Biz Buzz: Probing Tanco
Heeding a request from Senator and vice presidential candidate Antonio Trillanes IV, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Teresita Herbosa on Tuesday said the corporate watchdog was investigating businessman Eusebio “Yosi” Tanco. This is in line with a plunder complaint against the STI Group chair and director of the Philippine Stock Exchange pending at the Office of Ombudsman.
In its letter dated March 30, the SEC replied to Trillanes that the SEC would investigate all issues within its jurisdiction. The senator urged an investigation into laws allegedly violated by Tanco and his company and on whether there was basis to look into Tanco’s “moral fitness” to be a director of the PSE and as head of a publicly listed company.
Trillanes had pushed for an investigation of respondents to the alleged “University of Makati-College of Nursing Scam.” Apart from Tanco, Trillanes also implicated former Makati mayor and now Vice President (and presidential aspirant) Jejomar Binay and son Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. (former Makati mayor), STI president Monico Jacob, Annabelle Borromeo and Jack Arroyo Jr.
A case filed at the Ombudsman in September 2015 alleged that these people had diverted public funds intended for the University of Makati amounting to P547 million to Philippine Healthcare Educators Inc., a private company allegedly owned by the respondents.
Trillanes, the proponent of the year-long investigation into the Makati City Hall Parking Building II and other issues raised against the Binays, said he might call for a Senate inquiry if he was not satisfied with the investigation of the SEC and the PSE.
Asked for his comment on the matter, Tanco said he welcomed the proposed probe, confident that he would only be vindicated in the process. “Let SEC do the investigation. Let’s see what they can find out. It’s really unfair to me for somebody to be throwing baseless and false accusations especially from the very honorable Senator Trillanes.” Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
SMC in Davao
CONGLOMERATE San Miguel Corp. seeks to scale up its footprint in Davao with the launch of a 2,000-hectare industrial estate. At its centerpiece will be SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.’s brand-new 600-megawatt power-generation facility, set for partial commissioning starting in the second quarter of this year.
The SMC Davao Industrial Estate, a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-approved project, will be open to potential investors and locators and will also have, among other key advantages, an international port with a depth of up to 20 meters and a private airport with a concrete runway.
“Davao has many unique characteristics that make it a very ideal investment destination,” SMC president Ramon Ang said. “It is home to a growing and skilled workforce and the peace-and-order situation is very stable. It is very investment-friendly, and for businesses wanting to locate there, generous incentives are available,” he added.
SMC Davao Industrial Estate is accessible via the Davao City and General Santos City international airports as well as the Davao seaport. It is also situated in a generally typhoon-free area near the equator.
“As a company, we always endeavor to invest in industries and areas that will support our country’s growth and improve the lives of our people. Davao is a major growth area and we want to do our part in helping the region and its people achieve their full economic potential. After all, it has been home to one of our major facilities—San Miguel Brewery Davao—for a very long time now. Through this project, we hope to help pave the way for more investors to come in and contribute to its growth,” Ang said. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Red flag on power prices
CONSUMER advocacy group CitizenWatch is concerned over the alarming rise in electricity rates announced by Meralco due to a corresponding increase in generation charges.
The increase should be immediately reviewed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), CitizenWatch Secretary General Wilford Wong said. Indeed, fuel companies have announced yet another price increase on gas, diesel and kerosene to happen this week.
“We all know that the cost of fuel has significantly gone down globally and the temperatures in the last couple of months had been relatively low, so there was no increase in demand to account for this increase in our electric bills,” Wong explained.
As the summer months are fast approaching, however, consumption is expected to go up, and so the Department of Energy (DOE) must do a “fitness inventory” of power plants, the group added.
In particular, the maintenance shutdowns of the Calaca and Masinloc power plants must be closely monitored, the group said. Forced and uncalled for shutdowns of power plants during the critical summer months may manifest signs of collusion in an effort to play with energy prices in the spot market.
The Sual Power Plant already tripped, raising a Yellow alert on Luzon’s power reserve level.
Wong said: “The power plant companies should be compelled to explain why the significant decrease in fuel costs has not caused a decrease in electricity power rates considering that most of the power-generating cost is fuel. The drop in fuel prices must have given power generators billions in windfall profits. What about the consumers? These savings should have been passed on to consumers.”
CitizenWatch said it would activate its advocacy Power Plant Watch, in which it closely monitors the performance of power plants, including those with scheduled shutdowns. To deter collusion, the reports will be published in partnership with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Daxim L. Lucas
In cash or in kind
BUSINESSMEN have many ways of showing their love for their favorite political candidates, especially those running for the top position in the land.
Of course, there’s the most direct and no-brainer way of just giving one’s preferred “presidentiable” a pile of cash.
And in that department, two business groups come to mind.
First is a large conglomerate which was largely shut out of business deals over the last six years, allegedly because its head initially supported the former presidential frontrunner in 2010 before belatedly shifting his support (of a meager budget, at that) to the eventual winner.
Well, word on the street is that this business group has learned its lesson and has thrown its financial weight—all P500 million of it, if the rumors are accurate—behind one popular candidate. Oh, but wait… this conglomerate’s candidate used to be the front runner, but has since fallen behind in the surveys. Uh-oh. Will the 2016-2022 period be a repeat of the 2010-2016 business environment for this group?
Meanwhile, another conglomerate has come into the dump-cash-on-your-candidate bandwagon, marking a major policy shift in this business group’s election time behavior. You see, in previous years, this group has manifested its support for its preferred candidates mainly through the powers of “moral suasion,” sharing its squeaky clean reputation as an endorsement and lending support “in kind” (plus perhaps a small cash contribution).
This time around, however, word on the street is that this group has plunked in P300 million into the coffers of a leading presidentiable’s campaign kitty. Times are truly changing.
Of course, there are other more novel ways of signifying one’s support. Big businessmen are known to lend their private aircraft to politicians during the campaign period (see the likes of San Miguel’s Ramon Ang, ICTSI’s Enrique Razon Jr. and the Zamora family, for example). And that’s not a small contribution, mind you. A roundtrip Manila-Davao-Manila flight, for example, would cost as much as $20,000 (multiply that number across the entire campaign period) depending on the type of private jet used.
Then there are the more creative modes of support targeted at the vote-rich “millennial” age group. Take, for example, the recently launched free sticker campaign of presidential aspirant Grace Poe on the popular instant messaging app Viber. According to the info posted on its download page, the free stickers (with a cartoon depiction of the candidate bearing messages like “Magandang umaga Poe”) were paid for by businessman Dominic Sytin.
Among other business interests, Sytin’s family owns the local distributorship of Foton Motors as well as Subic-based United Auctioneers.
It just goes to show that, whether you’re a conglomerate or an entrepreneur, there are many ways of showing your love for your candidate—preferably the one that ends up winning, of course. Daxim L. Lucas
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