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May 14, 2008

Here is another bomb against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: a new witness surfaces to say GMA met with NBN-ZTE executives in a clandestine meeting in ZTE’s headquarters five months before the signing of the deal that has now become one of the most explosive of the many scandals in her administration.  All along she was claiming she had nothing to do with this multibillion dollar telecom transaction.

… the trip to the ZTE headquarters was so secret that not even Chinese government officials knew about it.

… the Chinese guards at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border were surprised to learn that it was the Philippine president in a white van crossing over from Hong Kong.

Meantime, the President’s satisfaction rating plunges even more deeply at -74. She’s breaking the limits.  She may yet hit the -90’s.

On Meralco, the Lopez-controlled power firm now on the eye of the storm, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile insists the rightful owner of Meralco is the government. He denies that Marcos ever coerced the Lopezes to give up the firm.

… Eugenio Lopez and his brother, former Vice President Fernando Lopez, went to then-President Ferdinand Marcos in 1973 because Meralco Securities Co. that they had owned was in precarious condition with about P101 million in principal and interest that was past due.

“That’s why the Lopezes were hard put in looking for somebody who could bail them out,” Enrile explained.

He added that the Lopez brothers had written a letter to Marcos offering to sell Meralco to a cooperative composed of its employees, end-users and the government. Enrile, however, could not say how much the Lopezes were paid for their share, but he cited a P200-million loan secured by the new owners, Meralco Foundation, from the Development Bank of the Philippines for payment.

“At the start, the customers had participation certificates that entitled them to Meralco dividends. When Cory [ex-President Aquino’s nickname] gave Meralco to the Lopezes, these certificates were forgotten,” he said.

Senator Joker Arroyo believes to this day the Lopezes were forced by Marcos to yield.  And so, to correct a supposed injustice, the firm was handed back over to them without as much a scrutiny over the claim.  He was then the Executive Secretary of the new government that ousted Marcos.

One thing about this brawl is that it could develop into a major inconvenience to a lot of people.    In this case, if it turns out that Meralco was indeed sold properly, something here would be very wrong: that which should have been going to the national treasury had been flowing into somebody’s private treasury all this time.

And it would absolve Marcos and indict the heroes of EDSA People Power and that, my friend,  would be blasphemy.   So, hey, who’s telling the truth?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2008 8:56 am

    Text messages circulating this pm claim the new witness is a lawyer working for Ping Lacson. Source is a text brigade associated with Anthony Golez at the Palace.

  2. May 14, 2008 9:23 am

    It could be Lacson indeed but so what?

    This thing will not die. Like a zombie it will rise up again and again and again because its prey lives in the dark. Run into the sunlight; sunlight would kill it.

  3. May 14, 2008 9:33 am

    Absurd! Let us give that witness the benefit of the doubt. Let him expose everything he knows. Let us just be fair with our President. If the new witness can prove his worth, then better.

    Just for today, I suggest that the President continue to work. There are many things for her to attend to.

  4. May 14, 2008 9:37 am

    About Meralco, let me echo the editorial of Manila Standand.

    Meralco is unworthy of our trust. Consider this:

    1. Consumers in Metro Manila have been shouldering the Manila Electric Co.’s costs of doing business—including its own power consumption of 71 million kilowatt hours, or about P500 million a year.

    2. Meralco buys a good portion of its power from two sister companies, which charge more than the National Power Corp. does. These high costs are again passed on to consumers, while the Lopez-owned companies pocket the higher profits.

    3. Eight top executives of the power distribution company will be paid P97 million this year, while the officers and directors as a group will get P170 million. This seems rather extravagant in a company that has 4,000 supervisors for 3,000 rank-and-file workers.

    4. Meralco also wants its customers to shoulder its bad debts worth P14 billion.

    Is it really any wonder our power rates are so high?

  5. May 14, 2008 11:23 am

    Welcome, Batang Buotan.

    On Meralco, we have more or less the same opinion. But the 4:3 ratio of supervisors to rank-and-file— is that so? Grabe!

    Monopolies should be broken; that’s the idea.

  6. professor X permalink
    May 19, 2008 7:40 am

    During the powercom hearings the ratio of meralco supervisors vis-a-vis rank & file was already asked, the answer was that the supervisors include employees in professional positions like engineers who are not really ‘supervisors’ but who are neither rank & file. A logical explanation.

    If meralco is unworthy of our trust, the same applies to the government who crafted all those rules and regulations by which private companies like meralco operate.

    Am I expected to trust this goverment of the fertlizer scam, NBN scam, northrail scandal, bribery expose of Gov. Ed Panlilio, Hello Garci scandal, etc. etc.?

  7. May 22, 2008 1:08 pm

    Didn’t mean to single out Meralco because yes the government is equally at fault here if not more so. This is the dilemma: the ones leading the attack have no moral ascendancy whatsoever so that taking a critical stand against Meralco would make one seem like a pro-GMA partisan and vice versa.

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