Sunday, January 20, 2019

Fishpens, fishkill and population

I used to read a lot of stories about "fish kill" in Laguna Lake -- the biggest lake in the Philippines -- a few years ago. Today I googled the subject, no recent news, good. The latest story is about Taal Lake in Cavite, 

Presence of fishpens to blame for massive fish kill in Taal Lake – Pamalakaya
November 12, 2018, By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz

Perhaps this means that the fish farmers in Laguna Lake have improved their system so that large-scale fish kills are now avoided, or water quality in the lake has somehow improved, or these plus other factors. Meanwhile, I posted below 7 1/2 years ago.

June 04, 2011

These are the fishpens in Laguna Lake that I took from a plane this afternoon on my way to Bacolod City to visit my sick mother. Click on the pictures to see their larger images.

Too many fishpens in the lake, just a few dozen kilometers from Metro Manila proper. And much, much more houses and structures to accommodate Metro Manila's 12 million people, which easily rises to 13-14 million daytime population on regular days as people living in the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite would troop to the big metropolis to work or study or do business.

A few days ago, there was a huge report and fish scare as a result of the big fishkill affecting bangus (milkfish) in Taal Lake, not very far from Laguna Lake. A friend from one of my discussion yahoogroups working at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) gave this brief explanation:

... natural incidence where dissolved oxygen becomes low such as night time where there is no photosynthesis. To avoid the situation such as that, we recommend the limitation of stocking density to the extent of the "carrying capacity" of the water bodies. These are all defined in the guidebook. Thus in a 10 meter x 10 meter by 5 meter floating cage in marine areas where there is sufficient current or tidal movement,we recommend the stocking density of 10,000 pieces of 5 - 6 inch bangus fingerlings which if harvested in 3 - 4 months can yield on the average 4.7 tons of bangus.

Unfortunately, others extrapolate that by deepening the depth of the cage to 15. They claim, they can triple their income not realizing that the bottom of the cage might not have enough dissolved oxygen to support life. The deeper the water, the lesser the dissolved oxygen because sunlight does no reach those areas as much as the upper portion and that oxygen gets to be dissolved into the water from wave action. Taal lake does not have any tidal movement as it is a landlocked lake.

Aside from the above explanation, Taal Volcano, in this picture, is a very active one. It is rumbling every 5 years on average, I think.

My friend who used to have a tilapia farm in Taal Lake, Batangas side, gave up his business after several cases of fishkill in the past. There were several instances where he would be harvesting tens of thousands of tilapia tomorrow or the next day, and tonight, almost all of the fish are dead. He and other fishpen farmers in the area suspect that the volcanic gases that find their way into the lake, affect the water's chemical mixture, poisoning the fish.

Philippine population is rising fast, around 1.8 million people per year, net of death and migration. It's like we are creating an equivalent of one Singapore every 3 years. The big demand for food like fish pushes for big supply of the commodity. A normal cycle in capitalism of supply meeting demand when the price and incentives are right.

While certain government regulations may help minimize fishkill and related problems in aquaculture, it's the threat of the actual fishkill and the huge financial losses associated with the event that is the biggest regulator in the minds of the entrepreneurs in the aquaculture industry. And that creates new opportunities for scientific research, like the development of new varieties of tilapia and bangus that are more resistant to certain biochemical fluctuations in the lake or other bodies of water.

BWorld 282, CHR on ‘carbon majors’ and fossil fuels

* This is my article in BusinessWorld on January 8, 2019. The chart below is not included in the article due to space constraints, I just re-included it here.

The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has accepted the petition by Greenpeace and other environmental groups in mid-2016 and it has launched the “National Public Inquiry on the Impact of Climate Change on the Human Rights of Filipino People and the Responsibility of the Carbon Majors Therefor, If Any.”

Most of the climate investigations were done in their Quezon City office but some were also done in the provinces and abroad.

On Aug. 30, 2018, I sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the CHR, asking among others the following information:

• Amount of public resources spent and to be spent on each investigation and hearings abroad.

• Funding, how much: (1) Paris meeting in December 2015; (2) Sept. 24-28, 2018 in New York City; (3) Nov. 5-9, 2018, London School of Economics.

