- NOTE: This blog entry was first posted on my Facebook site.
Today’s Inquirer headline states that the President’s henchmen eye emergency powers.
This is what I’m talking about. I Actually predicted this on January 1.
A few days ago a lot of well-meaning citizens, most of whom were notorious B.S. Aquino critics and academics, criticized Meralco’s power rate increase and called for more government intervention.
For example, ex-Arroyo-apparatchik-turned-columnist Rigoberto Tiglao urged the public to be “very angry” at Meralco for being too greedy.
“Very angry in fact—the steep electricity cost is sheer highway robbery of Meralco’s more than five million customers, most of them poor.”
The problem is, Tiglao did not identify what made Meralco greedy and what gave it the power and privilege to monopolize power distribution in the country. Obviously that was not his goal. Although Tiglao didn’t specifically state his solution is more government intervention to moderate Meralco’s greed, apparently that’s what he wanted since he didn’t mention his own plan.
I assumed that Tiglao’s statist solution is more government control and intervention.
This concluding statement shows that he’s all for government intervention though he’s aware of the current administration’s incompetence:
“Under an incompetent government though which is impotent in intervening in a market that has failed, there has emerged an even more important factor: the greediness of the elite.”
The “market has failed” because we don’t have a free market system. We are a protectionist mixed economy bordering on socialism. It’s delusional to think or to even assume that we’re as economically free as Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea or Taiwan. Mr. Tiglao probably thinks we’re a capitalist economy.
Truth be told, the entire economy is failing because of our protectionism, failed economic policies and Big Government. Now you want to give the same incompetent, power-hungry Big Government that caused the crisis more political powers to solve the problem? Be very careful what you wish for.
This makes me think this issue was either politically manufactured or that well-meaning people, like Tiglao, were just too clueless.
Like they say, never let a crisis to go to waste. It appears that this is exactly what B.S. Aquino and his henchmen are trying to do with their ‘BRILLIANT’ plan to save the people from Meralco’s greed.
The president’s minions and apparatchiks are proposing to give their boss ‘still undefined’ emergency powers to allow him to CONTROL the power sector in order to fix two of the country’s worsening problems: rising cost of electricity and lack of mass transit in Metro Manila. What a very brilliant idea!
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, an administration ally, said that Congress should weigh in on the possibility of granting their boss emergency powers so he can expedite the construction of more power plants in the country.
An opposition party-list member, Rep. Terry Ridon (Kabataan), chimed in, saying the government should nationalize all power utilities if Meralco and the private power generators could not provide affordable service to the public.
Is this what Mr. Tiglao and others want?
Observe that the President’s political lackeys and the militant lawmakers agree on one thing: a higher degree of state intervention.
In contrast, Manila Standard‘s headline read: “Emergency powers for Pnoy junked”.
If the Inquirer news story highlighted Evardone’s ‘pro-emergency powers’ statements, the Standard’s article focused on Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s ‘skepticism’.
According to Standard, Belmonte and several House leaders rejected a proposal to grant the President such emergency emergency powers.
Yet here’s the catch: Belmonte said Congress would only grant such power if and when the President would ask for it.
“I would not give any such power unless the President is asking for it,” Belmonte told the Standard, “to deal with two ‘catastrophic problems.’”
Are they testing the waters? Let’s wait and see.
Now you think Meralco is public enemy number 1?
I am not saying we should defend this CORPORATIST power distribution firm. I am just saying that both Meralco and the government are in pari delicto (equal fault). And the current regime can easily revamp or shake the country’s economic order by picking CORPORATIST WINNERS AND LOSERS (like Marcos and Arroyo did in the past) for the sake of political preservation.
The government, through our Cory Constitution and expressed/implied support, gives Meralco and the entire power sector, owned/dominated by Filipino CRONIES/OLIGARCHS, the power and privilege to control the industry, including protection against outside/foreign competition. Plus, they’re not simply guaranteed economic protection but taxpayers’ subsidies as well.
