The depravity that is the new Senate building

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Author’s chart.

THE cost of the new Senate building zoomed from the P4.6 billion the chief proponent of the project, the then-senator Panfilo Lacson claimed in 2018, to P18 billion on its groundbreaking in 2019, to the P23 billion that the Senate’s new leadership recently discovered.

I wrote in 2018 that based on data from contractors that I consulted, who were shown the plans, the project would cost at the very least P10 billion. Lacson issued a press release denying my estimate, and even arrogantly posted in a tweet: “I based my figure on fact; Bobi based his on ‘opinion.’ Pray tell me if it’s worth arguing with him.”

Lacson will certainly have to be arguing with Sen. Alan Cayetano, who is leading the investigation on why the building’s cost has zoomed. The new Senate building has already cost P23 billion β€” nearly five times Lacson’s fake data of P4.6 with me. It is becoming so obvious that Lacson and his allies in the Senate had insisting on the P4.6 billion “fact” to make the costs for a project to satisfy 24 huge egos and to facilitate their dining and shopping in the upscale Bonifacio Global City, seem reasonable.

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Arbitration suit vs China militarized South China Sea

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Chinese fortifications vs. American bases.

THE claim that the arbitration suit filed against China in 2012 was a victory for us and the international rule of law is as blatantly false as the US allegation in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction so that Iraq had to be invaded and put under the American yoke.

It won’t take too long to prove how colossal this lie is, as incontrovertible facts are plain to see if one just removes the blinders created by the powerful American media, as they did in the case of the fictitious WMD.

Instead of a legal victory that strengthens the rule of international law, the suit led to the militarization by China and then by the US of the South China Sea, making our part of the world a powder keg that could make it a nuclear battleground for the two superpowers.

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Bidding process for power must be changed

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THERE’s no arguing the necessity of an additional supply of power following the country’s recent episode in red and yellow alerts brought on by a spike in demand at the height of record heat just a few weeks ago.

It allowed the Indonesian-controlled Meralco*, the lone power distribution utility in the National Capital Region (NCR), which remains to be the nucleus of the Philippine economy, to acquire up to 3,000MW of additional electricity supply.

So, earlier this year, Meralco, which has no competition in terms of distributing electricity in the NCR, opened bids for additional power supply.

On paper, the choice of power supplier must go through a competitive selection process (CSP) intended to result in the least cost.

But there’s a chink in the CSP process.

At least 2,400 MW out of 3,000 MW was bagged by power plants that run on natural gas, only that these bid winners operate on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of what we already have, indigenous gas from the Malampaya reserve.

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The waste-to-energy myth

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LABELING waste-to-energy (WTE) as renewable and clean energy is arguably the biggest falsehood perpetrated in advocating for this method of power generation through incineration. Advocates claim it solves the world’s waste disposal issues, but it’s time to expose the truth.

Unlike sunlight, wind or other natural sources of energy, garbage is inherently not renewable. It is simply waste β€” a by-product of human activities, encompassing food waste, plastics, scrap metal and toxic substances.

Here, proponents market WTE as a clean power source, but the reality is far from that. The incineration ban was lifted for thermal incinerators, permitting the burning of garbage for electricity production. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources acknowledged the potential of WTE to manage increasing volumes of waste, further weakening the ban.

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Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza: 186,000

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THIS sorry country has so many issues for me to report in this column. But as a human, I have to express my outrage again and again over the ongoing Israeli genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Yes, it was Hamas that provoked the carnage when it killed 1,139 Israelis and 373 soldiers in its raid on Israel on October 7 last year. But nothing can justify Israel’s campaign of genocide against Gaza, which murdered at least 40,000 Palestinians, half of whom are women and children.

Reports of Israelis raped and babies killed have been incontrovertibly proven as fake news spread by the famed β€” or notorious β€” Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The Mossad also failed to explain why, for all its reputation that it is even better than the US CIA in intelligence-gathering, it miserably failed in detecting an attack that involved all of the Hamas’ forces right at its backdoor.

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Foreign investments fall: Blowback from anti-China policy

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TRADE Secretary Alfredo Pascual boasted a few weeks ago that $19 billion worth of investments pledged during the 24 foreign trips of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have already been actualized or have commenced implementation “as of June” this year.

