Thursday, March 23, 2017

China Watch 23, Bernard Ong on Du30 defeatism with the China communist govt

I am reposting two good posts from a friend, Bernard Ong, posted yesterday and today. The news titles I just added here. Communists are communists, they are bullies, they hardly respect the rule of law, only the rule of men, the rule of dictatorship.
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DU30 MUST DO HIS JOB
March 22, 2017

Justice Antonio Carpio listed 5 things Duterte can do "fulfill his constitutional duty" even if "the Philippines is no match to China militarily".

1) File a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity

2) Send the Philippine Navy to patrol Scarborough Shoal. Should the Chinese attack, invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty, which covers any armed attack on Philippine navy vessels operating in the South China Sea.

3) Ask the United States to declare that Scarborough Shoal is part of Philippine territory for purposes of the Phil-US Mutual Defense Treaty.

4) Accept the standing U.S. offer to hold joint naval patrols in the South China Sea to demonstrate joint Philippine and U.S. determination to prevent China from building on Scarborough Shoal.

5) Avoid any act, statement, or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.

And we should add Duterte's own campaign promise:

6) Ask the Navy to drop him on the nearest safe point to Spratlys. Ride a jet-ski, plant our flag & challenge the Chinses to suntukan-o-barilan.

Giving up Spratlys, Panatag and soon Benham Rise to China; doing nothing; saying "we can't do anything"; all the while begging for Chinese loans & trains for Mindanao is not only dereliction of duty. It is treason.
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WILL CHINA WALK ITS TALK?
March 23, 2017

China's reported plan to set up a permanent structure at Panatag Shoal met loud opposition from Philippine netizens. This was in stark contrast to Duterte's "can't-do-anything-about-it" defeatism.

Apparently feeling the heat (ok all ye noisy patriots give yourself a pat in the back now), China has since backtracked & said it is not building a monitoring station on Panatag. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said "That does not exist at all".

So will China do what it says? Let us look at the evidence.

1. CHINA LIED ABOUT PANATAG BEFORE

In 2012, there was a standoff on Panatag involving the Philippine Navy's BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (whose crew tried to arrest Chinese fishermen who had illegally caught giant clams, corals & live sharks) and 2 Chinese Marine Surveillance ships (who blocked the Navy ship).

Ex-Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Cuisia Jr told a news conference that US State Dept brokered a deal for both sides to withdraw simultaneously from Panatag to avoid conflict. The Philippines complied. China reneged on the deal & did not withdraw its ships. "We were short-changed" Cuisia said.

2. CHINA LIED ABOUT KAGITINGAN BEFORE

Kagitingan - Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys - has been occupied by China since 1988.
It started with a marine station. Then the Chinese started reclaiming in 2014 - building one of seven artificial islands in South China Sea. Official excuse was to provide shelter for fishermen. They added a runway for an air base in 2015. Then anti-aircraft guns & weapons systems in 2016.

This pattern of reclaiming reefs, building artificial islands & militarizing fits the Chinese template in South China Sea.

3. CHINA TALKS ON ONE HAND. MILITARIZES WITH THE OTHER

Asean and China agreed on a 2002 Code of Conduct Declaration on South China Sea covering the usual motherhood statements – commitment to UNCLOS, freedom of navigation & overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law (including UNCLOS), refrain from action of inhabiting uninhabited reefs & shoals.
What did China do? Ignore UNCLOS & Arbitration Tribunal ruling. Impose 12-mile territorial claim & infringe on freedom of navigation & overflight. Blockaded Panatag. Reclaimed & populated reefs. Built military facilities & installed weapons systems.

Asean and China began discussing a new, tighter Code of Conduct in 2010. China has been delaying negotiations to buy time to expand & consolidate its military position in South China Sea.

4. CULTURE OF FAKES & SUBTERFUGE

In 2015, the global trade in faked goods was valued at $1.77 trillion. 63% came from China. Taobao - the online shopping platform of Alibaba - is in U.S. government's blacklist of "world’s most notorious markets for counterfeit goods."

