With the newest wave of oil price increases, gasoline prices have once more approached the P60 barrier, and have raised concerns about what the government is doing to alleviate the situation. However, the usual catcalls and cries of protest coming from the Left aren't particularly helpful. It does compel me to think about what can be done to solve the problem of high oil prices.
It's useless to return to the days of government subsidy and the illusion of cheap gas. The government will simply wind up throwing money down a huge gaping pit, from which there will be no end. The government would be better off using those resources to find ways and means to create opportunities for our countrymen to rise up from poverty.
Transportation strikes are also not helpful, since they have a stronger impact on the commuting public rather than sending a message to the government. By stranding commuters, the transportation groups do not generate any sympathy for their cause, and may run into trouble regarding their franchises, since they are a public service. However, transportation groups may point to today's fare increase (P 0.50) as a direct result of their transportation 'caravan' (they seem to be loath to label it a strike.), and claim some form of victory.
Another issue is the burden of the value-added tax (VAT) on gasoline, upon which, apparently, an excise tax is already being levied. The government can claim that the VAT is needed for it to provide services to the public, but, unless the government shows any concrete proof of the VAT's positive effect on government services, the removal of the VAT from gasoline products could provide needed relief for Filipinos.
Lastly, I wonder if any audit of the oil companies, especially the Big Three (Shell, Petron, Chevron), can be done to determine whether, in fact, the oil companies are pricing their products fairly. It seems to me that, when oil prices go up, the oil companies are quick to jack up their prices, but, when the oil prices go down, they hem and haw and cite catchphrases like "underrecoveries" to explain their hesitance to lower prices. Perhaps an audit of their books is in order to see whether they've been fair or whether they've been screwing the public via their profiteering.
The main problem of our country is that we do not have any oil resources of our own, and we are subject to the ever-changing landscape of geopolitics; the current oil problem appears to be primarily due to tensions in Iran over its nuclear program. Unless we can acquire resources of our own, or aggressively look into alternative sources of fuel, we will be powerless to do anything about high oil prices.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
It's been a while since I've been able to write anything here. It's probably going to get scarcer as summer approaches, since I'm going to be very busy. This is just to let those of you following this blog know that I'm still around; I'm just tied up at the moment. I'll try to do a post every now and then, but it may be a while before I can gear up again.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
It’s ironic that, in a week where a lot of interesting things happened, I was too busy with work and family to even write about it. There were at least three events that happened last week that I would’ve liked to have written about, and they are the following:
The Iglesia ni Cristo prayer rally
A lot of speculation surrounded this event, which, while touted by its leaders as a spiritual gathering, was suspected to be a show of support for embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and a message to President Noynoy Aquino not to harass its members.
Well, the event came and went, and it was clear that INC leaders were very careful not to add any political color to the rally, which was replicated across the Philippines. However, political color still reared its ugly head, in the form of an alleged INC insider who reported to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the rally was a loud message to the President and a show of support to Chief Justice Corona, who wisely stayed away from the rally. Supreme Court spokesperson Midas Marquez could not resist saying that the rally was a show of support for CJ Corona, and raised the question on whether Marquez was now acting as Corona’s spokesperson as well as the Supreme Court’s.
The President, of course, tried to use the rally to his advantage, and claimed that the rally was in support of him and his policies. In this case, I guess the people will see what they want to see, and base their judgments on that.
The impeachment trial
The impeachment trial drew attention on two fronts: one, when the prosecution decided to dump five of the articles of impeachment, and, two, when Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago went ballistic.
The prosecution, led by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr., announced that it would no longer present evidence on articles 1, 4, 5, 6, and 8, and rest its case, having presented evidence for articles 2, 3, and 7. On one side, it appears that the prosecution members apparently believe that they have done enough to win a conviction on any of the three articles they presented, and the other five articles are no longer needed to prove their case against CJ Corona.
What’s strange about this is that, despite the fact that they have rested their case, they insisted on reserving the right to present more evidence and testimony. That prompted Senator Salvador Escudero III to clarify their move, since, according to Senate President Juan Pone Enrile, it runs contrary to the point of resting one’s case.
On the other hand, dumping the five articles may indicate the inherent weakness in the articles of
impeachment, something that has been rather obvious to the public ever since the House voted to send the impeachment complaint to the Senate. Throughout the trial, the prosecution has committed blunder after blunder, even with the leniency and liberal treatment the Senator-judges, led by Enrile, have accorded them.
Because of the prosecution’s incompetence, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, never one to keep quiet on issues such as these, consistently harangued and lambasted the prosecution team, prompting one of its members to invite contempt charges by covering his ears during one of Senator Defensor-Santiago’s tirades. While Senator Defensor-Santiago was probably going overboard with her histrionic antics, she may be excused because of the prosecution team’s incompetence in handling the trial, and because of the private prosecutor’s rude actions. Still, one can only wonder what will happen when she finally takes her seat as a judge of the International Criminal Court.
Bar Examination Results
Last year, I failed to note that the Bar topnotcher was Ari Singzon, one of my former students. This year, I was thrilled to learn that one of his classmates, Angelo Atadero, was this year’s topnotcher. It’s a great day in the life of a teacher to see one’s students excel in their respective fields. Angelo was a member of the honors class, and I remember him to be an excellent writer and student. Once more, congratulations, Angelo! May you continue to reach greater heights in your pursuit of excellence.
On the other hand, it was noticeable that students of the University of the Philippines (UP) failed to place in the top 10 of the bar examinations. This prompted Senator Ponce Enrile to twit a UP law professor who had been giving critical analyses of the impeachment trial for media giant ABS-CBN, and say that she (the professor) should go back to teaching instead of speaking before the media. The lack of a top 10 Bar examinee also prompted Senator Defensor-Santiago to react to a UP survey expressing lack of trust in CJ Corona. She said that the students would be better off studying than answering surveys.
In fairness, UP continued to maintain a high passing rate in the Bar, although its absence in the Bar top 10 prompted the dean to consult with the UP bar passers to determine what can be done to improve UP’s performance in the Bar.