Friday, October 9, 2009

Blackouts: The Yellows’ Dark Age

As we begin with this piece, we find ourselves in more dark days, reminiscent of the great Dark Age in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the time of Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos. Those were the days of week-long blackouts that ensued from Cory’s mothballing of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, plus her cancellation of the mini- and large-scale hydro-electric dams and other alternative energy programs of Marcos. Millions of Filipino households and enterprises suffered staggering losses while the oligarch cronies of the Yellows, such as the Aboitizes, earned billions in supplying emergency generators. FVR’s Yellow business cronies then packaged almost 50 Independent Power Producer (IPP) contracts worth hundreds of billions of pesos. And just like déjà vu, we are again being plunged into blackouts by the privatized Transco for two days now.

In our continuing effort to cite incontrovertible evidence of state and government decay under the Yellow regimes of the past 21 years, we listed the collapse of the rescue infrastructure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that was sorely missed during the recent flood crisis. According to a group of retired soldiers, other vital transports that would be essential in other crises--say, tsunami disasters in Mindanao, which would need C-130s to transport rescue personnel and facilities from Luzon and elsewhere--were there during Marcos’ time. Back then, the country could count on a huge number of C-130s; but today, there are only two. An officer thus quipped, “We have an Air Force that’s all ‘air’ and no ‘force,’ and an ‘Italian’ Navy that should be read as ‘Itale yan’” because it’s roped at port all the time lest it sinks.

The Armed Forces’ dire strait is just a sample of the deterioration of a public instrumentality that has been systematically stripped of its capacity to be of service to the nation. All government institutions have been subjected to this kind of emaciation. Twenty-one years of shrinking budgets; attrition of our best and brightest minds; spin-off of revenue government functions through privatization; continuous demonization of government, demoralizing the civil service; diminution of government regulatory powers through deregulation and liberalization, resulting in corporatocratic exploitation of what used to be services provided by government, ad nausea have all led to this sorry state. That’s why, these days, it’s not uncommon to hear, “Mabuti pa sa panahon ni Marcos. Mabuti pa sa panahon ni Erap.”

Atty. Alan Paguia cited one example of this demonization and demoralization of government institutions by private, corporate powers using their vast TV and print media. They lambast barangay assistance efforts by indiscriminately alleging that barangay officials steal relief goods. Given that in flood affected areas, literally thousands of barangays are involved, such a blanket condemnation is absolutely wrong and unfair. Private mainstream media make themselves out to be the focal point of “honest, efficient” relief work by announcing over P100 million’s worth of donations but none of these can really be verified or audited independently. Paguia then points out why, despite some charges of impropriety, the barangays should still be the main grassroots relief arm: Because they have public accountability.

Of course, the Yellows denigrate public institutions while espousing “corporate responsibility.” In the recent floods, Yellow mainstream media denigrated the public sector by alleging the “stealing” of relief goods by lowly barangay officials, among other things. Yet they continue to be blind to the larger larceny of corporate exploiters. For example, I heard over radio that Maynilad, in consideration of the plight of millions of flood victims, will not immediately raise the 20 centavos or so it had projected as an increase of its water rates; but media didn’t bother to report the fact that Maynilad had already raised its rates even earlier and earned almost P2 billion more year-on-year in the first half of 2009 alone. The same goes for electricity rates, too, which are touted to be the lowest in five years come October without them explaining that oil prices have also gone below $66/bbl. Seems like media is a willing accomplice to this price-gouging.

The rolling blackouts we are experiencing are causing havoc everywhere. Food commissaries, for one, have to move tons of stock from small storage facilities to large cold storages with power generators. Businesses, which have suffered billions in losses during the floods, stand to lose more, this time due to power outages. The night before, when the blackouts first started, these were traced to a fire at the privatized Transco Taytay substation. This scenario is exactly what I had feared and written about months before the Transco privatization pushed through. It is reminiscent of the 1990s, in which failures of power plants, such as in Sual, Pangasinan, caused massive power outages that led to added justification for more IPP projects.

I am afraid that a few weeks or months down the road from today, Transco, now under the management of China State Grid and Monte Oro (identified with FVR boys) will be seeking additional rate increases. It will be argued that such rate adjustments will be required to avoid similar power outages in the future. We have already seen a glimpse of this from the yearly “bogey” of power shortages that government and corporate officials raise. Aside from this, these same people, who are also Yellow stalwarts and acolytes to Gloria Arroyo, would want a state of calamity declared until Gloria’s term ends (or, for it never to end).

Gat Jose Rizal in his Noli Me Tangere, wrote of a treacherous and vicious villain he called “ang taong dilaw” who almost murdered Crisostomo Ibarra. Well, it appears that today’s taong Dilaw are as treacherous and vicious.

The Philippines cannot survive another Dark Age of the Yellows.


Jesusa Bernardo said...

Seeded here:

Blackouts: The Yellows' Dark Age in the Philippines

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Dear Mr. Laurel,

This is not for public posting but a communication to you. I'm wondering if you'll allow me to repost your articles from your blog and the Daily Tribune in my Newsvine column. You'll have full credits/source link and blibliographic notes just like the repost of this articles (pls. see earlier post.

My intention is for your articles of Pinoy wisdom to reach a greater Web audience. If you'll have the time you reply, kindly do so through my email, .

Mabuhay ka G. Laurel! Maraming salamat.


Jesusa Bernardo

Anonymous said...

It is undeniably that you are one of the few undying supporters of two of the worst Presidents in Philippines history! Just wondering how much you have earned defending them. No wonder you were once charged of sedition ... ran as a senator on 1995 election and poorly lost. It only shows you have no credibility at all. Your writings are very unbiased and all unfounded accusations! You are simply one of the paid trolls in Philippine media.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ Anonymous,

To be charged with sedition is heroic! Just look at Ninoy Aquino--convicted of sedition, murder and illegal possession of firearms. Ninoy also lost during the 1978 elections, or you're not aware of that?

I actually think Ka Mentong is one of the more truthful, sensible journalists around. Very refreshing read, unlike the paid trolls you've probably gotten used to.