Trash talk
JAYWALKER - Art Borjal () - May 17, 2002 - 12:00am
One Asisclo Gonzaga, president of the National Transmission Co. or Transco, a spin-off company on top of the transmission operation of Napocor, has of late been engaging in trash talk in the debate on the proposed power rate hike. Trash seems to dominate his talks.
* * *
If you are in business, you would not want to quarrel with your customers. Certainly not with your biggest customer. But then, as Gonzaga said in a press statement on the raging Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA) row: "Meralco is our biggest customer. We do not want to antagonize Meralco or any of our customers." But having said that, Gonzaga went on to declare that the "real problem" in the PPA row is Meralco. Gonzaga threw the book at Meralco for over contracting its supply of electricity. That, he said, is the real problem. Now, if that is not quarreling with your biggest customer, what is?

Meralco counters that Napocor is the problem. The customer is always right, so they say. Not necessarily. But in this case, it appears that Meralco, the customer is right. Being an energy professional who rose from the rank at Napocor, Gonzaga should know that it was Napocor, not Meralco, that over contracted the supply. It is a fact that Napocor has over 40 contracted Independent Power Producers or IPPS. In comparison, Meralco has only two IPPs. Obviously, the 40 IPPs of Napocor, not Meralco’s two IPPs, account for the oversupply. Yet Meralco, being merely Napocor’s collector for the PPA charges is being made to pay for the oversupply.
* * *
Gonzaga took Meralco to task for setting its Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo IPPs, which have a combined capacity of 1,500 megawatts. He said Meralco constructed the two plants despite over-capacity in the industry of 1,500 megawatts. A power sector old-timer, Gonzaga should know that it was then Energy Secretary Francisco Viray, concurrent Napocor chair during the Ramos administration, who required Meralco to build plants with the total capacity of 1,500 megawatts to help ensure the development of the Malampaya natural gas fields. Specific timetables for the operation of Meralco’s plants were set by the government. The plants were nearing completion when the over-capacity situation came to be.
* * *
Gonzaga must be reminded that it was when the oversupply situation was already prevailing that Napocor began constructing its own gas-powered Ilijan plant. So who is to blame for the oversupply? If Napocor and Meralco agree on one thing, it is on the problem of "transmission constraints." Napocor admits having such constraint mainly due to the "serious right of way problems". It is ridiculous for Napocor to be hampered by right of way problems. Napocor has to put horse before the cart, meaning it must secure right-of-war before it can construct or upgrade transmission facilities. Napocor is empowered to expropriate property for such critical project as transmission facilities. To say that right-of-way is a problem it is to admit inefficiency. All the while that Napocor is inefficient, consumers suffer the consequences.
* * *
Gonzaga insists that Napocor’s Ilijan plant charges lower than Meralco’s Sta. Rita IPP. According to Gonzaga, electricity out of Sta. Rita cost P2.47 per kilowatt-hour while power source from Ilijan is priced at P2.00 per kilowatt-hour. The fact that Ilijan remains in the process of undergoing testing, there can be no basis for comparing power charges of Meralco’s IPP as against Ilijan because Napocor plant is not yet in commercial operations. Napocor’s prevailing grid price (as of March this year) for electricity sold to Meralco stands at P4.20 per kilowatt-hour. Meralco would be thankful to Gonzaga if he would reveal where to buy electricity at P2.00 per kilowatt-hour.
* * *
Gonzaga unleashed a personal attack against Meralco treasurer Rafael Andrada. Andrada has been explaining the issues clinically in various fora. Gonzaga dismissed Andrada thus: "I want to tell Andrada that he should not be talking about transmission lines because it is not his area of authority. He might be good in keeping Meralco’s money but not in technical things like transmission lines. It is not his business to tell us what to do."
* * *
Gonzaga’s personal tirade against Andrada is uncalled for. If an official of a government entity such as Napocor-Transco can dismiss a ranking official of Meralco, its biggest customer, with such arrogance, what chance do ordinary customers have in seeking out the reasons why their electricity bills are so high? If only for his "You don’t understand, so you don’t ask" attitude. Gonzaga’s bosses should tell him to shut up.
* * *
A certain Amar (he did not write down his family name) wrote to say that he enjoyed reading my column items about the good old times and the excellent food at Chinatown. He said that in his office, his architect sent him a glass (mirror) frame, about 3 ft. x 3.5 of Toho’s menu then. Here’s what was written on this mirrored frame: Camaron Rebosado-P4.20, Ampalaya con Carne-P3.70, Pata Tim-P4.20, Lapu-lapu Excabeche-P3.70, Fried Chicken-P5.20, Beef Broccoli-P4.20, Chopsuey-P3.70, Nido Soup-P2.80, Hototay-P2.80, Shark Fin Soup-P3.20, Pancit Canton-P5.70, and Miki Bijon-P3.70, Lomi-P3.70. For beverages, the menu read: Coke and Pepsi-P0.20, Royal Tru Orange-P0.15, Sarsa Parilla-P0.10, and Brewed Coffee-P0.25.
* * *
Amar agreed with Billy Esposo that P20.00 could go a long way at that time. His bus fare from Frisco to Quiapo was P0.10. Bola-bola na may sabaw, plus a small siopao, was P0.50 at Ma Mon Luk near the Quiapo Church. Wish those good old times could still be with us. But then, this is an impossible dream. To Amar, thanks for the memories!
* * *
This came all the way from the United States where my sister Faye B. Cutshaw clipped it and sent it to me:

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove, but He’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.

God won’t ask the square footage of your house, but He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won’t ask about your social status,

He will ask what kind of class you displayed.

God won’t ask how many material possessions you had, but He’ll ask if they dictated your life.

God won’t ask what your highest salary was, but He’ll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

God won’t ask how much overtime you worked, but He’ll ask if your overtime work was for yourself or for your family.

God won’t ask how many promotions you received, but He’ll ask how you promoted others.

God won’t ask what your job title was, but He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

God won’t ask what you did to help yourself, but He’ll ask what you did to help others.

God won’t ask how many friends you had, but He’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

God won’t ask what you did to protect your rights, but He’ll ask what you did to protect the rights of others.

God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived, but He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won’t ask about the color of your skin, but He’ll ask about the content of your character.

God won’t ask how many times they didn’t.

God won’t ask why it took you so long to seek salvation, but He’ll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven, and not to the gates of Hell.

God won’t ask how many people you forwarded this to, but He’ll ask to how many people you didn’t because you were too ashamed.
* * *
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY:

The real life is not outside ourselves but within.

The real possessions are not what the hands may grasp, but what the heart may hold.
* * *
Life can be lived with joy and peace, amid its heartache and pain.

For with God’s help, our hate can cease then peace and justice will reign.
* * *
My e-mail addresses: jaywalker@pacific.net.ph and artborjal@yahoo.com

ASK BORDER CENTER GOD GONZAGA ILIJAN MERALCO NAPOCOR WON
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