18 May 2006

how not to solve the problem of ALECO

admittedly, the result was not unexpected.

last 6-7 may, our electric coop's miembros-consumidores voted for the new ALECO board of directors. well, at least, 13% of them/us. i voted in behalf of the bishop's house. you can look at 13% in two ways: glass is half-empty - small voter turn-out; glass is half-full - largest ever voter turn-out. an optimist by preference, i choose the half-full version. and partly because it would lead me to discuss two factors why it happened thus.

1. the church factor. the sunday before, the homilies in all masses had a common subject: the election. plus our media campaign. suddenly people were talking (and were apparently concerned) about the huge debt - P850M plus and counting - which ALECO has incurred in more than a decade of corrupt and bad management.

2. the vote-buying factor. again, it was not unexpected. vote-buying happened in all districts, save for 2: legazpi-rapu-rapu (where there was only one candidate) and ligao-oas (the baluarte of the governor). some also claim a no-cheating situation for old albay-manito, then again, we also heard reports stating otherwise. the consensus: there was cheating in that district but only to an 'insignificant' degree.

the same 'style' for the regular gov't officials' elections was employed for this election. including padrino politicos. but here's the twist: rumor has it that a local politician with powerful connections way up, was seen in public in, at least, 3 districts, a day before and during the 1st day of election, talking with 'known' supporters of certain candidates. the 'public secret' is he's behind most of the vote-buying operations.

let's twist things some more: apparently, he is only a point-person (if you want to be charitable) or a pimp (if you want to be precise) for a foreign company who has long expressed (another understatement) intention to either buy the coop (i.e. privatize - which was popularly opposed) or enter into an 'independent management contract' (IMC).

speaking of un-failed expectations, the winning candidates' true colors are expected to be revealed further in two more forthcoming occasions: (1) during the voting of the board chairman and (2) during the deliberation and voting for the resolution/s on the 'independent management contract' issue. and then, of course, in their conduct and decisions through their entire term.

now here's our commitment, and hopefully, that of all the member-consumers of ALECO, too: we will watch the board. we will be vigilant and we will push for transparency in all transaction and decisions. whatever decisions will be taken will have to pass through proper, just and fair processes.

this time, we hope, despite initial setbacks, there would be space for our great expectations.

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