophyte solon—Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr.—whose resolution convened the House special committee on base conversion, which CJHDevco politely declined to attend owing to a pending arbitration verdict by Philippine Dispute Resolution Court Inc. (PDRCI).

A thorough study of the history of  House inquiries shows that the committee members had reached a consensus on the status quo pending the settlement of the issues that both parties had leveled against each other—a consensus that BCDA arrogantly defied in resuming its public attack against CJHDevco.

Because “the AFP continues to complain of lack of funds for its modernization program and the welfare of its uniformed personnel,” Sotto noted, “it is important to assess the performance of BCDA in addressing these concerns … and determine whether it has been effectively fulfilling its mandate.”

It’s a testament to the clout of the FBDC taipans in Congress that SR 493 has to this day gathered dust in the Senate, thus perpetuating the apparent regulatory capture of the otherwise untouchable BCDA.

If anything, the status quo at the former Fort Bonifacio indicates that BCDA is a champion of the Ayalas rather than of the AFP or, for that matter, of Baguio City. 

* * *

This demolition campaign in the media—apart from hyping what’s viewed in legal circles as nuisance complaints filed by the BCDA before the Department of Justice (DOJ)—is now trying to get Baguio City to ignore the legal setbacks of this state-run corporation and to support its “champion” in collecting hefty payments for a decade’s worth of services not actually delivered to the developer-partner.

The truth, that it is actually the BCDA’s nonstop violations of the original lease agreement and subsequent three Revised Memoranda of Agreement (RMOAs) that form part of a “recipe for disaster” that the Casanova-led corporation has designed to ensure CJHDevco’s failure—so as to justify an armed takeover of the leased property from its hapless private partner (in similar Gestapo-like fashion as what Casanova and his thugs did at SM Aura last year).

How can CJHDevco be remiss in its rentals and other MOA commitments to the government when it has already remitted P1.5 billion in rentals to the BCDA, created 2,000 jobs and invested P5 billion in the development of the erstwhile military camp?

What BCDA is trying to bury with its black propaganda drive is that CJHDevco has already lost P11.6 billion in potential revenues over the 2007-2011 period alone from this CJH project because of BCDA’s negligence. 

CJHDevco should have earned P12.1 billion from development projects it could have started early on, had it not been delayed by changing administrations modifying the rules at every turn, coupled with the global recession of 2007 and 2008. 

* * *

This suspected BCDA agenda to torpedo this CJH deal was confirmed in 2012 when all indications pointed to its impending forceful takeover of the leased property, prompting CJHDevco to file a P14.44-billion damage suit against the agency before the PDRCI and then ask for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the Baguio RTC to stop the planned takeover while both parties went through arbitration proceedings.

What stoked CJHDevco fears were the concerted moves by the BCDA and JHMC to mount a prolonged media blitz demonizing CJHDevco as a delinquent partner, in an apparent prelude to a hostile takeover.

Casanova’s collusion with the Ayalas in the recent BCDA muscle-flexing at SM Aura has all but confirmed suspicions that he has mounted this sinister legal offensive in order to kick CJHDevco out from Camp John Hay in favor of the Ayala Group.

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hvp 04.20.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Ang Kalbaryo ni Noynoy

Diretsahan

 

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Sa tuluyang pagsubsob ng popularidad ng ating Pangulo sa pagdiriwang ng bansa sa Semana Santa, ang nakikita ko ay parang ito’y sumusunod lamang sa nangyari sa Kalbaryo sa Israel, noong 2,000 taon nang nakakalipas.  Ano ba ang pagkakasala ng anak ni Maria at Jose sa mga taong nagpahirap sa kaniya bago nila ito pinatay na nakapako sa krus? Maaari rin nating tanumgin ngayon: Ano ba ang pagkakamali at pagkakasala ng ating Pangulong Benigno Aquino III sa atin na pasubsob ang kaniyang popularidad at pagtanggap natin sa kaniya?