On Sept. 13, 2018, CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio “Totsie” Cadiz, Chairman of the National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC), replied to my FOI request, saying that, regarding funding, “(1) Paris trip was partially funded by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC)…. costs to CHR Regular Fund for the various meetings amounted to P124,396.80. (2) NYC trip September 2018 will be funded by the European Union through its GoJust facility… The budget allocated by GoJust for this activity is P523,600.00. (3) London trip November 2018, CHR is still looking at potential donor agencies.”

Commissioner Totsie Cadiz is a friend. In 2017 I went to his office and over coffee and cookies, we talked about this thing and I verbally expressed my dismay why the CHR would investigate companies for their phony “crimes” of causing less rain and more rain, less flood and more flood, less storms and more storms, less cold and more cold. Totsie asked me to send a written position paper. In their letter last September, he reiterated the invitation for me to participate in CHR’s inquiry.

On Oct. 29, 2018, I sent Commissioner Cadiz a formal position paper, seven pages, and argued that “I think the Commission has demeaned the main purpose of its creation, that it focus on civil and political rights.”

I attached charts, numbers, news reports, photos and other facts showing that climate change is natural and cyclical. Nature-made, not man-made.

a. 4.5 billion years, warming-cooling cycle and CO2 levels.

b. 500 million years of unrelatedness between atmospheric CO2 and temperature.

c. 420,000 years, Vostok ice cores, temperature and CO2 level.

d. 2,000 years temperature reconstruction for N. Hemisphere.

The CHR has fallen into the trap set by Greenpeace and other environmental groups of using lots of scare-alarm-Frankenstein tactics about the “man-made” climate change. Among these tactics are the following:

A. “Last chance to save the planet” warnings.

From 1992 to 2018, there are almost yearly news reports on this. Below are five examples.

1. “FEATURE: Last chance to save the planet?,” New Scientist, May 30, 1992.

2. “A Global Warming Treaty’s Last Chance,” TIME, July 16, 2001.

3. “Climate talks ‘last chance’ to avoid catastrophe,” NZ Herald, Dec. 2, 2007.

4. “Climate change: Paris ‘last chance’ for action,” BBC, April 22, 2015.

5. “Global Warming and Climate Instability: One Last Chance to Save Ourselves,” Global Research, March 12, 2018.

B. Predicting climate apocalypse, all failures.

1. “Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013,’” BBC, Dec. 12, 2007.

2. “NASA Climate Scientist Says ‘We’re Toast,’” CBS News, June 24, 2008.

3. “Gore: Polar ice cap may disappear by summer 2014,” USA Today, Dec. 14, 2009.

C. Exaggerated warming predictions by computer models.

The UN IPCC climate models have produced on average about 2x more warming compared to actual rates in global surface temperature and deep ocean.

People who lambast fossil fuels use lots of fossil fuels via frequent jet-setting and global travels. The double talk can be avoided if they use solar planes, or wind-powered giant kites, or witchcraft-powered brooms but they don’t. Three examples here.

1. Greenpeace. It has launched several polyster airships with big bold slogan, “Say No to Fossil Fuels” — when those airships use propane, a fossil fuel. In addition, Greenpeace people have frequent global travels to sustain campaigns in their 26 global offices covering all seven continents except Antarctica.

2. United Nations. The UN Conference of Parties (COP) annual and global meetings attract on average some 30,000 people: from national and local governments, multilaterals, media, NGOs. COP 1 in 1995 Germany, COP 2 in 1996 Switzerland, COP 3 in 1997 Kyoto Protocol Japan, 1998 Argentina, 1999 Germany, 2000 Netherlands, 2001 Morocco, 2002 India, 2003 Italy, 2004 Argentina, 2005 Canada, 2006 Kenya, 2007 Indonesia, 2008 Poland, 2009 Denmark, 2010 Mexico, 2011 South Africa, 2012 Qatar, 2013 Poland, 2014 Peru, 2015 France, 2016 Morocco, 2017 Germany, 2018 Poland.

