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Tungkol sa mga PU na Sasakayan

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

            Dapat lamang na maging batas ang House Bill 3832 na iniakda ng A Teacher. Tatawagin ang panukala bilang Public Utility Driver’s Licensing Act. Dapat lamang na ang mga nagmamaneho ng mga Public Utility vehicle ay mapagbuti ang kahusayan, ugali at ligtas na driving habits ng mga public utility drivers. Dapat na snururi ang mga ito bago sila binibigyan ng lisensiya. Sa ngayon ay parang walang pagkakaiba ang dinaraanan ng mga dirver ng pribadong sasakaya at ng PU. Hindi dapat ganoon. Dapat na kapag ang driver ay magdadala ng jepney, bus o taxi na mas mahigpit ang  dinaraanana nila.

            Nakakalarama na nga ang dami ng mga bus at iba pang mga aksidente ng mga public transport vehicles. Dapat lamang na baguhin na at gawaing mas istrikto ang dinaraanan ng mga nagmamaneho ng mga PU at iba pang public transport vehicle. Sa ngayon nga’y parang mas mahigpit pa ang ilang mga pribadong kumukuha ng family driver na naghahatid sa kanilang mga anak sa eskwela kesa sa mga mayari ng mga bus na parang kinukuha lamang kung sino ang liumapit sa kanila bilang driver. Hindi dapat ganito. Dahil na sa mga public transport operator ay merong tungkulin na ang kanilang mga sasakayan ay maghahatid ng kanilang mga pasahero sa paroroonan na walang sakuna.

            Iyon ang tungkulin ng mga may-ari ng mga bus at iba pang public utility vehicle.

            Ayon sa panukalang batas, walang PUV driver ang papahintulutang magmaneho hanga’t hindi sumasailalim  sa mga itatakdang actual driving examiniation at kinakailangan ring meron itong certifivcate of safe driving habit mula sa isang accredited private driving entity. Ayon sa panukalang batas, ang Land Transortation Office (LTO) ay aatasang magtatag ng Special Driving Licensing Divsion na mangagasiwa ng Utility Drivers’ Licenses. Isa pa rin ang pag-instala ng tinatawag na speed limiter na dapat na kinakabit sa mga public utility vehicle upang hindi makapagkaskas ang mga bus at jeepney habang namamasahe.

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             Dapat rin yatang  lalong itualak ang mga e-jeepney at e-tricycle dahil ayon sa mga nakaka-alam,  ay mas maliit ang gastos sa mga makinang tumatakbo gamit ang bateriya na kinakaargahan sa pamamagitan ng pagkarga ng mga bateriya sa bahay. Kumpara raw sa gumagamit ng gasolina, halos ikatalo lamang ang gastos. Hindi kaya mas magaling kung   ang e-jeepney na lang ang ginagamit kesa sa de-gasolinang jeepney, Ang isa pang pagbabsgo ay ang hindi rin gaanong mabilis ang takbo ng e-jeepney kumpara sa regular na PUJ na de-gasolina.

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hvp (03.12.14)

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.

Brouhaha Over Mactan-Cebu Airport

Senator Osmena cites an August 13, 2013 article in Forbes.com entitled ‘House of Debt’ which said that the GMR Group was one of the companies ‘that cannot even pay the interest on their debt on time.’ GMR’s own Audited Financial Statement  reflects operating losses from 2011-2013.”

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

It was inevitable that the dispute over the bidding for the modernization and expansion of the passenger terminal of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) would reverberate in the halls of Congress.

It is also understandable that all the Cebuano lawmakers would be very much concerned about the controversy that is delaying the implementation of this P17.5 billion facility. The MCIA, after all, is a major contributor not only to the growth of tourism in Cebu but to the overall economic development of the province.

A few days ago, I received a copy of the privilege speech delivered by Cebu Senator Serge Osmeña who expressed strong reservations about the possible award of this project to the consortium of GMR Infrastructures of India and local firm Megawide Construction Corporation. This group’s offer of P14.4 billion was declared as the highest bid.

The Senator is questioning the technical and financial capability of GMR to undertake the project. As a result of his speech, the Senate Committee on Public Services will begin an investigation into several issues raised against GMR, particularly its supposed “questionable operating background and a currently unstable financial position.”

In the House of Representatives, two separate Resolutions on the subject were filed by nine Cebu lawmakers. House Resolutions 782 and 683 seek inquiries on delays, complaints of conflict of interest, questionable financial capacity and other possible violations on qualification requirements against the highest financial bidder.

 But it is the points that Senator Osmeña raised in his speech that appear to have drawn blood.

 Senator Osmena cites an August 13, 2013 article in Forbes.com entitled “House of Debt” which said that the GMR Group was one of the companies “that cannot even pay the interest on their debt on time.” GMR’s own Audited Financial Statement  reflects operating losses from 2011-2013. 

He called attention to reports in the Wall Street Journal which stated that the GMR Group is one of three biggest companies that banks in India have been pressuring to sell their assets to enable them to pay their debts. The report said that GMR is hobbled with a huge debt of $6.2 billion and has a very risky 4.9 debt-to-equity ratio.

One development which may or may not have direct significance to the MCIA project is the report last month in The Economic Times of India that the GMR Group has cancelled a $350 million IPO for GMR Infrastructure Ltd., the Group’s subsidiary involved in the MCIA bidding. Three officials of GMR had acknowledged the “difficulty of squeezing in a public share offering” at this time.

But what should really ring alarm bells among those who will choose the group that will construct and manage the MCIA terminal is Osmeña’s disclosure that the GMR Group has gone on a selling binge and has already disposed of at least six projects, three of which are in India. These are the Warora Power Plant in Maharashtra, for $1.2 billion; the Ulundurpet Highway project in Tamil Nadu for $110 million; and the Jadcherla Expressway project in Andra Pradesh for $44 million.

