Monday, July 28, 2008

UNHDI: from No. 77 to 90

The indisputabe bottom line about the real state of the nation is the latest United Nations Human Development Report. In its index measuring the level of human development, measuring a broad range of indicators from hunger to education, housing and health care, child to senior citizens’ care, etc., the Philippines under Gloria Arroyo has plunged from the rank of 77 to 90, behind Peru, Lebanon and Ecuador, where Iceland is number one and Sierra Leone is last. Hunger is a top indicator and two years ago, in Gloria’s 2006 SONA, she promised to: 1) Make food plentiful and affordable, and 2) Reduce the cost of electricity. What has happened to these promises?

Last week the SWS reported the highest level of severe hunger in the past ten years with 2.9 million families going hungry. Electricity rates have gone up to unprecedented heights with the WESM reporting price manipulations by Meralco and Napocor.

Gloria’s third priority in 2006 was to: Modernize infrastructure to efficiently transport goods and people. The oil price crisis has descended upon this country two years later and when commuters sought succor in the elevated mass rail transit, there wasn’t enough to accommodate them. Newspapers reported in 2006 that Gloria was: “Flush with cash, thanks in large part to the recently implemented value-added tax” or R-VAT, which nine in ten Filipinos want out today. What then did she have to say in her 2007 SONA?

From the news, Gloria said: “…investments focused on three key areas…in physical, intellectual, legal and security infrastructure to increase business confidence. (Then, translated from Filipino) Infrastructure for businesses and jobs. One million jobs generated every year.” Yet in the 1st quarter of 2008, 200,000 workers already lost their jobs due to her failure to remedy the manipulated global oil price hikes. Then, unwilling to cut or eliminate the VAT on oil, and control the avarice of the oil companies, while taking advantage of the huge windfall from oil VAT and focusing on the flippant “Katas ng VAT,” Gloria has continued coddling these predatory oil companies.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the Bagong Katipuneros’ (a.k.a. Magdalo) Oakwood protest. This was against corruption in the military institution, the treasonous acts of corrupt military officials embodied in Operation Greenbase and the illegitimacy of Gloria Arroyo’s regime. Five years after Oakwood: the Philippines was just recently declared by the WB anti-corruption arm as the “most corrupt in Asia,” “false flag” terrorism continues to be conducted by elements from within Gloria’s cabal, such as the mutilation of 15 Philippine marines in Basilan and the Glorietta bombing, and surveys confirming that after “Helo Garci” over 80 percent of the people doubt Gloria’s legitimacy and want her out Asap.

One vital issue today is the Mindanao situation. There would be no problem anymore today had President Estrada and the AFP’s rout of the MILF at Camp Abubakar not been reversed by Gloria Arroyo after Edsa II. After returning the seized camps, and after eight years of Moro-Moro peace talks with the MILF, under the stage direction of the US Embassy and the Malaysian government, the land grab by MILF has become obvious. Only the objection of the AFP has forced Gloria to yield to the nationalist demand to keep the integrity of our Philippine territory in Mindanao and abort the land grab. The stabilization of Mindanao is a prerequisite for economic take-off, and this has been delayed eight years because of Gloria’s appeasement policy to divisive forces.

Fidel V. Ramos weighs in on the problems too. Ironically, he is the father of all of this poverty due to his IPP-PPA scheme; the Centennial and PEA-Amari scams, etc.; the Sulo hotel cheating operations; his coddling of the MILF; his partnering with the Carlyle group, ad nausea. If he wants a big fish in jail, we should start with him and his protégé Gloria. Erap, meanwhile, views Gloria’s Sona only as a fairy tale. It’s a view shared by 90 percent or 80 million Filipinos. This fairy tale had much of the population mesmerized when Edsa II started in 2001 and gradually waned with the “Hello Garci” scandal, followed by the unbroken string of corruption cases since the Bolante fertilizer scam and topped off by the GMA-Abalos ZTE-NBN scandal.

With all these cases waiting to hound and put her behind bars, Gloria is desperate to stay on and the resurrection of the Cha-cha, which this column also predicted along with a few others who never had faith in the Supreme Court and the Senate in the first place, is not back on the table of Gloria and the coalition FVR is building with Villar and the NPC is going to make this fairy tale a continuing nightmare. Right now, though, the most important issue that we need to look at is the US Embassy’s thumbs up on the exploitative and oppressive economic policies of Gloria. Naturally, Western corporations and financial institutions have been the ones raking it in over the past eight years, which they would want to continue until 2010 if they had their way.

My column, “Kenney’s Sona-ta to Gloria” elicited quite a number of responses from the public, many of whom see only now that Gloria’s survival so far has depended on the conditional support of the US – conditional on the continuous implementation of the looting policies on this country. The apparent criticisms from the West on corruption and human rights are really just pressure on Gloria to do their bidding – or else.

