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THERE’S ANOTHER variety of wrecking crew that hounds the Duterte government. They’re the more virulent types that had been unleashed by interest groups or individuals who felt there are officials in the government today that cannot be persuaded to follow their bidding. I have written about these creeping threats that are out to sow discord among the President’s men. I can smell them from the distance from what comes out in the press and it is easy to spot them.

The most recent target of this sinister black propaganda are top government officials in the energy or power industry. I am referring to Energy Secretary Al Cusi and National Transmission Corporation Pres. Melvin Matibag. Why they are lumped together provide a clue who are behind the plot to discredit them.

Cusi is being accused of bilking P100-billion for power plant projects which were contracted by the Ramos government way back in 1993! The libelous item was so timed when Secretary Cusi sold his passenger and cargo fleet the proceeds of which made him an instant billionaire.

The issues raised against Matibag of TRANSCO are even more ridiculous and phantasmagoric. I checked on the engagement of Matibag with TRANSCO and it was only last January 2017 that he was appointed to head the agency which is under the Department of Energy but where Finance Sec. Sonny Dominguez sits as Chairman. The poor guy is being accused of making billions from the Right of Way negotiations when Transco was created by virtue of EPIRA law in 2001.

Matibag might still be in college when the firm started constructing and expanding those transmission lines and power pylons which need to have road right of way as these traverse private properties. There were conflicts in valuations and ownerships and a number of these had to be settled in Court. Some cases caught up with Matibag who, to rightfully asked the Land Registration Administration to intervene.

Another preposterous attempt at discrediting President Matibag was that he demanded billions of pesos from energy players in Visayas and Mindanao to have them interconnected to the grid. How nebulous can this wrecking crew get. Mindanao and many parts in Visayas are not connected to the grid as yet and I do not think that will happen soon.

Poor Matibag, he is also being crucified for being hard on Telecom players when it was during his watch that finally DICT, Transco and NGCP inked a Tripartite Agreement to support telco players, particularly the lucky 3rd Telco company which has yet to be announced. TRANSCO which owns the dark fiber assets that are embedded in the grounding accessory of the power grid have become public only during the term of Melvin as President of the corporation and Finance Sec. Dominguez as its Chairman. For decades these assets and revenue potentials had been kept secret.

The travesty of this campaign to disgrace Cusi and Matibag reveals a pattern of a well coordinated plot to remove them as they are in the way of some oligarchs’ interest. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte had been fighting these well-entrenched and highly influential characters that in the past and up to the present control business.

The Department of Energy is a prime target because it regulates power distribution, energy resources and generations and, by quirk of some interwoven development, telecommunications.

To put it rather bluntly, let’s stop this cheap black propaganda. The way to go? Negotiate for a more reasonable lease rental of the government assets by adjusting the rent to current levels. Firms with contracts that spells out revenue sharing should update remittance for what is due the government. Since these black propagandists demands investigation on the issues they raised then maybe we can start by unmasking those who leased fibers from NGCP without Informing TRANSCO.

Machiavellian tactics won’t work with Duterte government. Better do what is fair and just, pay your taxes rightly and promptly. There is no need for intimidation or threats via economic terrorism. This government is fair. It guarantees you security and free from harassments. All it asks is for you to pay taxes because it needs all the money it can muster for its BUILD, BUILD, BUILD program. After all you are the first to benefit from it. Bear in mind too that President Duterte is the country’s best tax reformist and most efficient tax collector. (Jun Ledesma)


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