“Garcia is using GSIS members’ funds to enrich Malacañang’s cronies”

May 15, 2008 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

“Garcia is using GSIS members’ funds to enrich Malacañang’s cronies”

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers today issued a statement denouncing Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President and General Manager Winston Garcia’s bid to take control of Meralco, the country’s largest electric utility.

“It’s ironic that while hundreds of thousands of teachers and government employees, who are members of GSIS, are victimized daily by the unjust policies implemented under his watch, Garcia now has the gall to present himself as the champion of public interest in leading the takeover bid against Meralco,” said ACT chairperson Antonio Tinio. Public school teachers make up one-third of GSIS’s 1.6 million members. Since 2003, there has been widespread disgruntlement among GSIS members sparked by new policies introduced by Garcia, such as the premium-based policy. According to ACT, such policies unlawfully deprive members of their full benefits.

“Garcia’s claim that he’s motivated by a desire to lower electricity rates is mere posturing. If he really wants lower rates, then why is it that his focus is limited to Meralco and the Lopez family’s alleged mismanagement? How come he’s silent on the privatized and deregulated framework mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, or the anomalous contracts with independent power producers? These are the real causes of high electricity rates,” said Tinio.

Tinio alleged that Garcia’s takeover bid signals an attempt by businessmen close to alacañang to take control of the power industry. “Under Pres. Arroyo, we’re seeing a return of Marcos-style crony capitalism. Arroyo and her allies want to carve up the power industry for themselves, with Garcia wielding the butcher’s cleaver. He’s using the state’s resources—our hard-earned pension funds—to enrich Malacañang’s cronies.”

Tinio pointed out that a number of known Arroyo cronies have shown keen interest in the power industry. He noted that the Aboitiz family holds substantial interests in power generation and distribution, owning Visayan Electric Company (VECO) and Davao Light and Power Co., Inc.—the second and third largest privately owned electric utilities in the country, respectively, after Meralco.

Another powerful Arroyo ally, businessman Enrique Razon, Jr., recently won the allegedly tainted bidding to privatize TransCo (the National Transmission Corporation) . Razon served as the administration slate’s treasurer in the 2007 elections.

“Once the Lopezes are out of the picture, Malacañang’s allies can easily step in to fill their shoes,” said Tinio. “This is the real agenda behind the Meralco takeover bid.”

Tinio added that this will not be the first time that Garcia used GSIS funds to promote the business interests of an Arroyo crony. In 2004, Garcia withdrew the GSIS’s multibillion peso accounts from the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines and designated Union Bank as its depository bank. Soon after, Garcia awarded the multimillion peso contract for the GSIS E-Card project to Union Bank as well. The Commission on Audit has declared the awarding of the E-Card contract to be “illegal and violative of law.” Union Bank is owned by the Aboitiz family.

“Garcia’s irrational patronage of Union Bank—it’s much smaller than Land Bank and has far fewer branches nationwide—reveals the extent to which he will sacrifice the welfare of GSIS members for the sake of an Arroyo crony. To this day, members, including tens of thousands of retirees, complain that they must travel long distances just to find a Union Bank branch, then line up for hours just to claim their monthly pensions,” said Tinio.

Tinio observed that the Cebu-based Aboitizes are not only Arroyo allies, but are close to Garcia’s own family, currently the reigning political clan in Cebu .Garcia’s sister Gwendolyn is the governor of Cebu, while his father Pablo is the representative of Cebu ’s 2nd district.

Tinio challenged Garcia to make a full disclosure of his clan’s ties to the Aboitizes. “He should practice what he preaches regarding transparency. Whose vested interest does he serve?” #

ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS

2/F Teachers’ Center, Mines St. cor. Dipolog St. , Bgy. VASRA, Quezon City ,

Philippines

Telefax 453-9116 Mobile 0920-9220817 Email act_philippines@ yahoo.com

Website http://www.actphils. com

Member, Education International

May 14, 2008

NEWS RELEASE

Reference: Antonio L. Tinio (0920-9220817)

ACT Chairperson

Entry filed under: 1. Tags: , , , , .

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