By Rose de la Cruz

 

With the recent appointment of Agnes Devanadera as chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission and Alexis Lumbatan as Commissioner, another member needs to be appointed to make a quorum.

 

Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Inc., said a quorum is needed to address rising electricity costs during the elevated world oil prices and the continuing deterioration of the peso versus the dollar.

 

Devanadera and recently-appointed Commissioner Alexis Lumbatan are the only members holding fort now at the regulatory agency. They need one more commissioner to constitute a quorum so they can approve resolutions and decide on pending petitions, including those that can reduce electricity charges, he said.

 

"I am appealing to Malacanang to name very soon the commissioner who will fill the current lone vacancy in the ERC," Uybarreta said. Two commissioners are under Ombudsman suspension.

 

The congressman noted how, an 11.4 percent increase in energy costs of consumers led to nearly a full percentage point contribution--0.8 to be exact--to the 6.4 percent inflation recorded last month of August. Energy costs account for 7.44 percent of the consumer price index.

 

"As soon as the third commissioner is appointed, I ask ERC chairperson Devanadera to immediately convene the ERC commission en banc so they can make up for lost time," Uybarreta also said.

 

Devanadera’s last government post was Secretary of Justice under former President Arrroyo—which was preceded by her stint as Solicitor General.

 

Lumbatan, a personal friend of President Duterte, is known for his political antics that became viral on the internet especially during the president’s inauguration.

 

 

With Middle East oil futures seen easing, govt. eyes price unbundling for transparency

By Rose de la Cruz

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

With the futures trading of oil seen easing to $75 per barrel in June, then sliding to $69 for June 2019 and further to $65 by December 2019, government would have to initiate a national stockpiling program for crude to ensure the country against wild fluctuations of this vital commodity in the months ahead.

 

Some congressmen are even asking the Department of Energy to also make public the unbundling of oil prices similar to the unbundling of electricity charges.

 

Rep. Ciriaco Calalang, Kabayan partylist, said the earlier-feared $80 per barrel level would likely be avoided because the futures prices show crude oil peaking at close to $75 in June 2018, then sliding toward $69 for June 2019, and further slipping to about $65 for December 2019.

 

It looks like Dubai crude oil will stay above $70 until May or June next year. Our country started feeling the pain as crude prices approached $70. Considering this, safety nets must still be activated and deployed, he said.

 

For June 2022, when the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte ends, the Dubai crude futures price is at about $54.

 

Calalang said the country needs to overcome June 2018 because of the rising crude prices in the world market because of increased oil demand from the summer vacation travel and transport season which begins in June for many parts of the world.

 

Latest data, he said showed that Dubai oil prices would not hit $80 per barrel and because of this, there is no need to suspend the TRAIN excise tax on imported oil and fuel products.

 

Considering these latest figures, the Department of Finance would not have reason to suspend the excise tax on imported oil and fuel as it is authorized to do in the TRAIN Law.

 

Unless some new events and factors emerge over the next months to upset the Dubai crude oil forecasts, we now see a gradual easing of inflation pressures on the Philippine economy.

 

A lot also depends on how the OPEC countries behave in the oil market.https://goo.gl/zRgyGu

 

We now have the opportunity to build our own national strategic fuel reserves. I had suggested this before.

 

When Dubai crude returns to below $60 per barrel, that would be the opportune time to stock up on petroleum and petroleum products. 

 

Unbundling

 

Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, 1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy, said he welcomes the statement by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi that the DOE will come out with a policy on unbundling petroleum product prices. “We need to unbundle the prices. It has to happen," Cusi was quoted as saying in a DOE report.

 

As Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy, I will work with the DOE on this. Executive branch decisions on the unbundling of fuel prices would be good. However, for fuel price transparency to truly take hold and last, the unbundling must be firmly established by law, he said.

 

Filipinos must know why the fuel they buy costs so much.

 

Uybarreta said that with the unbundling of fuel prices, point of sale purchases of gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and LPG would have to show the breakdowns of the costing of the fuel, in somewhat the same way as the breakdown of our electricity bills.

 

The receipt of fuel bought at the gas stations must show crude oil cost, when it was bought, and the price components because of importation excise tax paid, foreign exchange currency adjustments, refining costs, and distribution costs. Making this happen will need some doing in terms of billing technology execution, but it can be done, he added.

 

Fuel price transparency is an absolute necessity whether fuel prices are high or low because full public disclosure, similar to what is happening in the Philippine stock exchange and in the unbundled electricity rates, is what ought to happen with fuels.

 

By fuels, I mean not just the liquid fuels but coal as well. Coal, because it is a fuel for some of our power plants.

 

Implementation of the unbundling of fuel prices might be more difficult than our country's experience with the unbundling of electricity rates, partly because of the necessity of having an online database of all the fuel prices sold all over the country and relevant data on the cost breakdown of all fuel sold from the time of importation to point of sale.

