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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Embedded in government

President Rodrigo Duterte has supposedly received information that some supporters of former President Benigno Aquino III are going around key cities in the United States. The goal is to convince members of Filipino communities to campaign for the ouster of the President in the wake of alleged summary killings in the war against illegal drugs.

This is why Mr. Duterte was compelled to float the idea of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and even martial law.

How pathetic. I wonder how far these anti-Duterte groups would go.

* * *

With the House of Representatives in custody of former fugitive Ronnie Dayan, the former lover-driver-bodyguard of Senator Leila de Lima, there’s a lot of anticipation on what he would say about the senator’s involvement in the illegal drug trade, both inside the New Bilibid Prison and outside it.

Dayan has earlier said he got P8 million from Kerwin Espinosa to help De Lima in her Senate campaign. Will this be enough? Normally it would, because allegations against the accused must be corroborated. But De Lima can always deny them. She has always said there was no paper trail to support the accusations.

Whatever happens, De Lima is perceived as damaged goods anyway. She is destroyed as a senator and a public official.

To me, it was a grievous mistake for De Lima to admit over television that because of the “frailties of a woman,” she fell in love with Dayan. Frailties, my gulay, when as chairperson of the Human Rights Commission and secretary of justice, she had great and awesome powers!

Just how the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman will pin down De Lima is the question. Will the testimony of De Lima’s lover of seven years be enough to send her to jail? Abangan.

* * *

How deep graft and corruption are embedded in government is illustrated by two events. First is the defiance of Energy Regulatory Commissioners who refuse to resign despite the call from President Duterte for them to vacate their offices. Second is the resignation of the chairman and members of the Bids and Awards Committee of the National Printing Office. They say they are being pressured by their newly-appointed director to decide in favor of certain bidders for equipment-lease contracts within the agency.

The committee’s secretariat likewise resigned for the same reason.

The President is somewhat succeeding in his war against the illegal drug menace despite local and international condemnation. I say somewhat because there remains the task of rehabilitating the drug users.

His war against crime and corruption, however, may take longer.

I have been a journalist for the past six decades, and I have seen presidents come and go. I have seen wars against corruption—and seen them fail. Corruption is embedded in the system, and will continue to be so for as long as human discretion is involved in contracts, procurements and bidding.

A competent, honest and strong administration may succeed in minimizing graft and corruption, but the human element in government makes the difference. How do you stop an employee from bringing home pencils and pens, and even sheets of bond paper? Yes, it starts from these small things.

Soon enough President Duterte may realize that his war against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption in government may take more than his six years in office. He may be a strong president, but he is just one person. He is not “superman.”

There must be a moral reawakening not only in government, but among the people themselves since corruption is a two-way street: the one who gives, and the one who receives.

* * *

With the threat of climate change coming over the world for the past decades, the demand for renewable energy sources is at an all-time high.

To support RE initiatives, and to entice investors an energy producers to move to RE, the Energy Regulatory Commission implemented a “Feeding Tariff” scheme in 2010 which entitles the former to a subsidy per kilowatthour produced, depending on the type of energy (e.g hydro, Biomass, gas, wind or solar).

Naturally, the FIT should be a front loaded scheme, meaning that the subsidy should start out high, then gets lower and lower, until it is finally eliminated as more RE sources become available and more people get access to RE. Easy enough to understand, isn’t it?

Apparently, not as some people still cannot fathom that investing in RE is a long-term commitment that will require some sacrifices along the way. My gulay, it’s like these people are five-year-old children who want instant gratification. I suppose it is time for a refresher course in being an adult, and why we need and deserve RE. This is actually a work of government, but it seems some government itself does not understand it.

Since 2010, household that tap into RE sources are charged part of the FIT, reflected directly on their respective electric bills. Because of his extra that has to be paid, change-resistant skeptics latch on to this in their efforts to vilify the FIT. They say that FIT is a way for rich companies to get money of the government, simply because we’re paying for something that we have yet to seem or feel.

Santa Banana, that just reeks of short-term thinking instead of reducing or, heaven forbid, abolishing the FIT. I dare say we need to increase it while the implementation has not yet been running too long. Why? Because the more funds we infuse to subsidize RE projects, the sooner we will reap the rewards. And many studies have been done to prove it.

One specific 2012 study from the Melbourne Energy Institute of Australia, entitled “Impact of Renewable Generation on the Philippine Wholesale Electric Spot Market,” supports this hypothesis. The study was made by observing the energy costs of households in Luzon and the Visayas, where renewable energy plants have been established earlier in the decade. As per study, by increasing support mechanism (such as FIT), that fund the deploy of RE initiatives, customers will sooner receive financial benefits through investments. The results are undeniable. Renewable energy helps lower energy costs over time. The key phrase here is “over time.”

The benefits (or magic, if you prefer to be more whimsical and imaginative) of Renewable Energy takes time to be fulfilled. In demonizing FIT and its funding of RE initiatives, just because we have to pay extra for our electric bill, we deprive ourselves a resource that can be beneficial to the whole nation—and I’m not talking about lowered electricity bills, Santa Banana!

We need to learn long term if we want our country’s RE initiatives to succeed. As with anything, we need to earn what we deserve. I’ll take a lot of patience, hard work, small sacrifices and cooperation, but it’ll all be worth it… over time.

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