Hindi ba’t  maliwanag na mas maganda ang pamamahala sa pamahalaan ngayon kesa sa lahat ng dating namuno kasama na ang Diktador?  Kailan na nanguna ang Pilipinas sa pagusad ng ekonomiya sa Asya? Kailan pinuri ng United Nations at ng Internatonal Monetary Fund at pati na rin ng iba pa ang ating bansa gaya ng pagpuri na tinanggap natin ngayong si Noynoy ang ating pinuno?

Sinakop ang karagatan natin ng Tsina at hindi tayo tumiklop gaya ng inaasahan ng Tsina na nag-akala yatang ang ang lahat na namumuno ng bansa ay gaya ng kanila nang  naranasan na maaaring pakiuspan. Baka pa nga meron ring nakatanggap ng suhol mula sa Tsina.

Sa kaniyang ginawa na pinatibayan ang kaugnayan natin sa ating matagal ng alyadong bansa — ang United States of America, merong iilang mga makakaliwa na bumabatikos sa kaniya, ngunit kahit na ang pinuno ng mga Komunista sa Pilipinas — si Joma Sison ay sumasangayon na tama ang hindi natin pagtanggap sa kagustohan ng Tsina na ibigay sa kanila ang Scarborough Shoal, na walang 60 milya ang layo sa Zambales, ang Spratlys at pati na rin ang Malampaya, na ngayon ay meron ng binigiay sa ating langdis na ayon sa Tsina ay dapat na pinaguuspan lamang natin bilang mga magkakalapit na bansa? Hindi ba’t maganda rin ang takbo ng bansa? Meron tayong BIR na nirerespeto’t kinakatakutan dahil sa matino ang pamamalakad? Ang mga mahihirap ay natutulongan ng pamahalaan at maganda rin ang nagawa ng pamahalaan sa mga lugar na nasalanta ng Bagyong Yolanda, pwera lamang sa mga tauhan ng mga Romualdez ng Tacloban at Leyte na sumusuporta sa mga nagrereklamo sa pagkukulang kuno ng pamahalaan sa kanilang tinatanggap na ayuda?

Baka naman na sa Linggo ng Pagkabuhay ay matitigil na rin ang dinaraanang Kalbaryo ng ating Pangulo?

* * *

Sana naman na magsisilbi ngang panakot sa bansang China ang nilulutong kasunduan para sa karagdagang puwersa ng Amerika sa Pilipinas.

Ito ang nagkakaisang pahayag ng dalawang lider ng Kamara hinggil sa nilulutong ‘framework agreement for the increased rotational presence of American forces in the Philippines’ ng administrasyon nina Pangulong Benigno Aquino III at US President Barack Obama.

Kung tuluyang mapipirmahan ang kasunduan sa pagbisita ni Obama, umaasa sina Deputy Speaker at Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao at Deputy Majority Lea­der at CIBAC party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna na magdadalawang-isip na ang China sa pananakop sa West Philippine Sea (WPS).

 “The American pre­sence is a credible deterrent. This is true in South Korea where the American bases there provide a strong counterfoil to North Korean aggression. It is also true in Japan where the American base in Okinawa presents a so­lid deterrent to a Chinese grab of disputed Senkaku Islands,” paliwanag ni Aggabao.

Nagbanta naman ang independent minority bloc sa Kamara sa pangunguna ni Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez na posibleng makagulo pa imbes na makatulong sa bansa ang nilulutong kasunduan sa Amerika.

Ibinunyag naman ng isang dating mambabatas ang dahilan ng pagiging atat ng Tsinang masakop ang iba’t ibang bahagi ng karagatan ng teritoryo ng Pilipinas.

Ayon kay dating Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, base sa impormasyong kanyang nakalap mula sa kanyang mga mapagkakatiwalaang sources, ang Malampaya natural gas facility sa Palawan ang target ng bansang China.

Naniniwala rin ang dating kongresista na posibleng isa lamang ang Malampaya sa inaasinta ng Tsina sa bansa kaya mahalagang malaman kung ano ang natuklasan ng Tsina nang magsagawa ng exploration sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas base sa pinasok na Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) ng dalawang bansa.

Sinabi pa ni Golez na wala nang dapat na ipagtaka kung maglagay na rin ng mga instalasyon ang Tsina sa iba pang bahagi ng karagatan ng bansa gaya ng Scarborough shoal, Ayungin shoal at Mischief reef.