GMR also sold for another $1.2 billion its 50% share in InterGen of Denmark, which is one of the largest power companies in Europe; its 70% equity in GMR Energy Singapore for $482 million; and its 40% holdings in the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey for $225 million.

Osmeña said that with its unsteady financial situation and its history of not staying for the long haul, GMR should not even be remotely considered as an investor to be entrusted with a long-term involvement in the Mactan Airport.

 “I fear that GMR might merely flip its equity in this project for a profit. And where would that leave the Cebuanos?” the Senator asked.

Osmeña’s apprehensions seem to be well grounded. He referred to a recent statement of Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, founder and Chairman of the GMR Group which defined the new strategic direction of the conglomerate as a shift to what he called an “Asset Light, Asset Right” (ALAR) approach.

In a message to shareholders, Rao explained that the GMR Group is now following and implementing the principle of “Develop, Build, Create Value, Divest and Reinvest.” This strategy calls for regular portfolio reviews that identify those assets that have already created maximum value, as well as those which values are eroding, then selling these assets in order to release capital for better opportunities.

This change in business strategy explains GMR Group’s wave of divestments that included the Istanbul airport concession which it won in a bidding but sold after only six years. It was learned that GMR also sold its Jadcherla Expressway project after only four years of operation.

With this deviation in its business plans, it is clear that the GMR Group is now implementing a “Bid and Sell” strategy. With respect to the MCIA project therefore, it may not be entirely amiss for Osmeña, for Cebuano lawmakers in the House of Representatives, and for all the people of Cebu, to fear that GMR may only be in it for the quick profit that they can generate after only a few years.

It is also relevant to point out that GMR Infrastructure has been charging an Airport Development Fee on travellers using the Delhi and Hyderabad Airports in India where it won the biddings for these concessions. These charges are in addition to the regular Passenger Service Fee that passengers have to pay.

GMR has imposed these charges to augment the inadequate funds that it injected in developing these airport projects.

In the case of the Delhi Airport, GMR infused only 72.68% of the needed capital outlay and raised the financing gap through these additional fees. In effect, the travelling public shouldered more than one-fourth of the development cost of the Delhi Airport’s project.

GMR claims that the Supreme Court of India has upheld these additional fees on passengers. But they miss the point entirely. The point is whether it is fair and just to make the travelling public shoulder a big portion of the cost of developing the project. According to the “Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the Implementation of Public Private Partnership, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi” the additional fee is contrary to the Operation Management and Development Agreement (OMDA) that GMR signed.

The Report said the Agreement “did not envisage the funding of the project cost through levy of Development Fee from the passengers since the entire funding was to be through debt and equity only.”

The MCIA project covers a concession period of 25 years. The final choice of the concessionaire will depend on the Post-Qualification review of the bids and on the results of the probes being conducted in the Senate and in the House.

Hopefully, the DOTC and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport will not allow a “bid and sell” concessionaire to saddle the Cebuanos for the next 25 years with a terminal that, according to Senator Osmeña, “looks like a poultry farm.”   

Sadly, the ones in charge — the DOTC and the Department of Tourism seem — to be gung-ho on the project and seem to be totally committed to stick to the choice of the of the original bids and awards committee, which has been revealed as one that should have been disqualified outright, if the bidding committee had done its job right.

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hvp 03.19.14

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.

Tao ang Pumipili, Diyos Ang Nagpapasiya

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Maliwanag na totoo lamang at tapat ang sinabi ni Senador Alan Peter Cayetano: “I want to be President of this country someday. I am saying I want to be President of the country, to do great for God and country but is 2016 my time? 2022? 2028? Or never?”  Tama! Sino ba naman sa ating mga lider na naka-abot na sa Senado ang hindi nag-iisip sa baka maaari siyang maging Pangulo. Ang maganda kay Alan Peter ay tanggap rin niya kung kailan ito maaaring mangyari at tanggap pa rin niya kung ito ay “never.”

* * *

Kung ngayon ay napaka-agang pinagkakagulohan na ang sunod na halalan na magaganap pa sa 2016, sisihin ninyo si Jojo Binay na iniwanan ang Partidong PDP-LABAN, kung saan siya ay lumaki at naging Chairman pa upang magtayo ng bagong partido na kaniyang gagamitin sa pagtakbo sa pagka-Pangulo sa 2016.

Ang isang nakakapansin ay ang lahat na binabanggit na maaaring kumandidato sa pagiging Bise  niya — Gubernadora  Vilma, na sinabi na ng asawangsi Senador Ralph Recto na walang planong tumakbong pang-nasyonal, MVP (na matagal nang nagsabi: “”There is no political blood that runs through my veins. I believe I can serve our people better some other way.”)  Maliwanag na totoo lamang at tapat ang sinabi ni Senador Alan Peter Cayetano.

Ang hindi pa lamang tumatanggi ay si Senador Jinggoy, na pinangalanan ni Senadora Nancy na pipiliin raw ng ama na pagiging Bise. Binibigay rin ng Senador kay Binay ang tinayong partido  ng kaniyang amang Erap  – ang Partido ng Masang Pilipino(PMP).

Sa totoo, kahit ano ang mapgakasundoan sa napakatagal pang halalan ay malamang na hindi rin naman mangyayari dahil hindi naman tuwid ang daan na tinatahak ng ating pulitika. Marami pang hadlang at u-turn na daraaanan ng daan patungo sa halalan sa 2016.

Maari pang napakarami pa ang mangyayari upang magbago ang pag-iisip ng botante mula ngayon hanggang sa Mayo 9, 2016, ang araw ng halalan. Gaya nga nang nasabi sa akin ng isang pulitiko: “Kung namatay si Cory noong 2010 at hindi noong 2009, panalong-panalo sana si Manny Villar sa pagka-Pangulo.”

Ganiyan ang ating Pulitika sa Pinas: “Maaaring Tao ay pumipili ngunit ang Diyos ang nagpapasiya.”

