There never has been a time in history when micro, small and medium enterprises were given full attention and focus. Indeed, most economies worldwide were built with MSMEs as the foundation, making small businesses the backbone of development, with them playing a vital role in job creation and contributing a sizeable share in their gross domestic product, or GDP. “Tindahan ni Tarsee,” an initiative started by the Daily Tribune in 2020 during the height of the strict lockdowns imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, was intended to cushion MSMEs from the crises and other shocks that disrupted businesses. The pandemic was then followed by multiple simultaneous shocks, including geopolitical tensions, and high prices that have driven social and economic instability globally, exposing MSMEs to extreme vulnerability to supply chain disruptions and inflation. The “Tindahan” opened to provide Filipino MSMEs an opportunity to overcome these challenges. Asian Innovation Forum, or AIF, was a parallel endeavor to foster technological innovation in MSMEs for a sustainable future, with an ecosystem that will build partnerships and networks among corporate players, financial institutions, technologists, innovators and critical stakeholders. Among other things, the AIF seeks to bring financial access to MSMEs. However, the forum encompasses simple intervention of providing financial facility access but includes marketing strategy, product distribution, mentoring, identifying market behavior, etc. The “Tindahan ni Tarsee” and the AIF work jointly on the assumption that innovation occurs when stakeholders and businesses, including MSMEs, work together with a clear direction to strengthen collaboration between the government, private sector, research community, and the academe. The ultimate goal is to disseminate and introduce new technologies, business models, products and processes. If it ain’t broke The International Energy Consultants said its analysis of Meralco rates found it fair and reasonable since they reflect the actual cost compared to other countries whose power costs are heavily subsidized by their governments. Having concluded a lengthy study into the global power rates, the IEC has concluded that the allegation of overcharging is inaccurate. Worse, calls to split the Meralco franchise are a ridiculous suggestion. One of the casualties of this latest grandstanding about the Meralco franchise is retired Energy Regulator Commission commissioner Alfredo Non, who was accused by a certain Atty. Paris Real before the Ombudsman for alleged “gross inexcusable negligence” for reportedly failing to act on the regulatory reset process of the power distributor. Certainly, the camp of Non denies the allegation and calls it baseless and bereft of factual and legal bases. It is retaliation for Non’s post-retirement participation as an intervenor in the Meralco cases now pending before the Energy Regulatory Commission. While Non has not received a copy of the complaint as of this date, he is confident of his legal and factual defenses as to why he should not be held liable for such an act. He will file seasonably the corresponding responsive pleadings with the Ombudsman. Non was a Commission Member from 2011 until his retirement in 2018, serving three chairpersons — Zenaida Ducut from 2011 until 2015, Jose Salazar from August to September 2015, and Agnes Devanadera from November 2017 until his retirement in July 2018. Non was OIC only from September to October 2017, or until Devanadera’s appointment. As OIC when the top ERC position was vacant due to Salazar’s removal, Non had limited responsibility to ensure that the operations of the Commission continued uninterrupted, despite the political upheavals that affected the position of the ERC Chairperson as well as the ERC as a whole. This case proves the thankless nature of the job of electricity regulation. Before this case, Non and other members of the commission successfully secured from the Court of Appeals the reversal of a suspension order from the Ombudsman for alleged misconduct in the Competitive Selection Process, or CSP, of Meralco power supply contracts. The CA ruled that the suspension order issued to Non and the other Commission members was premature, as the Supreme Court was still hearing the legality of the assailed CSP Resolutions at that time. Despite this Ombudsman complaint, which may be considered a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation), Non is determined to continue participating in the pending Meralco refund cases and advocate for better rate regulation. Read more Daily Tribune stories at: Follow us on social media Facebook, X, Instagram & Threads: @tribunephl Youtube: TribuneNow TikTok: @dailytribuneofficial

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