Thursday, January 19, 2006

indicators pointing to the fall of Gloria

Gloria plans Meralco takeover for survival
By Ninez Cacho-Olivares Editor in-Chief

Fearing her probable ouster before June 2006, President Arroyo and her newly-constituted “bratpack” committees are now in the process of taking over Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) within the First Quarter of this year, with Malacañang’s “communications plan” placed into full gear to project Mrs. Arroyo as the “liberator” of the Filipino people from the “oppressive” elite, the Lopezes, the Tribune learned from a reliable Malacañang source.

A two-page document obtained by the Tribune yesterday from a reliable Palace insider, confirmed this as the papers showed that Mrs. Arroyo and her clique had already gotten the nod for the “expropriated” establishment from “friendly businessmen” who will support the Meralco takeover by the President, which will be played up as a “temporary situation” that will moreover benefit the Filipino people since the power rates will be lowered drastically, as planned, providing “immediate” relief to the consumers.

This move is to be justified by the Palace-friendly businessmen as a temporary takeover, with a time frame of 12 to 18 months, after Mrs. Arroyo’s “crossover plan to sail until June 2006 at all cost” will have been effected.

Earlier reports leaked by some of her security officials pointed to the first quarter up till the second quarter of 2006 as the “dangerous time” for Mrs. Arroyo and her presidency, with “politics coming to a head.”

The move to take over Meralco is reportedly to intended by the President and her trusted clique to ensure her political survival as the impact of such a takeover would not only be projected a move supported by the Filipino people, but would reverse her falling ratings as the plan calls for an immediate reduction of electricity rates while portraying the Lopezes as the ogre that has eaten away at the pockets of all Filipinos, and the reason for the continuing poverty in the country.

Meralco’s swift takeover, the leaked documents said, will serve notice to other “vital” private industries such as water, telecoms and media, as well as the pre-need industry, among other establishments, that the same will happen to their businesses if they do not toe the presidential line.

The plan calls for Malacañang — and not the government — to take full control of Meralco within the first three months of this year, which scheduled time frame, the document said will be sufficient time for Mrs. Arroyo codenamed “Pasig” in the document, to overcome possible legal and political bottlenecks.

It was, however, unclear how the President (Pasig) will takeover Meralco and other “vital” institutions but not in the name of government.

The Constitution, however provides, under Article XX11, Section 17 that “in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the state may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operations of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.”

It is the constitutional proviso that was used by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, in justifying “emergency rule” through an executive order, which was exposed by the press.

It appears that the plan is still to push this through.

All moves by the Lopezes to forge compromises will be rejected by government but not, the document stated — by Pasig (Mrs. Arroyo) who will then engage the “Principals” (Lopez Group) at the opportune time to give them the ground rules for “modifying or abandoning the (Meralco) template, which cannot be compromised “until after Pasig will have maximized the gains from the takeover.”

The same document also stated that in the event the Meralco group led by the Lopezes reject reconciliatory moves, in the same manner former President Corazon Aquino in the case of Hacienda Luisita, did, the “roadmap” charted by Pasig will ensure that the Lopez group will really be made to “hurt” using three fronts: economic, legal and political, along with media-generated public pressures.

But should the all these fronts fail, the President, the document stated, must be prepared to make good the takeover by transferring the Meralco ownership to the public and government.

It was also stated that “This (move) shall be another stage for building up the constituency of Pasig under her program, using the Democratization of Basic Services Model.

Alongside this takeover will be the Palace’s “communications plan” that will be “aggressively implemented.”

The Palace spin that will be made for this takeover by Pasig will focus on the Meralco takeover being portrayed as the Filipino people as the new owners of Meralco while portraying (Mrs. Arroyo, not the government) as the “liberator” of the Filipino people from their power oppressor, the Lopez-controlled Meralco.

The two-page document also underlined the need for the Palace to monitor closely the Lopez-owned media networks, ABS-CBN, ANC, Studio 23 and their other radio and TV networks, for the Lopezes’s possible counter moves against the President and her administration using their media.

The Pasig move to check ABS-CBN is the counter move of the Palace to “mobilize” the Lopez media network’s competitors, such as GMA 7, along with the government controlled networks, RPN 9 and IBC 13, with the overall objective, it was stated, to win the Filipinos’ hearts and minds for the President’s takeover of Meralco issue.

For Malacañang, following the plan, immediately after the Meralco takeover, there will be an announcement made by Mrs. Arroyo that she has directed the immediate lowering of power rates, to generate the impact of, among others, the public’s approval of the President and the public’s immediate “feel” of the gains of her “economic reforms.”

The same takeover plan by Malacañang is also intended by the Palace to send the Meralco owners and “agenda groups” as well as individuals that Mrs. Arroyo is firmly in control and is more than capable of making their present positioning “prejudicial to other other interests.”

It was earlier reported that Mrs. Arroyo had formed three groups of Brat Packs from among her trusted Cabinet members to ensure her survival in three areas: politics, security and economy.

“Brat Pack 1” has been tasked to focus on ways and means to usher in political stability and her survival has, as its leaders, presidential brother Diosdado “Buboy” Macapagal and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, along with now chief of staff of Mrs. Arroyo, Michael “Mike” Defensor and Justice Secretary Gonzalez.

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