Monday, December 21, 2015

Emergency powers and pork barrel

Emergency powers and pork barrel

Instead of asking for emergency powers, this good-for-nothing administration should electrocute those who sponsored and pressed for the passage of the Electric, Power and Industry Reform Act (Epira Law).  People like Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, who even went to the extent of bribing members of Congress to ensure its passage, should be the last man to talk of granting President Aquino his emergency powers to cope with the looming power shortage.

Just to let our people know the promises made by these political charlatans in their hooted “Declaration of Policy,” we again enumerate them for our people to know their lies: “Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. - It is hereby declared the policy of the State: (a) To ensure and accelerate the total electrification of the country; (b) To ensure the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power; (c) To ensure transparent and reasonable prices of electricity in a regime of free and fair competition and full public accountability to achieve greater operational and economic efficiency and enhance the competitiveness of Philippine products in the global market; (d) To enhance the inflow of private capital and broaden the ownership base of the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors in order to minimize the financial risk exposure of the national government; (e) To ensure fair and non-discriminatory treatment of public and private sector entities in the process of restructuring the electric power industry; (f) To protect the public interest as it is affected by the rates and services of electric utilities and other providers of electric power;(g) To assure socially and environmentally compatible energy sources and infrastructure; (h) To promote the utilization of indigenous and new and renewable energy resources in power generation in order to reduce dependence on imported energy;(i) To provide for an orderly and transparent privatization of the assets and liabilities of the National Power Corporation (NPC). (j) To establish a strong and purely independent regulatory body and system to ensure consumer protection and enhance the competitive operation of the electricity market; and (k) To encourage the efficient use of energy and other modalities of demand side management.”
To make ourselves clear, the law enacted by Belmonte and company ended up in merely deregulating the power industry.  Belmonte even peddled the big lie that competition would reduce the cost of electricity, unmindful that it could only result in the formation of a cartel for the handful players in the industry.  For allowing the trading of electricity, that demagogue effectively reduced the Energy Regulatory Commission to that of a scarecrow.  That means electricity could no longer be fixed but guided by the discredited economic law of supply and demand.
To cover up his demagoguery, he now wants to give an emergency powers to President Aquino.  Under the proposed emergency power, the oligarchs in the industrial and commercial sectors would be allowed to reimburse from the government the power they themselves supplied to their own establishments when supposedly that problem has already been solved by the passage of that hooted Epira Law in 2001.
In fact, the hefty and unprecedented P2.6 trillion budget has been interpreted as in preparation to the 2016 general election.  It is like giving him the whole lechon for him and his chosen minions to devour.  The emergency power is also an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court decision that declared the PDAF and the  DAP unconstitutional and illegal because it will allow him to  release funds in the guise of reimbursement which many suspect would be used as logistics of the candidates of this corrupt administration.
Aside from Speaker Belmonte, the author of the infamous Epira Law, the rest include Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Deputy Speaker Henedina Abad, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, 1-Care party-list Rep. Edgardo Masongsong, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali who is also the chairman of the Committee on Energy.  Without saying anything about that garbage law they passed, these people now propose in giving President Aquino an additional power to implement the so-called “Interruptible Load Program” (ILP).
Under their silly proposal, large industrial and commercial users of electricity would be allowed to disconnect from the grid, meaning from the public utility distributor or power generation plant supplying them the power, and use instead their own generators during peak hours to free up (the remaining power produced by generation plants) in favor of household consumers. But did it not seep into their mind that their proposal is just another version of the hated power purchase adjustment (PPA)?
Remember, there was an outcry against that lopsided PPA contract, thus forcing the government to temporarily scrap it.     Under that agreement, power generation plants were allowed to pass on their bill for excess or unused load to distribution utilities, and the latter, in turn, pass them on to their captive consumers.   The PPA has been revived but given a new name called “automatic generation rate adjustment” or AGRA.
Fearing that to allow any further increase in the cost of electricity could literally push the country back to the Stone Age, the pathetic mules of the oligarchs now want to nibble the taxes collected by the government.  They want big industrial and commercial users of electricity to participate in their silly ILP scheme. But Congressman Umali wants to put a cap on their reimbursement to not more than P200 million.  The problem is- will they allow that when their own generation plants are insufficient due to limited load capacity and are only used in stances of sudden power outage?
In fact, it is doubtful whether companies they hope to enlist in their silly ILP proposal would agree to  the cap considering that it is far below the P12 billion  originally proposed by Malacanang as the cost for the leasing of power barges.  Like his clappers, PNoy also suggested tapping the funds of the Malampaya gas project.  Nonetheless, what can be drawn from all these silly proposals is they are all eager to draw fund from the government using the same emergency power to get away with public scrutiny.
Finally, the grant of emergency power to PNoy amounts to an admission that our elected solons no longer decide on the basis of what would serve the interest of their constituents, but on how much they could exact as their share of the pork barrel in exchange for kowtowing to the whims of the administration.  Our system of democracy has given way to the accepted practice of bribery. This is why despite the decision of the High Court, PNoy continues to give  away public funds in the name of project development.  This mediocre President for all of what the people say has indeed perfected what Senator Joker Arroyo termed as the art of “financial dictatorship”.

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