On Nov. 30, 2015, New York Daily News report “Paris climate change conference creates its own massive carbon footprint”, it noted that “A whopping 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide will be churned out during the two-week climate change summit in Paris… an estimated 50,000 people, including media and world leaders, gather to discuss ways to wean the world off fossil fuels…”

3. CHR. As mentioned above, they have made the following jet-setting travels: (a) December 2015 in Paris, (b) Sept. 27-28, 2018 in NYC, (c) Nov. 7-9, 2018 in London. Then (d) 3rd week of January 2019, The Hague, Netherlands.

The CHR is wasting its time, wasting taxpayers’ money by hearing such phony claims while exhibiting the double talk on high fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. There are thousands of cases of Filipino people whose civil and political rights have been violated by the past and current administrations, tens of thousands of human lives unjustly ended by the continuing dirty “drugs war.” CHR personnel and other resources should focus there.

See also: 

Energy 119, US oil output now almost 12 mbpd

See these numbers, US oil production, million barrels per day (mbpd):
End-2008/ Bush, 5.0 mbpd.
End-2012/ Obama1, 7.0 mbpd.
End-2016/ Obama2, 8.8 mbpd.
End-2018/ Trump, 11.7 mbpd.
2019 week 2, 11.9 mbpd. Good, 3 mbpd increase in just two years.

Trump is doing his job to bring down world oil prices by expanding US oil production, de-bureaucratizing oil-gas exploration and extraction. But OPEC + Russia are doing the opposite, raising world oil prices by cutting their combined oil output. Their last deal is to cut output by 1.2 mbpd starting this January 2019.

Two related reports:

01/18/2019 | Jason Hopkins

"The agency reported U.S. oil production is expected to rise by 1.3 million barrels a day in 2019. While this number is lower than the record-smashing 2.1 million increase producers enjoyed in 2018, it’s more than double what the IEA initially expected to see in 2019."

Surging oil output will push US towards energy independence in 2020, Dept of Energy says
JAN 15 2019 • Tom DiChristopher @TDICHRISTOPHER

"The Department of Energy forecasts U.S. oil production will jump from 10.9 million barrels per day in 2018 to 12.9 million bpd in 2020.
The same year, the nation will start exporting more crude oil and fuel than it imports, the agency says."

I think it will be higher. Early 2019 the US is already producing 11.9 mbpd, the 12.9 mbpd could be reached by December 2019. So by end-2020 it might reach 13.5 to 14 mbpd.

Cheap oil is necessary for the world, both developed and developing countries. Agriculture now is becoming more mechanized, the machines and tractors use lots of oil; farmers in the Philippines and other developing countries now ride motorcycles if not 2nd-hand cars, which again use lots of oil.

See also:
Energy 117, Cheap oil and Trump, November 23, 2018 

Friday, January 18, 2019

BWorld 281, Trump and Bolsonaro vs Xi and Duterte

* This is my article in BusinessWorld on January 4, 2019.

“I stand before the whole nation on a day when people begin to free themselves from socialism, from the inversion of values, from state gigantism and from the politically correct.”

— Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
President Inauguration Speech, Jan. 2, 2019

When Donald Trump became US President, the US has among the highest corporate income tax (CIT) in the industrialized world at 35% plus other federal and state business taxes. So among his first major projects was to cut it to 21% and move the US away from a high tax, near-socialistic economy.

Trump also exited the Paris Agreement which is a huge global ecological central planning and wealth redistribution scheme that will transfer an initial $100 billion a year starting 2020, money coming from taxpayers of the industrialized world to developing countries. He also freed up various restrictions to oil and gas exploration and extraction and this contributed to a big jump in US oil production from 8.8 million barrels per day (mbpd) at end-2016 to 11.7 mbpd in end-2018, and this contributed to current low world oil prices.

The new Brazil President inherited an economy ran by the socialist-leaning Workers’ Party for 13 years. That is why he made an explicit anti-socialist, anti-bureaucratic government electoral campaign and he won. In his inaugural speech, he noted that “The government machine is really heavy… There are hundreds of bureaucratic governing bodies across Brazil, of regulators as well….We have to untangle the mess.”

