RSS

‘Pork’ and the MORE problem

“In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.”
–Walt Whitman

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

PANAY Electric Company (PECO)’s refusal to sell its assets to rival, MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power), is a clear sign that there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel in as far as the controversy whether PECO should be allowed to stay and continue serving the Ilonggos alongside with MORE Power, or the latter should call the shots exclusively for power distribution in Iloilo City and eradicate PECO is concerned.
Despite the recent shutout “win” for MORE Power when the House Committee on Franchises’ 44 members shut the door on the proposed bill granting a new franchise to PECO filed by a partyl-list solon, the situation remains frosty.
There is no clear victory with finality in sight yet for neither party.
In fact, MORE problem and MORE confusion have become the order of the day.
PECO is still fighting back; it’s exhausting all the available legal remedies to survive the Armageddon.
Like Israel, which is under constant threat of annihilation from surrounding Arab and Muslim countries, PECO is apparently prepared to release all its might in order to survive.

-o0o-

PECO Corporate Communications Officer Mikel Afzelius has stood by his words that any other power distributor has “every right to put up its own facilities and run a power distribution business.”
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 37’s August 14, 2091 ruling granting MORE Power a writ of possession to take over PECO’s assets is still being contested in the appellate court.
MORE problem and MORE confusion means MORE litigation, (there will be) MORE attempts for PECO to get a legitimate franchise in the future (this can de done a year after the first rejection by the House Committee on Franchises, according to the law).
PECO’s battlecry doesn’t make them a contrabida in the eyes of the public.
It’s healthy, democratic, fair, and reasonable.
It only wants to co-exist with MORE Power; PECO doesn’t pretend to be a pot calling the kettle black.
The more the merrier, as the saying goes.
It does not agitate to wrest the franchise away from MORE Power, which has already secured its own in the bag.
PECO wants a separate slice of the pizza, not the entire plate.

-o0o-

ILOILO’s decision to ban entry of live hogs and pork-related products from areas in Luzon and countries affected by African Swine Fever (ASF) is timely as it will help minimize if not outright prevent the spread of ASF in the city and province.
Experts in the United States have identified the biggest challenges facing the pork industry.
These are foreign animal diseases, the future of trade, and consumers’ fear of science.
The public’s fear and/or misunderstanding of science can and will reportedly lead to freedom-to-operate issues for pork producers.
It can reportedly impact decisions that policy-makers make; it impacts the decisions producers make on their farms–their animal health choices, their facilities-management choices–all of those things.
The culinary name for the flesh of a domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus), pork is eaten both freshly cooked and preserved; it is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC.
Curing extends the shelf life of the pork products and examples of the preserved pork are ham, smoked pork, gammon, bacon and sausage. Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, many from pork.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Port of Iloilo isn’t Shanghai

“Every project is an opportunity to learn, to figure out problems and challenges, to invent and reinvent.”

–David Rockwell

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

LET’S not be too excited to believe hook, line, and sinker that the Port of Iloilo in Loboc, Bo. Obrero district in Iloilo City, can be instantly transformed into a major international gateway once the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has finished infusing some P8.7 billion for its development program.
It’s not bad to dream big and wish for the magnificence, but even in day dreaming, there’s a limit and logical considerations.
We all, of course, welcome any development, expansion, or whatever upgrading program not just for the Port of Iloilo, but also for other major public infrastructures in Western Visayas, as well as in the entire archipelago.
We commend private sector initiatives like the one being proposed by the ICTSI, owned by billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., and exhort the government to provide incentives for those wishing to improve major public facilities that can help uplift the lives of the people and create major inroads in the local economy.
But, wait a minute.

-o0o-

While we push for gargantuan developments, we must be realistic also with our expectations.
The proposed ICTSI project, now under review by the Philippine Port Authority (PPA), is eyeing “four development phases” that includes reportedly the “installing of ship-to-shore gantry cranes” and the “continuous upgrading of the yard capacity based on demand.”
Part of ICTSI’s plan is reportedly to build a cruise ship terminal that would cater to domestic and international tourists.
The project is expected to spur trade given that Iloilo is reportedly being positioned as a major exporter of agricultural goods once the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project is completed in 2022 as emphasized recently by Senator Franklin Drilon, who supported the ICTSI project.
How plausible can a cruise ship terminal be integrated in a busy seaport that serves international shipping handling sugar and fertilizer shipments for international market?

