POSTSCRIPT / November 13, 2001 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

Share This

Napocor used P470M for power bill passage?

ALCORDO RAPPED: If the temper of some National Power Corp. personnel and their startling revelations are any indication, Napocor president Jesus Alcordo may yet be the second administration official, next to Transportation Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez, to face plunder or similarly serious charges.

Some “concerned Napocor employees” have just written the Office of the Ombudsman accusing Alcordo of plunder for the fastbreak release of P470 million for congressmen’s projects under the “O Ilaw” rural electrification program of former President Erap Estrada.

The employees said the millions were given out without approval of the Napocor board and without the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the National Electrification Administration that was supposed to be the cover for the fund release.

* * *

‘TWAS LOBBY MONEY?: The timing of Alcordo’s hurried release of P470 million last May 28 has raised suspicion also that the millions were part of the “lobby money” reportedly doled out to some congressmen called to a May 28-31 special session to pass the Electric Power Industry Act, popularly known as the Omnibus Power Bill.

The paper trail indicates that the P470 million came from the financially sick Napocor, was transferred to the NEA, the lead agency for rural electrification, and then distributed to chosen congressmen with “O Ilaw” projects.

The money must have helped convince enough congressmen to pass the measure on the last day of the four-day special session. It was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last June 8 despite widespread objections.

* * *

MAD RUSH ON MAY 28: Documents in our possession indicate that Alcordo and his counterpart at NEA, Administrator Manuel Luis Sanchez, were extremely busy during the May 28-31 special session.

On May 28, NEA requested for the release of P470 million from Napocor. Despite his firm’s financial problems, Alcordo acted swiftly. In 1-2-3 fashion, he promptly approved the request; directed his finance people to process posthaste the transfer of the funds to NEA, and sent a voucher to the Development Bank of the Philippines authorizing the immediate withdrawal of the money.

That same day, May 28, Alcordo still found time to call a special Napocor management meeting where he convinced -­ or at least tried to -­ wary officials that funds for “O Ilaw” projects could be transferred to NEA without the approval of the board.

After the special meeting, lawyer Alberto Pangcog, corporate secretary and known gofer of Alcordo, issued a “Secretary’s Certificate” attesting that the release of the funds need not be submitted to and approved by the board.

* * *

PROTESTING EXECS VANISH: Napocor’s finance officials who had complained to the Ombudsman went on leave when they were directed to process the release of the P470 million without specific board approval.

Sources told us that Pangcog went to the homes of the finance officials to beg, cajole, threaten, or otherwise put them under duress into affixing their signatures or initials on documents pertaining to the P470-million meant for congressmen.

In their complaint, the finance officials said Alcordo and Pangcog committed plunder and not just malversation of funds in ordering and rushing the questioned release of P470 million from the supposedly cash-starved state power firm.

* * *

P470M INCENTIVE FOR SOLONS: Documents give the impression that Napocor was in a hurry to deliver the money to the congressmen during the special session, presumably to help ensure the passage of the Omnibus Power Bill. There was no other urgent reason to rush the fund release to them.

While Alcordo ordered on May 28 the release of the P470 million under a supposed Napocor-NEA memorandum of agreement for “O Ilaw” projects, the MOA was signed only the next day, May 29, and notarized on May 31. The cart came before the horse.

In short, Alcordo was already invoking on May 28 a MOA that he and the NEA chief have not signed and finalized.

* * *

ANNOUNCE GMA GOALS FIRST: President Arroyo is scheduled tomorrow to fly to the United States on a visit that includes a working meeting with President George W. Bush, key US security officials, American businessmen, as well as a touching base with Filipinos residing in America.

From Washington, DC, the President is proceeding to Mexico for what we see at first blush as mainly a fraternal dialogue with like-minded leaders in that part of the world.

Surely, there will be questions upon her return on the wisdom of her traveling to America and Mexico, and the trip’s practical value for the Filipino masses reeling from the hard times.

For better handling of those questions, the President may want to spell out before her departure the specific objectives of her trip. These objectives will be the yardstick for evaluating the success or failure (or something in-between) of her trip.

It won’t be fair to ask her, upon her return, to account for something she never intended to achieve in the first place.

* * *

REVISING SCHOOL RITUALS: Education Secretary Raul Roco has just revised the Panatang Makabayan that students recite en masse everyday before the start of classes. The new version includes some values that the secretary wants inculcated in every student.

We like his updated version of the pledge.

While he is editing such things as ritual formulas, Roco may want to also start a (or renew the) discussion on the unusual spelling being used in Pilipino textbooks.

For instance, some textbooks spell “truck” as “trak,” “nurse” as “nars,” “cake” as “keyk,” “baseball” as “beisbol” — in what we think is a ridiculous attempt to impose Tagalized spellings of common foreign words that are widely understood in their original form.

* * *

WHY WE’RE BAD SPELLERS: The debate on how to spell foreign or borrowed words has been long and sometimes emotional, but we would want to see the experts and the public take it up again.

Precisely, we have borrowed some letters from foreign alphabets such as the letters c, z, x, ñ, f and j. With this enrichment of our alphabet, we should be able to spell in their original and widely used form many common foreign words such as those we gave as examples above.

This predilection for inventing atrocious new spellings for common borrowed words is one of the reasons why our children’s spelling has been deteriorating. We have to keep in step with the world, but here we are retreating into our racial cave.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 13, 2001)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.