That is a lie. Even if one assumes that Marcos’ or his wife’s sheer charm or eloquence convinced some foreign companies to invest in the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data show that actual direct investment inflows into the country (excluding reinvestment of earnings, which aren’t inflows) in the first 21 months of Marcos’ rule totaled only $3.3 billion, or a sixth of Pascual’s figure of $19 billion.

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Cayetano pushes for Gas Industry Development Act

THE new chairperson of the Senate Committee on Energy, Sen. Pia Cayetano, saw up close the Philippines’ brightest jewel β€” the Malampaya offshore gas platform now being operated by the SC 38 Consortium led by tycoon Enrique Razon’s Prime Infrastructure Capital.

Natural gas, in fact, is starting to make its impact felt in a big way among the Philippines’ Southeast Asian neighbors.

Latest data showed that Indonesia held 35 percent of the region’s proven gas reserves, Malaysia held 25 percent and Vietnam, 17.9 percent. Myanmar, Brunei and Thailand’s proven reserves accounted for 12 percent, 6.2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

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We are now targets for not only Chinese but also Russian nuke-tipped missiles

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UNDER-REPORTED in the Philippine mainstream media, the US in April deployed to an unidentified military camp in Northern Luzon its state-of-the-art ground-based missile system consisting of a containerized system of four strike-length launcher cells and radar facilities linked to US satellites.

The US mobile, containerized Typhon weapons system, whose missiles can reach the Spratlys from Luzon. US ARMY PHOTO

Called the Typhon Payload Delivery System, all it needs to create a nuclear Armageddon in the South China Sea are the nuclear-tipped missiles themselves β€” mid-range Tomahawk and SM-6 β€” to be inserted into the launchers and fired at its targets.

The aviationist.com website described the system: “The MRC (mid-range capabilities)/Typhon missile system comprises the SM-6 air defense missile tweaked for anti-shipping roles and Tomahawk subsonic cruise missiles for land targets, respectively. The system bridges the range gap between the 482-kilometer range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and the 2776-kilometer range of the US Army’s hypersonic Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW). In other words, it requires missiles to reach targets up to 1,800 km away.”

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Trio of new Cold War officials running US foreign policy, including that on China

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IN the current dangerous times in which we face the prospect of a nuclear war among the superpowers, it is certainly shocking, and extremely worrying, that in the June 27 US presidential debate, President Biden’s behavior showed that, as the acclaimed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh explains in detail in a piece I post below, there is no longer a functioning president.

If you watched the debate, streamed live June 27 (US time), you’ll certainly doubt if Biden understands the intricacies and nuances of geopolitics that could lead to nuclear war β€” and humanity’s extinction. His view of the Russia-Ukraine war is the 1950s Cold War, thinking that if the US allowed Russia to defeat Ukraine, it would result in a domino effect that would prompt Russia to invade Poland and many other Eastern European nations.

I don’t think he would understand what the Philippines’ disputes with China are, only that in his mind, China is still the Communist China, which had wanted to help communist North Korea invade the US puppet state South Korea in 1950, which General McArthur would have nuked if President Truman had not fired him.

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Ayungin incidents: A diabolical propaganda operation

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I HOPE gullible Filipinos, or those awed by the US media apparatus, found enlightening, and atrocious, the recent Reuters investigative report β€” confirmed by the Pentagon β€” that an American “psywar” command from 2020 to 2021 ran a black propaganda operation to discredit Chinese anti-Covid vaccines as ineffective mainly through social media*. (https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-covid-propaganda/).

Analysts point out that this operation aimed at discrediting Chinese-made vaccines led to skepticism over all kinds of vaccines among Filipinos that could explain the fact that the country had the worst inoculation rates in Southeast Asia resulting in about 50,000 deaths.

If the US military can do this in the case of Chinese vaccines, they have done and are doing similar “psy-ops” over our dispute with China over the South China Sea in order to demonize it as a “bully” and an expansionist power. The Americans aren’t doing this to help us pursue our claims in that sea region but to paint China as the new Evil Empire, even if our Filipino servicemen are hurt or even killed. They will just segue to claim Taiwan is another “country” China would be bullying soon.

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