Illustration by S.I.R. Macaisa

THE GOVERNMENT is at it again.

Hoping to redeem its lampooned image before the general public as a result of the battering and bruising it got over the ZTE-NBN broadband scandal, the Arroyo administration is once more – if only to duck, nay escape, further political lynching by its enemies and the disillusioned quarters of society – doing what it is best noted for: parading others’ dirty linen in classic populist fashion. Ironically, it is doing so with its own soiled hands caught in its own laundry bin.

And what a way for the government to cast a mirage of concern for the very people it has duped in the past than to pick on someone its own size in the playground of power – Meralco. The power distributor has been taken to task for its high power rates and charges.

Through its attack dog, Winston Garcia of the Government Service Insurance System, which has bought enough shares of Meralco to challenge the status quo, the government has made aggressive moves to end the Lopez family’s control of Meralco, promising the public that once it succeeds in taking over the power utility, the high cost of electricity will be contained.

But the government continues to shun the most vital questions, and thus putting into doubt its real motives for going after hammer and tongs against the Lopez clan. If and when it is able to wrest control of Meralco, how will the government go about lowering power rates? What assurance can be given to the people that the government in the long run will not resort to employing the same questionable schemes said to have been hatched by the Lopez management in making the utility yield a profit despite lowering power costs?

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Most importantly, why only NOW? Why has the Arroyo administration suddenly become too eager to alleviate the plight of the Filipino poor? Why is it handing out P 500 worth of electricity subsidies to four million lifeline users? Why is it giving out so-called “pro-poor” rice and oil packages to the people while laying siege on the Lopez-run Meralco?

If the government’s true intention is to completely hold the Lopezes and their ilk accountable for imposing unjust charges on the consumers, if only to live by its duty to champion the general interest of the public, then washing its soiled hands in the fountain of popular posturing won’t do the trick.

The government after all has yet to extricate itself from its own junkyard. It is again, for all intents and purposes, a case of the teapot calling the kettle black. At this point, both are bound to sit on the fire of popular rage.


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