 “Kailangan nang maghanda ang Pilipinas ngayong umiinit ang conflict ng Pilipinas at Tsina,” payo pa ni Golez.

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hvp (04.18.14)

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Brownout Na Naman?

 Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Masamang balita  ng brownout sa Luzon power grid anumang oras matapos bumagsak ang Masinloc-Coal Fired Power Plant sa Zambales.

Inilagay na sa yellow alert o magiging manipis ang reserba ng kuryente sa Luzon mula pa kahapon.

Ayon kay DOE Electric Power Industry Ma­nagement Bureau Director Mylene Capongcol, dakong alas-siyete ng umaga nang bumagsak ang Masinloc Plant at posibleng aabutin pa ng tatlong araw bago makumpuni ang nakitang leak sa boiler ng nasabing planta.

Patunay ito na kinakailangan pa natin ng ilan pang power plant upang kung anuman ang mangyari’y meron pa rin tayong sapat na koriyente. Hindi dapat na nagkaroon lamang leak ang ilang tangke ng tubig ay apektado na kaagad ang ating power supply.

Batay pa sa paliwa­nag ni Capongcol sa ilalim ng yellow alert, magiging manipis ang reserbang kuryente sa grid.

Sinabi pa ng opis­yal na sa oras na mayroon pang isang planta na bumagsak at hindi maagapan ang problema ay matutuluyan nang magkaroon ng brownout sa rehiyon dahil sa nga­yon aniya ay mababang suplay ng kuryente hinggil sa pagbagsak ng Masinloc Unit 2

Samantala, walang ma­raranasang brownout ngayong araw dahil balik na umano sa normal ang supply ng kuryente.

Latest update from DOE USec. Raul Aguilos — we might be on yellow alert (ngayong araw), but we expected norma­lization by Thursday,” pahayag ni Presidential Communication Operation Office (PCOO) Sec. Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr.

Kinakailangana pa ng ilan pang bagong planta hindi lamang sa Mindanao kundi pati na rin sa Luzon upang hindi na tayo palagi na lamang nasa ilalim ng panganib sa brownout.

*  * *

Nagpalabas ang Supreme Court (SC) ng Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) sa petisyon ni Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. na itigil ang isinasagawang preliminary investigation sa kasong plunder laban dito na nakasampa sa Office of the Ombudsman kaugnay sa pork barrel scam.  Inatasan  ng kataas-taasang hukuman ang National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Office of the Ombudsman na maghain ng komento sa petisyon ng senador.

Binigyan  ng 10-araw ang mga respondents na kinabibilangan ng Office of the Ombudsman-Special Panel of Investigators and Field Investigation Office, NBI at si Atty. Levito Baligod na maghain ng kanilang komento gayundin ay inatasan ang kampo ni Revilla na isumite sa SC ang kopya ng naging desisyon ng Office of the Ombudsman sa kahilingan nito na ibasura ang kaso laban sa kanya.

Una nang hiniling ng senador na suspindihin ang pagdinig sa plunder case laban sa kanya sa katwirang mayroon itong naka­binbin pang civil complaint sa Bacoor Regional Trial Court sa Cavite na humihiling na ideklarang null and void ang mga dokumentong inihain ng NBI sa Office of the Ombudsman dahil pineke umano ang kanyang pirma sa mga dokumento ukol sa pagpapalabas ng kanyang PDAF funds.

Ayon kay Atty. Joel Bodegon, legal counsel ni Revilla, ang naturang hakbang ay pagpapakita lamang na may “merit” ang kanilang inihaing petisyon.

Ngunit, hindi nga ba na matagal nang sinasabi ni Bong na peke angvkniyng pirma kahit na moong hindi pa siya kinakasuhan ay meron siyang lgda sa sulat niya sa Commission on Audit bago mairelease ang kwarta na pinatutunayan niya na kaniyang pirma ang nasa sulat na pina-rerelease na ang kwarta para sa kaniyang proyektong hawak ni Napoles?

hvp (04.116.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

A Novartis Guinea Pig’s Complaint

Malaya 04.16.14

 

‘I was their guinea pig for almost eight years, now they don’t want me anymore,’ Raagas, 43,  says. Novartis is asking him to pay P30,000 a month for Tasigna (generic name: Nilotinib), an expensive cancer-fighting drug used for treating chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) that Raagas has been afflicted with since he was 30.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

As a first responder during Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” Dario Raagas helped save lives. Now, the leukemia-stricken firefighter is fighting to save his own.