Ang mas mahalaga ay ituloy natin ang pagtungo sa tuwid sa daan na nasimulan noong “Million People March” na  naging rason sa pasiya ng Korte Suprema na tigilin ang PDAF. Dapat na tuloy-tuloy ang pagbabago ng ating pulitika upang makapili naman tayo ng mga taong magpapapili upang makapaglingkod sa bayan at hindi dahil sa gustong magpayaman. Kung sinuswerte tayo’y baka  ang mga artista’y hindi na pipiliin ng botanteng maging mambabatas dahil lamang sa kanila nang nakikilala ang pangalan. Imbes, sana’y pag-iisipan natin upang mapili natin kung sino nga ba ang makakapag-silbi sa atin ng maayos imbes na pangungurakot ang layunin.

Kung ang botante’y pag-iisipang mabuti ang pagpili, baka namang gumanda ang magiging resulta ng ating mga halalan. Ngunit, kung wala pagbabagong mangyayari, ganito tayo ngayon at pasama ng pasama ang magiging kinabukasan ng ating kaisa-isang bansang Pilipinas.

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hvp (03.07.14)

 

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.

COA Finds PDAF Fraud in Partido, Camsur

“COA questioned in its special report not only the legitimacy of this NGO but the legitimacy as well as of the suppliers of the materials for several projects of  Fuentebella  and even the supposed program-beneficiaries.”

 

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

The one argument of the PDAF scammers is that the government has been going after only legislators in the opposition and are exempting those who are friendly to the President. One example of this is former speaker Arnulfo Fuentebela, who has always been allied with every administration.

The Commission on Audit (COA) found irregularities in the use of P197 million-worth of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF)  and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VLIP) allocations during the three-year period when Former Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella was House deputy speaker for Luzon.

The COA Special Audit Report reveals that Fuentebella got at least P197 million-worth of “pork” during the 2007-2009, consisting of P120 million in VILP allotments for “hard” projects, another P76.8 million in PDAF for “soft” projects and P1 million more from other sources.

A total of P18.6 million in PDAF funds was channeled over that period to the Fuentebella-endorsed Partido District Development Cooperative Inc. (PDDCI) for projects supposed to have been coursed through the TRC for a farmers’ livelihood training and entrepreneurial promotions and development program.

The COA report uncovered another P21.67 million-worth of Fuentebella’s  irregular pork-funded transactions, including the purchase of 4,000 bags of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) for P16.369 million and P4.2 million-worth of hybrid yellow corn seeds and complete fertilizer from the RNM Feeds Poultry Supply.

***

If Malacañang were truly committed to catching the big fishes—in keeping with the President’s daang matuwid mantra—cases would have been filed by now against a surfeit of administration legislators like Fuentebella in light of COA-uncovered damning evidence linking them to the P10-billion pork scam.

Fuentebella, whose seat in the province’s Partido District was taken over by his son Felix William Jr. in last year’s midterm balloting, served for three consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, and was Speaker during the latter part of the Estrada presidency and then deputy speaker during the Arroyo administration.

***

Former Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “L-Ray” Villafuerte recently asked the Office of the Ombudsman to expedite the resolution of a plunder case he previously filed against the former Speaker in 2011, on the strength of “new, equally compelling evidence” gathered by the COA linking Fuentebella  to last year’s P10-billion pork barrel scam.

In filing his supplemental affidavit before the Ombudsman, Villafuerte said  COA’s 2007-2009 report further bolstered Fuentebella’s guilt in connection with the plunder charge he filed against the former Speaker and three members of his immediate family who are also holding elective posts in their Partido District.

The COA special audit report, which touched off last year’s discovery of the P10-billion pork scam in Congress and Napoles’ role,  also uncovered irregularities in the release of at least P40.27 million of the almost P200 million-worth of PDAF and VILP funds that were coursed through Fuentebella.

Fuentebella’s co-respondents in the plunder case are his wife Evelyn, who is mayor of Sagñay town; and their sons Felix William, who was head of the Partido Development Administration (PDA) on the Arroyo watch prior to his subsequent election as congressman, and Arnulf Bryan, who is mayor of the Fuentebella’s hometown of Tigaon.

 The plunder complaint covers the malversation of taxpayers’ money to bankroll nearly P28 million-worth of infrastructure projects  either within or leading to the Fuentebellas’ 50,000-square meter property at Patitinan in Sitio Elis Point, Sagñay, plus several other projects worth over P32 million combined in Barangays Abo and Gaao in Tigaon.

Together with the P80 million-worth of illicit fund diversions in the original 2011 case, the supplemental complaint that Villafuerte filed recently against the former Speaker based on the COA’s 2007-2009 audit findings, has raised to P120.27 million the total amount of Fuentebella’s irregular public-fund disbursements, or more than double the P50-million base amount for a public official to be charged with the non-bailable crime of plunder.

***

Bicolanos praise the President for abolishing three government-owned and –controlled corporations linked to the P10-billion pork scam in Congress, but wonder why his apparent favoritism — the failure to also bring down another useless GOCC—the Partido Development Authority (PDA)—that the COA has found to be a cash-draining entity drained from  the national government over P1 billion. deeper in foreign and local debts.

They commend the President for shutting down the Philippine Forest Corp. (PhilForest), ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) and the National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor), but expected Mr. Aquino to also  abolish the PDA, a corporate “baby” of the Fuentebellas that has been under their control since its creation some two decades ago.

***

The poverty incidence report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)—based on the 2006-2008 average poverty index—bared that five of the province’s poorest towns are in the Fuentebella clan’s district—Garchitorena, Presentacion, Siruma, Tinambac and even Tigaon, which is the family’s hometown.

***

The original complaint that Villafuerte filed against the Fuentebellas in September 2011 stemmed from the diversion of over P80 million in public funds for the construction of roads, multipurpose facilities and other public works projects in the Fuentebella family’s sprawling properties in their Tigaon and Sagñay bailiwicks.