-o0o-

Which part of the port area’s 20.8 hectares will the cruise ship terminal be built without any prejudice to a number of shipping companies like Lorenzo Shipping Corporation, 2GO, Amigo Shipping Company, New Panay Shipping Company, Sulpicio Lines, and Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc that are also using the Port of Iloilo?
The Port of Iloilo is located adjacent a mammoth residential colony and a small industrial district. How will they be affected by the ICTSI’s project?
Port of Iloilo, a natural artificial type of harbor, can’t be compared yet to the world’s busiest and largest seaports like the Port of Shanghai, a deep-water seaport/riverport and the biggest port in the world based on cargo throughput that handled 744 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, including 32.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units of containers.
Port of Iloilo, which handles 491.7 million tonnes annually, can’t be compared yet to the nearby Port of Singapore, which handled 537.6 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, its container throughput has reportedly crossed the 30 million TEUs mark for the first time in 2012.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Pimentel’s attack against PECO is inappropriate

“Fairness is not an attitude. It’s a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.”

–Brit Hume

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

IF they continue to treat the Panay Electric Company (PECO) like one of those Bilibid heinous crime inmates scandalously released by Faeldon and his corrupt cohorts, Ilonggos might be emboldened to rally behind the beleaguered power firm owned by the Cacho family.

They should refrain from treating PECO like a useless and hardened criminal.
PECO is a legitimate corporation manned by professionals with technical skills and managerial expertise on power distribution on a mammoth scale.
It’s not a sorority group or a fraternity organization that can just be disbanded easily.
Even if it is being stripped of its dignity and subjected to all kinds of insults and humiliation, PECO has continued to hang on for its dear life.
PECO wants to stay or continue with its service to the Ilonggos under the principle of free competition; it doesn’t demand to be given a special treatment through a sole or exclusive franchise like it used to enjoy. It does not agitate to kill or eliminate a competitor.
And it appears that with the Court of Appeals as PECO’s next hope to provide them a lease of life, PECO is like a cat with nine lives, not just a palooka who succumbs without giving a good fight.

-o0o-

After anti-PECO advocates elbowed, sucker punched and kneed PECO on the chin, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises joined the fray and kicked PECO while already grimacing on the ground.
This is the type of overkill that makes the Ilonggos unite; the type of persecution that will hurt the Ilonggos who love the underdogs regardless of the issues surrounding the tumult.
Bullying PECO should be the last thing its enemies should do.
And irresponsible statements coming from Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel would be the perfect recipe to swing sympathies in favor of the much-maligned PECO.
PECO’s franchise expired on Jan. 18, 2019. Instead of renewing it, Congress gave PECO’s rival, MORE Power, the authority to distribute power in the city through RA 11212.

-o0o-

We can understand if Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda will speak against PECO since she is from Iloilo City; she fully understands the issue and is very much aware of the divided sentiments among the power consumers.
But Pimentel, who is from faraway Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, can’t say with absolute certainty about PECO’s alleged failure or lack of success in its nearly 100 years of serving the Ilonggos as the sole power distributor in Iloilo City 180 barangays.

“PECO has not been providing good service. Electricity distribution is not the same as other businesses like a gasoline station or sari-sari store. This is more of service to the public. You have the responsibility to protect consumers’ welfare. PECO failed,” Pimentel was quoted by local reports based on his recent interview over DyFM Bombo Radyo Iloilo.
“What we did was to protect the interest of the people. Hindi kami ang may gusto niyan. Ang may gusto niyan ang taongbayan. Gusto nila mas magandang serbisyo ng power company.”

-o0o-

Listening to Pimental malign PECO is like listening to Limahong, a Chinese pirate and warlord who invaded the Philippines in 1574 and who never lived in Europe, denying “the Glory that was Greece and the Grandeur that was Rome.”
As a non-resident of Iloilo City, Pimentel’s remarks against PECO was uncalled for and conduct unbecoming.
As committee chair, the congressman from Mindanao isn’t supposed to take sides and pretend he speaks with full authority and knowledge on behalf of the consumers.
He should have taken the neutral ground and heard both sides of the coin in a fair and buttoned up hearing sans emotional and political distractions.
Grandstanding Pimental should apologize not only to PECO, but also to the Ilonggos for insulting their intelligence.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Did PECO die the way Rasputin was killed?

“There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.”

-Ambrose Bierce

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

AFTER losing its franchise in January 2019, Panay Electric Company (PECO) refused to die like Grigori Rasputin, who was supposed to die immediately after being made to eat a cyanide-laced cake prepared by Prince Yussupov.
Rasputin survived.
The cyanide had no apparent effect.
Like Rasputin, the mystical adviser in the court of Czar Nicholas II in Russia, PECO “lived on” even after its certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also expired four months later in May 2019.
PECO “survived” and continued to operate by virtue of a transition after Congress passed Republic Act No. 11212 that gave rival firm MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) the franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City.