But his fight for survival puts him up against pharmaceutical giant Novartis and its Manila subsidiary Novartis Healthcare Philippines (NHP), which denies him access to a life-saving drug after using him in clinical trials for one of its antileukemia medication.

“I was their guinea pig for almost eight years, now they don’t want me anymore,” Raagas, 43,  says. Novartis is asking him to pay P30,000 a month for Tasigna (generic name: Nilotinib), an expensive cancer-fighting drug used for treating chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) that Raagas has been afflicted with since he was 30.

People afflicted with CML have a compromised ability to ward off diseases because their bone marrow produces abnormal levels of white blood cells.

Raagas participated since 2004 in what he described as clinical trials for one of Novartis’ leukemia-fighting drug, Glivec (generic name: Imatinib), under its Glivec International Patient Assistance Program (Gipap).

Based on the website of Max Foundation, Novartis’ partner in the program, Gipap was designed “to provide Glivec free of cost to eligible patients in developing countries who meet specific medical and socioeconomic  guidelines.”

Under Gipap, Raagas could access Glivec for free starting in 2004. Glivec was approved for leukemia treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2001.

When his body became resistant to Glivec, Raagas’ doctors told him to try Tasigna, a change that, however, came with a hefty price tag — P30K monthly.

“I almost fainted when I received the e-mail [saying] Novartis was charging me P30,000 a month to use Tasigna,” Raagas said.

The billing came when Novartis broadened the Gipap program in 2008 under its Novartis Oncology Access (NOA) program.

According to the Novartis website, NOA “is a sustainable access solution through which Novartis shares the cost of its medicines with government healthcare systems, charities and other payers, or directly with patients without healthcare coverage who are unable to pay for the full cost of their medication.”

(The NHP head office in Makati City does not return calls on this matter. Calls are not returned and text messages are ignored.)

In fairness, the webpage does say “Novartis shares the cost of its medicines with government healthcare systems . . . or directly with patients without healthcare coverage who are unable to pay the full cost of their medication.” Doesn’t Raagas  fall under this category — “unable to pay the full cost of their medication”? Besides, is it possible that he overdosed on his first medication — Glivec, which caused him to move to the second medicine — Tasigna? Or, does using Glivec regularly lead to the higher priced medication Tasigna?

“Don’t they want me to eat anymore, buy my basic needs and provide for my wife?” asked the 17-year veteran firefighter who earns only about  P30,000 a month, including benefits.

“His prognosis is not good, and he knows it. I hope he gets the help he needs,” says hematologist Dr. Gemma Udtujan, Raagas’ doctor since 2000 when he was diagnosed with CML.

Udtujan, the only known specialist in blood diseases for adults in Leyte and Samar provinces, told Raagas that his leukemia was now in the “accelerated stage” (similar to stage 4 for cancer), making him prone to bleeding inside and outside his body.

Raagas, who, despite his condition, volunteered to go on duty on Nov. 7 as Supertyphoon “Yolanda” was threatening Eastern Visayas, was rushed to Divine Word University Hospital on March 31 after he complained of severe body aches.

But because he could not afford Novartis’ leukemia-fighting drugs Glivec and Tasigna, Raagas had to take the cheaper Hydroxyurea (generic name: Litalir) whose side effects include darkening of  skin and nails.

Medical problems seem to stalk the Raagas family. His brother Danilo died of cancer at age 27 in 1993. His mother Purificacion died of a stroke in June last year at age 75.  The family also lost to Yolanda its ancestral house in Barangay Buri in Palo town, 12 kilometers south of this city.

Raagas has questioned Novartis’ claims of corporate citizenship in countries where it does business like the Philippines.

“Are they here to help their patients or are they here for profit?” he asked.