According to Villafuerte, the anomalous transactions in the original 2011 complaint  and in his recently filed supplemental one “certainly form part of the acts and/or series of acts constituting plunder” that had been committed by Fuentebella and his relatives “to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the people of Camarines Sur and the government.”

***

 In its 2007-2009 special audit report, the COA identified a number of senators and members of the House of Representatives who had funneled their PDAF and VILP outlays into sham beneficiary-NGOs, including about a dozen or so controlled by or identified with Napoles.

But unlike most of these solons who had been caught by the COA in cahoots with Napoles, Fuentebella coursed his pork outlays to his chosen NGOs.  

 The COA pointed out, for instance, that P18.6 million in Fuentebella’s PDAF funds ended up in the Partido District Development Cooperative Inc. (PDDCI), an NGO endorsed by him “despite the absence of law appropriating or specially earmarking the same.”

 The PDDCI is one of 82 private organizations that COA questioned in its 2007-2009 special audit report for receiving funds endorsed by lawmakers like Fuentebella, despite the absence of any law authorizing such fund disbursements to NGOs.

***

 The COA report uncovered that on top of the questionable allocation of P18.6 million in PDAF to the TRC for Fuentebella’s PDDCI, there was another P21.67 million-worth of irregular pork-funded transactions, including the purchase of 4,000 bags of rice from the NFA for P16.369 million and P4.2 million-worth of hybrid yellow corn seeds and complete fertilizer from the RNM Feeds Poultry Supply.

COA said there was “no proof of distribution” of  P11.369 million-worth of rice from the P16.369 million NFA deal, which was “not supported with project proposal.”

As for the supplier of  the seed and fertilizer  stocks that were coursed through him and Sen. Honasan, the COA said RNM Feeds had an expired license as fertilizer and pesticide dealer and “was issuing receipts/invoices bearing numbers no longer within the authorized series to be printed.”

***

Villafuerte said COA’s 2007-2009 audit report bolsters his charges in his 2011 plunder case that during the period that Fuentebella was misappropriating public funds for his personal benefit, he was also taking advantage of his “position,  authority, relationship, connection or influence” as a ranking officer of Congress to further enrich him and his family via his PDAF and VILP allocations.

Added Villafuerte: “It would appear, therefore, that aside from the projects, all funded from government money, done and found within the titled properties of the Fuentebellas in the Municipalities of Sagnay and Tigaon, Camarines Sur, diverted into [their] personal use ….Arnulfo, within or on or about the same period, was likewise amassing, through a series of further illegal acts, …ill-gotten wealth, as those identified by the (COA), to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the people of Camarines Sur and the government.”

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hvp 03.06.14

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.

Commissioner Heidi’s Non-Confirmation

“Pabalik-balik po ako rito, nanonood ng mga naco-confirm at talaga po ako ay inggit na inggit..”                                        

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

I have been an admirer of Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza for some time and was surprised when I read reports about her tax problems and allusions to dishonesty, Thus, I was glad to read a Rappler report on the day that she faced the Commission on Appointments. which continued to bypass her over the last three years. The Commissioner begged Congress to confirm her appointment, saying her only fault was in auditing the transactions of Makati during the term of Binay’s wife, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay.

Mendoza already responded to the opposition against her in a December 2012 CA hearing but her confirmation continues to be delayed.

 “Pabalik-balik po ako rito, nanonood ng mga naco-confirm at talaga pong ako ay inggit na inggit. Alam ko po na darating ang panahon bubuksan ang katotohanan dahil hindi ako nagsinungaling. Hindi po ako nagnakaw. Hindi rin po ako nakasuhan. Ang aking tanging kasalanan, nanindigan [akong] mag-file ng kaso sa isang may ambisyon maging presidente,” said Mendoza.

 “It was year 2003 when I conducted the audit of Makati. I never had an inkling of who would be the next president then, that I would be sitting as commissioner-nominee,” she says.

Her confirmation was again deferred after Senator Jinggoy Estrada sent a letter saying he wanted to ask questions in the next hearing. A Binay ally, who might have run as Bnay’s VP, if he had not been implicated in the PDAF Scam, Estrada earlier vowed to block Mendoza’s confirmation over “valid issues” against her.

Those opposing Mendoza’s confirmation are former state auditor Arturo Besana, and lawyers Mariano Sarmiento, Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo and Sandra Coronel of the Yorac, Chua, Arroyo, Caeda & Coronel Law firm, the law firm used by fprmer Mayor Dr. Elenita Binay. They accuse her of dishonesty and incompetence in her work as auditor.

  On the issue of Mrs. Binay’s graft cases before the Sandiganbayan, Mendoza responded that state auditors play a limited role in the prosecution of cases.

 “Even if I am raring to answer, the prosecutor is not asking me. I’m only as good as the evidence presented when asked. This is the sad condition of our auditors. It is so hard to testify and answer questions, face accusations and security issues that auditors often experience. That’s why those making the fraud audit report usually do not want to stand by the case because it gets so personal sometimes.”

CA members asked Mendoza about the revival of cases against Mrs. Binay, which the Binay camp describes as “pure harassment.”

 “I would rather not give my opinion because I respect the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman. I have no knowledge of their action if they refile cases. Our only participation is to stand by the audit report when we are called. It’s our responsibility,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza also clarified that contrary to the statements of those opposing her confirmation, she was not part of the COA special audit on the pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, whichreport was among the bases for filing a plunder complaint against Senators Revilla, Ponce Enrila and Estrada.

Mendoza lamented the protracted confirmation process.

 “They say I’m incompetent but I’ve been with the commission for 3 years and I think these are the best years for the commission. We see that. Every day, COA is in the papers. These are the years when our auditors stand proud that they are part of the commission,” she said.

The whisteblower said she accepted her appointment as COA commissioner because she believed in the administration’s anti-corruption campaign.

Estrada said he would block her confirmation but she chose not to respond in the media.

