Contracts, Crime, and the Economy

Article excerpt

Byline: Rene F Espina

OUR country is certainly facing a lot of problems economic, social, and political which in turn affect the stability of government. In order to ease some of our problems, I believe that the reliability of contracts in our country should be bolstered by the positive action of whichever administration is in power. The current pending issue of the PIATCO contract, which has been declared illegal by our Supreme Court, to my mind, has a message that our government should emphasize that illegal contracts cannot be implemented. The signal to contractors/investors, be they foreign or domestic, should be that government scrupulously respects valid and legal contracts, whole heartedly supports investments, and will not change the rules in midstream. Government is also committed to the representations or assurances it made to entice investors, and will stand firm on these positions. On the other hand, it should make it clear that contracts that are illegal or obtained by ignoring or bending the law will be struck down with maximum vigor.

After the EDSA Revolution, our government could have started with such an expected and refreshing policy. This idea was well stated by a highly respected justice of the Supreme Court, when he was a guest speaker recently in a convention in Baguio of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. I certainly support the laudable stand of that distinguished justice. Unfortunately, the new Revolutionary EDSA administration either lacked the political will, was incompetent, or was surrounded by advisers who were beholden to foreign interests, or all of the above. In spite of all the alleged defects, anomalies, and graft associated with the Bataan Nuclear Plant, our EDSA government honored the contract, instead of denouncing and voiding it. I am almost sure that the worlds governments would have supported such a stance. If that EDSA administration asked for the complete write off of our obligations involving the nuclear plant, it was and is the consensus today of knowledgeable observers that the loan would have been extinguished. As it is, we have already paid billions of pesos in interests and amortization, with no end in sight.

In the PIATCO case, we must stand our ground and support the decision of our Supreme Court, regardless of what foreign or international agencies tell us. …