-o0o-

The nephew of the Tsar and his cohorts couldn’t kill Rasputin with one strike.
PECO had also survived after challenging RA 11212’s validity and securing a favorable ruling from the Regional Trial Court in Mandaluyong City declaring portions of the law as illegal and unconstitutional.
Rasputin was only killed after being shot and beaten and then drowned in a frozen river.
Like Rasputin, PECO, gasping for breath, fought for its dear life through Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, who filed HB 4101 on Aug 22, 2019 in a bid to grant PECO a fresh franchise.
Did PECO finally die on September 11, 2019 after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises unanimously struck down Paduano’s bill seeking to grant PECO the franchise to distribute electricity for Ilonggo consumers?

-o0o-

It was my fifth consecutive year last Wednesday, September 11, 2019, to join the Americans as they commemorated the horrible 9/11 World Trade Center twin towers attack that killed nearly 5,000 non-combatant individuals.
As observed by Time’s Ian Bremmer, every 9/11 anniversary that passes gets both easier and harder.
Easier, because time numbs pain, even the most searing and awful kinds of pain. Harder, because with time comes perspective, and 18 years later, the shock and enormity of those despicable acts continue to stand as one of the most atrocious deeds humans have ever perpetrated against one another.
“The passing of time also makes it harder because we can see more clearly the disastrous chain the events of that day kicked off, how they led to war in Afghanistan and then to war in Iraq, both wars that the U.S. is currently still waging. It’s hard to say that the world is safer place to live as a result of those wars. What we can say is that these wars have cost the U.S. plenty; trillions of dollars have been spent, thousands of lives have been lost, and U.S. global leadership has been forever tarnished, both in the eyes of those living in the U.S. and in the eyes of those living outside it,” observed Bremmer.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Bridge project’s identity crisis

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”

–Jules Renar

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

TO whom will the Ilonggos listen and believe?
The question whether the proposed 14-kilometer Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project will push through has become a case of “too many cooks will spoil the broth.”
Since 2016 when President Duterte assumed office, there has been multitudes of pronouncements that the construction of the multi-billion project, supposedly included under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, would start in 2017.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), and the Department of Budget are the three key government agencies involved in the project.
The project will never be materialized without the triumvirate’s blessings and coordination.

-o0o-

The problem is there has been no particular agency tasked primarily to give the public updates on what is going on.
There were cases when DPWH said one thing, and the Neda said another thing.
No coordination; everyone is his own boss and authority when it comes to giving the public a bird’s eye view about the project.
The identity crisis has exacerbated the delays since nobody is explaining what; no one is accountable when it comes to total disclosure of the project’s status.
Everyone has turned into a guessing game; everyone has become skeptical and confused.
From 2017 until the third quarter of 2019, all the three agencies, particularly the DPWH and Neda, could report, so far, was that the project “is still undergoing a feasibility study” financed by the Chinese Government.
Since nothing has happened in as far as initial start of public works are concerned, so many politicians and organizations have joined the fray in calling for its construction soon.

-o0o-

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, wooing the votes of Guimarasnons in the recent polls, promised to “push” for the bridge construction “soon.”
Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. wished the bridge project was included in President Duterte’s most recent State of the Nation Address (Sona), which never happened.
Senator Franklin Drilon told fellow Ilonggos during the turnover of the newly-restored University of the Philippines (UPV) main building at the UPV Iloilo City campus last month that “it’s high time” the bridge was constructed.
The senator from Molo said he has talked with DPWH Secretary Mark Villar to commence the construction soon.
Drilon declared: “There is a feasibility study funded by China, one year of feasibility study which started this January and supposed to be completed by the end of the year. We do not know what exactly the status is but we do hope that this feasibility study is finished on time so that the construction can commence.”

-o0o-

Most recently, the Provincial Board Members League (PBML) in Western Visayas, headed by Domingo Oso, has called for the construction of the bridge, estimated to cost P14 billion, that would connect the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros Occidental.
More politicians and organizations in Panay and Negros are expected to release their own versions of “requesting the DPWH…” soon even as 2022, the year of the supposed completion of all the projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, is near.
If these “requests” and “expectations” from politicians and organizations continue to pour desperately, this means the project doesn’t have any specific or concrete calendar yet to commence.
If the government is hell-bent to start the construction of the project, there’s no need for the likes of Drilon to remind the agencies concerned; there’s no need for organizations like the PBML to “push” for the bridge’s construction.

