Posted tagged ‘rent-seeking’

OLIGARCHIC CRIMES UNPUNISHED: LUCIO TAN

May 17, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

The politico-economic structure of Philippine reality never seems to change at all. It’s still the oligarchic system that lingers here, as it is anywhere in the planet. Oligarchs are simply in control of every strategic sector of life, both economic and political.

That’s why they are above the Law, that they can pay anything worth their pockets to meet their objectives, bribe their way to continuing hoarding and accumulation way beyond their daily needs. The Law adjusts to them, not them to the Law.

Take the case of the long-time Marcos crony Lucio Tan. Tan is almost everywhere in Philippine business life, name it and he’s there. The once state champion Philippine National Bank is in his control now, and so the former state champion Philippine Airlines. And his business concerns continue to expand, both here and overseas.

But one thing glaring about his behavior is his non-payment of taxes that date back to the 80s yet or maybe even earlier. The consummate tax evader, he is the exemplar in this regard here in Manila.

As of last year, estimates put his back tax arrears at P26 Billion. If all we know, this could be an underestimation. This could just be but the top of the iceberg, the real back taxes running probably in the hundreds of billions of pesos. We can’t say anymore. That is because documents can be doctored, and there are always ‘doctor of forgery’ everywhere including the state bureaucracy.

Perhaps we may have discovered, in the criminal behavior of oligarchs, a new universal law, the “law of the bending of the Law.” It’s like the pattern about the ‘bending of light’, this time we substitute Law for light.

Which means that Law is relative, or is of no value to oligarchs save that they serve oligarchic interests. This is true everywhere, and it won’t be long when even those colonies to be installed in other planets and the moon will face the same reality: the ‘bending of the Law’ to make oligarchs happy.

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OLIGARCHIC CRIMES GO UNPUNISHED: LOPEZES OF MANILA

May 13, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Oligarchic crimes go unpunished. This is the true, said, Dostoevskian situation of the ‘morality grid’ of the planet. The oligarchs who may possess a ‘bleeding- heart’ psyche, if ever, are too few in numbers.  

Moral philosophies including the new-hype Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR are only mere ideological trappings in the oligarchic games. Take off these trappings and you have the real score: demonic greed, manipulative control of humans, conceit, and every corporate Machiavellianism one can think of. Those genuine Light-centered, Spirit-filled CSR philantrophists are still undergoing construction or breeding.

Take the case of Manila’s Lopez family that owns the MERALCO, the gigantic utility firm that is into both power generation and distribution. As found out by fact-finding investigations, the MERALCO has been looting the consumers by passing on to them the costs of both power generation and distribution, through price increases in monthly bills.

The Supreme Court later took such facts as basis for arriving at a decision that ordered the MERALCO to return to the consumers the unjust price increases imposed on the bills. Public interest groups took the cudgels for the consumers, thanks to a dynamic civil society here that includes lawyers’ and consumers’ groups.

True, MERALCO obliged, and gradually returned the funds stolen from the people’s pockets. But the question is, was there any member of the Lopez family or the MERALCO executives who was ever jailed at all for the crime? None!

Now the MERALCO looting is coming out in the open, and there’s the reportage of the gentleman, Mr. Garcia, chair of the state pension fund GSIS (which partly owns MERALCO), about an amount of P500 Million in power generation costs that were supposedly passed on by the Lopez firm to the consumers. The issue is now raging here.

What I forecast is that the divestment of Lopezes from MERALCO and the full entry of GSIS as new majority stocks owners will be ensued. That just the same no one among the Lopezes or MERALCO executives will go to jail. That the Lopezes will even gain money from the ‘sweetheart deal’ (worth $1.25 Billion) that is being negotiated with the GSIS for the MERALCO purchase.

This same narrative goes on everywhere in the planet, everywhere! Save for the Enron scandal that ended with certain oligarchic execs going to jail, criminal oligarchs go unpunished.

Oligarchs are above the Law. They are Olympians, sons and daughters of Zeus, beyond litigation and punishment.  

[Writ 13 May 2008, Quezon City, Manila]