eastwind journals 84 – TACLOBAN AFTER 1 MONTH meralco rates highest in asia

millennium storm HAIYAN / YOLANDA
A first-hand tour of Tacloban city center one month after the storm.
An appeal to restore the role of hospitals in critical rehabilitation.


eastwind journals 84
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In a nutshell
By Bernie Lopez


The government, as part shareholder of Meralco, is guilty of conflict of interest. It will approve rate increases for its own profits. Government equity in utilities should be banned.
Incumbent politicians are beholdened to the power sector as contributors to campaign funds. Malacanang defended the recent Meralco rate increases. Covert campaign contributions from oligarchs and their corporations should be expose in the media.
There is an insidious partnership between local oligarchs who control the power industry and the World Bank–USAID–ADB consortium (the US-controlled international banking system) to control the Philippine economy. The power sector plays a critical role in the economy. Even Malacanang is a puppet to this partnership. It’s a all-powerful global thing.
The consortium authored the EPIRA Law through proteges, namely, solons, some of whom were power oligarchs, and USAID-funded study groups. In the guise of breaking up the power monopoly, EPIRA achieved the exact opposite, strengthening the  monopoly (oligopoly). A clear example is the latest rate increase. The WESM rate increased almost ten fold overnight on the pretext of the Malampaya shutdown just before Meralco purchased power.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has consistently approved rate increases which the Supreme Court has consistently reversed in favor of consumers. The latest increase is in fact a violation of the EPIRA because it was automatic. This requires approval and consultation first. Meralco and ERC consistently deny their partnership.
The modus operandi of Meralco to increase rates is to pile up one application with the ERC after the other, in the hope statistically even 70% are approved. These applications are so complex finance- and accounting-wise that no layman can understand the needles in the haystack to be able to launch a protest. Before the latest increase effective January, there was a previous one approved for November.
Meralco illegally imposed an ERC-approved fee to cover future potential default on payments amounting to a staggering P26 billion, whose interest, protestors say, belong to consumers, not to Meralco. If you are low-to medium consumer of about of 200 plus kilowatt hours per month, your new bill would mean plus P200 for default security payments (this is not consumption but insurance), and another P500, for the Malampaya shutdown increase. So your bill is jumping from P2,000 plus to P3,000 plus, an increase of 30% beyond the capability of the middle class.
Meralco is not afraid of protests for two reasons, 1) it controls the media and has a PR budget of millions per month. They can come out with articles justifying increase and suppress articles that say these are unjust; 2) the threat of electricity cut-off is a powerful force that make consumers helpless. If they opt to not pay for unjust rates, they will be cut off.
The European, American, and Japanese Chambers of Commerce report that Meralco has one of the highest rates in the whole of Asia, higher than Tokyo’s, strangling their businesses. Some are threatening to move abroad, and indeed some have.
The powerful oligarchy is complex and has tentacles reaching out to a labyrinth of other sectors such as mining, which uses up a lot of power. It has agents in Malacanang, including the all powerful MICC, which ultimately approves all mining applications. There are oligarchs in the Cabinet, Senate, Lower House, Chambers of Commerce, etc.


How do you kill the oppressive oligarchy? You don’t and you can’t unless you want to be a martyr. The only power that can kill the oligarchy is people power, but that is a tall order. People power rises only in crisis situations like EDSA. When power rates have increase three fold, maybe there is a chance. The latest increase is churning up a tsunami which is still in its infancy. We are slaves of the oligarchy. Greed and power are the name of their game. eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com




the people who walked in darkness
have seen a radiant light
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
You have brought them O Lord
abundant joy and great peace
and they celebrate the new harvest
the yoke that burdened them
the pole on their shoulder
You have smashed as in the days of midian
and the Word was made flesh
and dwelt among us
behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son
and they shall name Him Emmanuel
which means ‘God is with us’
matthew 1:23 /pp255
the spirit of Christmas
is in the heart not in the world
not so much in giving gifts
but in giving oneself
from you o bethlehem
shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd My people
matthew 2:6
she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes
and laid Him in a manger
because there was no room
for them at the inn
and the angel said:
fear not, for behold i bring good tidings
of joy for all people
for today in the city of david
a Savior is born
who is Christ and Lord
and suddenly, a multitude of angels appeared
praising God and saying:
glory to God in the highest
and peace to those
on whom His favor rests
luke 2:13-14
He shall be called
the Son of the most high
the Lord shall give Him
the throne of david His father
and He shall rule over
the house of jacob forever
and of His kingdom
there will be no end
luke 1:31-33
caravans of camels
dromedaries from midian and ephah
shall fill you, all from sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense
proclaiming praises to the Lord
isaiah 60:6 /pp255
the Lord has made His salvation known to all His people
He has remembered His mercy and love
sing joyfully to the Lord all you nations
break into songs of praise
psalm 98:1-6
from abraham to david is fourteen generations
from david to the babylonian exile is the same
from the babylonian exile to the birth of the Messiah is the same
matthew 1:17 /pp255
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