Solon lauds GSIS plan to rap Meralco for fraud

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MANILA Rep. Bienvenido Abante, chair of the House committee on public information, yesterday strongly supported the plan of Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president Winston Garcia to file fraud charges against the Lopez-led management of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) due to the alleged P30-billion billing fiasco.

“I am supporting Winston Garcia in filing a fraud case against Meralco,” said Abante, who once earned the ire of Garcia over his allegations that GSIS funds have been diverted to aid last year’s speakership bid of the latter’s father, Deputy Speaker for Visayas and Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia.

Meralco was ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2003 to reimburse P30 billion for overcharging customers from 1994 to 2002.

Garcia noted that “no heads have rolled” from the debacle which he blamed entirely on the Lopezes.

Abante said he is willing to join Garcia as one of the petitioners as he urged consumer groups to unite against Meralco. “I am willing to join Garcia into filing a class suit against Meralco being one of the consumers and others should also join,” he added.

Earlier, Garcia clarified that he had no intention of taking over Meralco from the Lopezes but stressed the need for a management change.The GSIS chief said he is fighting for the pension fund’s right to corporate information as a shareholder and its 1.5 million members’ right to get a fair charge in their power bills.

“We are mulling whether to file criminal charges against management for that P30 billion debacle. If you have overcharged, there must be fraud. We are also looking whether that can fall within the ambit of large-scale estafa. We will definitely launch a shareholder suit for damages,” said Garcia as he denied reports that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has something to do with his aggressive move against Meralco.