 

For even greater transparency, the general public must be able to view all that data using their own desktop computers and mobile devices. The data and the database must be open to regular and surprise spot audits by external private auditors and the Commission on Audit.

 

That is the level of transparency the Filipino people deserve.

 

Fuel price transparency policies and processes have been in place in other countries for years now. It has taken so long for this to come to our shores. It is long overdue. The time for it has finally come.

`

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

For wrongly tagging two Quezon City kagawad as suspects in the fatal stabbing of Ombudsman Assistant Special Prosecutor Madonna Joy Ednaco Tanyag.

 

Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, former QC Councilor of District 1, said Barangay Vasra kagawad Oliver Pascasio and kagawad-elect Segundo Antenor, were written in the police blotter as suspects without even conducting the proper investigation or because of flawed English.

 

Rappler and PTV-4 must conduct their own internal review to determine how they made their mistakes out in the field and in their newsrooms.

 

The fact is Pascasio and Antenor came to the rescue of the Ombudsman prosecutor and rushed her to hospital in an effort to save her life.  She said she was a QC councilor for three terms before being elected as Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative in Congress.

 

It is disgusting that Rappler and PTV-4 reported them as suspects and in the process maligned their honor before the public and to their constituents in Barangay Vasra in particular.

 

Retractions of the wrongful Rappler and PTV-4 reports are not sufficient.

 

She said she demands a public apology by them and by the local QC police.

 

She also demanded that the reporters, editors and QC police officers personally apologize to Kagawad Pascasio and Antenor for what they did to them.

 

 

They can defend their actions, present reasons for the errors all they want. The bottom line is they named the wrong suspects and for that they must apologize.

 

She also took the opportunity to appeal to PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde and PNP NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar to investigate the wrongful identification of the two QC kagawad as suspects.

 

She also asked the police to intensify their war against street crimes and illegal drugs. “We need more police visibility. Quezon City has long been a hotbed and nest of drug pushers and drug addicts. The PNP clearly must do more but within the bounds of human rights protocols and law,” she said.

 

She also cited the need for more law enforcement training for all barangay tanod and for more PNP who know how to investigate, she added.

 

We need first aid training for barangay officials and tanods so they can save lives on the spot and not just rush victims to the hospitals.

 

Street crimes are often done by street gangs and some violent neighborhood fraternities. We need the new anti-hazing law now because that has provisions that will protect citizens against neighborhood fraternities that commit street crimes.

 

Also, Kagawad Pascasio, Antenor, and Bagong Henerasyon Party-list condole with the family, friends, and colleagues of Assistant Special Prosecutor Tanyag on her violent and untimely death.

 

 

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Exempting the first P250,000 of individual income from the TRAIN (tax reform for acceleration and inclusion) tax hikes and the resultant price increases will be the best shield for the middle class.

 

Thus said Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero, 1 PACMAN partylist and assistant majority leader as he took note of the inflation forecast of the Development Budget Coordinating Council that factored in the impact of TRAIN. For 2018-2020 it is at 3 percent ± 1 percentage point. The Bangko Sentral of the Philippines inflation forecast is 3.4 percent.

 

He said “fear mongers” continue to paint the TRAIN Law as bad for Filipinos, when it is not. TRAIN is one of the most historic tax laws of the country that corrects the gross injustice of the old income tax system on the middle class and the poor since the 1990s.

 

The second TRAIN is coming soon, said Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez. Romero said he looks forward to seeing the details of the second tax reform package and working with President Duterte’s economic advisers to arrive at the right mix for the people and the economy.

 

“When individual income taxpayers start receiving their salaries in January, the fear mongers’ protestations of gloom and doom will fall on deaf ears. When the poor get their tax reform cash transfer subsidies, the fear mongers will encounter deafer ears. When college students enroll in State universities and colleges, they would encounter deafer ears. Soon enough, the fear mongers will only have each other to talk with,” he said.

 

He offered some advice to salary earners, the self-employed and small-scale entrepreneurs on how their personal disposable income can be put to good use.

 

“Remember all those times before when you or your loved ones got sick or you needed cash for tuition and you wished you had some extra cash stashed away? Now would be the time to open an extra savings account to which you will transfer some or all of the extra cash because of TRAIN,” he said.

 

Another way to save for those emergencies is to purchase a pre-need medical plan for ER, diagnostic exams, and hospitalization.

 

Savings can also be used for buying assets that will earn additional net income for the family, but before embarking on that please compute all the costs, risks, and conservatively estimate for possible future income, he said.

 

 

The very last thing you should spend that extra cash on is impulse buying, purchasing out of want instead of need,  or any other expense that does not come with a future benefit. 

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