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Behind bars

"There is no other place for these people."

 

 

It seems the late Senate President Ernesto Maceda’s grandmother of all scams exposè on the PEA-Amari land deal has by been topped by Congressman Koko “Boy Banat” Nograles’ uncovering of biggest heist on the energy front, the PEMC-IEMOP deal.

In 1996, Maceda delivered a privileged speech at the Senate plenary to denounce the PEA-Amari Scandal which involved the acquisition of 158 hectares of reclaimed land on Manila Bay that was to be converted into so-called Freedom Islands, describing it as the grandmother of all scams, and accusing former President Fidel Ramos of corruption.

The deal was later voided by the Supreme Court.

Early this month, Nograles exposed the controversial deal between Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, a government-owned and controlled corporation and the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines.

In what could be considered something for the Guinness, the PEMC entered into an agreement with IEMOP, designating the latter as the purported independent marketing operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, delegating all its power and responsibility to it, even as the IEMOP has only P7,000 paid-up capital to its name and was only four months old then, with relatively no experience in the power industry.

As such, PEMC was able to transition from a government-owned and-controlled corporation to a fully privatized company, thus allowing the transfer of its assets to IEMOP, even if such act was not approved by President Rodrigo Duterte. This alone, according to Congressman Boy Banat, could render the agreement void ab initio.

Compounding the matter are the interrelations of energy officials with IEMOP as bared in the congressional hearing.

During the hearing, EMOP president lawyer Richard Nethercott admitted to be married to Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Caron Aicitel Lascano. He also admitted DoE’s National Transmission Co. president lawyer Melvin Matibag is married to IEMOP incorporator-treasurer Ma. Rene Ann Lourdes A. Garcia-Matibag, who also served as the corporate services head of the PEMC when the deal was entered into.

According to Nograles, PEMC and IEMOP might have committed at least eight violations of the anti-graft act, listed as follow:

“Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: (xxx)

“(d) Accepting or having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within one year after its termination.

“(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions. (xxx)

“(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.

“(h) Directly or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.

“(i) Directly or indirectly becoming interested, for personal gain, or having a material interest in any transaction or act requiring the approval of a board, panel or group of which he is a member, and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against the same or does not participate in the action of the board, committee, panel or group.

“Interest for personal gain shall be presumed against those public officers responsible for the approval of manifestly unlawful, inequitable, or irregular transaction or acts by the board, panel or group to which they belong.

“(j) Knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage, or of a mere representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled. (xxx)

“The person giving the gift, present, share, percentage or benefit referred to in subparagraphs (b) and (c); or offering or giving to the public officer the employment mentioned in subparagraph (d); or urging the divulging or untimely release of the confidential information referred to in subparagraph (k) of this section shall, together with the offending public officer, be punished under Section nine of this Act and shall be permanently or temporarily disqualified ... from transacting business in any form with the Government.

“Section 4. Prohibition on private individuals.

“(a) It shall be unlawful for any person having family or close personal relation with any public official to capitalize or exploit or take advantage of such family or close personal relation by directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any present, gift or material or pecuniary advantage from any other person having some business, transaction, application, request or contract with the government, in which such public official has to intervene. Family relation shall include the spouse or relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the third civil degree. The word ‘close personal relation’ shall include close personal friendship, social and fraternal connections, and professional employment all giving rise to intimacy which assures free access to such public officer.

“(b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 hereof.”

And with such juicy concessions it had secured from the PEMC, IEMOP, founded on a P7,000 paid-up capital, is now raking in at least P100 million a month. All because it had the right connections in the right agencies when it decided to venture in the power industry.

The President had vowed to eliminate corruption in his administration at all costs, so maybe he could take a look at this controversial deal. Maybe he could ask commissioner Greco Belgica of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to probe the matter and file the appropriate charges against the people involved, if it so warrants.

There’s no place for them other than behind bars if allegations against them are proven.

Topics: Charlie Manalo , Behind bars , PEA-Amari land deal , Congressman Koko “Boy Banat” Nograles
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