The appointment to the Energy Regulatory Commission of former Congresswoman Zenaida Ducut, an Arroyo close friend and classmate, signals a major step in a massive scheme to control the revenue-rich and highly profitable energy sector by the Arroyo family and their cronies. In both scope and brazenness, the only comparable similarity in recent history are “Pacman” Danding Cojuangco’s attempt to control the coconut industry and Roberto Benedicto’s try at monopolizing the sugar industry.
The energy sector, as we may all know, have as major components the power sector, oil and gas exploration and development, oil importation and distribution, coal mining and importation, and alternative energy development. All of these are of crucial importance to the modern Philippine economy and society–our urban-centric social infrastructure will simply collapse without a constant, sustainable supply of energy. Its strategic role absolutely requires state regulation–even in the most laissez faire economic set-up.
The Arroyo energy heist is being done in three major ways. First, through the control of the major components themselves such as the National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO), the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC), Power Sector Assets & Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), coal importation, oil exploration contracts, LPG conversion, etc).
Second, through the appointment of crony members to control state regulatory bodies such as the ERC, the House Committee on Energy, the Senate Committee on Energy, the Department of Energy, the National Electrification Administration (NEA), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Third, through control of government bank, investment and development bodies such as the GSIS, SSS, Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank, NEDA, etc. These are being used to pressure and even facilitate the takeover of private energy enterprises.
The energy sector is not the only economic sector in danger of an Arroyo grab. All the other profitable ones such as those in the telecommunications industry are also in danger. Even foreign enterprises are not sure of their immunity.
The disquieting aspect of all of these is that this Marcosian type of “economic activity” requires political power–and power beyond 2010. Not only a simple hold on the presidency (although this post already accumulated enormous powers since the Cory Aquino days), but total control of the whole governmental instrumentality. This includes the military and the police, the courts, congress, and constitutional commissions.
Only Marcos–in his dictatorial heyday–achieved such a complete level of control. Are GMA and her cronies doing a Marcos?