• Total breakdown

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    How long would it take before government acts to prevent breakdown on basic services? How long will it take for people to seek redress of their collective grievances?

    How long would the People Surge that began in Samar-Tacloban last week hit the metropolis? It appears that in the last two minutes we just might be in an official meltdown. Why? Allow me to count the ways.

    We paid for vehicle plates for some months or years back and since LTO under BFF Virginia Torres, a new protocol on vehicle plates has been made with security features and all. How many actually saw and received their new plates? Why was Torres not held accountable for the delay? And why is LTO not being honest with the issue? Up to this day, LTO plates remain pending. If not paying correct taxes means penalty for every day or month delay, what should we do with LTO for not delivering a service it is mandated to perform?

    We pay terminal fees, apart from the travel tax, when we fly locally or internationally.

    Has the sum lead to better services? Has COA audited those funds? Where is it being allocated? Because, if indeed it is being used properly, we will have well functioning airport terminals, from working air conditions, to clean chairs, bathrooms, CCTV, walk through escalators, etc. there is no point in having blue guards look in your vehicles as you enter the departure/arrival paths because they cause delay and they don’t do their jobs properly. Who earns from the First Sister wall-to-wall ad placements almost wrapping the arrival section of Terminal I? Does it redound to better service for Juan de la Cruz?

    All Filipinos subsidize the rail systems and yet the lines are long, the elevators are not working, some escalators are malfunctioning and the general upkeep is from bad to worst. And if you are lucky, you might just have an out of this world experience of going down and walking the tracks because the couch conked out. These happened several times and yet no alternative way has been instituted to bring the “paying” passengers to the nearest platform. Do passengers get refunds? Why is government so bad in preventive maintenance these days?

    And now we are towards the homestretch and we have spent billions of pesos on the different programs implemented to manage the traffic in EDSA and the metropolis but we are back to square one still. Indeed, if time is money, the country is losing P2.4 billion a day in potential income. That’s a whopping P864 billion a year and leadership is not alarmed enough to increase public expenditure on infrastructure! We are 10 years behind our neighbors in developing our infrastructure and yet we will end this administration with nary an improvement.

    Then we have the politics of electricity which government failed to arrest even while some big players were cashing in on WESM. The fact that the Executive turned a blind eye and the Legislative coming in late in the ball game does not augur well for Juan de la Cruz. Had it not been for the Supreme Court issuing a TRO, the pleas of the public would have fallen on deaf ears. It appears that only the Supreme Court is awake in this day and age.

    The politics of electricity is bad politics. Laswell has said that politics is “who gets what, when and how” but in the present case, it is regulatory capture and corporate greed seemingly allowed by government. Some Cabinet members were saying that is the operation of the market when in fact there was market failure when Meralco price increase places our residential tariffs as US$0.37 cents/kwh. That is in the range of the world’s highest with Germany at US$0. 35 cents/kwh and Denmark at US$0.32 cents/kwh.

    And yet regulators do not see market failure there? What is the impact of DOE playing dead; ERC maintaining the position that if the rules allow it, it must be true; and PEMC adhering to “we just monitor and keep the logbooks”? By itself, the behavior of regulators ensured market failure. Clearly, for many in commerce and industry, power is already the major component in their operational costs (SMEs: 40-50%; Cement: 60%; BPOs: 40%); business may retrench in response to the hike. Foreign locators, on the other hand view this as a disincentive and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce has already warned against spiraling power costs.

    By the acts of the three regulators, the increase by Meralco can only be realized in a scenario where ERC allowed it without public hearing, simultaneous shut down on plants and power being sold on WESM at P62/kwh. In this scenario, where was the Aquino administration?

    And the most volatile of which is the politics of rice. In other countries, tinkering with the price of rice is a no-no due to political implications. In the Philippines, it drives cost because of smuggling and government seems to be unable to arrest the modus operandi of big time rice smugglers. Worst, they do not even know them. In previous governments, there were Orders of Battle among law enforcement agencies. These days, we learned clandestine operations have transferred to Bahay Pangarap for purposes of an impeachment trial.

    A single operator by the name of “David Tan” is costing the country P7 Billion in foregone duties every year. Is it hard to catch the guy? Why no, one would just have to look at the paper trail. But then again, the missing container vans at the start of this administration are the way things appear to be in the fight against smuggling.

    Who gets hit in the smuggling of rice? The farmers who now have an expensive commodity compared to the smuggled one. “Farmers sell palay at P18 to P21 per kilo against the rice price of P28.80 per kg to P33.60 per kg. Smugglers in turn can undercut the farmers by selling his hot rice at P50 to P100 off.”

    Contempt in government these days is about to hit the roof and the People Surge has begun in Samar and Tacloban. And we are not even talking about the break down in peace and order.


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    1. I watched the interview of Petilla on the Bawal ang Pasaway last night and he made a real mess of the problem of the rise of electricity rates now a very hot issue among many in this country. Petilla either did not know anything about the matter and one wonders why he is our energy czar or he was deliberately misleading everyone with his nonreponsive replies to questions raised by Winnie Monsod. At the end of the show Winnie said she hoped the interview helped in clearing up the matter but she laid the fault squarely on the ERC and DOE since it is their mandate to protect the consumer from the greed of the power players and they failed miserably. Yes this is one breakdown that even pnoy conceded when he said he was powerless to prevent the rise.

    2. The rice smuggling or technical smuggling will always be rampant. The cost of one sack of rice in Hanoi is about 800 pesos FOB. If this sack of rice is brought here the freight and taxes will be 1,000 pesos. A locally miled rice here is about 1,800 per sack FOB manila. These disparity on prices will induced rice traders to smuggle. David Tan is only a player not main player. It takes a billion pesos plus risk to smuggle shipload of rice. David Tan does not have that kind of monies to risk.