By: Alex P. Vidal
“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” – Saint Augustine
THE humility shown by the Panay Electric Company (PECO) when it settled its real property tax arrears amounting to more than P134 million with the Iloilo City government on December 9, has eclipsed all the negative stories appended to the power firm’s name by its detractors these past months.
It also stunned PECO’s enemies who have been composing its obituary these past 11 months.
No less than PECO Public Engagement and Government Affairs office boss Marcelo Cacho personally delivered a check for P134,927,522.63 to the City Hall received by Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and City Treasurer Jinny Hermano.
Cacho’s classic move beat to the draw the threat of the city government to auction the multi-million worth of PECO properties included in the tax arrears.
The payment covered the value of PECO properties covered by two tax assessments.
PECO showed to all and sundry it’s not yet a dead horse or a Zeppelin Hindenburg that is about to burst into flames contrary to what its critics have been portraying PECO.
No giant company under threat of extinction can hammer out such brilliant move just when everyone thought it was ready to be nailed in the coffin.
How can the City Hall now adopt an indifferent attitude toward a productive and “responsible” tax payer?
City Hall can’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
It would be estoppel if the city government will cease to transact business with PECO now that it has wiped out all its outstanding tax liabilities.
PECO’s latest action can certainly help boost its case against MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power), which has been granted a franchise to operate as power distributor in Iloilo City when PECO’s 24-year franchise expired in January 2019.
The Bacolod City Council will look and sound ridiculous if it goes on with its threat to declare Manila-based broadcaster Ben Tulfo as “persona non grata” or an unacceptable or unwelcome person.
The city aldermen’s beef against Tulfo came from the broadcaster’s criticism and “embarrassing” attack against Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia “and (for) putting the city of Bacolod in a bad light in his YouTube program without first verifying the claims of a certain Norma.”
“Norma” supposedly sought Tulfo’s help alleging she was not paid for a basketball tournament she organized in Bacolod City last October during the Masskara Festival.
Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and city councilors sympathetic to Leonardia claimed the Masskara Festival had nothing to do with “Norma’s” basketball event.
They vouched for the city mayor who claimed innocence on the issue and who himself begrudged Tulfo’s tirades.
What will the Bacolod City Council or the Bacolod City government, in general, get if Tulfo has been declared as persona non grata? Nothing except a waste of time and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Tulfo is “only” a broadcast journalist and will remain as such even if all the city councils in the Philippines will declare him as persona non grata. He has no supernatural power; he isn’t the court and doesn’t have any legal personality.
His job is to bark at inept and corrupt public officials and men in uniform and make them angry. When they are mad, that’s when the likes of Tulfo become successful.
Making people in government and military men blow their top is mission accomplished for crusading journalists.
The persona non grata tag won’t stop Tulfo from his role as watchdog and “fiscalizer” of the government’s three branches: executive, legislative, judiciary.
Tulfo, or any journalist for that matter, doesn’t fear such threat from any legislative branch of the government. It will even embolden Tulfo to further scrutinize and lambast corrupt and inept public officials.
My advice to the Bacolod City Council is this: Belie Tulfo’s accusations and unmask Norma in the same platform: public forum or the bar of public opinion; and call a press conference and/or issue a press statement airing Leonardia’s side.
The people aren’t stupid not to distinguish who’s telling the truth. That’s how democracy works.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)