House Deputy Minority Floor Leader Carlos Zarate has warned that consumers will suffer from high electricity rates if Meralco is allowed to control bidding terms of references.

Zarate calls for independent bidding of Meralco supply contracts

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Deputy Minority Floor Leader Carlos Zarate has warned that consumers will suffer from high electricity rates if Meralco is allowed to control bidding terms of references.

Zarate made the statement as he welcomed Meralco’s announcement that it will revise the terms of reference (TOR) for the bidding of its 1,200-megawatt supply requirement in the next 20 years.

Zarate has reiterated call for an independent bidding of Meralco’s supply contracts.

“It is good that Meralco has decided to revise its TOR for the bidding of its 1,200-MW requirement for the next 20 years,” said Zarate.

Under its old bidding terms, Meralco demanded that only new or greenfield generation plants which would operate in 2024 were qualified to bid according to Zarate.

Zarate warned that the previous policy “practically disqualified all other bidders because only Meralco has a greenfield plant that will operate in 2024.”

“This essentially means that no genuine bidding took place as Meralco would be contracting with its wholly-owned subsidiary Atimonan One Energy Inc.,” said Zarate.

Zarate stressed that the Pangilinan-controlled firm’s old bidding scheme “could lead to high electricity rates for consumers and practically defeats our clamor for Meralco to bid out its supply contracts to bidders that could offer energy supply at lower costs,”

Meanwhile, Zarate also reiterated his call for the repeal of Department of Energu Circular No. (DC) 2018-02-003, which has “practically eliminated an independent third party mandated to supervise transparent power supply bidding.”

Zaraned cautioned the government that the elimination of this independent third party has provided distribution utilities (DUs), like Meralco, the “illegal opportunity to self-deal with their own power generation companies to the detriment of the public.”

“That’s why we sent an earlier letter to the DOE to request a repeal of DC 2018-02-003. In the same letter, dated Aug.15, 2019, we requested that, at the very least, the DOE should revert to DOE Circular 2015-06-008, which allows for an independent third-party auctioneer not appointed by Meralco,” he said.

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Lokohin nyo lelong niyo! Netizens slam Sal Panelo for latest gimmick

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte’s lawyer, Salvador Panelo, rode a jeepney Sunday morning to see firsthand how health safety protocols are implemented on public transport.

Photos allegedly taken by a commuter also showed Panelo at Agora Public Market in San Juan City.

Netizens, however, were quick to speculate that Panelo’s commuting stunt was staged.

“Stalker yung commuter? And that didn’t raise any alarm bells? Lokohin nyo lelong niyo, for all we know, the jeepney was rented and the other passengers are members of his household,” according to a tweet from @AustriaCanada.

@notinherent said: “Aga manganpanya ah. Daming time. Umabot pa sila ng San Juan eh may market naman sa Marikina.”

@mxrknoble also tweeted: “Same ata sila ng pupuntahan ng ;another commuter’ sabay na sila namalengke.”

A netizen also criticized the abogado for wearing the wrong face shield, a protective equipment that gives an individual additional protection against coronavirus disease.

“Yung face shield niya yung type na di covered yung mouth area and usually di pinapayagan papasukin sa malls – para sa mga karaniwang tao. Iba sya e! Tsk,” @StWasabi wrote.

@fly1ngstar, on one hand, praised Panelo for taking public transportation to the public market.

“Ok namn ginawa ni Sir Panelo. Mas magaan din sa pakiramdam kung subukan niyo ganyan lifestyle. Minsan sa isang linggo mamalengke at sumakay sa jeep at ‘wag puro utos sa ksambahay at palagi magarang sasakyan! Normal daily routine sa simple mamayan.”

In 2019, Panelo, who insisted that there was no mass transport crisis in Metro Manila, took four jeepneys and rode pillion after militant groups challenged him to commute from his home in Marikina to Malacañang.

Sinong sinungaling? Defensor says Yap has no Palace consent over P20B cut in military pension

Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor has refuted the claim of House Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap that he secured the blessing of Malacañang before initiating the realignment of close to P20-billion worth of gratuity and pension funds of the country’s retired military and uniform personnel.

During Defensor’s privilege speech last Monday, the former Presidential chief-of-staff disapproved Yap’s pronouncement that he consulted the Executive branch as well as with members of the Senate and the Lower House before he re-channel the said funds to other government programs for COVID-19 response.