One newspaper’s special report on a pundit’s view of the SONA describes Gloria’s situation as a: “Perfect economic storm (meeting a) determined and lucky Arroyo administration.” That’s inane! Arroyo has neither been determined nor lucky; just subservient to the Western powers who prop her up against the will of the people, and it’s just her misfortune to be the dispensable puppet when the nationalist revolution transpires. (Tune to 1098AM, Mon. to Fri., 8:30-9am; Tuesday 8:45-9:30pm on Destiny Cable, Channel 3 – this week with ex-Sen. Francisco Tatad on “Depopulation NSSM 200”; our blog

The Daily Tribune 7-28-2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kenney’s Sona-ta to Gloria

Government-funded TV, radio and print ads are all singing paeans to Gloria’s coming Sona. That’s because out of her desperation from the devastating -38 she got from the latest SWS survey, Gloria is paying through her nose to find winsome praise for her bleak performance. What the survey has christened as the most unacceptable president in Philippine history has, however, one admirer that should come as a surprise to some. Speaking at the Supreme Court last Wednesday, US Amb. Kenney said, “I think the President has made a lot of economic reforms and the Philippine economy has been doing well. I’m hoping she’ll tell us more that she’s continuing on that important point of her program.”

Kenney is, in effect, asking for: more of Gloria’s eVAT, 75% of which goes to the payment of foreign debt and its domestic counterparts; more hocus-pocus on the energy front for further privatization and plunder by US and other companies; and more subservience to the Joint Foreign Chambers led by (who else, but) the American Chamber of Commerce. Truth to tell, American and British companies have been the most profitable in the past eight years of Gloria Arroyo’s reign. The biggest IPP, Mirant, siphoned off billions in PPAs before selling all its assets to its Japanese surrogates last year. Royal-Dutch Shell, meanwhile, continues to extract the highest prices in the world for its Malampaya natural gas by pegging it to oil prices, which are artificially high due to US manipulation of its “futures” stocks.

The IMF-WB, with its coterie of Western banks, continues to rake in interest payments from Philippine debts, with the automatic appropriations law on debt payment taking over 70 percent of the national budget. These highlight the crushing exploitation that multiplies the Philippines' extreme poverty and hunger as reported in surveys. Kenney also praised Gloria’s “progress (in) the peace process…” a.k.a. “the dismemberment of Mindanao.” If there are still patriots amongst the military who are true to their vow to defend the integrity of the Philippines, they should not take this statement sitting down, and learn that therein lurks the true enemy of the Republic -- its pretenses of respect for sovereignty cast aside in support of the most unpopular Gloria.

Clearly, Mindanao is being “Balkanized” as we wrote in our “Kosovo in Mindanao” piece. The Republic of the Philippines is very rich with the resources of its major island groups, of which one of the richest is Mindanao, where food and fuel resources have huge potential for development. Gloria’s concession of “ancestral domains” grants undue rights to the MILF. The truth is, the whole of the Philippines is the “ancestral domain” of all Filipinos regardless of religion or color. But by this “ancestral domain” ploy, Gloria has begun the process of this country’s dismemberment. Who’s behind Gloria and the MILF in this? You can bet that from the effusive statements of the ambassador of the world’s most divisive superpower, the US of A will waste no time to strike oil deals with the MILF in these so-called “ancestral domains.”

While cheap politicians in the pockets of the US, like Frank Drilon and others in Congress and the Senate, lambast projects funded by China, or joint ventures of Asean partners like Vietnam in the case of the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking, all are quiet about the annual multi-billion dollar looting the US, British and European firms are committing against us. This country’s political class is traditionally a “servant leadership” to the Western neo-colonial powers since the defeat of Filipino revolutionary forces in the Fil-American War; but after these eight years of blatant foreign exploitation through Gloria and with the US’ decline, should an uprising begin anew?

The American proconsul is so cocky and cocksure that she reveals the ugly side of US diplomacy, which has Gloria Arroyo’s mole all over it. Ambassador Kenney is bestowing the blessings of her office upon Gloria’s policies that are nothing but obeisance to US-British diktats. The Philippine intelligentsia and media, if they have any sense of duty to keep their constituents well informed, should draw attention to Amb. Kenney’s remarks that mock the Filipino people who have spoken loud and clear of their rejection of Gloria and her economic policies that have made the people suffer so much. But maybe Kenney really has an audience of only one -- Gloria, to remind her to toe the US line if she wants to finish her term.

The US strategic mission, with the Western oligarchy behind it, is to maintain the world hegemony that has slipped from its grip since the end of the Second World War, when Third World countries began to shed off the shackles of colonialism. To recover lost ground, the Western oligarchy installed George W. Bush by cheating the 2000 election; and triggering the War on Terror with its 9/11 “inside job” of controlled demolition to down three World Trade towers, while using two airplane crashes as cover, to justify attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. All these in the interest of the ruling class in the West to prevent its own total collapse as the and subprime financial debacles have shown. They have used war and now, oil -- manipulated to unjustified price heights, then tapering off to save Wall Street.

