Kicked out for a reason?

By Herbert Vego

DID she resign, or was she asked to resign?

She could not have resigned by choice, knowing she had done nothing wrong but had sought to correct the President’s wrong decision.

Kudos to the young lady with balls, Finance Undersecretary Cielo Magno, who would step out of office effective Friday, 16 September, unless she changes her mind.

Professor Magno would return to her teaching post at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics.

Was it her fault that she disagreed with President Marcos’ Executive Order No. 39, which imposes a nationwide price ceiling for regular milled rice at ₱41 per kilo and for well-milled rice at ₱45?

When the order took effect on Sept. 5, local regular milled rice was selling at ₱42 to ₱55 per kilo; well-milled rice at ₱47 to ₱56.

Ironically, Magno’s immediate boss, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, had favored the price cap as “a short-term measure against non-competitive practices by some market players. “

Hooray to you, Madam Magno.  For refusing to play “bobo,” you have simply upheld the law of supply and demand, thus preserving your professional integrity.

The law of supply and demand simply means that if the demand exceeds the supply of a product – rice, for example — prices will naturally rise. If supply exceeds the demand, prices will fall.

How sad to remember what we had learned in grade school – that the Philippines is rich in natural resources. There have been times when we exported rice.

We senior citizens know that the town of Pavia, Iloilo used to thrive in rice and tobacco farming.  But the aging farmers have given up their farms to subdivision developers.

In his concurrent role as boss of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Marcos has miserably failed to deliver what we expect. Eh kasi, with no basic exposure to farm life, he should never have been there.

Since he knows that we are in short supply of rice, why has he not even lifted a finger to reverse the low productivity of our farmlands?  On the contrary he has encouraged importation that has left us at the mercy of smugglers and cartelized importers who manipulate artificial shortage to justify inflation.  Marcos knows them for sure. But why has he not run after them?

To reiterate, no less than an Ilonggo congressman, Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr. (Sultan Kudarat, 2nd District) had asked Congress to probe the involvement of 10 traders, brokers and facilitators in “widespread, large-scale smuggling”.

Suansing mentioned a “Michael Ma” as one of them, probably not knowing him to be a “friend” of the Marcoses.

No wonder it was only a minor player named Leah Cruz who braved the make-believe inquiry.

Now we know why the House probe ended up like a dud bomb, and why BBM would love to head the DA.

Making scapegoats out of retailers would not hide the President’s refusal to hold the smugglers liable.

According to the Grains Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GRECON) national spokesperson Orly Manuntag, any retailer who plays “hero” by following the President’s order could lose at least ₱49,000 in just one week.

The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) released a statement, saying Marcos’ EO 39 would drive away supply and fuel the black market, and traders would use it to buy palay from farmers at lower prices.  Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie.

We remember that only two months ago (July 2023), prices of local regular milled rice ranged from ₱36 to ₱44 per  kilo while the well-milled was priced at ₱40 to ₱49.

Naku, Bongbong ha, after failing to fulfill your campaign promise of ₱20/kilo rice, you think we would be happy with the now hard-to-find ₱41 per kilo?



NOW it can be told that the customers of Central Negros Cooperative (CENECO) did right in voting “yes” in the plebiscite, forging a joint venture agreement with Primelectric.

If I remember right, 62 percent of the 178,236 eligible voters voted “yes” while only 18 percent went “no”.

That was expected, since they had been thoroughly informed of the financial quagmire that had buried Ceneco deep in debt.  As admitted by Arnel Lapore, its acting general manager, Ceneco was losing at least ₱20 million per month.

It is therefore no exaggeration to say that Primelectric, the new affiliate of the efficient MORE Power of Iloilo City, has come to the rescue.

Thanks to the massive information campaigns that convinced the Negrenses about the benefits that would accrue from the joint venture, namely better services and cheaper rates.

Primelectric/MORE Power President Roel Z. Castro faces the daunting challenge of reversing Ceneco’s situation under a new name, probably Negros Electric and Power Corp. (NEPC).

It is no joke to serve 210,000 households in the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay, and Silay, and the towns of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto.

I understand that Ceneco has lagged behind in accommodating around 5,000 applications for new connections due to lack of new electric meters.

The old defective meters are prone to malfunctioning, thus increasing the likelihood of system’s loss and power pilferage.

The same problems had haunted MORE Power when it took over the former distribution utility in Iloilo.  With such problems gone, the company has managed to sell the cheapest rates in Western Visayas in the past eight months, now at ₱10.98 per kilowatt-hour.

Incidentally, solar energy is now becoming affordable. Sana all ang makinabang.


  1. Here in Los Angeles California I read Herbert Vego’s columns every week. I stay informed about politics and the power company. I trust his research and fair assessments. A few times I did my own research to find out Herbert was right on the money. My wife and I plan on returning to Iloilo soon…The Guardian columns are most helpful…Victor B. D’Agostino/Los Angeles

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