Raagas’ 17 coworkers at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) office in Palo, Leyte, immediately threw their support behind their embattled colleague.

“He manned the fort during and after Yolanda despite his delicate condition. That does not make him less of a hero,” said Insp. Agustin Ballo, fire marshal of Palo BFP.

Ballo and his staff have been scouring local blood banks, looking for possible donors of Raagas’ rare blood type, AB positive.  Raagas has also appealed for help from Philippine Red Cross chair Richard Gordon, for easier access to the local blood bank’s supply, and to his boss, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

“I don’t want him to die; we want to explore all our options as long as it does not destroy us financially,” said Raagas’ wife, Marilou, who took a 100-km bus ride to Ormoc City to buy her husband’s other medication on Monday.

“I hope Mr. Thomas Weigold (NHP president and program director in Manila) is listening and will help us,” she added.

Novartis was named one of Fortune magazine’s most admired companies three years in a row since 2011, a turnaround from its widely criticized refusal in June 2009 to provide free vaccines to counter a flu epidemic in Third World countries, saying donor countries should foot the cost.

Novartis is cited as the second biggest drug company in the world, with 133,000 employees in 140 countries. In 2012, the drug giant reported worldwide net sales of $56.7 billion.

Its Philippine website said it raised a $1.5-million calamity fund to provide medicine and vaccines to Yolanda-affected communities.  Its Filipino employees also raised a P330,000 donation for the victims and survivors of the supertyphoon.

(I signed a change.org  internet petition on this same matter a week ago.)

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hvp 04.15.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

US-PH Agree on EDCA, MNLF Backs CAB

A new mutual defense pact with the U.S. will be drawn up by the time President Barack Obama visits the Philippines late this month.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

The United States and Philippine panels concluded the eighth round of negotiations in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Friday. There was agreement  on key points such as access and use of military facilities and the non-permanence of US troops in the Philippines.

In a joint statement by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of National Defense (DND), they said that the draft agreement gives US military’s access and use of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) facilities “at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.”

What this means, according to the Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia is that the Americans “have to get our consent for whatever they bring in.”

“They will have to get approval for whatever they are going to bring in,” said our Ambassador to the US.

The agreement also provides that the US will “not establish a permanent military presence or base in the territory of the Philippines” according to the official  DFA-DND statement.

All forms of nuclear weapons are prohibited in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.

Defense Undersecretary and Chair of the Philippine Negotiating Panel Pio Lorenzo Batino said that “this round brought us much closer to finding full consensus, and the draft provisions on key points of enhanced defense cooperation will be submitted to the President for his review.”

Cuisia sees the agreement making it easier for the US to help the Philippines with the modernization program of the AFP.

“It is up to the AFP to determine what they need,” says Cuisia. “Remember the two cutters that we got, because the Philippine Navy said they needed cutters, so we made representations to the US and we got them very quickly.”

The new Navy vessels are  the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz that the Philippines acquired recently from the US.

“We would have gotten a third one if we had asked for it, but we did not ask for it at that time,” Cuisia said.

Cuisia says that the agreement will allow the US to put up facilities within military owned or controlled facilities.

“This agreement is different in that it will allow the US to put up facilities that will be beneficial to both the US and the Philippines,” explains Cuisia.

“Right now under the VFA, if there is no such provision, this agreement will precisely enable us to enlarge the capability of the US to assist us,” he said.

One example Cuisia gave was if the US were to bring in rubber boats that are to be used in case of disaster, they need to store it in warehouses which they can put up.

“Not in civilian facilities. It has to be in AFP-owned or controlled facilities. In Subic, there will be a portion that will be allocated there to the AFP,” Cuisia says.

In a joint statement by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of National Defense (DND), they said that the draft agreement gives US military’s access and use of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) facilities only “at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws.”

Defense Undersecretary and Chair of the Philippine Negotiating Panel Pio Lorenzo Batino said that “this round brought us much closer to finding full consensus, and the draft provisions on key points of enhanced defense cooperation will be submitted to the President for his review.”

Cuisia said that the agreement will make it easier for the US to help the Philippines with the modernization program of the AFP.

