Senator Chiz Escudero lauded the Supreme Court for its decision to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the plea bargain agreement entered by former military comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia with the Ombudsman. Escudero said, “this move from the high court sends the correct signal in as far as the battle against graft and corruption is concerned.”
Escudero voiced his criticism when the Sandiganbayan decided to uphold the plea bargaining agreement with Garcia in 2010. He also expressed full backing for Malacanang when it contested the said agreement.
“I had said then and I will still say it now that the Sandiganbayan decision on the plea bargain agreement runs counter to the ideals of good governance since it clearly offered a way out for Garcia to account for the estimated P303 million he allegedly misappropriated from the AFP funds” Escudero said.
The senator said that the SC decision also forms the backbone of the Aquino administration’s “daang matuwid” initiatives by making public officials accountable to the people.
“The country’s commitment to anti-corruption efforts has already gained traction and we can uphold and pursue this if all of our institutions move in the same direction of “daang matuwid”. The SC decision augurs well for the drive to rid the government of irregularities, primarily within the military establishment which has been identified in a recent Senate probe as a major source of corrupt practices” Escudero explained.
WATER AND OTHER NATURAL
As to water and other monopolies, Senator Chiz Escudero suggested to place under strict monitoring to curb its tendencies to abuse consumers.
Escudero said one of the first legislative agenda Congress should look into when it opens is the monopoly of private water concessionaires in the country.
This after two private water concessionaires came under fire for passing on to consumers its P15 billion income taxes plus expenses for gifts, trips, entertainment and other company miscellaneous.
“We will investigate that once the Senate resumes. I intend to keep a watchful eye on all monopolies that, given their market dominance, have a natural tendency to abuse and take advantage of their consumers,” Escudero pointed out.
The Water for the People Network said the expenses above had been passed on the consumers by the Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Company from years 2008-2012.
According to Escudero, water concession has become a natural monopoly since it was left on its own to fix prices due to the lack or absence of competition.
“In any part of the country, water districts are natural monopolies. There is no free enterprise and fair competition. It is but right that this industry must be placed under strict monitoring by an instution to balance the equilibrium between our consumers and these industry players.”
Unfortunately, Escudero said there is no regulatory body over water utilities. But the Senate can scrutinize this gray area to put in place a mechanism that would task water utilities to serve the interest of the consumer vis-a-vis its profit margins.
“We can’t just leave monopolies on their own device and allow them to steadily earn while we consumers carry the burden,” Escudero ended. /MP