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Michael Makabenta Alunan

125 posts
Michael Alunan was for many years a full time business journalist tasked to mind other people’s businesses, but he tried venturing later into business going left and right, up and down, zig and zag till he broke down with heart surgeries for aortic valve replacement and two cases of aneurysm. He is now busy with pro-bono coop organizing and social entrepreneurship development for basic sectors and just keeps a weekly column for the love of writing and to have fun and make pun, while contributing to policy reforms and program development.

Solar power faces looming war vs power sector

Solar power is increasingly getting cheaper in the country, thanks to a young entrepreneur, 25-year-old Leandro Leviste, who helped lower solar energy costs to P2.99 per kilowatt- hour (kWh) without batteries, thus raising fears of an imminent encroaching market war with traditional fossil-fuel-dependent power industry, including huge power plants and provincial and island electric cooperatives.

Build an army of ‘economic cadres’ for the poor

UNLIKE rich oligarchs, who can afford to hire the best minds to run profitable businesses for them, the poor are left to fend for themselves, even forced to fight each other in the Darwinian “survival of the fittest” free market law of the jungle, which leads us to the need of building an army of “economic cadres” to help empower the poor, not through cash dole-outs, but to develop their capacity to compete fair and square.

Tarrify rice, terrify cartels, but strengthen farmers

As rice eats up a big chunk of a household’s budget due to inflation, importing cheaper rice slapped with tariffs may be the best instant solution to bring down prices and reduce corruption on rice imports. But the government must not stop here. It has to solve bigger problems like neutralizing cartels and helping farmers.

When problems get too big, build many mini water dams

Amid the season of monsoon rains and typhoons, resulting in flash floods, horrendous traffic snarls, mounting deaths due to rat-induced Leptospirosis, and a host of other social and environmental problems that are all getting too big, the catch-all solution, perhaps, is to build mini dams or catch basins by the hundreds of thousands all over the country, which can also generate millions of jobs.

‘Trump card’ triggers G-7 crumble, China bloc strengthening?

The G-7 super powers bloc is now teetering, which could drastically overhaul the global political alchemy of influence toward China owing to the symbolic ”Trump card” played by US President Donald J. Trump’s insistence on keeping Russia in the G-8 against France’s threats to exclude the United States and Russia for a reduced G-6, while across the globe the China-led bloc held simultaneously the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qundao, as Trump also held a peace summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Co-op building, fuel discounts can prevent fare hikes

Due to rising fuel prices, jeepney transport groups are seeking fare hikes, which must be addressed urgently through systematic targeted fuel discounts and a fast-track cooperative-building program for multiple benefits. Otherwise, allowing fare hikes will trigger disastrous consequences like a price spiral on all commodities on top of an existing inflationary situation that could worsen the poverty problem.

Only ‘Wesphalian principles’ can bring peace to Israel-Palestine

The recent outbreak of conflicts between Israel and Palestine over President Donald J. Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem can escalate and never be resolved, unless both camps recognize their respective histories and learn from the principles of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 that brought peace to Europe after almost 150 years of overlapping internecine wars.

The ides of Marx resurrected

AS the world either celebrated or denigrated Karl Marx on his 200th birth anniversary on May 5 for his ideas that shook the world and changed history, the debates on whether he was right or wrong continue to reverberate among Marxist followers and even among his nemesis—free- market capitalists.

Clean air and ‘Earth Day’ ersatz environmentalism

For 28 long years now, we’ve been celebrating April 22 as Earth Day since 1990 with much fanfare, but it seems like we keep on repeating the same media-hyped events like the Earth Day concert jam on April 29 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle, but neglecting efforts at research and technology-based genuine solutions to environmental issues, particularly on air pollution, which chokes Planet Earth and kills thousands a year.

World faces choice between nuclear war vs new renaissance

The world is teetering dangerously on the verge of a possible escalation anew of clashes over the bombings in Syria and mounting tensions with Russia that could possibly lead to a global nuclear war, while on the other side of the globe, the potentials for a new renaissance led by China’s massive global infrastructure thrust called “Belt and Road” initiative (BRI) are attracting the interest of about 140 countries.

China offers ‘Tianxia’ philosophy to unite world?