Yap earlier during his interpellation of Defensor’s privilege speech claimed that he secured the blessing of the Executive prior to the third reading approval of the 2021 national budget last October.

“Eto pong sinasabing P20 billion na tinanggal sa pension, eto po ay pinag-usapan ng Executive, ng Senate, at ng Kongreso. Yung P20-billion na iyon, ay hindi po inilagay sa Department of Public Works and Highways. It po ay inilagay para po sa ibang pangangailangan para sa COVID-19,” said Yap.

But Defensor was quick to refute Yap’s pronouncement, as he disclosed a latest statement coming from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which said that “upon submission of the national executive program to Congress, P172.9-billion was proposed under the Pension Gratuity Fund.”

The DBM under the submitted 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) has proposed P172.9 billion for the pension and gratuity fund but Congress only approved P152 billion, prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the ratified budget bill in January.

“Ang tanong po dito is, was this discussed? Kasi po ito po ang binabanggit with the Executive, the Senate, and Congress? I beg to disagree, Madam Speaker,” Defensor stressed.

According to Defensor, he recently talked with top DBM officials, adding that “they were surprised after that P20 billion was taken out.”

He further elaborated that if the matter will necessitate future investigations, it would be found out that the P20-billion budget cut was opposed by the executive contrary to Yap’s claim.

Yap later during his interpellation has admitted that he bypassed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco over the multi-billion realignment, saying that he has no choice but to unilaterally realigned portions of the military pension fund, since it may only prolong the process if he consulted the matter with other members of the House leadership.

“Hindi ko po tinanong kay Speaker Velasco kung pwede po bang tanggalin ito. Ako po ay nag desisyon base sa tingin ko kung ano ang makakabuti para sambayanan. Ngayon po, siguro kung na-bypass ko man si Speaker Velasco, pero I’m sure kaya ko ginawa ‘to para po sa ikabubuti. Dahil kulang na rin po ang oras,” said Yap.

According to Yap, he unilaterally bypassed Velasco—who assumed the Speakership during the final phase of deliberations of the 2021 NEP in October—since only wanted to avert any delay which may have resulted in another reenacted budget scenario.

Last December, Yap was among the nine incumbent lawmakers tagged by President Duterte who were allegedly involved in corruption in the implementation of infrastructure projects, based on a list provided by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). (CRD)

Yap admits bypassing Velasco over P20B budget cut in military pension fund

House Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap has admitted that he bypassed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco over close to P20-billion worth of budget cuts in the military’s gratuity and pension funds under the 2021 General Appropriations Act.

During his interpellation with Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, following the latter’s privilege speech, Yap revealed that he didn’t actually consult Velasco over the supposed slash budget being questioned by the former Environment secretary in this year’s national budget.

“Sa totoo lang po, eto po yung malaking… kaya po ako naku-kwestyon lagi dahil hindi ko po tinanong kay Speaker Velasco kung pwede po bang tanggalin ito. Ako po ay nag desisyon base sa tingin ko kung ano ang makakabuti para sambayanan,” said Yap, representative of ACT-CIS Party-list.

“Ngayon po, siguro kung na-bypass ko man si Speaker Velasco, pero I’m sure kaya ko ginawa ‘to para po sa ika-bubuti. Dahil kulang na rin po ang oras,” he added.

The DBM has proposed P172.9 billion for the pension and gratuity fund but Congress only approved P152 billion.

Yap stressed that he has no choice but to unilaterally realigned portions of the said pension funds for the country’s retired military and other uniform personnel, saying it may only prolong the process if he consulted the matter with other members of the House leadership, particularly with Velasco—who assumed the Speakership during the final phase of deliberations of the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

“Mas minabuti ko pong hindi konsultahin si Speaker nung tinanggal ko ang gratuity at pension fund. Eto po yung sinasabi ko na may mga punto sa buhay na kailangan natin gumawa ng desisyon,” the neophyte solon explained.

For Yap, he only wanted to avert any delay which may have resulted in another reenacted budget scenario.

“Isa lang naman po ang gusto. Huwag tayo magkaroon ng reenacted budget kasi po two years na tayo nade-delay pagdating sa pagpirma ng Presidente,” he said.

Yap said most of the realigned funds were channeled to various government projects for the COVID pandemic.

But based on figures disclosed by Defensor during his speech, most of its chunks were reprogrammed to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the budget bill last January. (CRD)

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