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No need to go far, Enrile's expose on energy irregularities are on record in the Senate.

The Senate, based on the revelation of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who's running again under the Pwersa ng Masa, has its own records to guide it in evaluating anew the performance of concerned corporations amid the water and electricity shortage and soaring prices currently affecting large portions of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

Last week, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the current situation gave more reasons for the Senate to debate and pass the Public Services Act under Senate Bill 1754 and review the franchises and performance of all concerned corporations.

'It is the policy of the state to ensure that the consuming public's satisfaction and quality of life shall be the yardsticks for an effective regulation of public-utility providers without compromising the reasonable rate of return of the latter,' Mr. Sotto said.

Section 32 of the proposed measure provides: 'Any public-service corporation that shall perform, commit or do any act or thing forbidden or prohibited or shall neglect, fail or omit to do or perform any act or thing to be done or performed, shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding P5 million, or by imprisonment of not lower than six years and not higher than 12 years, or both, in the discretion of the court.'

On record, it was Harvard-trained lawyer Enrile who consistently opposed the systematic plunder of the energy sector and the administration's Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) that institutionalized the controversial Purchase Power Adjustment fee to cover the purchasing cost of power supplied by independent energy suppliers after the Aquino regime outrageously dismantled the debt-free Marcos energy program.

Before the Epira controversy, Enrile also exposed multibillion-peso scams of every size, shape and make in the energy sector involving high government officials and powerful oligarchs in the private sector who were not only responsible for the inceasing prices of electricity and brownouts but also for serious criminal negligence. Two well-researched books, Greed and Betrayal and A Country Imperiled, published by Amazon, the world's largest publishing house, also detailed the systematic pillage of the energy sector beginning with President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino that saw the country and its people endlessly suffering from the high cost of electricity.

But instead of investigating Enrile's expose, the Aquino administration and others persecuted and jailed him, probed his family and friends, subjected them to prejudgment of guilt and again charged him with rebellion, and later with graft and corruption.

A closer look at the country's energy situation for 12 years (1973-1985), a specific period covered by President Marcos's total energy plan in preparation for the country's industrialization, was successfully implemented with the right mix of regulated policies and saw the steady, low-cost supply of oil and cheap electricity to consumers.

In that period, the Marcos administration had succeeded in reducing the country's 100-percent dependence on Middle East oil to 92 percent in 1973, 71 percent in 1980 and 57 percent in 1984. By 1985, the Philippines stood as the world's second-largest user of geothermal power, next to California, resulting further to 44-percent reduction of the country's dependence on imported oil. This is worth billions of pesos in savings for the country.

Then President Aquino issued Executive Order (EO) 215 that deregulated the energy industry and deliberately privatized its money-making corporations and subsidiaries, including the National Power Corp. (NPC); Philippine National Oil Corp., a successful Philippine firm featured successively in Fortune's 500 Best Corps.; and the highly profitable Petron that served as a buffer against foreign oil production and distribution monopoly. Petron then controlled 40 percent of the fuel-distribution network in the country.

Before its privatization, the NPC, whose income between 1977 and 1985 rose from P0.4 billion to P18 billion in sales revenue, had total assets of P107.2 billion. The Aquino administration systematically broke it up and privatized the majority of its operations, including generations, transmissions and distribution under the guise of ridding government monopoly in power distribution.

What paved the way for the foregoing was President Aquino's abolition of the MOE four months after the Edsa revolt and placed it under the full control of her office.

The privatization of the water sector came later, and just like what happened to the energy sector, water rates continued to increase in the midst of brownouts and water shortage.

Worse, the EO introduced the injurious Epira and the much-hated purchased power adjustment or PPA, which was used to charge more electricity rates against the consumers.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government, while secretly investigating Enrile, also charged his close friend, the late Energy Secretary Geronimo Zamora Velasco, with having allegedly committed corruption, only to be declared innocent by the Supreme Court.

Velasco soon died but left behind an unblemished reputation as well as his own personal files, copies of which were made available to this writer who exposed in his book A Country Imperiled (Tragic Lessons of a Distorted History) the unforgivable sins of the Aquino regime and those who later followed her in the energy sector.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 18, 2019
Words:917
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