Last week, a Reuters report explained that oil prices have fallen further to $124.30/barrel because “the US Energy Information Administration released a report showing a surprisingly large increase in domestic gasoline stockpiles last week, accompanied by weak implied demand…” But Bush, in his March 2007 State of the Union speech, initiated the doubling of the US strategic oil stockpile from 750 million to 1.5 billion barrels. There should be no surprise in “discovering” the increase in US domestic stockpiles then! It’s all just manipulation by the most vile and vicious power in the world today. Our mission as a sovereign nation caring for its own people is to rise and stand against this manipulation to exercise sovereignty for our prosperity.

While the active citizens of this country do not cease in its struggle, we are waiting for patriotic soldiers to help their country ala Hugo Chavez. The whole nation must move as the South American peoples have, from Argentina to Uruguay and Nicaragua, and now the bishop-led Paraguay all turning against U.S. oppression. It’s time to end the imperialism’s sonatas and sing our nationalist march! (Tune to 1098AM, Mon. to Fri. 8:30 to9am; Destiny Cable, Chanel 3, Tuesdays 8:45-8:30pm; or blog ) ###

Thursday, July 24, 2008

SONA: Illusion and Reality

It took eight years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to unmask the illusions the Edsa Dos backers, the media and the “civil society” crowd created about her. On her eight State-of-the-Nation Address only a quarter of the Filipino people, four out of five already find her disgusting. Empress Gloria has been disrobed and what’s beneath is a power grabbing president that is most unsympathetic to the country and its people’s pleas. But to the IMF-WB Gloria is certainly most popular, for her unflinching obedience to its exploitative diktats on the economy and national debt payments, and the continuous expansion of the VAT. Likewise, Gloria is now most popular with the MILF secessionists for doubling the land area for their privileged exploitation: the enemies of the nation are invariably happy with Gloria.

Gloria is the darling of the oil companies with the unprecedented profits they are enjoying under her regime. Gloria’s feinted alarm over the latest sudden three peso increase in local oil pump prices while world market prices plunge in a seventeen year two day nosedive cannot hide her uncaring attitude towards the suffering of the people. Gloria has not taken a single measure against the massive oil price speculative manipulation. On the contrary, Gloria has steadfastly defended the oil companies, as well the speculator’s price manipulation and the IMF-WB’s VAT impositions. All these in direct denial of the growing groans and pleadings from the people for relief and rescue from this relentless oppression of skyrocketing oil prices.

The recent ten US dollar fall of world oil prices proves that the inordinate increases are not based on demand and supply realities but on speculative manipulation. Having this incontrovertible proof should compel government now to take countermeasures against such manipulation, and that countermeasure is the restoration of regulation and control over oil prices and when possible its supply. The reality is, the whole country must rally to demand action from the legislature and the executive branch to junk the oil deregulation law and start withdrawing the licentious oil price setting abuse of the oil companies. The reality is, we must restore the oil price stabilization mechanism that limits increases to the average of the low and peak price periods.

Gloria’s eight years have been unmitigated illusions about liberalization, deregulation and privatization of the national economy. The very bitter and devastating experience all Filipinos now have of the deregulation of the Philippine oil industry and the privatization of Petron and PNOC, should demolish all those illusions. The people must move to regulate and control the oil sector through a government of, for and by the people; that is, not one controlled by the money masters and ensconced in government by “people power” funded by foreign and local oligarchs like Shell and Mirant and its agents in the Makati Business Club in cahoots with corrupted military, police, “civil society” and the prostituted Supreme Court in 2001 and the famous “Hello Garci” Comelec in 2004.

The illusion of an honest and principled Supreme Court was blasted last week when the majority of its members, not unexpectedly, put executive privilege above the people’s right to information. Deciding against the petition of several legislators for the release of the full text of the JPEPA to them that there may be a fully informed discussion of the trade and economic matters that directly affects the people, the Supreme Court which is now almost all Gloria appointees showed its unashamed enslavement to the wishes to Gloria and her foreign cohorts interests. Given this experience, do we still entertain any illusion that this Supreme Court and its Electoral Tribunal can and shall uphold the people’s weal and will in the next presidential election in 2010?

We cannot expect a truly democratic exercise in 2010, and any hope of changing the destructive liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies through the electoral process can only be illusory. The simple fact must be accepted – there is no hope of survival and recovery for this country and its people without radical steps in changing the political and social leadership of this nation. There can be no illusion about this: the country needs a radical revolution, peaceful or otherwise, to save it from the doom that awaits it in its present direction. And we must not be under any illusion that Gloria is the only destructive element in this society, the Philippine oligarchs are in the same league with Gloria as evils in this society eating away at its foundations.

The greed of this oligarchy is amazing: My wife who suffers from glaucoma brought a similarly afflicted cousin to the Lopez’s “altruistic” Asian Eye Center (AEC) for a check up to try an alternative to her eye doctor at Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH). Days later over breakfast my wife pointed to a pair of protective eye glasses given free to her at the MDH doctor’s office and commented, “They’re selling this same pair for P 700.00 at the Asian Eye Center.” This is the kind of altruism of Philippine oligarchs who get their pounds of the Filipino people’s too: Ayalas in telecoms and water, Alcantaras in oil, Aboitizes siphoning GSIS funds to Union Bank and grabbing hydroelectric resources, Razon’s highest port rates in the world and grabbing the Transco for a pittance, Lopezes overpricing power and toll roads, ad nausea.

