EX-NEA CHIEF SAYS GMA ORDERED P470M BRIBES TO CONGRESSMEN

Manila, March 14, 2003 -- The former chief of the National Electrification Administration on Thursday alleged that President Macapagal-Arroyo telephoned him twice two years ago, to order him to personally distribute 470 million pesos to at least a hundred congressmen.

Former NEA Administrator Manuel Luis Sanchez said the money, which came from the National Power Corp., constituted a payola to ensure passage of the controversial Electric Power Industry Reform Bill.

Sanchez told the Inquirer Thursday that the first call came at around 11 a.m. during the opening of the special congressional session called in May 2001.

"She asked me if I already (had) the check from Napocor," he recalled. "I said, 'Ma'am, I don't have it yet but I'm checking it now.'"

He said many members of the House were to receive 2.5 million pesos each.

The following day, Sanchez said he received another call from the President. He informed her that the checks were ready. "Her specific instruction was for me to deliver them to Congress."

He said he subsequently received a list of congressmen who stood to receive the money. The list included check numbers and the officials' respective districts, he claimed.

Among those who personally received their share, Sanchez alleged, was former Baguio Rep. Bernardo Vergara, now the city's mayor.

Sanchez said he would reveal the alleged payola list in a Senate or congressional inquiry.

Asked whether he was ready to tell everything, Sanchez said: "I am prepared for that. I have all the names in a list, everything is documented."

But he said the papers were not with him. Sanchez also said he did not remember how many representatives received the money, but said not all of them did.

"Congressmen in areas served by electric cooperatives received money, but not those in areas served by utilities like Meralco -- for instance, Metro Manila, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite." (By Christian V. Esguerra, Inquirer News Service)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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