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ERC pooh-poohs Russian invasion of Ukraine

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ASTONISHING, just plain crazy, or a biased decision.

In this entire planet, only the three members of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) — going by their denial of the San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC) petition for an increase in electricity rates — seems to ignore the earth-shaking impact all over the world of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That war, in its 11th month now, has resulted in an unprecedented skyrocketing of fuel prices, especially for coal which the SMEC plant uses.


As a World Bank article pointed out: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has disrupted the global energy market. The consequences for global growth will be significant: higher energy prices alone are likely to reduce global output by nearly 1 percent by the end of 2023, our recent analysis suggests.”

SMEC had petitioned the ERC for an increase in electricity prices at which its coal-fired Sual plant sells to Meralco, for distribution to retail consumers.* Other than the Indonesian ban on its coal exports announced in January, the Russian-Ukraine war for various reasons (such as the West’s sanction to ban imports from that country) drastically pushed up coal prices, from $170 per metric ton in January 2022 to $326 per metric ton in May 2022.

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Do ‘they’ want San Miguel energy firms to go bankrupt?

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THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) seems intent on driving San Miguel’s power-generation corporations — San Miguel Energy and South Premiere Power — to bankruptcy.

It has rejected their pleas, initially made together with Meralco, the buyer of its electricity for retail distribution, for an orderly increase in rates required by unforeseen circumstances, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has unwisely joined the fray, issuing a press statement last week asking the Court of Appeals that issued a temporary restraining order favoring the San Miguel firms, to reverse its order. This is the first time a Philippine president has asked a court — which is beyond the authority of the executive branch — to reverse its ruling. Not even his father who had dictatorial powers ever publicly intervened with the courts, even just through a public statement.

In his statement, Marcos said: “The instantaneous effect of the temporary suspension on the implementation of the power supply agreement will consequently expose approximately 7.5 million registered Meralco consumers in the National Capital Region and other areas in Central Luzon and Calabarzon to higher electricity prices without preparation usually observed in case of power supply agreement termination.”

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BBM should take advantage of his high trust ratings

GNASH your teeth until they fall out, you Yellows, Pinks and Reds. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. posted an impressive 86 percent trust and 78 performance rating, according to a survey undertaken by OCTA Research in the last week of October.

Marcos should take advantage of this colossal political support to start the reform programs this country direly needs even if these are unpopular or will be resisted by oligarchs.

Those ratings are basically at the high levels of his predecessor President Rodrigo Duterte, whom I would think the masses identified with more than Marcos. This is perhaps indicated by the fact that while both presidents had an 86 percent trust rating, Marcos’ performance rating was 78 percent, a bit lower than Duterte’s 86 percent. Those of the past three Yellow presidents — Cory, Ramos, Aquino 3rd — were all below Duterte and Marcos.

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Bloggers are not journalists

BLOGGERS, even prolific ones whom one Red propagandist calls, rather stupidly, “citizen journalists,” are not journalists. They are a new creature disseminating ideas and information solely in cyber space, a creature of the digital age. Period.

Many of the most widely read bloggers, claiming hundreds of thousands of views have even disappeared.

The prime example of this is the vociferous anti-Duterte blogger, Jover Laurio (PinoyAko), who got to be the Yellows’ rock star that the Philippine Daily Inquirer named her as one of its Most Outstanding Filipinos for 2017. Hardly anybody reads her blog anymore, unless one would want to contract her as travel agent, which she announces in her blog is her main work.

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US documents: Defense treaty does not cover Spratlys, Scarborough

THE big reason why we cannot believe Vice President Kamala Harris’ assurances of her nation’s military support in our territorial disputes in the South China Sea is that the US doctrine on this issue has long been settled and documented: It doesn’t recognize the Philippines’ and three other nations’ territorial nor maritime claims in the Spratlys. It therefore cannot intervene in these disputes if an armed conflict breaks out there.

There is no evidence, no documentation that this US policy has been changed. Harris and other American officials simply make it appear that it has changed. Harris speaks with a forked tongue.

Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal outside the Treaty of Paris limits, which the US says is the ‘metropolitan territory’ it is bound to defend under the Mutual Defense Treaty. Map is from Rosen, Mark E. ‘Philippine Claims in the South China Sea: A Legal Analysis.’ (CNA Occasional Paper. Arlington, Virginia: Center for Naval Analysis, August 2014.)

It was President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the current president’s father, who demanded that the Americans give him a clear written statement on this issue, way back in 1976.

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Don’t believe Harris re US help

AS always, US officials, this time Vice President Kamala Harris, have proven to be masters of prevarication, of ambiguity and of propaganda.

“Harris affirms US pledge to defend PH”; “Harris urges defense of sovereignty in South China Sea”; “US ready to defend PH vs armed attack in SCS.” These were the headlines describing Harris’ alleged assurances that we fall under the US eagle’s wings.

Her most detailed statement, “An armed attack on the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US Mutual Defense commitments. And that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines,” is what she told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

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China likely to blacklist PH as a tourist destination because of POGOs

CHINA is getting closer to publicly announcing that the Philippines is under its blacklist as a tourist destination due to its displeasure that the new Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. government hasn’t made any move to close its overseas gambling operations in the country, diplomatic sources said.

The only message from the President so far — a weak one— on the issue was through the Office of the Press Secretary officer in charge: “The President is closely monitoring this and as far as the President is concerned the Philippine National Police is in charge of this matter.”

The police are being left to decide such a crucial issue involving a superpower in the region and our second biggest trading partner?

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VP Harris’ visit to Palawan will raise Taiwan, South China Sea tensions

WHEN reporters asked if he thought US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Palawan this week might pique China, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the other day in Bangkok: “No, I don’t see why it should. She is in the Philippines, and she is visiting another part of the Philippines. And of course, it is the closest area to the South China Sea, but it’s very clearly on Philippine territory. So, I don’t think it will cause problems.”

Marcos’ statements were a remarkable display of naiveté, sarcasm or maybe condescension toward media. Reporters should have thrown back to Marcos their own sarcasm: “Will she go to El Nido, Amanpulo or just the world-famous Underground River?”

C’mon now, Harris’ visit to Palawan tomorrow is not just a visit to “another part of the Philippines” by just another US official. It will raise the geopolitical temperature in our region. It will be a geopolitical tremor, and thus was headline news in Western newspapers’ foreign sections.

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The age of shallow social media, like Rappler and Pinoy Ako, is ending

ABOUT two years ago, I had an epiphany of what social media really was about. In a mall’s hardware section, on a grumpy morning trying to buy a replacement for a busted light bulb, I saw a young salesgirl dancing, with her co-worker taking a video of her with her Chinese-made cellphone.

In Filipino of course, I told her in an admonishing tone: “What the hell are you doing?” She replied, still smiling: “Para sa TikTok lang ho, para dumami followers ko.”

She captured in essence what social media, or at least what its huge shallow part has become: a venue for creating for the user the illusion, the delusion, that the world is acknowledging her existence, no matter how silly she was.


Especially as social media has engulfed the planet to be used by the masses — practically 77 million Filipinos or all of its adult, literate population are registered users — the essence of what many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter denizens are posting are merely verbal versions of that underpaid salesgirl’s TikTok dancing.

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Where to? Marcos should learn from his father

THE good news is that the Philippine economy has bounced back from its two-year contraction because of myriad problems created by the worst pandemic in the post-war period. The bad news is that I don’t think the government has mapped out plans on what kind of economy it wants to build. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should get some tips from his father.

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