Like Trump, he justified and will implement his campaign promise to free up gun possession, rightly arguing that “Good citizens deserve the means to defend themselves.” He also hinted that Brazil will exit from the Paris Agreement. So Bolsonaro is now Trump’s closest ally in South America.

Bolsonaro also appointed an economics team led by former investment banker Paulo Guedes known for their adherence to free and open markets. Guedes plans to privatize as many state companies as possible that will raise up to 1 trillion reais ($257 billion), significantly reduce the budget deficit and public debt without creating new taxes or raising existing ones.

Across the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the top leader of the China Communist Party, President Xi Jinping has explicitly reiterated that he will have no tolerance for Taiwan independence — and by extension, Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, Uighur region, independence.

Currently the main “Yes man” of the China communist dictatorship in Asia is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. He never used the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which declared that China’s claim of control and ownership of Philippine territories within the “nine-dash line” has no legal basis. Japan’s Abe, UK’s May, Australia’s Morrison and US’ Trump use and enforce the PCA ruling by sending their battle ships and aircraft carriers in the area under their freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) of international waters.

Like his beloved communist dictatorship across the sea, Duterte extended the Mindanao-wide Martial Law for another year, raised many taxes under the TRAIN law to get more money from the citizens, also pay many new loans from China in the future.

This new and explicit friendship in public policy, Trump and Bolsonaro vs Xi and Duterte, will have a big impact on geopolitics and global business in the next few years. The former alliance though is much richer than the latter (see table).

One of the 29 agreements of the Xi-Duterte alliance is the “Safe Philippines Project,” a video surveillance system using 12,000 closed-circuit TV cameras initially in Metro Manila and Davao City with a $337-million (P17.9 billion at P53/$) loan from China.

Sen. Ralph Recto has expressed concern about this during the budget hearing last December. The contractor, China International Telecommunication Construction Corp. (CITCC), is an affiliate of state-owned China Telecommunications. The equipment supplier is Huawei, a firm blacklisted in several countries wary of hacking and spying.

Senator Recto rightly feared that China’s police state will indirectly have access to surveillance data by the PNP and LGUs, and Philippine taxpayers will pay for it. Senator Legarda defended the project that aims to “reduce crime by 15% and improve response time by 25%.” Notice that this is a technology project signed by the DILG but with no prior knowledge or consultation with the DICT.

This project, along with many other Xi-Duterte signed agreements, is dangerous for the Philippines: (1) It gives China indirect access to big surveillance data, and (2) it will prod Duterte to extract more taxes from Philippine taxpayers to pay China.

See also: 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

PAGASA 5, Privatize PAGASA and deregulate weather forecasting

Last December 26, 2018, I travelled from Iloilo to Negros Occidental to see my sister and brother in Cadiz City. I wanted to go back to Iloilo Dec. 28 but there was a storm coming, I decided to go back the next day. Around 11:30am I arrived at the new seaport terminal in Bacolod City, all fastcraft trips Iloilo-Bacolod and back have been cancelled by the PH Coast Guard starting 11am that day because PAGASA has issued storm signal #1 in so many provinces in the Visayas.

What a bummer. At the time of cancellation, the weather in Bacolod was good – no strong wind, sunny with occasional thin clouds, no rains. Far out to be declared as signal #1 (wind speed 30-60 kph in the next 36 hours).

This is the basis for boat trip cancellation that day.

Location of eye/center: At 10:00 AM today, the center of Tropical Depression "USMAN" was estimated based on all available data at 450 km East of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte or 440 km East Southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.0 °N, 129.6 °E)

(30-60kph expected in 36 hrs)
Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu including Camotes Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Northern Iloilo and Northern Negros Occidental, Dinagat Island.

What! The storm was 440 kms East of East Samar, and from that area, Bacolod is about 270 kms away. Or the storm’s eye was about 710 kms. away and PAGASA issued storm signal #1, which prompted the PH Coast Guard to cancel all boat trips. Lousy idiotic PAGASA, paranoid Coast Guard.

No choice but leave the seaport, good that my sister has a house in Talisay, next to Bacolod. I stayed there for the night as I did not want to travel back to our house in Cadiz (66 kms. north of Bacolod).