There are more illusions to expose, such as government worrying about inflation and its impact on the people, hence the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas saying it must raise interest rates. The reality: higher interest rates kill medium and small business enterprises which leads to greater unemployment and misery, as well a contraction of production and further real inflation. Only banks and financial mafias are helped by the rise in interest rates, but that’s another reality – our society and economic system is a system only for the benefit of the money master. Lament not Filipinos, even the American people face the same illusion – while the US government bails out the banks in the US subprime mortgage disaster, they are bailing out the banks that caused it in the first place.

The final reality is: unless all able and willing forces of Philippine society launch one great effort for radical change of national and social leadership our chances for survival as a nation and society will be nil. (Tune to 1098AM, Mon. to Fri. 8:30to 9am; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tues. 8:45 to 9:30 “Talk News TV” with this week’s guest GSIS union president Albert Velasco; our blog

Daily Tribune July 21, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Confusion and Hypocrisy

"Mental confusion is a change in mental status in which a person is not able to think with his or her usual level of clarity.

I remembered this when I was reflecting on the past week of very intense roasting of the newly appointed Romulo Neri to the top executive post of the SSS (Social Security System) in connection with his testimonies in the ZTE-NBN hearings. I was comparing this treatment of the simple civil servant Neri and another personality who had a really larger role in the ZTE-NBN scandal.

Neri, like thousands of other civil servants, cultivates a nondescript and quiet career in the government bureaucracy and survives on a policy of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."

Confident because of his deep credentials, Neri has quietly and competently served government for the past 20 years, 12 of which were in Congress as head of the Cepo (Congressional Economic Planning Office) and the rest at the Neda (National Economic Development Authority). At the Congress, Neri would have been witness to countless shenanigans of the congressmen over the years, but he escaped controversy by keeping a low profile as any civil servant does. His stint at the Neda would have gone on as quietly as in the Congress had it not been for the immoderate greed of political bosses spilling over.

Immoderate greed has a way of spilling over. I remember the other celebrated corruption case of the Gloria Arroyo regime, the Impsa deal. The total kickback was $20 million and, as Mark Jimenez initially testified, the then Justice Secretary Hernani Perez was said to have gotten $2 million but, as the tale went, when Perez found out that Mark Jimenez pocketed much, much more than he got, he rushed to confront the latter and demanded a bigger share. That's when ill will eventually led to Mark Jimenez exposing the Nani Perez's corruption to the public. Mark Jimenez has since apparently been fixed to keep quiet about the case, and he's gone on to become a religious preacher although no faithful has yet flocked to see him except when he hands out money. He hasn't been prosecuted for the Impsa scam either.

Romulo Neri, the middle-aged civil servant, still lives in his parent's house, evidence he has invoked that he has never engaged in graft and corruption while in government. After months of grilling in Senate hearings, it is apparent that Neri has indeed practiced personal honesty in his service in government. Coming face-to-face with the corruption of the system and the best he could do in response was to give the now famous or infamous advice to the deal makers to 'moderate their greed.'

During the Senate hearings, Neri clearly answered all questions as honestly as he could which, as Linggoy Alcuaz says, "at least tagged the Comelec culprit Abalos' which is already a huge service to the public; but when 'executive privilege' was invoked, he was bound by the law to keep to his limits.

The SSS post is a huge leap in remuneration and prestige for Neri. What career civil servant would pass up the chance? But for Neri to do any evil bidding of Gloria Arroyo in the SSS, the probability is almost nil because whole SSS community is on alert , particularly the Alert and Concerned Employees of SSS (Access) union which has a track record of effective fiscalization of past SSS CEOs. In 2001, Access helped kick out the Citibank nominee Vitaliano Nanagas who was pressing for the privatization of the SSS in behalf of finance oligarchs waiting to use the employees pension funds for their market investments. Besides, the whole nation is watching Neri and that's the best insurance against any anomaly, such as some controversial asset sales to a Taipan during Corazon de la Paz's low keyed time.

Instead of Gloria bossing over Neri, I would think that Neri has Gloria Arroyo's balls in his hands. The day that Neri is ready to resign his career is the day he can tell the full story of the ZTE-NBN and Gloria Arroyo's involvement. The huge retirement package of the SSS CEO position may help Neri to reconsider his compliance with 'executive privilege'. But let me get on with my main point now, Neri is really a small fry compared to other politico-business oligarchs. Why is no one hounding them the way they are hounding Neri? I asked this of the venerable Alejandro Ding Lichauco and he answered: "They have the clout to hurt and harm, Neri is a small fry". Maybe it's not national mental confusion; maybe its just plain national double standard and hypocrisy.

The national double standard and hypocrisy pervades the country and its institutions. Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment on the petition for the entire Jpepa documents, denying the said petition. There is one standard in the Constitution and another in what the Supreme Court decides. What could be more double standard and hypocritical in a so-called democratic society with its constitutional priority given to the right of the people to information than this decision shielding the billions in the Jpepa agreement from pubic scrutiny? They have put the privilege of the powerful over the right of the people to know. This SC decision foreshadows what is to come from it in the coming years until the 2010 elections. It is time we junk this Supreme court along with Gloria Arroyo in a regime change.

