BBM’s presidency hangs in the balance

By Herbert Vego

CURRENT events seem to portend uncertainty for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., whose inauguration and oath-taking tomorrow (June 30, 2022) has been preceded by unexpected circumstantial flukes.

There is the puzzle of why “vice-president-elect” Sara Duterte-Carpio had herself inaugurated last June 19 or 11 days earlier, thus breaking the concurrency tradition.

For the first time also, the government organized the Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group (VPSPG) – a privilege not enjoyed by previous vice presidents.

While it is true that United States President Joe Biden is sending a seven-member delegation to Marcos’ inauguration, it will not be headed by a high American government official but by citizen Douglas Emhoff, who just happens to be the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris.

This reminds us of the latest “tsismis” from Juan Ponce Enrile, 98, the designated presidential legal counsel who is now in a hospital due to covid-19. In a Facebook post, he warned, “There are groups in America and in the Philippines planning and preparing to cause serious embarrassment and trouble for our newly-elected President.”

Assuming without agreeing, it begs the question of whether the US recognizes the legitimacy of the incoming Marcos government – or one truly elected by the majority of Filipinos.  Otherwise, he would govern as a “de facto” one in actual possession of authority and control of the state.

Eliseo Rio Jr. – a retired military general, an electronics engineer and dismissed undersecretary for operations of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) – has passed around his belief that the “lack of transparency” in configuration of SD cards created doubts on the accuracy of Comelec count in the presidential election.

It remains to be explained why Marcos scored a whopping 31 million votes against Robredo’s 15 million when in fact the latter had bested him in the 2016 vice-presidential race.

What if, even late in the day, the Supreme Court suddenly declares Marcos’ election “null and void ab initio” on the question of moral turpitude? A Quezon City court had declared him guilty of multiple failures to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.

Would that pave the way for Leni Robredo to be declared the real winner and therefore the “de jure” or legitimate President?

Or for a “de facto” Sara Duterte-Carpio suddenly declaring herself head of a revolutionary government?

This corner is just asking.  Nobody is good enough to predict unfolding events

God bless the Philippines.



WE don’t have to confirm whether electricity users suffer from the global monetary inflation that has devalued the peso against the US dollar, which is now pegged at almost ₱55.  Ouch!

In fact, the electricity generators and distributors are themselves “victims” of the inflationary spiral. Here in Iloilo City, for instance, Roel Z. Castro as president of the distribution utility MORE Power has been trying his best to nail down its rates “as is” but that is impossible.

The firm’s one-year contract with its main source of the cheapest geothermal energy, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), has expired. It is now sourcing power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), whose prices fluctuate in accordance with the world market.

Starting with its next billing, MORE Power would increase rates by an average of 47 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kWh), as mandated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). This translates to a billing of ₱8/kWh, which is still the lowest in the Philippines.

One recalls that when MORE Power took over from Panay Electric Co. (PECO) in February 2020, it had to charge around ₱10.50/kWh due to the system’s loss resulting from power pilferage.

From that starting point, the company has cut down pilferages to negligible number by filing cases against pilferers in accordance with Republic Act No. 7832, which imposes the guilty the penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from ten thousand pesos (P10,000) to twenty thousand pesos (P20,000) or both, at the discretion of the court.

The law also prohibits “loadside connection” where disconnected customers “borrow” a neighbor’s connection. The “generous” sharer may be disconnected or fined ₱2,000 while the shared may be fined ₱1,000.

The phenomenal success of MORE Power in reducing rates, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas, is a major reason why Iloilo City has been attracting investors, notably the call centers and real estate developers.

I have no idea yet on how much the three branches of the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (ILECO) would impose on their current rates ranging from ₱11 to ₱12/kWh.

The big difference between MORE Power and ILECO rates, incidentally, was what propelled congressmen Mike Gorriceta (2nd Dist) and Braeden John Biron (4th Dist.) to sponsor a bill  expanding the franchise to the 15 towns and a city under their jurisdiction.

The forthcoming law would not expropriate ILECO in favor of MORE. They could either compete or engage in a joint venture. Considering the so-called “economies of scale”—which refers to the natural lowering of cost through increased productivity – it sounds reasonable.

When I asked Sir Roel about such a possibility, he would not comment; nobody from the co-ops had approached him.

Let me point out, however, that ILECO still has more customers than MORE.  ILECO-1 alone has more than 100,000 while MORE has only 86,000 customers.

Thus, based on the economies of scale, I find it strange that ILECO charges higher rates.