A new mutual defense pact with the U.S. will be drawn up by the time President Barack Obama visits the Philippines late this month as part of his Asia tour. If an agreement is reached, the U.S. military presence in the Philippines will expand through such measures as sharing bases.

* * *

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto called on all MNLF members to unite and support the Comprehensive Agreement for Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that seeks to end decades of war in Mindanao.

Alonto, who was installed as MNLF chief when the group was reorganized in March this year, urged other factions to join his group and put a closure to the conflict in the South.

“We’d like to call on all our MNLF brothers and sisters, in whatever breakaway group they may be, particularly in the Misuari faction and the Arroyo administration-sponsored Committee of 15, to stand in unity with the dominant and recognized, reconsolidated and revitalized MNLF at this crucial juncture of our history as a people,” Alonto said.

The Committee of 15 is composed of MNLF leaders, among them former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema, Hatimil Hassan of Basilan, and several others, who broke away from MNLF chairman Nur Misuary. The group declared a loss of confidence in Misuari’s leadership and took over the MNLF’s central committee.

Alonto urged the other MNLF factions to forget the “mistakes” of the past.

“Whatever mistakes were committed along the way, be they real or perceived, which will have its own due process, be taken as part of the long but seemingly endless journey,” he added.

“We all have rendered sacrifice and service to the Bangsamoro dream. To quote from the wise, a Saint has a past and a Sinner has a future,” Alonto said.

* * *

It was an interesting fight between Congressman Manny Pacquiao and former Champion Timothy Bradley, Jr., one that was much better that the last one a year ago when Bradley was adjudged the better fighter. This time, Pacquiao took the fight to Bradley who also fought a much better fight and seemed to hurt Pacquiao with some of his roundhouses.

Still, I cannot imagine why the congressman can think that winning a boxing competition qualifies one to aspire to be a Senator of the land. Is this because some actors are Senators, too. Really, I have no objection for the boxing champion being a congressman. He was voted on as such by his province mates.  If they are dumb enough to send a boxer as their representative to Congress, the province deserves to have Manny Pacquiao as its representative. Besides there are more than 200 congressmen. One more congressman who doesn’t know what he is doing should not at all make any difference.

But choosing one of only 24 Senators on the basis of his boxing prowess seems to me to be a dumb thing to do both for the boxer and the voters who will vote him to sit for them in the Philippine Senate. That goes for actors and comedians acting as senators, too. Shameless!

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hvp 04.14.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Tungkol sa Tsina

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

            Habang bisita ng Alemania si Presidente Xi Jinping ng Tsina  binigyan siya ng isang regalo ni German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Ito ay isang mapa ng Tsina na noong Siglo 1800 pa. Ayon sa mga lumabas na balita sa Europa’y “it may as well have been Germany’s gift to the Philippines and other countries caught in maritime disputes with China.”

Ang lumang mapa ay nagpapakita na ang kamalian ng “historical claim” ng Tsina  sa ilang territoryo kasama ang isla ng Hainan sa South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

Ang antigong mapa ay binuo ng French Cartographer na si Jean-Baptiste Bourgiuignon d’Anville ay gumulo ng ilang mga Intsik na karamihan naman ay matagal nang napagaralan sa kanilang mga kolehiyo ang mapa ng Tsina na sakop ang mga teritoryong hindi sakop ng mapang niregalo ni Merkel.

Ayon sa report ng Time Magazine: “The 1735 d’Anville map shows ‘China proper’ as a landmass separate from areas like Xinjiang, Tibet, Mongolia and Manchuria. The island of Hainan is drawn in a different color, as is Taiwan. This depiction is utterly at odds with how history is taught here.”

“Chinese students learn that these areas are inalienable parts of China, and that they have been for a long, long time. One netizen described the map as a ’slap’ from Merkel.”

Ang mapa raw ay binuo sa tulong ng mga Heswitang misyonaryo. Ayon sa isang report: “The d’Anville map, at least visually, is a rejection of that narrative [in Chinese schools]. Unsurprisingly, China’s official media outlets don’t seem to have appreciated Merkel’s gift. The People’s Daily, which has given meticulous accounts of Xi’s European tour, eluded any coverage of the offending map.”