(Tune to 1098AM, Mon. to Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 9 am [Tuesdays and Thursdays with former Mayor Jun Simon; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesdays 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ' this week's guest GSIS union prexy Albert Velasco on Government Pensions in a New Philippines; our blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

National Unity for Food and Fuel Freedom

As the oil price crisis worsened over the past six months, and as contradictions in mainstream media about the cause of the sky high prices became more apparent, we all had to take a crash course on speculation and oil futures manipulation.

Even Americans had to start relying on their own studies and investigations to see through the lies, especially from international business media like CNBC, which try very hard to pass off the inordinate oil price hikes as “supply and demand” driven, blaming China and India, or at the very least, downplay the role of speculators to a minimum, instead of the 60% or so that most honest analysts have been saying.

Today, we have another very important piece of information raised by twelve US airline CEO’s in a position paper calling for “An End to Oil Speculators:”

“Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.”

And in each of those twenty times it is traded amongst the oil futures players themselves, the prices just go up and way, way up.

Ed Wallace, writing for BusinessWeek, challenges the official line of the Bush administration and the mainstream business media. In an article on June 27, he cited the following news quotations, which he subtitled, “It was printed in English:”

“‘[U.S.] demand for oil over the first five months of the year was off 2.5%* from last year.’ - American Petroleum Institute, June 18, 2008, Associated Press Online (*Translation: We are using approximately 525,000 fewer barrels of oil per day.)…

Iran has 15 [oil] supertankers idling in the Persian Gulf capable of storing more than 30 million barrels of crude.’ - Bloomberg, June 16, 2008…

‘Thunder Horse started pumping from a single well on Saturday…and on schedule to have the field online by yearend. Thunder Horse alone will increase overall U.S. oil and gas production by 3.6%. Add British Petroleum's Atlantis platform that started up last year, and the boost grows to 6.4%.’ — Houston Chronicle, June 16, 2008…

‘Asian refiners cut West African crude oil imports in June. Asian imports will fall 36%* to 830,000 barrels a day this month from May’s 1.3 million barrels per day.’ — Bloomberg, June 17, 2008 (*Translation: Another 470,000 barrels a day of mostly light sweet crude rejected by the market.)

In a discussion on international cable news, one anti-speculator participant demanded that Bush start releasing the Strategic Oil Reserves of the US to show the seriousness with which the American government will be willing to fight speculation. Such an action would signal to the world that the US, the world’s biggest consumer of oil, will act to collapse the artificially astronomical price of oil today; but Bush and the US government are not budging.

Our thesis that it is the US government under Bush that’s supporting the manipulation of oil prices is buttressed by these facts. Yes, Bush is harming the welfare of his own people to serve the financial interests of the financial class in America and the world. Heck, he cares even less for the rest of the world.

By now many of the readers of this column can qualify to be instructors in Oil Price Speculation and Manipulation 101, and the question arises: What do we do about this to solve the problem for ourselves?

Those who have followed our last columns know the answer to this is for the Philippines to develop its indigenous energy resources, particularly geothermal and hydro-electric, which can both translate to electrolytic hydrogen production from water to fuel transportation.

So, we have it clear in our minds how the problem can be solved; but there’s one stumbling block -- government leadership that kowtows only to the energy plans laid down for this country by the Western economic powers, which constitute Gloria’s Board of Economic Advisers -- and this is not going to change soon.

The nation’s mood is one of frustration and fear -- frustration because no leadership offers any real solutions and fear because of the dim future ahead. The VAT reduction may reduce fuel cost by two to three percent but even if the entire 12 percent is removed, that would only translate to $128/barrel from the latest price of $146 per barrel. $128/barrel-oil is not economically conducive either and the adverse impact will still be devastating.

Waiting for the 2010 elections seems to be such a hopeless exercise because by then, the horse would have already been dead from starvation. We’ve got to start now. If we can have new leadership, our recovery will be fast, as some geothermal power plants can be commissioned as early as eight months from groundbreaking, like the Ormat plant in Nevada, USA.

Gloria is not going to do anything anytime soon to get us out of this crisis. She’s comfortable cozying up to foreign interests that want to keep selling us their expensive fuel and energy.

A regime change along nationalist lines is the imperative today. Ideally, a government uniting the major political and economic constituencies of society -- the Estrada and Cory Aquino groups, the progressive Churches, the patriotic and uncorrupted military and police, the genuine business sector, particularly the medium and small scale players, the labor and peasantry -- under a platform of emergency indigenous energy, fuel and food development will be the battle cry of the day.

Life can be good if we take action. This quarter is willing to help open doors for each and every faction in Philippine society on this basis. We must unite to survive.

(Tune in to: Talk News TV on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 3, tomorrow, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with former Mayor Jun Simon on “Christianity for a New Philippines”; Kape’t Kamulatan, Kabansa on 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; and Suló ng Pilipino every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the same station. Also, check out:

The Daily Tribune

July 14, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The lessons -- will we ever learn?

