Does Mikey Arroyo fancy himself the ‘Godfather’?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-06-03
Presidential kin and crony are vulnerable to being bruited about as protectors of money making operations that in many instances involve dispensation from equal application of the law, if not outright illegal.

People like to call them ‘Godfathers’ — patterned after Mario Puzo’s best-selling 1970s novel The Godfather about the fictitious Corleone Mafia family in New York City.

Rep. Mikey Arroyo’s grandfather, former President Diosdado Macapagal, had his brother Angel to fill that role just as Mikey now is the most rumored ‘influential patron’ after, of course, his father the First Gentleman.

Metro Manila coffee shop groups have become wearily accustomed to hearing stories about all sorts of dubious characters supposedly operating some racket or another with the blessing of the famous son, Mikey Arroyo. Some stories don’t even see print.

Personally — and I’m usually the last to know — I’ve heard about Mikey (who used to address me as Tito Billy) being the ‘Godfather’ of sorts in the importation of expensive cars and chocolate for the Duty Free shops.

Recently, a very good friend (who is close to Mikey’s mother and his uncle Buboy) told me about Laguna Lake fishpen/fishcage owners who are using their so-called ‘Mikey Arroyo connection’ to operate without paying the prerequisite LLDA (Laguna Lake Development Authority) fees.

That is a case of unequal application of the law/rules and unfair competition. These non-paying fishpen/fishcage operators should either pay the LLDA fees or be ordered to vacate the Laguna Lake.

I will be the first to state that these stories of ‘Godfather’ to this, that or the next thing are allegations and have yet to be proved. But the legitimate concern of citizens on such issues like unequal application of the law/rules and unfair competition deserve to be ventilated so that these may be addressed.

It is par for the course for media to bring to public attention a case of unfair competition if not outright illegal activity and injustice. It also allows the alluded public official the opportunity to know what are being attributed to him and he can thus address or clarify these issues.

Mikey should be the first to thank media for reporting these stories as these allow him to address and clarify the issues. The worst thing that can happen to Mikey is for all these to snowball to the point that people believe the stories as Bible truth.

Per my very reliable source, there is a so-called ‘Federation’ of Laguna Lake fishpen/fishcage operators who get away with not paying the fees that law abiding operators pay the LLDA. These non-paying fishpen/fishcage operators account for about 20% of the fishpens/fishcages in Laguna Lake. Per my source, they are also able to influence the awarding of licenses.

Despite the recent decision of the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. SP No. 99526 promulgated on 28 March 2008) which cleared the way for the LLDA to remove the delinquent operators, this has not been accomplished. The CA decision reversed the preliminary injunction of the Regional Trial Court that prevented ejection of the delinquent operators.

The law abiding fishpen/fishcage operators claim being harassed by the non-paying fishpen/fishcage operators because of their refusal to become members of the Federation of Fishpen and Fishcage Operators Association of Laguna de Bay, Inc. They consider the federation an obstacle in the normal fishing operation of non-members.

The law abiding operators also claim that the ploy of the federation members is not to pay LLDA dues and consequently have their fishpens/fishcages auctioned-off to another dummy corporation which they also own.

Non-members of the federation are said to constitute an overwhelming majority of fishpen/fishcage operators in Laguna de Bay and are religiously paying their respective fishpen/fishcage fees. The paying operators feel that the violators should be penalized for not complying with the rules and regulations imposed by the LLDA.

My source said that LLDA has started demolishing small fishpens/fishcages in Laguna Lake but the big-time delinquent operators remain untouchable. The violators are said to be dropping the name of Mikey Arroyo as their protector. The name of a known Mikey Arroyo associate has been mentioned.

The Laguna Lake region is known as the main source of fish and other marine products in Metro Manila. Considering the food and fish shortage in the market today, all the more reason that government should support the law abiding fishpen/fishcage operators. They’re asking that when the LLDA proceeds with the demolition of the fishpens/fishcages of delinquent operators, these must be open for public bidding or be rewarded to operators who religiously comply with the rules and regulations of the LLDA.

On television, LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda sounded like a sincere person. He seemed to know what his priorities are. But if it is true that Mikey Arroyo is backing those delinquent fishpen/fishcage operators, then it is quite understandable if Manda is impotent in implementing the CA decision.

Mikey Arroyo should go beyond mere denial. Filipinos are convinced by action and results. He should ferret out these name droppers and charge them in court.

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