Asked after the hearing about Senator Jinggoy’s threat, Mendoza gave a short message. “God bless po.”

Why can’t our legislators act like legislators who are doing their work as legislators and not as politicos doing their work as such instead of as politicos protecting party mates, family and friends?

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At the resumption of the Bulomgpulongan Kapihan at Hotel Sofitel, after Chief Convenor Deedee Siytangco’s operation, we had extra-good food, possibly because the Secretary of Tourism Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. was the guest.

Secretary Jimenez, whom I had never met, taught me a few things about tourism. For instance, the great number of Korean tourists are here because we are offering courses in Korean on English as a second language, When asked about who were our best foreign tourists, the Secretary, of course never gave an answer but said that we ought to choose the ones who spend the most during their visit to our country. After all, the business is tourism and it is a business, after all.

Our campaign will not change. It is still: “It’s more fun in the Philippines” but the ads will be locale-specific, featuring specific places: Boracay, Davao, Palawan, Camigiuin and so on. What is the Philippine advantage in tourism? There are more places one can visit in the Philippines than in other Southeast Asian countries.

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hvp 03.05.14

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 Halalan sa 2016

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Ano kaya ang nasa isip ng Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay na bigla-bigla siyang nagsalita tungkol sa kaniyang planong pag-takbo bilang Pangulo sa halalan ng 2016?

Sa kaniya mismong bibig nanggaling na isa raw sa kaniyang kinokonsiderang imbitahing tumakbo sa kaniyang tiket bilang Bise Presidente ay ang “star of all seasons” na si Gubernadora Vilma-Santos-Recto ng Batangas.  Agad namang sinabi ni Senador Ralph Recto na asawa ni Vilma na walang kabalak-balak na sumabak sa eleksyon sa 2016 para sa mataas na posisyon ang gubernadora..

 “Walang plano si Vilma na tumakbo sa 2016, ‘yan ang alam ko,” pahayag ni Recto nang hingan ng reaksiyon kahapon ng mga reporters.

“Puro tsismis lang ang sinasabi n’yo, wala akong alam na plano,” dagdag pa nito.

Subalit kung tatakbo man, aniya, si Ate Vi sa pagka-pangulo, ito ay pangulo ng mga senior citizens.

“Kung tatakbo si Vilma pangulo ‘di vice presidente, [kundi] pangulo ng senior citizens,” pagbibiro pa ni Recto.

Ayon pa sa senador, hindi pa rin aniya nakakausap ng Vice President ang kanyang asawa hinggil sa planong pagtakbo sa susunod na halalan.

 “Wala rin [planong tumakbo sa pagka-senador],” dagdag pa ni Recto.

* * *

Ang isa pa ring nabanggit ni Binay na gusto niyang gawaing Bise niya ay ang negosyanteng si Manny Pangilinan, na ilang beses na ring nakapagsalita na hindi siya pulitiko at hindi siya nag-iisip o nangangarap na maging pulitiko,

Kaya, ano kaya ang gustong ipalabas ni Binay — na maiiba ang kaniyang pagtakbo dahil (ayon pa rin sa kaniya) ang pinakabagay na maging bise sa kaniya ay isang Ekonomista, Sa tatlong nanggaling sa bibig mismo ni Binay, ano kaya ang dapat na paniwalaan? O baka naman ginagugulo lang niya ang ating isiapan hanggang kung sinuman ang magiging ka-tiket niya’y hindi na magiing mahalaga sa kaniyang mga botante.

(Ika naman ng anak na si Senadora Nancy na si Senador Jinggoy raw ang tatakbong Bise ng kaniyang ama.)

Ang isang pahayag ni Binay ay ang siya’y kumalas na sa Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-LABAN) kung saan siya ang Chairman at si Senador “Koko” Pimentel naman ang Presidente. Ang ginamit niyang rason sa pagkalas sa PDP-LABAN at magtayo nang bagong partido ay ang pagtakbo noong 2013 ni Pimentel sa koalisyon ng Liberal at Naconalista dahil sa isang kandidato ng UNA ay si Zubiri na nakuhang dayain si Pimentel noong 2010 nang tumakbo ang senador sa ilalim ng PDP-LABAN.

Sa tingin ko’y merong rason si Pimentel na hindi pumayag na maging ka-tiket ni Zubiri noong huling halalan.

* * *

Sino pa kaya ang makakaisip na tumakbo sa 2016. Iyon na kaya ang hinihintay na panahon ni Senador Bongbong Marcos. Ang sinabi lamang ng anak ng dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos ay tiyak na tatakbo siya sa 2016 nguit malamang na bilang Senador lamang muli.

Sa Nacionalista’y nakausap ko ang isang malapit kay dating Senador Manny Villar na nagsabing dumaan na sila sa pagtakbo sa pagiging Pangulo at  hindi na ito uulitin pa. Meron namang isang batang senador sa Nacionalista party na nag-iisip na baka tumakbo siya sa pagiging Pangulo. Ayon sa aking “source”, ito ay si Alan Peter Cayetano.

Kung ganoon ang mangyayari, malamang na ang Partido Liberal ay magkakaroon ng sariling kandidato sa pagka-Pangulo na pipiliin ng Pangulo na kaniyang kandidato. Si Mar Roxas kaya muli kahit na tinalo na siya ni Binay sa pagiging Bise Presidente o meron bang iba pang maaaring manalo sa mga kawani ng Partido Liberal? Mahaba pa ang panahon. Dalawang taon pa bago sa simula ng pangangampaniya.

‘Ika nga nga isang political observer: “Noong 2010, mukhang si Villar na ang magiging Pangulo hanggang sa namatay si Cory Aquino. Tapos, nagbago ang mga kandidato. At, si Aquino na ang  naging kandidato ng Partido Liberal. Kung namatay si Cory noong 2010 at hindi noong 2009, ano kaya ang nangyari?”