Ayon sa Chinese media, ang mapa raw na binigay ni Merkel ay ginawa noong 1844 ni John Dower at inilabas sa London na nagpapakita ng mas malaking teritoryo ng Tsina kasama ang “Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia and large swaths of Siberia.”

Ang 9-dash-line ng Tsina ay ginawa naman ng Kuomintang Government noong 1947.

Ang 9-dash line ay sinasakop  ang  mga 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone of ilang mga bansa kagaya ng Pilipinas na ayon sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ay pag-aari ng ibang mga bansa gaya ng Pilipinas.

Sa ating bansa , meron tayong  mapa na ginawa pa noong 1734 na pinapakita ang Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) ay sakop ng  Lalawigan ng Zambales. Ang mapa ay ginawa ni  Spanish Jesuit Pedro Murillo Velarde. Ang Panatag ay tinawag sa mapa ni Murillo na  “Bajo de Masinloc.”

Ngunit, hindi naman maaaring kausapin ang Tsina tungkol dito dahil ang tatanggapin lamang nila ay kung ano ang galing sa kanila na mapa. Ayaw rin silang makinig sa United Nations kung kaya naman ang  magagawa na lang natin ay umasa sa mga bansang kakatakutan ng mga Intsik gaya ng  Amerika.

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hvp (04.14.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

How PSALM Made Billions in WESM

PSALM’s move to sideline Malaya was prompted less by technical limitations than by corporate greed. PSALM managed to reap a whopping P6.84 billion during the November-December months when prices rocketed to as high as the market bid cap of P62 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Who will be found wanting when the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) and the Office for Competition (OFC) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) are finally done with their parallel probes?

The November-December 2013 months was a period of abnormally tight supply, which— according to the Senate energy committee hearings—PSALM helped happen by not operating its 650-MW Malaya thermal plant even when market supply was already tight and prices started running wild.

PSALM runs the National Power Corp. (Napocor) power plants that have yet to be sold to the private sector. Its mandate, as a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) is the protection of the Filipino consumer.

* * *

During the Senate hearings, PSALM President Emmanuel Ledesma cited technical limitations of the Malaya plant to justify its non-use at a time when its supply was most needed to mitigate the WESM price upsurge.

However, the Real-Time Ex-Post Price (RTEX) data eventually published by WESM indicates that PSALM’s move to sideline Malaya was prompted less by technical limitations than by corporate greed. PSALM managed to reap a whopping P6.84 billion during the November-December months when prices rocketed to as high as the market bid cap of P62 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

* * *

It became clear enough during the Osmeña-led Sanate hearing that had PSALM operated the Malaya thermal plant, the spike in WESM prices would have been totally avoided.

In fact, a study presented during the Senate hearing bared that had Malaya been in use during the Nov. 11-Dec. 10 shutdown, WESM prices would have fallen by as much as 70% from the then-rate of P21/kWh to just P5. WESM works well only if everyone cooperates honestly.

* * *

Is it possible that what PSALM management had in mind at that time was not the estimated P1.3 billion it stood to lose by dispatching the Malaya plant, but the P6.84 billion it stood to gain by not using the Malaya plant?

The WESM-published RTEX data shows that the aggregate revenues of Malaya and three more PSALM power plants—Caliraya, Kalayaan and Casecnan—was estimated to nearly double from P2.67 billion last November to P4.17 billion in December.

PSALM generated P2,667,150,000 in earnings from  these four plants’ combined output of 151.08 gigawatt hours (GWh) at an average price of P17.65 per kWh in November 2013.

Its earnings went up by roughly 60% the month after to P4,173,850,000  from the four plants’ aggregate output of 184.12 GWh at the higher average price of P22.669 per kWh.

Such RTEX data on PSALM’s estimated revenues during the tight supply months—thanks in large part to its non-dispatch of the Malaya plant—showed that GOCC racked up total earnings of P6.841 billion over the November-December period from a combined output of 335.20 GWh from four of its power plants.