Dost_pagasa issued these bulletins:

FOR:Tropical Depression #UsmanPH
Tropical Cyclone: WARNING
ISSUED AT:5:00 PM, 27 December 2018

Location of eye/center: At 4:00 PM today, the center of Tropical Depression "USMAN" was estimated based on all available data at 410 km East of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.3 °N, 129.4 °E)
TCWS#1 (30-60kph expected in 36 hrs)

Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu including Camotes Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Northern Iloilo and Northern Negros Occidental, Dinagat Island

FOR:Tropical Depression #UsmanPH
Tropical Cyclone: WARNING
ISSUED AT: 5:00 AM, 28 December 2018

TROPICAL DEPRESSION "#UsmanPH" HAS MAINTAINED ITS COURSE AND HEADING TOWARDS EASTERN VISAYAS. "#UsmanPH" may intensify into a Tropical Storm prior to landfall over Eastern Samar tonight.
Forecast Positions: 24 Hour(Tomorrow morning): 75 km West Southwest of Catbalogan City, Samar(11.6°N, 124.2°E)

FOR:Tropical Depression #UsmanPH
Tropical Cyclone: WARNING
ISSUED AT:11:00 PM, 28 December 2018

"USMAN" is expected to make landfall over Eastern Samar tomorrow early morning (29 December).
Location of eye/center: At 10:00 PM today, the center of Tropical Depression "USMAN" was estimated based on all available data at 215 km East of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.8 °N, 127.7 °E)

TCWS#1 (30-60 km/h Expected in 36 hours)
Northern Palawan incl. Calamian and Cuyo Groups of Islands, southern Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands, southern Occidental Mindoro, and southern Oriental Mindoro, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu incl. Camotes Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo,Guimaras, Antique, Northern Negros Occidental, Dinagat Islands.

FOR:Tropical Depression #UsmanPH
Tropical Cyclone: WARNING
ISSUED AT:5:00 AM, 29 December 2018

"USMAN" is expected to make landfall over Eastern Samar this morning.
Moderate to heavy rains will prevail over CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region and Aurora, while light to moderate with at times heavy rains is expected over Metro Manila and Visayas.

Location of eye/center: At 4:00 AM today, the center of Tropical Depression "USMAN" was estimated based on all available data at 65 km East Southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.9 °N, 126.3 °E)

Northern Palawan incl. Calamian and Cuyo Groups of Islands, southern Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands, southern Occidental Mindoro, and southern Oriental Mindoro Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu incl. Camotes Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo,Guimaras, Antique, and Northern Negros Occidental. Dinagat Islands

More than 36 hours, about 45 hours and wind speed of 30-60 kph for storm signal #1 was never reached. Lousy forecasts by PAGASA. And this agency along with other weather/atmospheric  agencies of other countries and members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) along with the UN IPCC are soooo confident, so sure they can predict the world's weather and climate, the temperature range, 100 years from now. Lousy.

Anyway, boat trips Iloilo-Bacolod and back were allowed morning of December 29, when the storm has made a landfall in Samar and has weakened, declared a simple low pressure area (LPA).

PAGASA makes frequent bad weather forecasts and it does not get penalized, unlike firms in the private sector. Instead, PAGASA gets more money. It just tells Congress that they need more instruments, more staff and more training and Congress gives them more money. Its inefficiency is rewarded, never penalized.

See also: 
PAGASA Bureaucracy 3: On Giving Local Names to Storms with International Names, August 20, 2012
Fat Free Econ 44: Deregulate Weather Forecasting, July 10, 2013 

PAGASA 4: On Unjustified Class Cancellations, July 15, 2014

BWorld 280, Provinces and New Year wishes for them

* This is my column in BusinessWorld last January 2, 2019.

Last month, I traveled to several provinces. Below are my observations and my wishes for them.

1. Palawan. I went there with former dormmates from Narra dorm in the University of the Philippines Diliman in the 1980s upon the invitation of fellow Narrehan Peter “Pidro” Sing, founder of Palaweno Savers Club. Puerto Princesa has a new and bigger airport but no passengers tube to the planes. Big malls and hotels are sprouting. Roads are improving and widening but some are still bumpy. The main attraction is still the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which attracts an average of 1,000 people a day. When school is out, the park attracts up to 1,600 visitors a day. Local oil prices are about P7/liter more expensive than Manila prices, bad for the locals.