Mahaba pa ang panahon bago darating ang araw ng pagpili. Ano kaya ang magiging pagbabago na magiging malaki ang epekto sa ating pagpili?

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hvp (03.05.14)

 

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.

Mindanao Peace/Cleaning up GOCCs

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez earlier filed a bill seeking to dissolve 19 state companies, including two that allegedly figured in the P10-billion pork barrel scam—the ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) and the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor).

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

Will peace finally come to Mindanao? The government has taken a big step in agreeing to a framework agreement that it hopes will lead to the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity which it hopes will bring peace to all of Mindanao. Among the much-awaited, among the Muslims, is an amnesty provision for rebels who fought for an independent Islamic state for decades.

“There will be an amnesty provision in the new Organic Act for the Bangsamoro. But I understand the process has not been proposed. Congress will have to act on it. They will have to concur for it to become law,” the president said.

Aquino said his administration wants to transform the fighters to “productive citizens.”

The Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will form a political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will have to secure the approval of Congress.

Armed Forces spokesman Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr, goes a little further. He is all for supporting the peace process with deeds, not mere words.

Last week, authorities arrested MILF commander Wahid Tundok by virtue of arrest warrant issued by a local court. Tundok, the leader of the MILF 118th Base Command, was accused of multiple murder and arson.

The MILF commander was not placed in a regular detention facility but was allowed to stay at the Kampilan hotel in the 6th Infantry Division headquarters in Maguindanao.

Three days after the arrest, government negotiators announced that the warrant against Tundok had been recalled and that preparations for his release were underway.

Some security sources are dismayed by Tundok’s release, saying his criminal cases were not related to the MILF’s advocacy. They believe Tundok should face the justice system because he was involved in clan wars that affected several civilians.

Tundok rejoined the MILF last weekend and thanked the military for the “humane treatment” extended to him.

Gen. Tutaan explains it:

“That’s within the framework agreement and annexes. If this is part of the agreement that will redound to peace, why not? We have to look at greater good of the peace process. We have to look into it to bring lasting peace in the area.”

Tutaan explains that  the grant of amnesty would not put in vain the soldiers who died fighting the rebels.

“Because of the supreme sacrifice made by the soldier, the conflict led to just and lasting peace,” he says.

The amnesty, Tutaan says, should be viewed in the context of efforts to attain peace in Mindanao.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are expected to sign a final peace agreement this month and, to prove itself as an honest peace -broker, the government must bend a little to prove itself as a friend to the Muslims, even to those who fought against the peace.

* * *

President Aquino has started cleaning up by abolishing six government-owned and controlled corporations and the abolition of more as part of an ongoing crackdown on “non-performing” or “unnecessary” firms operating as part of the government bureaucracy.

The Governance Commission of GOCCs (GCG) said on Monday it has been “actively” monitoring 116 such corporations, with the aim “to reduce (them) to less than 100 by the end of 2014 through abolition, privatization or merger.”

 “The streamlining of non-performing and/or unnecessary GOCCs is a key objective in GCG’s strategic roadmap to improving efficiency and transforming the GOCC Sector into a significant tool for economic growth and development,” says the CGG.

 “Affected employees are given separation pay amounting to around one month’s salary for every year of service, unless an administrative or criminal case is failed against them.”

Many of these GOCCs were created through special laws created by legislators to give posts to  their friends and relatives.

The six GOCCs, abolished are: the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), Philippine Fruits and Vegetables Corporation (PFVC), San Carlos Fruits Corporation (SCFC), Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation (PADCC), Bataan Technology Park, Inc. (BTPI), and the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation (PNOC-STC).

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez earlier filed a bill seeking to dissolve 19 state companies, including two that allegedly figured in the P10-billion pork barrel scam—the ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) and the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor).

Last year, the President approved the termination of ZREC and Nabcor, including the Human Settlements Dev’t. Corp. (HSDC), Philippine Forest Corp. (PFC), and the Cottage Industry Technology Center (CITC).

Of those included in the Rodriguez list, eight more had been recommended for abolition, according to the GCG.

These are the Marawi Resort Hotel Inc. (MRHI), Philippine Aerospace Dev’t Corp. (PADC), NDC-Philippine Infrastructure Corporation, Batangas Land Co., Kamayan Realty Corp., GY Real Estate, Inc., Pinagkaisa Realty Corp., and the Technology Resources Center (TRC).

TRC chief Dennis Cunanan earlier applied to become state witness, alleging that at least P600 million worth of pork barrel had been channeled through the agency while he was serving as its deputy head.

The GCG said it had also recommended for “abolition/privatization” the Alabang Sto. Tomas Development, Inc. (ASDI), Tierra Factors Corp. (TFC), Traffic Control Products Corp. (TCPC), DISC Contractors, and the CDCP Farms Corporation.

The GCG said six more companies listed in the Rodriguez bill were part of the commission’s “regular sector-wide evaluation of GOCCs based on financial viability and relevance to current national development plans.”

These are the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel, BCDA Management and Holdings, Inc., Masaganang Sakahan, Inc., Northern Foods Corp., Tourism Promotions Board [also known as Philippine Convention and Visitors Corp.], and Trade and Investment Development Corp. [now PhilEXIM].

Also under evaluation is the National Livelihood Dev’t Corp. (NLDC), which was also allegedly listed as an implementing agency for bogus non-government organizations put up by Janet Lim Napoles.

Fourteen of the state companies had been “actually dissolved-by-expiration-of-corporate-term, rendered non-operational, or liquidated under the direction” of the GCG.

These were the Manila Gas Corp. (MGC), PNOC Malampaya Corp. (PNOC-MC), Aviation Services and Training Institute (ASTI), Calauag Quezon Province Integrated Coconut Processing Plant (CQPICPP), Clark Polytechnic Dev’t Corp. (CPDF), First Centennial Clark Corporation (FCCC), GSIS Properties, Inc., LBP Financial Services SpA, LBP Remittance Company, LBP Singapore Representative Office, Paskuhan Dev’t., Inc., Phil. Centennial Expo ’98 Corp., Philpost Leasing and Financing Corp. (PLFC), and the Metro Transit, Inc. (MTI).

