BY HANNAH FAITH DORMIDO
Posted 5:14 p.m., May 15, 2008
Government employees, public health workers and public school teachers today registered their strong opposition to Government Service Insurance system (GSIS) president Winston Garcia’s plan of taking over the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), because they believe it will be used by Malacañang in the “proxy war” against the Lopezes.
“No GSIS member would honestly believe Garcia is only after the protection of the interest of the GSIS as he calls for transparency in the Meralco,” said Ferdinand Gaite, national president of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE). He also added they do not believe that GSIS’ buying shares from Meralco would bring down power rates.
Gaite said this would only pave the way for Malacañang cronies to monopolize power distribution.
“Mr. Garcia is the last person to talk about transparency and corporate responsibility having gambled GSIS funds through various investments without prior consultation with GSIS fund owners,” said Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Liza Maza.
Masa also said that if before, power consumers were placed on the frying pana GSIS takeover of Meralco would mean putting consumers directly into the fire.
Gaite said GSIS has not been a wise investor given that the price of Meralco shares have gone down resulting in a loss of about P1.4 billion for the government employees and other members of GSIS.
“Garcia decided to buy high at P80.91 per share in January 2008 when prices were at P70-71.50n range. With the current depressed value at P70 per share, the losses represent a significant amount which could have been put to use for an increase in the members’ dividends or another loan facility,” said Gaite.
COURAGE, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) and their members are also fighting for lower electricity rates as the low salaries of the employees cannot cope with the staggering cost of living. They also put up a fight against the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the privatizationof the Napocor and the value added tax.
“We are also calling on the Meralco not to pass the burden of the systems loss and other operating costs to the public. Despite (its) being a private business, Meralco has also a social responsibility given that power is a public utility,” said Gaite. (Bulatlat.com)