2. Oriental Mindoro. I drove again from Makati to Iloilo during the holidays via roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessels. Calapan Port has somehow expanded but the road from the port to the city proper — and bypass road — remains narrow with so many vehicles passing. The road from Calapan to Roxas is good, as is the road to Bulalacao. Road widening continues but one cannot sustain fast driving as there are too many tricycles and motorcycles. The Port of Roxas is wide and good but it becomes very congested and “small” during the holidays with so many vehicles and people going to Caticlan Port and Panay island.

3. Aklan. Caticlan Port is good and wide but like the Calapan and Roxas Ports, it becomes congested during the season. It is the gateway to Boracay, that’s why. The provincial road network is generally good and smooth. I did not notice even a single road cut.

4. Capiz. The first time I took the RoRo bus from Cubao to Iloilo was about two decades ago. The roads in Capiz were notable because they were ugly and bumpy. Now the roads have improved and widened but several parts remain ugly and bumpy. I wonder what is wrong with the provincial Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and provincial government — this seems to be a forever problem.

5. Iloilo. Roads improve upon reaching this province except for a few short road repairs. Iloilo City is booming especially the old airport area that has been developed into a modern central business district (CBD) by Megaworld and other big Manila-based developers. Buildings and hotels there are new and modern. My wife’s parents live in the city — that’s why my family visits Iloilo yearly.

6. Guimaras. Famous for many white beach resorts and sweet mangoes, Guimaras is enjoying a very visible economic and business expansion. A boat leaves from Jordan port every five minutes carrying, I think, 40-50 passengers. The fare is only P15 per head for a 15-minute trip. The provincial road network is generally good. Many portions are now four lanes, preparing for the onslaught of more cars and motorcycles.

7. Negros Occidental. My province: I was born in Cadiz City, attended public elementary and high school there. The new, bigger provincial airport is now in Silay City while the old airport in Bacolod City remains undeveloped. There is a new, bigger seaport terminal for fast crafts coming from Iloilo and Manila. Many big malls, BPO centers are now in Bacolod. The provincial road network is regularly maintained and road widening continues.

1. Insufficient power supply while electricity demand keeps rising, resulting in occasional brownouts.

My NYW: That new power plants from cheaper and stable sources (coal, gas, big hydro) be constructed soon in these islands.

2. Many tricycles and motorcycles in highways leading to slower travel.

My NYW: That new tollways be constructed, especially from Calapan to Roxas where vehicle traffic is rapidly rising due to the large numbers of people driving from Manila to Panay (sometimes even up to Negros Occidental and Oriental).

3. RoRo ports that become very congested during holidays and long weekends.

My NYW: That more road reclamation and port expansion be done, and newer and bigger boats be dispatched.

4. Although many of these provinces are big, they are not developing fast enough as our decentralization scheme is not effectively working. Meanwhile, the proposed shift to federalism will, in my opinion, only expand bureaucracies.

My NYW: That someday, the big islands and provinces can become new, separate countries.

(Also, an aside regarding stories of “worsening plastic pollution” in seas — whether worldwide or nationwide — I saw the seaports of Batangas, Calapan, Roxas, Bulalacao, Caticlan, Iloilo, Guimaras, and Bacolod: I saw some of the beaches in Palawan, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental. To me, these stories are alarmist and fake news as I did not see a big volume of plastics in the sea even in big cities like Iloilo and Bacolod.)

See also: 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

US shutdown could mean cutting the bloated bureaucracy

Aside from highlighting the need for the wall or steel barrier at the southern border, I have a feeling or hypothesis before that US President Trump also wants to cut the bloated bureaucracy via "shutdown." This article has somehow confirmed my hypothesis.

