Now is the time to raise the level of public vigilance to an extraordinary high level. And meld this with the full exercise of discernment. In our contemporary history, there is no tougher time for separating truth from falsehood than now.
Just look at the great muddle that has attended the efforts to search for truth (plus the rendering of justice) on urgent issues at both the political and economic spheres.
In the ideal world, the frenzied, headline-grabbing efforts of the justice department to jail those responsible for a P10 billion plus scam that involves Janet Napoles and her cohorts in both chambers of Congress should have borne results by now. According to the justice department, it has “slam-dunk”evidence to try, and literally fry, the guilty. There are boxfuls of files on hard evidence —senators and congressmen in a Saro-for-Cash exchange with the Napoles-run NGOs.
There are credible witnesses, according to the department, which is another plus. The job that remains to be done is sewing the evidence up with the testimonies. The justice department has assured us that we would soon see the unprecedented take place in this sad country of ours: senators and congressmen of past and present Congresses going to jail for plunder and other high crimes. Won’t that be a day of national rejoicing? Sadly, that is not what is taking place right now.
The hoped-for day of sending off manacled legislators into the congested jails with tattooed convicts is in jeopardy. The efforts to pin down the real cohorts of Napoles has been side tracked by the public disclosure of “lists” which purportedly named the legislator-crooks, those who had conspired with Napoles to raid public funds. Ping Lacson has a list. Sandra Cam (of all people) has a list. Benhur Luy presented a digitized version of supposedly a complete list of Napoles’s deals with legislators.
The problem is that the names vary from list to list. And some of the entries are pure garbage. Jun Magsaysay and Nene Pimentel, long out of the public scene, had been bloodied and muddied. Ed Angara supposedly allotted P50 million in 2007 for Napoles, which was found out to be a hoax. An elementary fact-checking of his 2007 PDAF allocation showed there was no P50 million for Mindanao.
In one of the lists, a neophyte congressman from Cebu, who assumed office in a zero-pork pork Congress, was named as a Napoles cohort. It can’t get more ridiculous than that.
Who is behind the “lists?” Who is muddling the issues to sabotage the search for truth and the prosecution of the guilty? Overnight, every crank and crackpot with an agenda to push has names of legislators who should be sent to the guillotine.
The fact that the justice department which has a list signed by Napoles herself has been dilly-dallying on the release of the names provided by Napoles has contributed to the great muddle.
Electricity price surge too
The justice department should also release with utmost urgency its definitive findings on the electricity price surge that started in late 2013. The DOJ, through its Office for Competition, had investigated the parties involved to find out which institutions and entities were responsible for the electricity market manipulation, short supply and the price surge. And there seems to be a determined effort to muddle the issues to confuse the search for the real conspirators and culprits.
The Energy Regulatory Commission, through the Philippine Electricity Market Corp, or PEMC, also carried out a parallel investigation of the market conspiracy and price gouging. Hopefully, the two reports would provide a straightforward answer on which entities in the power sector did manipulate the market.
The public needs to find out which parties really abused and played with the electricity market to profit from the general misery of electric consumers.
Right now, supposed expert opinion wants to assign the blame on Meralco, the power distributor. The general thesis is this: The power distributor failed to efficiently manage its contracts with other power generators during the Malampaya power plant shutdown, a failure on the part of the distributor which short-circuited supply and jacked up prices.
The problem with the thesis is this: an elementary fact-checking would have found out that the power generators identified as possible sources of additional electricity supply cannot sell power to Meralco because they have exclusive supply contracts.
And the others did not even entertain offers to buy power from them.
Which party or parties withheld supply during the critical months of acute power shortage? Which party or parties profited most amid the general misery of power consumers? Which party or parties schemed to make the most out of the Malampaya plant shutdown by violating the Must Offer Rule, a requirement that all excess electricity should be sold, not idled, during crises?
The Senate investigation into the power crisis and the Supreme Court hearings on the same issue should be a must-read for policy makers. The two, especially the to-the-point questions of Associate Justice Leonen, shed light on the actuations, management and operational systems of the key players in the power sector.
The Senate report pinpoints the many areas of failure and the entities which may have profited from short supply of power and rate surges.
Supposed expert opinions and technical analysis on the power crisis that gripped the country recently may be as self-serving and agenda-driven as the people and institutions behind the many “lists” in the pork scam case.
Muddling issues is the current national sport and muddlers are into the most contentious issues on the political and economic fronts. Beware.