What would you do for 1 million pesos? What about 1 billion? What about 23 billion? For Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, it’s worth betraying the President. Unfortunately for the gentleman’s agreement, it seems that October is too far away for Velasco and his cohorts.
Velasco’s desperation for the Speakership is not just fueled by his own pride and vanity. It seems his ruthless political ambitions, which he used to jockey himself ahead of many more seasoned public servants, are also being used to hide some rich vested interests. It seems the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is in the way of these interests. This is why Velasco started the coup. They simply couldn’t wait another 7 months.
A recently concluded House hearing into the financial viability of state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corporation (PSALM) uncovered the conflicts of interest between the House’s biggest political climber, Velasco, and billionaire Ramon Ang.
PSALM’s viability was questioned by the House Committees on Good Government and Public Accounts because it has been taking out yearly foreign loans just to maintain operational. The loans would simply pay for the interest of the previous one. And PSALM’s lack of funding came from its failure to collect P100 billion in receivables from certain power companies, tantamount to 25% of its total foreign obligations.
P23 billion, or nearly a quarter of the total sum, of this is owed by just one company – San Miguel Corp’s South Premier Power Corporation (SPPC). SPPC and San Miguel’s Ramon Ang have refused to pay these outstanding debts, even taking PSALM to court to argue that they should not have to remit any of their debt to the government.
Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, who is chair of PSALM’s board of directors, instructed the company to insure it collects the P100 billion owed by private power generation companies and electric cooperatives. The possible fallout with powerful players like Ang is simply not as important as the interests of the country.
Ang’s case remains unsettled, but it seems that he is not ready to wait for the fair verdict. While the government is currently bleeding P2.6 billion a year on interest payments for PSALM – money that could have funded free education or healthcare – Ang and Velasco have been conspiring to find ways to bypass SPPC’s obligations.
The deep pockets of his powerful oligarch backers need protection from paying their rightful debts and they need Velasco to be in power to do that.
Some people will sell the future of the country for P23 billion.