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Winston Garcia and His Call For Management Change At MERALCO

May 26, 2008

All eyes, and ears, will be literally on today’s (May 27) MERALCO Stockholders’ Meeting where the loudest question will be whether the Lopezes , who control 33 percent of the firm, will be able to gather enough additional proxy votes to stave off the perceived ‘hostile’ bid of 25-percent shareholder GSIS to get enough muscle to “change” what Winston Garcia calls the “inefficient and top heavy” management team which he says “dictates the policies that keep electricity generation and distribution rates unjustly high at the expense of poor Filipinos.”

Latest press reports overnight are estimating that if the potentially ‘favorable’ voting blocs of stockholder institutions side with their ‘natural’ allies, the government funds for Garcia and the private sector/foreign MERALCO investors with the Lopezes, the current MERALCO management could muster up to 38 percent of the stock votes in their favor while Garcia’s GSIS bloc may gather up to 37 percent of the voting muscle.

As the day unfolds, it will be known whether Garcia, close Cebuano ally of President Madapagal Arroyo, will get his targeted 4 seats in the MERALCO board. and if this will indeed be enough to revamp the management of monolithic power distributor-cum-emergent price-setting electricity generation ‘conglomerate’.

Bannering such motherhood statements as “we seek only to bring down power prices,” hardly anyone in Metro Manila has denounced Garcia’s crusade, with the mainstream media peppered with specia reports about just how ordinary Filipinos are paying even for stolen electricity plus the power MERALCO itself uses in its own office operations.

This corner, for one, long called attention to the same issues, along with the absence of transparency in how even power traded and sold at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market is seemingly manipulated by players who have overwhelming market power, with the public not having any understanding of how bilateral contracts are priced between and among the power generators and distributors.

The anomalous state of affairs is aggravated further by rules which continue to allow cross ownership and sweetheart supply deals.

One thought however comes to mind when Winston Garcia loudly denounces mismanagement and lack of transparency, along with him demanding that MERALCO management be changed to protect the interests of stockholders.

Hurrah, Mr. Garcia. But while you are at it, could you, or would you, join other Filipinos who are this nation’s ‘stockholders’, in issuing the very same call to the government of the day?

I doubt it. The crow will turn white first.

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