Domestically, the Chinese have faked practically everything - counterfeit goods, fake milk, fake rice, even a fake lion in a zoo that used a Tibetan mastiff to dupe visitors.

On the diplomatic front, other countries are wary of China.
An good pulse-check can be found in The Straits Times op-ed "Asean contends with gap between China's words and deeds" which is quoted here:

"On the South China Sea, Premier Li expressed the hope that "specific disputes be resolved through dialogue by the parties directly concerned and all countries in the region work together for peace, stability and development.”

“Almost on cue, Mr Li's reassuring words to Asean were put to the test when the Hainan Daily, a state-owned newspaper, quoted Sansha City mayor Xiao Jie as saying that the local government would build an environment- monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal, rattling the Philippines."

“But the Sansha City mayor's statement should not be brushed away. Sansha City was established by the Chinese government in 2012 as a prefecture-level city to administer China's maritime interests in the South China Sea, making Mr Xiao the most senior Chinese official on the ground privy to Chinese plans for the contested shoal.

5. CHINA PLAYS THE LONG GAME

The Chinese Foreign Ministry statement “That (monitoring station) does not exist at all” is correct. It does not exist now.
This statement also does not conflict with the Sansha City Mayor’s statement that China plans to build one. It does not exist yet, but will happen in the future.

China can even claim to be truthful if it went ahead & built a military airbase – instead of a civilian monitoring station – on Panatag. They said “No monitoring station.” They never said “No air base.”
Bottom line, should we trust China? Will China be better than Duterte at keeping promises? Or is this another moro-moro by a couple of proven hardened liars.
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BWorld 115, Centralization and federalism

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last February 27, 2017.


As the world modernizes and people’s productivity keeps rising with technology, the opportunity to escape poverty increases.

But many developing countries fail to take advantage of this modernization because of politics.

It’s like being under an autocratic rule, a democratic but very bureaucratic and tax-hungry government, or an on-going conflict with armed communist rebels.

The federalism campaign by the Duterte administration and his PDP-Laban Party is humming along far and wide across the country. In their analysis, federalism is the answer to a highly centralized unitary Philippine government centered in Manila.

There are merits to this argument. The degree of bureaucratism and corruption in the country has not significantly improved since the downfall of the Marcos administration more than three decades ago. Hence the desire of many people in the provinces to have more power in charting their own future.

A more meaningful federalism would require the following:

1. Very low national taxes, only around 5% income tax and 5% VAT and to encourage tax competition among states. Some will impose a 35% income tax (or total of 40% income tax) and no more VAT, others will impose 15% income tax and 7% VAT (or total of 20% income tax and 12% VAT), others will have zero income tax and 10% VAT, and so on.

2. Abolish several national regulatory agencies or drastically reduce their powers and allow the states to have regulatory and infrastructure competition. Some will require power plants to secure six-year permits while others will require only 6 months, and so on.

3. Abolish some departments and allow the states to put up their own with their own budget and staff and have governance or social services competition. Candidate departments that can be abolished are NEDA, DAR, DA, DoH, DepEd, DENR, DoE, and so on.

These proposals will be unpalatable to many central planners in the government. They are bright, have MAs and PhDs, have long work experience with global central planning agencies like the UN and World Bank. The national politicians will also dislike these moves because they are bright and experienced in national politics and government, so why deprive them the privilege to direct huge agencies and departments?

In the absence of meaningful federalism, island-provinces and regions over the long term should be allowed to chart their own future by disengaging from the Philippines and turning themselves into new countries.

There are many countries and territories that are much smaller than the Philippines both in land area and population but are doing well and the most visible examples are Hong Kong and Singapore. Below is a list of big islands in the Philippines and their comparable countries and territories in land area around the world (see table).



These new countries will treat each other like we currently treat our neighbors in the ASEAN with free trade in goods and freer mobility of people without any need for visa for visits of 30 days or less, and so on.