Lesson One: Marcos was right. When he became president in 1965, he already set out to do the basic physical and socio-economic infrastructure of a new nation. Reparation payments from Japan went to road infrastructure to link the northern tip of the archipelago to the southernmost islands; public investments went into agricultural expansion for food self-sufficiency; and after the experience of the 1971-1973 skyrocketing of oil and energy prices, Marcos invested national resources heavily on oil and energy development. If these programs for energy and fuel self-reliance had been allowed by the succeeding government of Cory Aquino to proceed as planned, we would not be suffering from the horrendous and nationally enervating fuel and energy price crisis we have today.

Lesson two: Cory Aquino was dead wrong. She was wrong in scuttling the Marcos

food, fuel and energy programs. She was wrong in consenting to the

de-industrialization of the country’s economy, selling off the Mariveles

vehicle body stamping plant to China and scuttling the engine manufacturing plant in Bicutan, among many other industrial operations dismantled, and worse, scuttling the energy programs and initiating the sell-off of energy companies.

Even Cory’s so-called “restoration of democracy” was wrong because she converted Marcos’ nationalist authoritarianism to a patrician plutocracy of the old elite-feudal aristocracy of Philippine society -- the landed Ayalas, the sugar baron Lopezes, the cacique Aboitizes, et al. She started everything that is now eating our society up like a plague.

Lesson three: the jury is still out on whether the Filipino people are capable of learning its lessons from history. Of course, many individual Filipinos, as well as, many particular sectors of Philippine society have learned the lessons well; because of those lessons, many Filipinos began rejecting leadership choices offered by traditional moral “authorities” such as the elite Makati Business Club, the foreign diplomatic community, the academe, and the Church whose “high and mighty” Cardinal Sin proclaimed “anybody but Erap.” The people voted Erap to the presidency and were not disappointed by his populist measures to ease the nation’s economic burdens. Not very long after, Edsa II came along to depose the leader who tried to start pro-people reforms.

The “Filipino people” is a collective term encompassing all classes and ideological shades of Filipinos, but within that collective body is a small powerful group whose inordinate influence comes from its colonial ties with the historical American-British overlords. This small powerful group is often tagged as the Makati Business Club and its allies in “civil society,” a.k.a. “the elite,” the same group that led and funded Edsa I and then Edsa II, and invariably ends up the winner in every political turmoil and regime

change. The vast majority of the Filipino people have not been able to overcome the inordinate sway of this small foreign-backed elite, including the conscientious elements of armed forces sworn to defend the nation and the Constitution and entrusted with the nation’s powers of coercion.

To this day, this small power elite continues to ravage the country with its rapacious, parasitic greed as surrogates of foreign powers -- by sponsoring the electricity privatization law Epira, designed to steal our national patrimony such as hydroelectric and geothermal resources; by acting as agents in the swindle of the national transmission grid (Transco) in behalf of the Carlyle group and the State Grid of China; by enforcing oil privatization and deregulation that swiped the state oil companies and subsidiaries of Petron; and by sucking out VAT collections for the IMF-WB and the global banking mafia which get 75% for debt service. As long as this small power elite rules, there

shall be no salvation for this nation from the predatory feeding of the Anglo-US vampires on its lifeblood.

While this power elite rules, disguised behind the façade of “democratic and electoral politics,” and controls through corruption and threats of “people power,” this country will remain an enslaved nation, helpless against the diktats of Western economic exploitation.

The current manipulated oil price crisis is a repeat of the 1971-1973 detonation of oil prices, which was designed by the US to recoup its financial losses from the Vietnam War. Nixon severed the dollar from the Gold Standard to default on paying its debt to the world, which has hitherto believed dollar debts were redeemable in gold. Kissinger arranged with the Saudis to accept only dollars for oil, generating astronomical petrodollars, which was arranged to be deposited in US Treasury bills to further shore them up.

The current round of wild oil price upsurge is the manipulation and hoarding of oil futures contracts by speculative hedge funds. They use financial leverage provided by major banks and financial companies with directorates interlocked with global oil companies, such as British Petroleum and Goldman Sachs cited in Chris Cook’s article, “Oil Market Manipulation.” This is being done to help the US recover its losses from the collapse of the dollar and the subprime crisis.

None of this manipulation is possible without the passive or active support of the US, British and European oil producing, refining and trading powers. The only way for a nation to defy such manipulation is to have its indigenous sources of energy, and the Philippines has what it takes by way of its geothermal and hydro resources, and more oil and gas in the long term.

Marcos started the first stages of energy self-sufficiency and industrial take-off. Only the sabotage delayed them until they were scuttled after a farcical “revolution” that fooled a great majority of the people. Will we be fooled again this time around?

There are a number of false leaders already poised to offer themselves as the “hope” of this nation with all the “democratic” rhetoric. What we really need is leadership dedicated to the nation and its aspiration for energy, food and economic freedom; and that means not another Cory Aquino, FVR or Gloria who’ll only cater to Big Business and the foreign powers. From the political arena, I can only see the likeness of true Filipino leadership in President Joseph E. Estrada, whose slogan, “Walang tutulong sa Pilipino kundi kapwa Pilipino,” defines his qualification.

