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The singular event that shaped our post-war history

I DON’T think most people know it, and I’m sure our professional historians will disagree with me on this claim. No, the singular event that shaped Philippine post-war history wasn’t the imposition of martial law in 1972, the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., or even the 1986 EDSA revolt.

These were all consequences in the chain of events triggered by this bold but diabolical attempt at changing history: the bombing on Aug. 21, 1971 by Communist Party activists, directed by its chairman Jose Ma. Sison, of the Liberal Party’s last election rally for the 1971 senatorial elections. Without it, there would not have been martial law nor the EDSA revolt.

The chain of events triggered by that terrorist attack would eventually lead to the deep 1983-1984 economic-political crisis that contracted our economy by an unprecedented 14 percent. That meant the country lost 5 full years of growth — an epoch in economic terms. This largely explains why we became laggards in an energetic region in which the so-called Asian tigers had emerged.

This is the reason why I used the space in my last three columns posting excerpts from US journalist Gregg Jones’ 1989 book Red Revolution, the most comprehensive, investigative account of Sison’s most evil deed. The chapter “Ghosts of Plaza Miranda” establishes without an iota of a doubt that it was the Communist Party under Sison that was responsible for it.

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Plaza Miranda bombing: Truth catches up

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EXCERPTS from Gregg Jones’ ‘Red Revolution’:

The secret of Plaza Miranda might have died with Danny Cordero in the Isabela jungle if not for the troubled consciences of a few young party officials privy to the truth. Some of the CPP’s politburo members were horrified by the carnage at Plaza Miranda.

They were supposed to be fighting a people’s war against fascist landlords and greedy imperialists, not against liberal politicians. Indeed, the party was secretly working with the Liberal Party to undermine Marcos.

How, these CPP officials agonized, could such an attack on civilians — on allies — be justified? Silently, some of the communist leaders nursed serious qualms about the bombing. It was not until some months later that one of the politburo members got up the courage to discuss the subject with Sison.

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How the CPP executed the Plaza Miranda bombing

Second of 3 parts

EXCERPTS from Gregg Jones’ ‘Red Revolution’:


In mid-August 1971, CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) central committee member Reuben Guevarra arrived in Manila for discussions with party officials. Guevarra was a member of the CPP’s powerful military commission and was the political officer in charge of the northern Luzon region, which included the Isabela guerrilla front.

The horror: Young man hit by a shrapnel in the bombing. PHOTO FROM ASIA PHILIPPINES LEADER
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How the CPP planned and executed the Plaza Miranda bombing

The bombing’s mastermind in 1986 as romanticized in the UP’s newspaper

First of 3 parts

SO long indeed does Truth overtake Lie.

In one of his recent columns, Ambeth Ocampo reported that it was one Joseph Salice who in his 2017 PhD thesis provided evidence that it was Jose Ma. Sison who ordered his closest Communist Party cadres to bomb the opposition miting de avance.

This is wrong. Salice relied almost entirely on his conclusions on journalist Gregg Jones’ book, Red Revolution: Inside the Philippine Guerrilla Movement published 28 years ago, in 1989.

It is a remarkable, courageous piece of investigative journalism, not only because of its wealth of detail that he managed to get ranking Communist Party leaders to reveal. He published the book when Marcos’ portrayal as Devil Incarnate was at its height, so few believed his revelations. It was a book ahead of its time.

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Who’s afraid of state capitalism?

Second of 3 parts

ONE obvious problem in the debate over the creation of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is that President Marcos Jr., his political lieutenants and economic managers have been unable to communicate what the MIF proposal involves in detail.

They have overestimated Marcos’ political support, and underestimated those very much against him and his family, and thus miscalculated that it would be a breeze to pass the law creating it. While he won with 59 percent of the votes, his rival had 30 percent. This is still a substantial sector which, more importantly, includes the noisy, chattering class with the most access to media. I haven’t heard of a Yellow believer supporting the plan, while the Yellow and Red ideologues were quick to condemn it without even reading the bill.

Marcos and his officials had also wrongly thought that the decades-long propaganda against the martial law regime had been buried by his landslide victory. Marcos and his family indeed appear to be unconcerned about undertaking a program to debunk the anti-Marcos lies spread, and still being disseminated, by the Reds and the Yellows.

A good example is that even an economist — note that he was even awarded the stature of a National Scientist — claimed the SWF would extend “behest loans” to favored businessmen as what allegedly happened during martial law.

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PH sovereign fund: Marcos’ first laudable initiative

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SHRUGGING off the shrill opposition to the setting up of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), which would be the country’s first sovereign wealth fund (SWF), President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that it was his idea. No wonder his cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez is the principal author of House Bill 6389 which will mandate the setting up of the fund.

Of course Marcos didn’t pluck the idea out of thin air.

Singapore set up its first SWF, Temasek, in 1974 and another one, the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. in 1981, with assets of both estimated at $1 trillion today. Koreans set up theirs, the Korean Investment Corp. in 2005. Malaysians organized its Khazanah Nasional (in Malay, “National Treasure”) in 1993. The Socialist State of Vietnam set up its State Capital Investment Corp. In 2005, inspired by the tremendous success of its sister socialist country’s SWF, the China Investment Corp., whose assets now total $1.3 trillion — the biggest such entity in the world.

The Indonesians organized theirs, the Indonesia Investment Authority, in the midst of the global Covid-19 crisis last year. Set up initially with $5 billion assets from the Indonesian government, other funds such as those from the United Arab Emirates, Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the US International Development Finance Corp have committed to beef up its assets to $10 billion.

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First case of BBM’s failure of governance

THE San Miguel energy companies’ predicament is becoming a classic case of an administration’s failure to govern, unless it intervenes quickly and uses all its political clout and persuasive powers to resolve the issues. I do hope it is the last such case of failure in governance.

The San Miguel’s quagmire is a very serious problem that could affect Meralco’s 7.5 million consumers, at the very center of the nation. It could even impact the economy as a whole and dent investor confidence. In broad strokes, the problem is as follows;

San Miguel’s two energy firms — South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC) and San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC), operating two of the country’s biggest power plants — have been losing billions of pesos, and will go under if they continue generating power which they sell to Meralco. SPPC claims the consortium running the Malampaya gas field had unilaterally reduced its supply of gas needed to run its Ilijan plant. SMEC on the other hand claimed that its coal-fired Sual plant could not afford the tripling of gas prices, mainly due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Should Marcos be blamed for soaring inflation?

NO, and yes.

No, since almost all countries in the world have seen their inflation – the rate at which prices increase over a given period – worsening since 2020, with the global average rising to 4.7 percent in 2021, to 7.4 percent so far this year. This has been initially due to the disruption in economic activity due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic that started in 2021. It has been a perfect storm, with so many factors involved.

To simplify things though:

Blame it on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was like a meteor falling on the global sea, creating tsunami waves in different forms such as disruptions in energy and food supplies. The richest countries’ defensive actions not just to contain their local inflation but prepare for war with Russia worsened the situation. The US for example steeply raised its local interest rates, but this strengthened its dollar, which in our case drove down the international value of our peso, making our imports – either for manufacturing inputs or direct consumption—expensive.

But this doesn’t explain the fact that our inflation rate, at November at 8 percent, is highest in the region, next only to Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia which reported a 39 percent inflation. Our 8 percent inflation is double that of Malaysia’s 4 percent, significantly higher than Indonesia’s 5.4 percent and Vietnam’s 4.7 percent

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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?

First of 2 parts

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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