It is hardly possible for a country with an expanding population to become less bureaucratic and less tax-hungry because less bureaucracy would mean more innovation and more wealth for the citizens while other regions remain poor and many agencies and planners dislike more inequality.

This is a long shot view and may not get public support for now.

But as the world progresses quickly, more people will become more impatient for faster change and improvement in their lives. Governments and regulators should learn to step back and respect more individual innovations.

(To read a related piece by Mr. Oplas entitled “What if the Philippines splits up into smaller island nation states?” please visit the link <http://bit.ly/smallerislands>.
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See also:

Climate Tricks 60, Alarmism cannot produce data of "unprecedented warming"

One of the persistent but debunked claims by the climate alarmism movement is that the recent, modern warm period is "unprecedented warming", meaning there were no precedents in global warming. A friend for instance commented in my fb thread about Earth Hour, "The level of CO2 heats up the Earth's atmosphere and we have record high temperatures. 2015 was a record high then until we got data from 2016 and, 2017 maybe even higher."

I asked him these two questions: (1) What time or period of planet Earth's 4.6 B years that there was NO climate change? You have alternative data to this, 700 M years climate data?


(2) What was it like before this "man-made" CC and "unprecedented warming": less rain, no rain, more rains? less flood, no flood, more flood? Proof and scientific papers?

He replied and answered Q1 that indeed, there was no time or period that climate did not occur in the 4.6 B years of Earth's existence. Then he added, "remember when humans appeared on earth it's activities affected its atmosphere after it invented fire. Before, it was an awesome balance but man adversely affected this balance."

And his indirect answer to Q2, "Before, it was an awesome balance." Wow, from what source? And what is that reference period of "before", 100 years ago? 1,000 years, 1 M year, or 100 M years ago, or farther?

Similar claims would be "we have stronger and stronger typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes" -- ok, compared to when? Compared to 100 years ago? 1,000 years ago? 1 M years? Any scientific baseline? scientific source/s?

Another friend asked, "Did our interventions and activities quicken the pace of climate change?"

When you say "quicken the pace of cc", they mean there is less rain, less flood, than say 1,000 or 1 M years ago? Or more rain, more flood? This is the planet's climate cycle since 1 M years ago.


He insisted to introduce the "human variable" in the discussion, to see how human activities affected the natural climate cycle. Well, the "human variable" is here, at the far end of the chart, past 700 M years data. Current CO2 levels are far far lower compared to that period. What's so scary here? 





Here's a shorter timeframe, past 5,000 years. The "human variable" is at the far right of the chart. How different is it compared to the Medieval warm period? compared to the Roman warm period? 



Data above say that recent or the past century's warming was nothing scary, nothing alarming, nothing frankensteining compared to past warming thousands and millions of years ago as claimed by the climate alarmists and scammers. 
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See also:

BWorld 114, Brownouts, ancillary services and transmission charge

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last February 23, 2017.


Rotational and scheduled brownouts for several hours about once a month, then unscheduled short brownouts from time to time, have become a regular experience in the two provinces of Negros island. Despite the installation of many huge solar plants in recent years.
    
I am currently in Sagay hospital in Negros Occidental to visit my seriously sick father. Last night, there was brownout for about 10 minutes, the hospital’s generator set immediately takes over to supply electricity to their patients and staff.

The Facebook page of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) gives frequent advisory of power interruption that lasts for nine hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) until this month.

Stories and testimonies of frequent brownouts in many cities and municipalities of Negros Oriental in 2016 are also reported in dumagueteinfo.com.

In June 2016, the Department of Energy (DoE) said that line congestion is building up in Negros Occidental due to many solar power plants operating in the province. The abrupt influx of solar power plants is causing the main line, transmission and interconnection lines to congest (Sun Star Bacolod, June 10, 2016).

This month, Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) explained that one of the main reasons of higher electricity is the increase in the transmission charge from P1.0538/kWh in January 2017 to P1.1777/kWh in February 2017 or an increase of 0.1239/kWh. The transmission rate hike is due to the increase in the ancillary service charges of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

There are at least two issues here. First is the presence of more brownouts in Negros island despite its having the most number of installed solar power plants per sq. km. of land in the whole country, more than 300 MW.