AS world attention is now focused on the April 8 to 11 Boao Forum for Asia in Boao, Hainan, China, it is worth studying “Tianxia,” one of the many ancient Chinese philosophies that offer world unity, which we can lock-in China to this commitment to counter fears its rise to superpower may create a hegemon that could lead to wars as what happened to superpowers and empires in history.

Changing the climate of advocacy on Earth Hour

After the yearly global Earth Hour environmental movement celebrates its 11th anniversary on March 23 at 8:30 p.m., ever since it started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, it is high time to assess what difference it has made, otherwise it is time to change the climate of governance and advocacy so as to understand better the opposing views about man-made
climate change.

Over 1,600 towns, cities worldwide now reversing privatization

Over 1,600 cities and municipalities in 45 countries have acted to claim back public utilities and services from private companies, of which 835 were successful cases, showing people’s initiatives to wrest control over earlier privatization moves the past two to four decades that only resulted in spiralling prices, nondelivery of services to the poor and more misery.

‘Loco’ motives behind railway locomotive financing?

AS massive railway and subway projects with funding and technologies from Japan or China are being offered, we need to scrutinize them and learn lessons from past dismal experiences with Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT), to which we are still shouldering the onerous financial burden from foreign-exchange (forex) risks.

Fare hikes can be avoided if DOTr makes right policies

Recent fuel price increases, resulting from higher excise taxes, starting with the P3-per-liter excise tax on diesel for 2018 alone, are triggering inflationary pressures and mounting demands for fare hikes and huge fuel discounts, which can actually be avoided if the Department of Transportation (DOTr) implements fast the right support policies for the transport modernization program.

Tale of contrasting views on transport modernization, taxes

JEEPNEY groups have opposing positions on transport modernization and on tax reforms, resulting in fuel-price hikes and demands for fare hikes, which are now triggering speculation from opportunists and fear and confusion from the riding public that could escalate, unless the Department of Transportation (DOTr) steps in to pacify mounting uncertainties by exhausting all solutions to the inter-locking issues.

Jeepney modernization slows down amid policy hurdles?

The ambitious jeepney modernization program has slowed down amid mounting opposition and prevailing policy bottlenecks, but a hearing conducted by Sen. Grace Poe partly cleared the highly heated and muddled issues, as stakeholders with varying interests presented their positions and suggestions that could help put it back on the road and accelerate in the interest of the broader riding public.

Duterte reforms in coop sector key to poverty  alleviation

The fast-track development in infrastructures, industries and agriculture are crucial to reduce poverty, but increasing the pie solves only half the problem; what is lacking is a fair distribution of the pie that can only happen if the poor themselves are organized through better Duterte administration reforms in the cooperative sector, thus enabling them to be the means and ends of development itself.

Beware the silent serial killer on the loose

The lackluster celebration of the Clean Air month of November that is seemingly getting unnoticed only reflects not only our lack of understanding of air pollution as the silent killer on the loose, killing more than other environmental issues combined, but also the absence of our collective resolve to systematically reduce it massively through direct forms of intervention.

The Trump’s tightrope balancing act in Asia

A slew of contradictions besets United States President Donald J. Trump as he traipses his way through his controversial historic trip to Asia in a tightrope-balancing act amid tensions with North Korea, continuous barbs against him from home, or being compared with former President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia,” while sealing his plans of finally joining China’s “One Belt, One Road” in his separate meetings with Xi Ji Ping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin that could possibly end the decades-old geopolitical cold war.

Brilliance by accident

MANY brilliant great leaders, artists and innovators in history were nobodies, who even had no drive to succeed and were even reluctant to step into the limelight, but were mostly forced into circumstances by accident.

CDA budget, cooperative governance need overhaul?

As we celebrate Cooperative Month in October, it’s worth discussing reforms about Cooperative Development Authority’s (CDA’s) governance and increases in its meager budget, which is slightly bigger than a senator’s countrywide development fund (CDF), later called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Duterte must value life, learn lessons from history

AS we remember the September 21 martial-law anniversary and see people polarized again into partisan tugs-of-war that is sucking us into political quagmires that could dangerously escalate into conflicts beyond control and repeat the specter of martial rule, President Duterte must heed the mounting people’s cry to give value and dignity to every individual life and to learn from the lessons of history.

Fortified rice and new dieting tips for businessmen

Rising obesity among Asians that is traced to excessive intake of bad carbohydrates—like rice, white bread, sugary drinks and sweets—can be checked with simple changes in dieting behavior, a shift to brown rice and the recent launching of the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) new thrust toward biofortification of rice.