From the ranks of alternative leaders, I can only pick from the Bagong Katipuneros (a.k.a. Magdalos), to include Gen. Danilo Lim and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, whose very image and names embody the nationalist fervor and determination. By election or others means -- by all means -- we need leadership such as these. This is our last lesson from history.

The Daily Tribune Column

July 11, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Filipino Food and Fuel Freedom Initiative



Who can help but not pity this nation, its people and its future? So rich that hordes of foreign invaders have laid claim to its lands and shores for the past hundred years, yet so poor that its people have been “shanghaied” by the millions to work across the globe as modern indentured servants, with its government held hostage by debts and threats of economic destruction by the same foreign powers that hold the key to its oil, food and financial survival.

The greatest pity, above all, is that all these could have easily been thwarted, restoring the riches of this land to the nation in an instant if we only had a leadership able to say no to the mendicancy and timidity.

All through our written history, there has not been a time since the Madjapahit and Sri Vishayan periods that the people of these islands have become this pitiful and totally helpless against the corrosive vicissitudes of hostile external forces and events forced upon it.

Maybe our being at the center of the crisis has accentuated the self-pity; and it may have been as bad as or worse than the Second World War. Yet some old folks argue that life was better back then as the next town or barrio was never too far away, and food was never this expensive.

Today, the Philippines is totally helpless in the face of the manipulated global energy price crisis even as it sits on 10 gigawatts of geothermal and similar mini or large scale hydro-electric potential. What tragedy indeed!

We ask: Why not harness this 10-gigawatt-potential in light of our actual consumption of electricity totaling 12 gigawatts? Why aren’t our country’s so-called leaders tapping it, when this would free us from foreign energy dependence? Why not have this as our top priority and forget about other forms of energy that would still make us dependent on foreign suppliers, like nuclear energy generation which I totally support but only as a last resort given our geothermal and hydroelectric potential which this treasonous Angelo Reyes keeps harping on?

It’s worth noting that geothermal energy also bears the solution to the transport fuel problem. Iceland, for instance, uses glacial fjord hydro-electric power to catalyze water into hydrogen in huge conversion plants. The Philippines, in like manner, should use its geothermal electricity for transition into a hydrogen economy.

The other good news is that this is not the only promising “free” energy for us, as ocean wave power is of even much larger potential, seeing that our 7,100 islands are each a potential power plant. Imagine, thousands of power plants all over the country just waiting to be commissioned!

Biofuels are also an alternative, but not the ones derived from food such as corn. Uncontrollable algae and hyacinths hold tremendous promise in a tropical setting like ours.

Despite these, pseudo-environmentalists still champion solar and wind power that are exponentially more expensive than geothermal or hydro. Truly, there is no shortage of stupidity among their ranks!

Meanwhile, another important point underscored by our other major crisis today in our staple rice, is that this should not be a problem at all since our lands are still able to grow more food. In fact, the IRRI, a most credible authority on this matter, has said the Philippines can achieve self-sufficiency on the basis of five action-plans: 1) expansion of irrigation, 2) high-yield hybrid varieties, 3) credit support (which the private banking system here has always avoided), 4) technical advise for farmers, 5) and construction of storage facilities to address the country’s 5-percent-plus yield losses through spoilage.

In all, solving the energy crisis also helps solve the food crisis, as fossil fuels and valuable dollars are preserved for fertilizers and other inputs necessary for agricultural production.

Between pity and hope, I am more optimistic given the potential of this land, its seas and its people, even as this country drifts down the abyss of poverty and decay.

As we have defined the latent potential of this nation and consider the importance of external conditions, if we, as a nation, are rotten inside, all our aspirations will be stillborn.

We, the people, are what’s inside this nation’s shell waiting to be born. While external conditions are very harsh for our survival, it is up to us to fight the virus that is rotting away at our will and determination to be what we are. Let this knowledge of our great potential be the breakthrough that will make us redouble our efforts towards progress.

Mere effort, though, is not enough for we need to re-invent our methods.

For the past eight years, I have fought to educate the people on our nation’s historical truths, elucidate on its errors and achievements and expose historical myths.

Two great lies of the past decades have been those of Marcos and Erap being bad for our country. The latter has been effectively junked by events of the past eight years, a lie or an error that even the civil society, the conniving politicians and the Catholic hierarchy have admitted to (though the mea culpa has its ulterior motive, i.e. to prevent the popular overturning of the oligarchy’s exploitative plutocracy), while the former, in spite of being harder to erase, makes the case that Marcos’ programs on rice and energy self-sufficiency would have saved us from our troubles today.

In the same vein, we have joined popular actions like Edsa III and protests like those of the Magdalo’s in 2003, Gen. Danilo Lim’s in 2006 and the one in Manila Peninsula.

Now, we have to shift gears and coalesce with forces that have awakened to the truth that we must seize the day for a unified nationalist leadership, dedicated to a program of achieving energy and food independence from which all corollary freedoms emanate. Hence, we must start with the battle cry: “Food and Fuel Freedom for Filipinos Today!”