* * *

As pointed out by one industry insider, PSALM was able to make “windfall profits by taking advantage of the shortness of supply to the detriment of the public. PSALM intentionally did not dispatch its Malaya plant in flagrant violation of WESM’s must-offer rule.”

  This seems to be what Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla had in mind when he told the Supreme Court during the Feb. 11 oral arguments that PSALM had committed “anti-competitive behavior” in the past when it offered electricity supply bids to WESM but failed to dispatch such power.

   Petilla revealed that PSALM repeatedly declared an “open breaker status,” the last one in November last year.

An “open breaker status” happens, he said, when a power supplier makes a bid offer at WESM but fails to dispatch such electricity once asked to do so.

* * *

Petilla truthfully said “yes” when SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen asked him whether PSALM was guilty of anti-competitive behavior and had, in fact, violated WESM’s “must-offer” rule (MOR) when it failed to dispatch what it had offered at the spot market.

MOR requires all WESM players to offer their respective 100% generation capacities to the spot market to guarantee adequate or stable supply and thus stave off any artificial supply glitch that would naturally drive up generation charges that distribution utilities like Meralco pass on to their customers.

After being questioned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno about this WESM breach, Petilla told the High Court:  “PSALM committed a violation as regards dispatch. In the past, they have been behaving in a way that regulators have called their attention. They will be investigated and penalized.”

* * *

That PSALM could not escape blame for the electricity fiasco seemed like a foregone conclusion when Secretary Petilla said during the separate Senate and Supreme Court hearings that the Department of Energy (DOE) was investigating several Gencos, including PSALM, for violating the MOR rule on WESM trading and dispatch during the 30-day maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility, which is the main power supplier for the Luzon grid.

About a dozen Gencos trading in the spot market during the shutdown period were guilty of “anti-competitive behavior,”  said Petilla, because they did not actually dispatch power when they were supposed to do so, leading to a tightness in supply that naturally pushed prices higher than usual.

“It appears there were power plants that violated the real time dispatch (RTD) and must-offer rule (MOR). Not complying with dispatch schedules are violations of the WESM,” added Petilla.

During the Feb. 13 hearing at the SC on oral arguments in connection with the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) vs. Meralco’s December rate hike, Petilla said that PSALM was among those that had engaged in “anti-competitive behavior” when it did not dispatch the Malaya plant.

WESM rules regard as anti-competitive behavior any act by a Genco to physically withhold or refuse to offer to sell or schedule, its maximum available output of reserve to the WESM.

* * *

The end-2013 price spiral was reversed in this year’s first three months to March following the ERC-ordered voiding and re-computation of the Oct. 26-Dec. 25 prices at WESM, on the strength of this commission’s preliminary probe conclusion of “market failure” resulting from the Gencos’ breach of the system’s MOR.

 In its 35-page ruling dated March 3, the ERC said it found basis to use the state’s police powers and intervene after determining in its investigation that “the WESM prices during the November and December 2013 supply months could not qualify as reasonable, rational and competitive,” owing to the confluence of factors accompanying the tight market supply situation.

Hence, it ordered PEMC, which operates WESM, to re-calculate and implement the regulated prices in the revised WESM bills for that two-month period.

“The dispatch schedule and the prices during the November and December 2013 supply months reflected an inefficient allocation of resources contrary to the aspirations of WESM….brought about   by the   tight   supply   condition arising from  the participants’ failure to abide with the MOR,” said ERC in its March 3 order.

* * *

Despite such crystal clear findings, though, ERC stopped short of naming the culprits.

But lawyer Phillip Adviento, who heads the PEMC Training and Communications Group, says that his office, which  was doing the investigating would soon submit its final report ahead of its original June 2014 deadline.

* * *

The DOJ-OFC will also come out soon with its own findings as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced that the ERC’s March 3 order gave stronger impetus to the OFC to continue with its own investigation, in light of the commission’s conclusion that the December rate hike was caused by certain Gencos failing or refusing to offer their full capacities in the spot market.

We have a pricing system that works well when every one of the Gencos  cooperate fully and offer all of their resources. That not everyone followed the “must offer rule” (MOR) clearly caused electricity rates to skyrocket. How hard would it be to find who the perpetrators were?

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hvp 04.13.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.