A Sona As  Possible

President Duterte’s controversial State of the Nation Address (Sona), again spiced with some expletives in the local colloquial language, is considered bereft of discussions on vital economic issues, as people remain patient and tolerant, although ironically want reforms as soon as possible with jobs, poverty, inflation and corruption now on the top of their concerns, and much less for crime and the antidrug campaign based on Pulse Asia’s recent survey.

Is China’s initiative an answer to financial bubble brewing?

As China concluded its One Belt and One Road Initiative Summit in Beijing last May 14-15, criticisms abound, mostly questioning China’s hegemonic intentions and portents of failures ahead but speculating only based on past anomalous deals, without realizing China’s initiative may be the only viable alternative to  the financial bubble building up anew that will be worse  than the 2008 financial  crisis and the escalation of conflicts that could lead to a possible nuclear war of  global proportions.

Will East vs West geopolitics end with Trump joining China?

AS Western mainstream media raises hell against bogey monsters like Russia’s perceived interventionism and North Korea’s belligerence, what is ignored by media are huge developments related to the forthcoming historic One Belt and One Road Initiative Summit in Beijing on May 14 and 15, which expects US President Donald J. Trump’s participation, a event seen uniting the top three superpowers (with China and Russia) leading to the likely end of the century-old East vs. West geopolitical conflict.

The strokes of deception?

Owing to mounting environmentalist pressures, motorcycle owners and tricycle operators have been duped into hastily dumping their two-stroke engines and forced to shift to four-stroke engines, without realizing that four-stroke engines emit equally toxic fumes, although these are odorless and colorless, thus, escaping the scrutiny of gullible environmentalists.

Agriculture biases, PAJ and the state of agri reporting

The Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. (PAJ) recently held its Binhi Agricultural Journalism Awards, which celebrated the best and brightest in agricultural reporting in various fields, while lamenting the continued biases against agriculture, despite the unanimous chorus of economists that, if proper attention is only given to agriculture, massive poverty could be eradicated or reduced substantially.

P1+ per liter can fund Gina Lopez’s big jobs ahead

IF oil companies can give as much as P1 to P2 per liter in price discounts to transport drivers, and as rebate incentives in tie-ups with credit-card institutions, why can’t they fund Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez’s massive job of rehabilitating closed mines and funding programs to reverse the pollution caused by the same oil companies?

Why not push for a clean-air technology Challenge?

After almost 18 years of the Clean Air Act, air quality has not improved and may have worsened with no massive intervention being done, while over 350,000 vehicles are sold yearly, thus, contributing to the increasing share of vehicles to total air pollution in Metro Manila from 70 percent three decades ago to 93 percent today.

Duterte must tap top students in anticorruption drive

Michael Makabenta AlunanAS poor students can now get free college education at state universities and colleges (SUCs) with the government approving an additional P8.3-billion budget for the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) school year 2017-2018, it is wise if the Duterte administration also taps the brightest of, say, the top 5 percent to 10 percent of these schools to help in the government’s anticorruption drive.

Clean-air corruption kills 10x more than war on drugs?

Michael Makabenta AlunanThe pervasive  culture of corruption  that  prevents  the  implementation  of  genuine clean-air  programs  under the Clean Air Act is resulting in  cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that are  effectively killing over 60,000 Filipinos, about  10 times  the 6,000 recorded  deaths so far under President Duterte’s  aggressive  campaign  against  illegal drugs.

His ‘Trump Card’  to victory  threatens Wall Street

Michael Makabenta AlunanAfter trailing behind Hillary Clinton by 10 percent about three weeks before the elections, Donald Trump suddenly surged to a statistical tie at 1 percent behind only a week before the elections, but finally swept the US polls, owing partly to his last-minute controversial, but substantive, October 27 statement that is threatening Wall Street and the “too-big-to-fail banks.”

Go slow on fishing, yes, but build ‘fish factories’ 

Michael Makabenta AlunanFishing is an age-old food-gathering activity of our cavemen ancestors that is totally dependent on the bounties of nature, but is increasingly no longer enough to feed an increasing population, thus, there must be an urgent drive to go back to Research Development and Extension (RD&E) to produce fish in “factories,” a revolutionary paradigm shift from traditional fish catching.