(Tune in to: Talk News TV on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 3, this Tuesday, July 8, at 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with guest, Trillanes representative, lawyer Rey Robles; Kape’t Kamulatan, Kabansa on 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; and Sulo ng Pilipino every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the same station. Also, check out:

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Most Productive Senator


Herman Tiu Laurel


With 42 bills filed and two resolutions raised in the Senate, the presence of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV doesn’t seem to have lacked in any way. Although unable to be physically present, his indomitable spirit, indefatigable energy, boundless commitment and creativity continue to permeate the life of the Senate. His 11 million voters should stand proud for having made such a wise decision to defy the lies and perfidy of the Gloria Arroyo regime by electing him, and the senator has not failed them despite that great restrictions and onerous impositions that have been used against him. Harassed with court cases and held incommunicado to media, and even to his staff, the soldier-turned-senator has nevertheless continued to deliver on his pledge to serve the people.

His service is one of genuine distinction, having taken up the bills that require the most courage to espouse. In particular, of the 42 bills, I salute SBN’s (Senate Bill Nos.) 1448, 1591, 2254, 2273, 2302, 1467, which are, in sequence: An Act repealing the eVAT Law; An Act Amending the Automatic Appropriations Law; An Act providing for a ceiling on all pubic debts of the Republic of the Philippines and for other purposes; An Act that seeks to trim down the areas of investments of GSIS to only those that assure predictability in order to protect the mass of members from the vagaries of trade and commerce; and An Act defining the Archipelagic Baselines of the Philippine Archipelago. For me, these five are the cream of the 138 bills that Senator Trillanes has filed as senator.

The first four SBs I cited above are all on vital financial issues that beset the country, with the first, a thrashing of the eVAT which has put tremendous burden on our people — shrinking purchasing power, draining their cash flow, starving the economy and putting all goods and service beyond their reach. The second SB puts a lid on the continuing payment of our national debt that is done without legislative or public review. Automatic appropriations for payment of the national debt are among the most fundamental of the country’s crises, if not the root problem of this nation. The eVAT has its roots in these appropriations, and the repeal of this law will force an immediate debate on their onerous character, and a review of all debts and our treatment of these can finally surface.

The third SB sets limits on the debts that the nation’s chief executive, the legislature and finance authorities can contract in behalf of the people. This will go a long way in controlling the wanton disregard for caution and of the national interest. As was the case in the NBN-ZTE and NorthRail projects, there has been callous disregard for the concerns of taxpayers when authorities associated with Gloria Arroyo and the ruling power elite contracted debts left and right because they knew these were guaranteed through people’s taxes. As this abuse must end, Sen. Trillanes took a gigantic step to help us contain the “debt mania” of government officials. We should have regular referendums on debt-based projects and all major debt transactions because we, the people and our children, and their children, are obliged to pay these debts which irresponsible politicos — past and present — wantonly sign on to.

The fourth SB reins in on the financial abuse in the government employees’ social service institution. We all should know that these investment funds have suffered wild gyrations in the past decade, losing trillions of dollars in the process — like the bubble and the recent subprime collapse now bringing down stock markets and investment houses all over the world. Sen. Trillanes’ bill would insulate social service institution funds from speculation and secure the future of over a million government employees.

Finally, one of the latest bills filed by Sen. Trillanes that has become a celebrated issue a few months ago is the definition of the baselines of the country, which entails a warning that the failure to comply with a timely clarification and definition would cause the loss of the country’s valuable economic zones.

One SB, the act setting limits on the power of the President to reappoint bypassed nominees, is a direct response to the abusive “interim appointments” Gloria Arroyo has been making for her favorite gofers like Angie Reyes. Bypassed for the nth time, Reyes is persistently reappointed, and to a merry-go-round of positions. By the way, Gloria is on an “rejects appointments” spree again, with those rejected in the 2007 senatorial elections getting plum jobs — Mike Defensor to NAIA III and Ralph Recto to the SSS (Neri is only a decoy), while the retiring Albano will be replaced by daughter-in-law Mylene Garcia-Albano as a reward for doing Gloria’s bidding in the energy sector. Government posts are also inherited under Gloria’s regime. Sen. Trillanes has to craft more bills designed to contain abuses by Gloria, over and over the 138 bills he has written.

Meanwhile, we’ll get back briefly to our “Speculation 101.” One aspect we didn’t have space to include in our Monday column is the need for the individual speculators to work together to “corner” the market and command the supply contracts.

The Philippines can fight back in the short term by restoring government and people’s control over the oil and energy sector and, in the medium term, expand its storage capacity for oil reserves to enlarge its purchases before each speculative increase of oil prices. Marcos was on the right track when he established the State oil companies, including oil tanker transportation facilities, but that’s why he was deposed.

(Tune to 1098AM, Mon. to Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for “Kape’t Kamulatan, Kabansa;” Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesdays, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for “Talk News TV” featuring Rey Robles of Trillanes’ Senate office on his annual report; and our blog,