Solar power is very unstable and intermittent, zero output at night and very low output when it is cloudy, or power fluctuates wildly if clouds come and go in minutes. So there should be more ancillary services or standby power plants, usually natural gas or diesel plants, that should quickly provide power when thick clouds come and when evening comes. Still, this causes power fluctuations that damage machines, engines and appliances running on electricity and the leadership of Negros chamber of commerce and industry have pointed this out to the DoE and NGCP last year.

Second, how is the NGCP regulated and accounted in its transmission charge pricing and assets management?

Power generation is deregulated and hence, the extent of competition among many players is the main regulator of the generation charge. Distribution charge is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) because distribution utilities (DUs) like Meralco and the roughly 119 electric cooperatives (ECs) nationwide are all monopolies in their respective franchise areas.

So while there are 120+ distribution monopolies composed of private DUs and ECs, the NGCP is a single, national monopoly in power transmission.

There are 12 different charges in our monthly electricity bill. The top six in the table below, and these five charges with lesser rates: (7) universal charge, (8) cross subsidy charge, (9) lifeline rate subsidy, (10) senior citizen subsidy, and (11) feed in tariff allowance (FiT-All). No. (12) are value-added tax (VAT) and other government taxes, these are huge too but not included in the table because they are unrelated to the electricity system.

Of these 12 different charges, subsidies and taxes, the smallest is #10 while the fastest growing is #11, FiT-All: P0.04/kWh in 2015, 0.124/kWh in 2016, and set to rise to P0.23-P0.25/kWh this 2017, the ERC still has to decide on the Transco petition for FiT-All hike (see table).
Notice in the table above the following: (1) In 2013 vs. 2017, all five charges have declined in rates in 2017 except transmission charge which has remained practically the same at P0.91/kWh. And (2) In 2014 vs. 2015, a similar pattern where all five charges have declined in rates in 2015 except transmission charge which has even increased to nearly P1/kWh.

The possible explanations why the transmission charge by NGCP seems to be the odd man out among the top six charges are (1) rising cost of more ancillary services as more intermittent solar-wind power are added into the grid, (2) it passes its own system loss to the transmission charge, (3) it simply behaves like a typical monopoly, revenue-maximizing as consumers and other players have zero option of other service supplier/s.

Brownouts and expensive electricity, these are ironic events in our modern world. We should have stable and cheap electricity, no brownouts even for one minute except after heavy storms and typhoons that knock down electrical posts and power lines.

Government should step back in some heavy regulations like forcing intermittent solar-wind into the grid which can discourage some developers who can build stable and cheaper power like coal and natgas plants. And giving high price guaranty for 20 years to renewables like wind-solar is wrong and punishing the consumers. Technology changes very fast, the costs of solar and wind equipment are falling fast, so why lock the high price for 20 years? This is wrong.
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See also:
BWorld 112, Asia Liberty Forum 2017 in Mumbai, March 01, 2017 
BWorld 113, Peace talks with CPP-NDF for another 30 years? March 04, 2017

Earth Hour 8, Celebrate darkness vs modernization

Earth Hour 2017 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is two days away and yet last night, while I was having dinner with my daughter at a resto at SM Mall of Asia (MOA), the waiter informed us that they will shut off the lights from 7.30 - 8.30pm, for "Earth Hour", we can transfer to a table outside where the mall's exterior and street lights are on and bright. I said they should have informed me earlier so I could cancel my order because I don't believe in that stupid "celebrate darkness" campaign. Waiter went out, talked to management, came back and said they wont shut off the lights inside, only the shop sign outside. Good.

For me, this is the best EH photo. Celebrate darkness even for 1 hour is idiotic. But since campaigners do not really shut off lights 100%, only about 50% so they can have their speeches and singing to protect the planet from the "evils of fossil fuels" as they went to various venues on cars, buses, motorcycles that run on fossil fuel, it's only a half-idiotic campaign.