That’s a load that us taxpayers will not have to continue carrying. Some of these companies were set up for specific purposes such as the Philippine Centennial Expo that ended in 1999 but have continued to operate until today.

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hvp 03.04.14

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.

The Start of the 2016 Elections

“The Office of the Special Prosecutor is under the Office  of the Ombudsman which is an independent and separate entity from the Executive.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

There is only one issue that the opposition United Nationalist Alliance keeps bringing up against the administration that it feels will be its main foe in the 2016 elections when the Vice President will go for the presidency against the man that Jejomar Binay beat in the last Election — Secretary of  the Department of the Interior and Local Government  Mar Roxas — that the government is not playing fair. This is what the UNA says about the cases filed against the Vice President and his wife Elenita, both of whom have been mayors of Makati City and who have generally gotten filthy rich from having served as Mayors of their city.

This is despite the fact that the Binays were never known to be rich before they entered politics after the present vice president was appointed Mayor by the late President Corazon Aquino after the dictator was deposed.

Binay was then a human rights lawyer mostly handling cases of persons that run afoul of martial law regulations. The late President thought then that appointing him mayor of Makati would be a good idea. It was — for Jojo Binay!

Well, during Jojo’s and Elenita’s terms, there were cases filed against them for alleged corruption . In the case of Elenita, the wife, who is also a doctor, the case, already  dismissed, has been revived by the Office of the Special Prosecutor which is under the Office of the Ombudsman, led by a former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales. The Office of the Ombudsman is a constitutional body that is not under the Executive Arm of the government and is independent of every one.

The OSP is under the Office of the Ombudsman led by Ombudsman and former Supreme Court justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Says the President’s spokesperson Abigail Valte:  “The Office of the Special Prosecutor is under the Office  of the Ombudsman which is an independent and separate entity from the Executive. It baffles me why they are putting the blame on us, accusing us of selective prosecution, when the Executive does not have a hand in running the affairs of the Office of the Ombudsman, much less the Office of the Special Prosecutor.”

Mrs. Binay, a medical doctor, has been leveled four graft charges from the alleged overpricing of hospital beds at Ospital ng Makati when she was the city mayor for one term, while her husband had to rest after having served three terms as Mayor.

On the issue of politicos that abused their pork barrels, called Priority Development Assistance Funds until the Supreme Court finally ruled that  the use of these funds by our legislators (congressmen and senators) for their selected projects was illegal, the UNA complains that while three Senators, two of whom are UNA stalwarts, are being investigated on the use of their PDAFs, none of the President’s party mates have been called to task on how they used their PDAFs.

Of course, the investigation of how politicos used their  pork barrels is not something that the President worries about. There are independent agencies that investigate were these funds went and check on how they were spent.  Blaming the President as the head of his political party on who is being investigated presumes too much and does not seem like a valid issue in the elections in 2016. I would worry more on the other parties who will be fielding candidates in 2016 rather than trying to create issues that will not fly.

* * *

In the meantime, Binay himself hints that he is leaving the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP-LABAN) to form a new party under which he will run in 2016. It is expected that Mayor Joseph Esrada of Manila will coalesce his Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) with the new Binay party which is expected to be launched on June 12, 2014.

PDP-LABAN President.  Senator Koko Pimentel says that he has been expecting this development.  His party but will continue recruiting members and will bring in new members to strengthen the party at the grassroots.

* * *

That could mean that the President’s party, the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party of former Senator Manny Villar could continue their 2013 partnership in the 2016 elections. The partnership won nine of the 12  senatorial slots in 2013 and would still have a chance even with the much ballyhooed Binay candidacy. For now, Villar is saying that it is still too early to plan for 2012 but with Binay announcing that he will be forming his new party in June, the political season for 2016 may actually be starting in in four months.

* * *

The Rotary Club of Pasig together with the Rotary Club of Mutya ng Pasig and the Rotary Club of San Diego  Paradise Valley had a joint medical Mission at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig last Saturday where over 1,400 residents of the City of Pasig were treated and given medicines brought in by the volunteers from San Diego Paradise Valley and local medical staff. Surgeries were performed on boils and other minor surgeries and circumcisions.

There were pediatricians, surgeons and nurses in attendance.

This is the second year that the medical mission from San Diego Paradise Valley have come to Pasig before proceeding to the Visayas and North Luzon where they will also hold medical missions. A sisterhood agreement between the Rotary Club of Pasig and the Rotary Club of San Diego Paradise Valley in in the works which will assure that the Rotarians from San Diego will continue to come to Pasig on a medical mission year after year.

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hvp 03.03.14

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 Pulitika sa Taong 2016

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

 

Kung sakaling totoo ang mga balitang lilisanin na ni Vice President Jejomar Binay ang PDP-Laban kung saan ito ay tumatayong chairman sa kasalukuyan para bumuo ng bagong partido bilang paghahanda sa 2016 presidential elections, tatanggapin umano ito nang maluwag sa kalooban ng mga maiiwan sa partido.

Ayon sa presidente ng naturang partido na si Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, kung totoong lilisanin na sila ni Binay ay magpapatuloy pa rin ang mga krusadang nakagawin na ng mga bumubuo sa PDP-Laban.

 “Kung totoo man ito, tuloy pa rin ang existence ng PDP-Laban at tuloy ang pagpapalakas ng partido,” pahayag ni Pimentel.

 “Idolohiya naman kasi ang batayan namin sa partido at hindi personalidad. Ang paglisan o paglipat sa ibang partido ay freedom of association ‘yan,” mababang tinig na banggit pa ni Pimentel.

