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The Senate blue ribbon committee should be better known as the Yellow ribbon committee, after canceling the probe on the Malampaya funds scam and the Globe Asiatique inquiries, merely proving to one and all that the Senate has lost all sense of propriety.
These cancellations and postponements of these important investigations by the Senate are all based on flimsy excuses by the senators, a congressman said.
United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general Toby Tiangco expressed disappointment over the apparent “delaying tactics” being employed by administration senators in investigating the multi-billion peso Malampaya Fund and the Globe Asiatique scams.
“In truth, I find the cancellation of these vital investigations troubling and hard to understand. If the issue concerns the administration, all kinds of excuses will be made up to prevent hearing these, while if it concerns the critics, administration senators are quick to investigate,” Tiangco said.
For his part, detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada also expressed dismay over the postponement of the Malampaya probe at the blue ribbon committee.
He told reporters yesterday that Sen. TG Guingona had been saying that the Malampaya fund scam would be investigated but it has again been deferred for no apparent reason. Estrada said Guingona had earlier scheduled the Malampaya Fund scam amounting to billions. for a Senate investigation on Sept. 25 but that he heard it was again postponed.

The senator lamented the fact that Guingona claimed the cancellation of the investigation was due to the unavailability of the resource persons.
Guingona, over the weekend, announced the postponement of the Malampaya Fund probe noting that Commission on Audit (CoA) chairman Grace Pulido-Tan and special audit team leader Susan Garcia, both of whom were invited to the Sept. 25 hearing, could not make it due to official business trips.
“Are only CoA resource persons who are required to attend to know the truth of the plunder of the Malampaya funds? It is not only limited to one hearing and there are more opportunities for CoA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and Ms. Susan Garcia to appear before the Senate on this matter,” Tiangco noted.
The blue ribbon panel has not yet set any date for both the Malampaya and Globe Asiatique probes before the Senate takes its three-week session break on Sept. 25.
“The Senate has lost all sense of propriety. Their priority is the political demolition of Vice President Binay. The important isues are being discarded, such as the Malampaya Fun scam and the theft of the funds of PAGIBIG, which are funds from the workers,” he said.
According to Tiangco, it appears that the cancellation of the twin-hearings is intentional since it would take another month before it could be rescheduled, aside from the fact that most of the senators are hard to find.
“When will the Senate blue ribbon committee make up its mind on starting its investigations on multi-billion scams involving the people’s money? It looks likedelaying tactics, in order to bury the issues such as the Malampaya and Globe Asiatique during the session break—and while senators are all on vacation,” he added.
“But if they really need to start the probe on Malampaya, there are two commissioners who can bring out the findings of the CoA and testify on them. Are the CoA findings that sensitive that no other commissioner can be called and other representatives for this probe?” Tiangco pointed out.
“They must now be called the ‘Senate Yellow Ribbon Committee’, whose primary goal is to protect the Liberal Party and its allies and demolish the opposition,” he said.
Estrada shared the same sentiment, saying: “The Malampaya investigation had first, Senator Guingona who keeps on hedging, always saying that he will investigate the Malampaya fund scam, but he had scheduled this for Sept. 25, then postponed this again. And the reason is the CoA resource persons. No other resource persons can be called,” said Estrada.
With the cancellation of the investigation, Estrada called on Guingona to push through with the scheduled hearing even within this week and even if it is not Sept.25.
He said the chairman of the blue ribbon committee has not given any definite date when he would schedule the investigation of the Malampaya scam.
As far as Estrada is concerned it involves hundreds of billions of pesos and that should be investigated.
For resource persons, Estrada said trader Janet Lim Napoles and Ruby Tuason should be invited for them to shed light on what they know about the scam.
“Remember Senator Guingona, the Malampaya scam involves hundreds of billions of pesos, all right? And that should be investigated. You have to invite Mrs. Tuason in the hearing, invite Mrs. Janet Lim Napoles for them to shed light on what they know about the Malampaya fund scam,” said Estrada.
The senator when asked why there is the seeming dilly-dallying of Guingona, he said he doesn’t know the reason behind the slow action of the senator.
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s covering up for somebody. We don’t know. But he always is two minds on whether he will continue with the probe or not,” concluded Estrada.
The resumption of the Senate blue ribbon panel to investigate the alleged involvement of Napoles’ group in siphoning off Malampaya funds has been canceled by Guingona due to the unavailability of CoA officials.
However, Giungona parried insinuations that the postponement was actually to give way to the ongoing investigation of his sub-committee on the Makati City hall parking building allegedly involving Vice President Jejomar Binay.
He explained that it is not due to an agreement with the sub-committee chair Sen. Aquilino Pimentel but because of the unavailability of Tan, who is on leave and out of the country and was informed through a letter of her absence.
And Susan Garcia, the head of the special audit team that conducted the audit of the Malampaya funds is also out of the country.