If "celebrate darkness" to "save the planet" is a good thing, then campaigners like WWF and Henry Sy family should do it every night, 365 nights a year, not just 1 hour a year. Darkness is the bliss of cave men and women, and double talk people among us who criticize if not hate modernity but cannot shake off their love affair with facebook, youtube, emails, cars, plane rides, etc.

Electricity and modernity allowed us to have a wealthier, more comfortable world. If people think riding cars or buses or jeeps that run on fossil fuel is bad, they should stop riding those vehicles and use only bicycles, skateboards and running shoes.

EH is not an ordinary "awareness campaign", rather it is one of the major anti-fossil fuel, kill coal, over-tax oil campaigns. Which have implicit and explicit ramifications in our energy, transportation and industrialization policies. Expensive electricity from unstable, intermittent sources should be embraced by the public. Even if those intermittent sources can ensure blackouts 100% if back up fossil fuel plants are not around.

Climate change (CC) is about global warming, global cooling, warming, cooling,... endless cycles for the past 4.6 billion years. With or without humans and their cars, malls, boats, planes and coal or nuke power plants. CC is natural or nature-made, not man-made.

One friend complained why I cannot respect the other view. Well for private citizens or civil society actions without national and global coercion, I don't mind. But those campaigns and advocacies have plenty of coercive components, like us taxpayers paying for the endless global climate meetings and junkets by government climate and environment officials and their staff, their offices and perks. Or government forcing us to pay higher electricity bills monthly to give endless subsidies to renewables.

Another friend argued that we humans are "hastening changes that in turn threaten our very existence." Uhmmm, exactly 101 years before Haiyan/Yolanda, Nov. 1912, also in Leyte, when total PH population that time was perhaps only 10M or less, when CO2 concentration was much lower, these things happened.


The WWF, Greenpeace, other groups make huge money by deceiving and convincing the public that if there are less rain, no rain or no flood, there is scary "man-made" CC so people should send them money. If there are more rains, more flood, there is also scary "man-made" CC so people should send them money. They campaign to fight less rain and more rain, fight less flood and more flood, fight less cold and more cold, fight less snow and more snow. Whatever the weather and climate, we should be scared and worried and alarmed, and they are the big planet saviours.

So the EH is part of a global fund raising campaign. WWF positions itself as a big planet saviour so it needs big money. CC alarmism, ditching the natural and cyclical nature of CC is about 95% political science and 5% climate science. The ultimate goal is more government, more UN, more global ecological central planning. That is why it is common to see WWF officials migrating to high government officials and vice versa.
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See also:
Earth Hour 5: Celebrating Darkness is not Wise, March 30, 2012 

Earth Hour 6: The WWF can Change Climate Change?, March 29, 2015 
Earth Hour 7, Lesson in basic electrical engineering, March 21, 2016

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Stockholm riots last February 21 and the refugees question

In 2003, I attended a 7-weeks training on sustainable agriculture in Sweden. We stayed in Lund most of the time but we also saw Stockholm, Uppsala, other cities for several days. Very peaceful country, Cabinet Secretaries and legislators would go to malls and shops with zero security aides. 2017, things are different. many stories of riots, arson, looting, sexual assaults. Not in the entire country of course but in some parts of it.


The usual NYT, always blame Trump for his comments or non-comments. If rioters dislike Trump's comment about Sweden and the huge influx of immigrants from Syria, why not rally in front of the US embassy, why burn their neighbors' cars and loot shops and attack a journalist?

I think it is the usual case of high expectation, high disappointment. 200k+ of migrants in 2015-2016 alone, many of these migrants expect the good life, expect high, generous welfare enjoyed by the locals be given to them too like free healthcare, free education to universities, free child support, etc. But government money does not come from the air or ocean, it comes from taxpayers and sale of govt-owned assets like land.

