Is our Congress in the pocket of big business?


IN the case of Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, unfortunately, the answer to that question seems to be a resounding “yes.”

Umali, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy, casually announced on Wednesday that he had “disintegrated” plans to consider amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, or Epira law, because “the private sector doesn’t want to support it.”

This is the same Congressman Umali who had earlier sworn he “would not be dissuaded” from amending what he called the “anti-people, pro-corporation” Epira.

Apparently, words like “not” and “dissuaded” mean something different to the honorable chairman than they do to the rest of us, because those who registered disagreement with the move to subject the Epira law to a long-overdue reassessment reads like a list of Who’s Who among big business interests in the Philippines: The Management Association of the Philippines, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, and the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Even as he acknowledged that the Philippines has the highest electricity costs in Southeast Asia and rates that are among the top 10 highest in the world, Umali was quick to bend to the whims of those who are at least partly responsible for that, making a shameful decision that defines “anti-people, pro-corporation” even better than the damnable Epira law does.

As a weak and completely unacceptable alternative to dealing with the law that is the root cause of this country’s struggles with high power costs, Umali suggested that “three or four” separate measures addressing aspects of the electricity sector would be examined instead. This decision was supported by Department of Energy OIC Zenaida Monsada, who cited the law on renewable energy as an example – a law that just so happened to, among other things, facilitate the addition of a four centavo per kilowatt-hour feed-in tariff to the electric bill of every consumer in the Philippines.

The Epira law was a well-intentioned attempt to solve the terrible results of government mismanagement of the power sector, but it has never even come close to living up to its promise of facilitating the provision of sufficient, reliable electricity at a reasonable cost. Focusing on other, largely cosmetic measures is like trying to cure stomach cancer by putting a bandage on the patient’s foot. If Rep. Umali were not so eager to please the industry sector that directly benefits from the Epira law rather than the people suffering as a result of it – and by extension, the whole Philippine economy, even he might see the lack of logic in allowing Epira to go untouched.


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  1. Jaime Dela Cruz on

    “honorable chairman”? How did he earn the title honorable? He cannot even honor his own words to amend EPIRA. ” we will not be dissuaded …” my ass.

  2. Karma is on the way who does support the Yellow regime from makati business club who is the root of all these hardships by our fellow countrymen. Damn and to hell with them..

  3. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    05 September 2015

    There is nothing absolutely surprising about politicians being in the pockets of plutocrats. It is the plutocrats who usually contribute lavishly to the campaigns of most if not all politicians–of course always on a quid pro quo basis. Meaning that when elected to, say the Senate or the House, for instance, those politicians have to do the bidding of their benefactors.

    You can call that “corruption” of another kind.

    My distilled Analysis of why the Philippines has been caught in the backwaters for all of the past sixty years or so is that it has been held in the vise-like grip of a Plutocratic-Politico-Clerico conspiracy, whose overarching Agenda is to perpetuate itself in wealth and power the better to manipulate and exploit the Filipino people.

    Breaking that vise-like grip is THE solution. But it will take the likes of an Alexander [who broke the “Gordian knot” or a Lee Kwan Yew, who, resorting to what has been described as his “iron rule,” succeeded in transforming Singapore from one of the poorest nations of the world way back around 1965 to one of the wealthiest by around 1995, in the process completely extirpating poverty and extirpating corruption as well.


  4. Ngayong darating na 2016 eleksiyon, dapat na nating itigil ang pagboto sa mga mambabatas sa kongreso na ang inaatupag ay sarili lang nilang interest at hindi ang kapakanan ng sambayanan lalung lalo na sa ating mahihirap. Mamulat tayo at itanim sa ating isipan na ang ganitong klaseng mambabatas ay isa sa mga napakalaking kadahilanan ng ating paghihirap.

  5. what? in the first place why he is the chairman? he has no clue about energy! i wouldnt even let him in charge of a bingo social, he is there for a reason – RAISE FUNDS FOR LP AND EXTORT MONEY FROM BIG BIZ, and dont start about mining……
    heres a tip: start looking at the bank account of Umali brothers……

  6. Guillermo Hernandez on

    What ? You did not know that the Philippine Congress in the pocket of big business, most of the time ?

    All you need to do is to take a closer look at who are the members of our Congress……landowners…..political dynasty members and cohorts …..large business owners…members who are there to protect their own interests first and not for the people who
    they are suppose to represent or serve….etc.

    Sadly, our Congress looks after big business first and the people lastly !

    • And these corrupt tongressmen will be there by next election as long as the PICOS are there!