Now the multi-billion dollar questions we need to consider are as follows:
- How will B.S. Aquino control the power sector?
Evardone said that with emergency powers, Mr. Aquino should be able to deal with the “catastrophic problems” of rising cost of electricity and deterioration of mass transport facilities.
He said the country needs to have more power plants to meet growing demand and to bring about lower electricity costs.
It also needs to have more mass transit systems to ease traffic problems and other commuter woes, he said.
“And all of these can be achieved by empowering President Aquino with powers that will expedite the processes of implementing mega power and mass transit systems,” Evardone said in a text message.
“Maybe we can shorten the bidding process under the Procurement Act and simplify the Swiss challenge mode of inviting investors in the power and transport sectors,” he added.
- What is the extent/scope of his emergency powers?
Here’s an additional report:
“It has been proven that palliative solutions to these problems have very little impact,” he said.
“The sad state of our power and mass transit facilities, which have been the result of long years of neglect, has had a very debilitating effect on our economy and people,” he said.
Evardone said the emergency powers he envisions for the President would cover only projects in the power and transport sectors and should last for a limited period, perhaps about a year.
- Are you that stupid to believe the current regime has the intellectual, technical and even business capability to solve the problem? Just look at how he and his men poorly dealt with the Yolanda tragedy.
Surprisingly one member of the lower house, Rep. Lito Atienza, criticized Evardone’s proposal, saying emergency powers are unnecessary.
Atienza told Philippine Star that the proposal would only mean that the same emergency powers would be delegated to the President’s “inefficient” Cabinet officials.
Wake the hell up!
Many pinoys still don’t seem to realize this Meralco problem is just one of the symptoms of our crumbling, collapsing Corporatist System. Meralco is a protected Filipino entity. Its owners would not have become filthy rich WITHOUT GOVERNMENT PROTECTION, SUBSIDIES, LOANS, etc. It’s a GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY, comrades!
Like I said in this previous blog, the Philippine’s protectionist chickens are coming home to roost. We as a nation are facing a political/economic dead end.
Yet based on how the country’s intellectuals (both pro-Aquino and critics) think, there are only two solutions to this ‘ongoing’ crisis:
- Keep the CORPORATIST STATUS QUO. That is, let Meralco and the IPPs enjoy their protected state and privileges. Tiglao and some UP academics are not willing to keep the system.
- Let B.S. Aquino CONTROL the power industry. I know this doesn’t sound good to Tiglao and so-called intellectuals who are ready to SACRIFICE MERALCO! Sacrifice it to whom? And what would replace Meralco, in case? A new Yellow crony?
Be very angry at Meralco, you say? How clueless can you get?! With solution #2, B.S. Aquino can easily replace the Lopezes or even the entire Meralco firm itself WITH HIS OWN YELLOW CRONIES!
The only solution left, if you really love this country, is two-fold:
- Constitutional Revision and abolish the “protected” status of Filipino cronies and oligarchs.
- Economic freedom to guarantee competition not only in the power sector but in all industries.
We’re indeed experiencing severe, irreversible power crisis– the crisis of our over-bloated, all-powerful Big Government. And this issue reveals nothing but the crisis of the country’s protectionist Nanny State.
Do you really think Meralco is that stupid to game the system to the disadvantage of the general public? I think Meralco executives are aware they can never beat the Left’s and the Statists’ psychological warfare. The Left and the pro-regulation Centrists are winning the battle. It’s never safe to make “unfair” profits (however you define it) in time of severe economic crisis.
Why so? It’s because the government can easily shake the country’s economic order and throw Meralco under the bus for the sake of political self-preservation.
Any scheming, potential dictator can easily establish absolute dictatorship in the country by simply exploiting the ongoing crisis and then pin the blame on Meralco and the entire PRIVATE sector in order to NATIONALIZE ALL INDUSTRIES and gain ABSOLUTE POLITICAL POWER just like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez did.