Demolitions “R” Us

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the August 11, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

Anybody who is going to fight corruption in this country or anywhere else is really going to run into serious opposition. – Cerge Remonde, former Press Secretary of Gloria Arroyo

DPWH secretary-designate Rogelio Singson is an honest man. That makes him very unpopular.

The Organization held a series of emergency meetings…

“We have got to destroy that man before he destroys us,” said Mr. Chairman.

“We’ll get him for conflict of interest,” replied Demolition Guy, DG for short.

“How?” asked Little Capo.

“He used to head Maynilad and yet assumed the chairmanship of MWSS,” said DG.

“But he can’t help that, the law says the DPWH secretary is the ex-officio chairman of MWSS,” Little Capo replied, LC for short.

“Who cares?” said DG.

“Huh?”

“That’s what I’m here for,” said DG. “I blow smoke for a living.”

A few days later…

“Singson just cancelled contracts for 19 flood control projects amounting to almost a billion pesos!” said Mr. Chairman.

“What? Doesn’t he care about flood victims?” said LC.

“Idiot!” exclaimed Mr. Chairman, “Who cares about flood victims? They should have built their homes on higher ground in the first place. I’m worried about the plan to do away with negotiated contracts.”

“No more negotiated contracts. That’s really heartless!” said LC.

“And thoroughly unrealistic. Singson can’t change the system,” added DG.

“I know but the public will love him for trying.”

“Damn, we’re up shit creek! What do we do now?” asked Mr. Chairman.

“Don’t worry I will make up something else,” said DG.

A few days later…

“The Inquirer broke a story about a midnight deal involving Singson and Pagcor!” reported LC.

“Where did their reporter get his story?” asked Mr. Chairman.

“Anonymous sources.”

“From masked men… are you kidding me?”

“No, he identified one source as ‘An MWSS board member, who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the matter’,” replied LC.

“Tabloid reporting at its best,” said DG.

“Let’s move on to the midnight deal,” said Mr. Chairman impatiently.

“The reporter said Singson, then with Maynilad, teamed up with Ephraim Genuino, then of Pagcor, ‘to push a water concession deal that would have supposedly deprived the government of at least P3.6 billion in water fees’.”

“Perfect! That reinforces the old conflict-of-interest issue. And I love the strategic placement of the word ‘supposedly’!” said Mr. Chairman.

“Didn’t I tell you not to worry? I will cover Singson with so much “supposed” dirt he’ll need a backhoe to dig himself out,” said DG.

“Home run! Break out the bottle!”

But before the champagne could be popped, Mr. Spoiler walked in…

“I hate to spoil the party but it was not a midnight deal. Maynilad, Pagcor, and MWSS started talking way back in 2009,” he said.

“So what if it was not a midnight deal, the government still stands to lose billions in water fees!” replied LC.

“Water fees? Hahaha!” Spoiler laughed. “Pagcor’s property is in Maynilad’s concession area!”

“Of course not!” said Mr. Chairman who then proceeded to read the report out loud, “At least two MWSS board members, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation from the involved parties, said that since Entertainment City was located in a newly reclaimed area, it should be classified as a new and exclusive franchise area of the MWSS.”

Spoiler replied, “If that reporter did a little digging instead of relying on the word of masked men who write their own paychecks, he would have found the land title that places Entertainment City in Maynilad’s concession area.”

“But his anonymous sources maintain that Entertainment City is not part of Maynilad’s concession area,” insisted LC.

“Well, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel already issued legal opinions upholding Maynilad’s position.”

“So the midnight deal story is bogus?”

“Absolutely. Even the Inquirer’s editorial had to admit that “as it turns out, the accusations don’t hold much water,” said Mr. Spoiler.

“What are we going to do now?”

“Don’t worry,” DG smiled, “facts do not intimidate tabloids. And their reporters are suckers for anonymous sources.”

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