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Celebrating his legacy

Ilocos Norte commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of its most famous son, former president Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, with a series of events leading up to Sept. 11. 

Gov. Imee Marcos has said as far as their family is concerned, there will be no fanfare, except for a private wreath- laying at his tomb in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. “Salamat, Apo” is the central theme of the commemoration.

His supporters recall that during his first state-of-the-nation-address, he laid out a vast infrastructure program encompassing a nationwide network of roads, bridges and public works, dams and power plants, hospitals and institutions, among others, all of which still stand today.

Among these projects are Maharlika Highway connecting Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao, NLEX, SLEX, Circumferential Roads 1-10, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Lung Center of the Philippines, state colleges and universities such as Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, Bicol University, and Cagayan State University, San Juanico Bridge, Mactan-Mandaue Bridge, Patapat Viaduct, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, Tiwi Geothermal Power Plant, Pantabangan Hydroelectric Power Plant, the BLISS housing projects, to name a few. 

Then of course, who would forget Presidential Decree 27 or the land reform law which decreed the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of the soil which he wrote by hand, according to reports.

The Philippines also attained self-sufficiency in rice in 1968 for the first time since the American period by promoting the cultivation of IR-8 hybrid rice. At that time, the Philippine agriculture sector was the envy of the region. Then there was the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran (KKK) which encouraged barangay residents to engage in their own livelihood projects. This resulted in an increase in the nation’s economic growth rate to an average of six percent to seven percent from 1970 to 1980.

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His name might mean different things to different people. The name Marcos may even have become synonymous to martial law, human rights violations, or even ill-gotten wealth. But one thing that cannot disputed is the fact that he was a genius, a visionary.

Time to pack up and go

 What fate awaits the embattled Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)?

While its highly controversial chairperson, Jose Vicente Salazar, is vacationing in Egypt, the rest of the ERC faces a dark future, what with the House of Representatives’ recent decision to slash the ERC’s annual budget for 2018 to only P1,000 from the original proposed budget of P365 million.

The action obviously arose from the congressmen’s displeasure with the stewardship of Salazar, who had been suspended from his position twice due to various alleged offenses, including rigged bids for supply contracts, illegal deals and blatant insubordination.

In explaining Congress’ decision to give ERC a P1,000 budget for 2018, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate said what is needed is cleaning in the agency.

Even ERC insiders seem to agree with this as Salazar’s four colleagues have asked Malacanang to make permanent his suspension and order his removal from office.

It will be recalled that the irregularities at the ERC surfaced after director Francisco Villa Jr., in his suicide note, claimed he was being pressured into signing irregularly prepared supply contracts by Salazar and his chief aide.

The four commissioners said Salazar committed grave misconduct, gross insubordination and gross dishonesty, has made unlawful appointments, has engaged in bid rigging, procurement without proper bidding and splitting of contracts, among others.

Some Mindanao electric cooperatives have also complained that Salazar unilaterally approved, again without consulting the rest of the ERC collegial body, power supply contracts with a private power generation firm they insisted they did not want.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Audit discovered that starting in 2015, Salazar filled his own office with lawyers and staffers hired without following prescribed procurement processes for such services. ERC’s expenses for new consultants ballooned by P5 million the year Salazar took office.

 It’s about time that Salazar save the ERC by resigning instead of clinging to his position when everybody, including President Duterte, already wants him out.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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