With Alvin Murcia and Tribune wires

Power supply for 2015 running low — Petilla

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 00:00 Published in Nation

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla yesterday warned that the power supply for Luzon in March to June 2015 is would be far below the required 700 megawatts. 

Petilla, who was in the House of Representatives to attend the budget deliberations for his agency, said
that there is really a need to grant President Aquino emergency powers to allow the government to contract power generating sets because the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) has only raised 160 megawatts out of the projected 700 megawatts that Luzon would need to avert brownouts during summer 2015 when there is a higher demand for electricity. The ILP is a scheme that allows malls and big power consumers use their own generators instead of getting power from the power companies.
“The only weapon I have in my arsenal is the ILP. But my recommendation is that we contract additional power capacity because the ILPs haven’t reached the quota that I need which is at 700 megawatts. We are banking on the good hearts of the ILPs, and in my books, we only have 160 megawatts. Those include those with memorandum of agreement,” Petilla said in an interview.
Petilla warned that the power shortage would reach some 600 to 800 megawatts next year.
Petilla noted that the Malaya 1 and 2 power plants, which is good for a combined 600 megawatts, would address the summer power shortage situation. He, however, said that these plants are old and could not be relied upon.
“The problem on supply is not today. We are not worried about the supply now because while some power plants are down, the demand is also down. When the demand is higher come March to June, that’s the problem. That’s why we need to impound supply up to the maximum,” Petilla argued.
He said that the participation of firms in the ILP program is voluntary, the country could not rely on such a program to solve the crisis.
He said that if Congress votes in favor of granting of emergency powers to the President, a government contract for renting power generating sets is priced at P3 billion and good for 300 megawatts for a year.
The shortest tenure of contract offered to the government thus far is pegged at two years.
Petilla said that under the scheme the consumers would have to shoulder additional P.20 to P.50 cents per kilowatt hour of the electricity they will consume by summer next year.
“That is the price we are hovering at. I still find it (two-year contract) very long. But we need additional capacity that does not exist. Yes, this will cost a lot. But what is the alternative? We have to get rid of brownouts and we will do everything to make sure that brownouts don’t happen,” Petilla said.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said that they are waiting for a draft bill on the emergency powers so that the House “will have to work on something.”
Meanwhile, the Palace said that the Executive respects that the Congress’ power to scrutinize the request for President Aquino’s additional powers, clearing that there’s a demarcation line between additional authority and emergency powers.
Some congressmen have asked the Palace of more details for the proposal of special powers, urging Malacañang and the Department of Energy (DoE) to formally submit details on the request as some remained reserved on granting it.
“First allow us to clarify that emergency powers is a concept under the Constitution, under section 71 of the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) that we are asking for additional authority,” deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said.
“They are independent, we cannot push our agenda completely. There has to be room for more improvement,” she added.
Valte said that the meeting meeting will be an opportunity for Petilla and both committees of energy in the Lower House and the Senate to discuss issues pertinent to the request of the Chief Executive.     By Gerry Baldo and Joshua L. Labonera

Toyota School Aligns Curriculum With Australian Partner

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 00:00 Published in Motoring

Toyota Motor Philippines School of Technology (TMP Tech) has taken the first steps in aligning its current curriculum with Australian standards. Through its partnership with Chisholm Institute, an Australian-registered training organization, TMP Tech’s current curriculum will be updated so that graduates of the school who have taken up the revised curriculum will be readily employable in Australia and other Commonwealth countries. With this curriculum alignment, TMP Tech is not only raising the standard of Philippine automotive education. More importantly, it also guarantees TMP Tech graduates with more opportunities to showcase their talents in the global stage.

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