'Senior Trump Official': "I Hope A Long Shutdown Smokes Out The Resistance"
by Tyler Durden  Tue, 01/15/2019

" As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down... It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. One might think this is how government should function, but bureaucracies operate from the bottom up — a collective of self-generated ideas. Ideas become initiatives, formalize into offices, they seek funds from Congress and become bureaus or sub-agencies, and maybe one day grow to be their own independent agency, like ours. The nature of a big administrative bureaucracy is to grow to serve itself. I watch it and fight it daily….

The president’s instincts are right. Most Americans will not miss non-essential government functions. A referendum to end government plunder must happen. Wasteful government agencies are fighting for relevance but they will lose. Now is the time to deliver historic change by cutting them down forever."

The on-going shutdown could also mean less climate alarmism among US government science and climate agencies?

BWorld 279, Top 10 energy news of 2018

* This is my column in BusinessWorld last December 28, 2018.

My list of top energy-related news that transpired this year, five global and five national.


1 Despite endless noise in the world to “decarbonize” and “end fossil fuels,” reality shows that the noise is just jokes and drama. The world is still 85% dependent on fossil fuels for transportation (including the frequent jet-setting of global “planet saviors”) and electricity generation.

Also, the top six largest economies in the world based on gross domestic product (GDP) size at purchasing power parity (PPP) values are also the world’s top six largest energy consumers.

2 High coal use for power generation is inevitable for huge population countries like China and India, two countries that experienced large-scale reduction in poverty. The same is also true for industrial economies like the US, Japan, Germany, and S. Korea. The anti-coal movement tries to deny this fact but cannot escape it (see table).

3 World oil prices rose late 2017 until October 2018 and collapsed this November-December. WTI crude fell at $43-46 a barrel. Dubai crude reached almost $85 in early October and collapsed to below $60 a barrel in late December.

4 The philosophy of high oil and carbon taxes to “save the planet” was pricked big time in France. The Yellow Vest movement strongly and categorically declared that cheaper oil is more important than “fight (man-made) climate change” political concerns.

5 “Non-news” to many media outlets but actually good and big news to consumers: NO major energy catastrophes in 2018, no major oil spills, no gas blowouts, no reactor meltdowns, no major infrastructure destroyed by natural disasters.


6 High inflation was triggered primarily by high oil tax hikes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law; higher coal, tobacco and sugar taxes also contributed. Dutertenomics led by the Department of Finance and National Economic and Development Authority remain deniers of this fact so they will proceed with the second package of oil and coal tax hikes starting January 2019.

7 The feed-in tariff (FIT) or guaranteed high price for 20 years of wind-solar and other renewables keeps rising. What was only 4 centavos/kWh in 2015, became 12.40 centavos in 2016, 18.30 centavos in 2017, and 25.32 centavos starting June 2018. This contradicts the renewable energy (RE) lobby’s claim that RE is getting cheaper.

8 The creation of an Independent Market Operator (IMO) as explicitly provided in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 finally became a reality. Officially announced by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi in June 2018, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) was created with Atty. Francis Saturnino “Nino” Juan as its first president.

9 Uncertainties remained in the implementation of the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) provision of EPIRA law after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order in 2017. Voluntary participation of contestable customers with 750-999 kW consumption became wobbly and many Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES) with expiring licenses still cannot get new ones, reducing competition. IEMOP recommended the voluntary registration of contestable customers as trading participants in the WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) in lieu of their mandatory WESM registration.

10 Electricity prices have stabilized in recent years. The load-weighted average price (LWAP) at WESM in P/kWh: P5.37 in 2012, P4.19 in 2013, P4.65 in 2014, P3.64 in 2015, P2.81 in 2016, P3.28 in 2017, and around P3.45 in 2018. Low electricity prices in 2016 followed by a rise in 2017-2018 are consistent with world oil prices.

So what is the outlook for 2019?

World oil prices are projected to remain low next year but local oil prices will rise due to part two of oil tax hikes under the TRAIN law.

Electricity prices in the country are supposed to remain low and stable but will be spoiled by the upward distortion by part two of oil and coal tax hikes.

Cheap energy is good but Dutertenomics thinks this is wrong so the government must make energy become more expensive. Lousy and idiotic “public service.”

See also: 
BWorld 275, The LNG bill, December 28, 2018