There is a limit to the welfare system. The rioters who burned cars, looted shops and attacked the police, they don't understand that? They only believe that inequality is wrong as peddled by the UN and many central planners, so there should be forced equality for everyone?


My proposal to help the huge volume of political immigrants and refugees is for rich countries to buy some islands in Europe or north Africa and relocate the migrants there. Give them immediate needs like food and housing, initial infra like roads and airports, initial peace keeping forces with time table for withrawal then leave the migrants to sort things on their own. What is important is they can escape massacres and pol persecution from their home countries.

BWorld 113, Peace talks with CPP-NDF for another 30 years?

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last February 17.


After three decades (1987-2017) of peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), all held in Europe (Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Italy, etc.), what lessons have we learned?

There are at least two. One is that the “endless peace talks” for the past 30 years might continue for another 30 years or more. Here is a brief time line of those peace talks that I gathered from various sources.


Joma Sison and his team in Europe have earned huge media and political mileage. They can continue getting funds for these high-profile peace talks so they will want the talks to continue for the next 30 years or more, with their kin and buddies as future negotiators.

Similarly, media and political mileage have also benefitted negotiating teams of the Philippine government, regardless of administrations. At least they get frequent, all-expenses paid trips to Europe. So there is also incentive for them and future government negotiators to continue the talks for the next 30 years or more.

Second lesson, since the CPP-NDF negotiators have been residing in Europe for decades, could it be that the Philippine government is negotiating with foreigners but previously Filipino citizens? My source says several negotiators have become either Dutch or Spanish citizens.

I am not a big fan of nationalism so this issue is not that important to me. I am just curious if some groups will insist on the citizenship issue, will there be no legal problems?

The Philippine communist movement has already been a spent force for so many years. The Philippine government should treat them just like other organized criminal groups engaged in extortion and armed attacks.

Likewise, the Europe-based CPP-NDF negotiators are spent leaders who are better ignored than heard, for the next decade/s to come. They will continue making unreasonable demands to cover up their irrelevance.


Bienvenido Oplas, Jr. is the head of Minimal Government Thinkers and a Fellow of SEANET. Both institutes are members of EFN-Asia.
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See also:
BWorld 112, Asia Liberty Forum 2017 in Mumbai, March 01, 2017

Friday, March 03, 2017

Energy 91, Thailand's bright nights (part 2)

My Mumbai-Bangkok flight (Jet Airways) was delayed last February 12 due to some mechanical problems, delayed by about 3+ hours, it landed at Suvarnabhumi/Bangkok airport evening already. My co-participant at the Asia Liberty Forum (ALF) in Mumbai, Mai Tansakun from Thailand, was with me in that flight, I asked her to take photos of Thailand as our plane was descending because my cp was low-batt that time.


Mai took good photos of the areas around the airport, her camera phone is also more modern than my old Samsung phone. Thanks for these pics, Mai.


I am always fascinated by bright cities at night which for me is a good indicator of the material wealth and prosperity of a city or country. And Thailand's bright Bangkok and nearby cities is among them.


The main roads are easy to see, dotted with bright yellow lights for many kilometers. The secondary roads are also dotted with bright lights, not as bright as the main roads though.


Thailand has electricity output 2x that of the Philippines and they rely more on natural gas, followed by coal. Their natgas is mostly domestically sourced?


There is also better zoning in TH compared to the PH. The roads are generally more straight.
Meanwhile, I was lucky that I have a long lay over in Bkk airport so I was able to catch my Bkk-Manila flight that night.


This is from ADB's Key Indicators 2016. The most natgas-dependent ASEAN countries are Brunei (it is a big nat gas exporter), Singapore and Thailand. The more coal-dependent countries in the region are Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia.


When I arrived Manila from Bacolod last Sunday night, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Manila is much brighter at night than a few years ago. Thanks to more stable, more reliable and cheaper power sources like coal. Also, energy efficiency is also kicking as more houses, offices and buildings are using brighter but lower electricity consumption lights and bulbs.
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See also:
Energy 45, Thailand's bright nights and nat gas power, October 19, 2015