Ang aasahan ni Binay ay sasanib ang partido ng Alkaldeng si Joseph Estrada ng Maynila na tumakbo sa pagka-Pangulo noong 2010 habang si Binay naman ay tumakbo sa pagka Bise. Tinalo ni Aquino si Erap at si Binay naman ay nagwagi kontra kay Mar Roxas.

Ang maaaring tumakbo laban kay Binay at si Mar Roxas ulit na ngayon ay Kalihim ng Interior and Local Government o DILG. Nagkaroon na rin ng pahayag si Mar na hindi na siya tatakbo bilang Pangulo sa 2016 ngunit inaasahan ng mrami na maglalaban pa ring muli ang dalawang  nagkalaban noong 2020 sa pagiging pangalawang pangulo.

Ang magiging kalaban ng bagong partido ni Binay ay ang magkasamang tumakbo noong 2013 na ang Liberal at Nacionalista na kinuha ang siyam sa labindalawang pwesto sa pagka-Senador noong 2013. Ngunit, maaari ring tumakbo muli si Villar sa 2016 kasama ang isa sa mga batang pulitiko kagaya ni Senador Alan Peter Cayetano at baka rin si Senador Bongbong Marcos na dapat na tumakbo muli sa pagka-Senador kung hindi sa pagiging Bise o Presidente.

Meron kayang maghahangas na sampahan si Binay ng sumbong tungkol sa korapsyon gaya ng kasong hinaharap ng kaniyang Misis na si Dr. Elenita Binay. Siyempre merong duda kay Binay dahil kaya lamang naman siya yumaman ay noong siya ay naging Alkalde ng Makati.

Noong Human Rights lawyer pa si Binay ay wala naman siyang malaking salapi at kayamanan kaya maaaring pagdudahan kung saan nanggaling ang yaman ni Binay. Ang tanong ay kung nagbago na ba ang pag-iisip ng botante na hindi na sila boboto sa isang taong maaari nilang pagdudahan kung malinis ba ito o marumi.

Meron na bang pagbabago ang botanteng Pillipino or sila ba’y nasisindak pa rin sa kwarta kung saan  man ito nanggaling. Magiging isyu kaya sa 2016 ang kalinisan ng ating mga pulitiko o kaya pa rin ba silang linlangin ng mga pulitikong mayayaman at masisindak pa rin ba sila sa kwarta ng mga ito saan man ito nanggaling?

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hvp (03.03.14)

 

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 ADB Gagamit ng ‘Renewable Energy’

Diretsahan

 

 ni Horacio Paredes

 

 

            Ang Asian Development Bank (ADB) ay titigilan na  ang pag-gamit ng koriyente na manggagaling sa MERALCO (Manila Electric Co.). Imbes ang buong compound ng ADB ay gagamit ng “renewable energy.”

            Ayon sa ADB ang kanilang headquarters sa bansa ay kukunin ang lahat na kanilang pangangailangan sa enerhiya sa ADB mula sa  AdventEnergy Inc., isang  “licensed retail electricity supplier”  ng Aboitiz Power. Ang  bangko  ay gagamit ng 100 % na renewable energy mula  sa mga geothermal plants sa Tiwi , Albay  at Makiling-Banahaw sa lalawigan ng Laguna at mula sa kanilang mga solar panel na nasa bubung ng kanilang gusali,  na kanilang inilagay noong 2013 pa.

            Sa kanilang “full renewable energy utilization” hindi na manggagaling sa MERALCO ang kanilang gagamiting koriyente.

            Nagawa ito ng ADB sa pamamagitan ng  Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) kung saan ang mga nangangailangan ng dambuhalang enerhiya ay nakakapili kung saan manggagaaling ang kanilang koriyente.

            Ayon kay ADB Vice President Bruce Davis: “As an institution we are strongly committed to expanding the use of renewable energy across Asia and the Pacific, so it is only fitting that we walk the talk in our own headquarters.

            “This agreement will allow us to cut our annual corporate carbon footprint by nearly 50 percent, with an emission reduction of more than 9,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

            Sa  supply contract ng ADB at  AdventEnergy ang gagamiting energhiya ng  ADB ay mas o menos na 1.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) na enerhiya  kada buwan. Mula naman sa mga solar panel sa bubong ng kanilang gusali ay 50,000 kWh naman kada buwan ang madadagdag.

            Baka dapat na gumaya ang ating gobkiyerno sa ginawang ito ng ADB, kaya lamang ang  ating nadidinig sa ating mg opisyal ay ang tanong na papano raw kapag gabi na o kaya’y mawala ang  hangin, saan na manggagaling ang ating enerhiya? Sa totoo lamang, kapag gabi ang enerhiya galing sa solar ay iniipon sa mga bateriya at nagagamit rin sa gabi. Ganoon rin ang enerhiya galing sa hangin na iniipon sa bateriya at pinawawalaan kung tumigil ang hangin.

            Ang solar ay dapat sanang nilalagay sa bubong mg mga presinto ng pulis upang di na napakalaki ng binabayad sa Meralco; ganoon rin sana sa mga bubong ng mga gusaling pag-aari ng gobiyerno.

            Ayon sa ADB, ang kanlang solar panel sa bubong at ang kanilang kinontratang enerhiya mula sa Bicol at Laguna ay sapat na upang mabigyan ng enerhiya ang buong ADB Headquarters kung saan nagtatrabaho ang kanilang 2,600 na mga empleyado’t mga consultant bawa’t araw.

            Pinili nila ang AdventEnergy ng Aboitiz dahil ito pa lamang kumpaniya ang malaki sa kanilang enerhiya ay galing sa “renewable sources.”

            Sana nga’y gumaya tayo sa ibang mga bansa kung saan ang mga gumagamit ng windmill at solar panel ay binibigyan ng tulong ng pamahalaan at binibili naman ng kanilang MERALCO ang sobra nilang enerhiyang kanilang pinadadala sa distribution company gaya ng MERALCO.

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hvp 02.28.14)

 

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.