-o0o-

Last month, Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo, chairperson of the DPWH’s “Build, Build’ Build” Committee, said the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge project’s feasibility study “is expected to be completed within this year.”
The first phase of the proposed project is the Panay-Guimaras Bridge, which will reportedly start in Leganes, Iloilo and will end in Buenavista, Guimaras while the second phase is the Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge, which will reportedly start in San Lorenzo, Guimaras and will end in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.
The Provincial Development Council (PDC) of Negros Occidental endorsed the conduct of the feasibility study for the project to the Provincial Board and the Regional Development Council (RDC-6) in June this year.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Bridge project’s identity crisis

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”

–Jules Renar

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

TO whom will the Ilonggos listen and believe?
The question whether the proposed 14-kilometer Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project will push through has become a case of “too many cooks will spoil the broth.”
Since 2016 when President Duterte assumed office, there has been multitudes of pronouncements that the construction of the multi-billion project, supposedly included under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, would start in 2017.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), and the Department of Budget are the three key government agencies involved in the project.
The project will never be materialized without the triumvirate’s blessings and coordination.

-o0o-

The problem is there has been no particular agency tasked primarily to give the public updates on what is going on.
There were cases when DPWH said one thing, and the Neda said another thing.
No coordination; everyone is his own boss and authority when it comes to giving the public a bird’s eye view about the project.
The identity crisis has exacerbated the delays since nobody is explaining what; no one is accountable when it comes to total disclosure of the project’s status.
Everyone has turned into a guessing game; everyone has become skeptical and confused.
From 2017 until the third quarter of 2019, all the three agencies, particularly the DPWH and Neda, could report, so far, was that the project “is still undergoing a feasibility study” financed by the Chinese Government.
Since nothing has happened in as far as initial start of public works are concerned, so many politicians and organizations have joined the fray in calling for its construction soon.

-o0o-

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, wooing the votes of Guimarasnons in the recent polls, promised to “push” for the bridge construction “soon.”
Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. wished the bridge project was included in President Duterte’s most recent State of the Nation Address (Sona), which never happened.
Senator Franklin Drilon told fellow Ilonggos during the turnover of the newly-restored University of the Philippines (UPV) main building at the UPV Iloilo City campus last month that “it’s high time” the bridge was constructed.
The senator from Molo said he has talked with DPWH Secretary Mark Villar to commence the construction soon.
Drilon declared: “There is a feasibility study funded by China, one year of feasibility study which started this January and supposed to be completed by the end of the year. We do not know what exactly the status is but we do hope that this feasibility study is finished on time so that the construction can commence.”

-o0o-

Most recently, the Provincial Board Members League (PBML) in Western Visayas, headed by Domingo Oso, has called for the construction of the bridge, estimated to cost P14 billion, that would connect the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros Occidental.
More politicians and organizations in Panay and Negros are expected to release their own versions of “requesting the DPWH…” soon even as 2022, the year of the supposed completion of all the projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, is near.
If these “requests” and “expectations” from politicians and organizations continue to pour desperately, this means the project doesn’t have any specific or concrete calendar yet to commence.
If the government is hell-bent to start the construction of the project, there’s no need for the likes of Drilon to remind the agencies concerned; there’s no need for organizations like the PBML to “push” for the bridge’s construction.

-o0o-

Last month, Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo, chairperson of the DPWH’s “Build, Build’ Build” Committee, said the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge project’s feasibility study “is expected to be completed within this year.”
The first phase of the proposed project is the Panay-Guimaras Bridge, which will reportedly start in Leganes, Iloilo and will end in Buenavista, Guimaras while the second phase is the Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge, which will reportedly start in San Lorenzo, Guimaras and will end in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.
The Provincial Development Council (PDC) of Negros Occidental endorsed the conduct of the feasibility study for the project to the Provincial Board and the Regional Development Council (RDC-6) in June this year.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Corporate execs take ‘token’ jobs for Ilonggos

“The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” 

–Theodore Roosevelt

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

THE names of Dr. Rogelio Florete and Salvador Sarabia Jr. are associated with the corporate world; each holding executive positions in their respective business empires.
Florete is a media and jewelry mogul, while Sarabia is a former tourism undersecretary under the Arroyo administration whose family made a name in the optical and hotel industry.
They can steer the wheels and expand their business domains without having to belabor themselves in other areas outside the parameters of their corporate interests.
But they accepted the challenge from Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas to take an active role in the management of the city’s tourism and business affairs without any emolument in return worth their time and expertise.
Florete is now the head of the Iloilo City Festivals Foundation, Inc. (ICFFI), a newly-formed foundation that will handle the staging of all festivals in the city, primarily the Dinagyang Festival.
Florete’s new role outside his private corporate office requires him to mingle and have a tete-a-tete with ordinary people, something he rarely does in the past as a security-conscious and very private person.

-o0o-

As in charge of the Dinagyang Festival’s publicity committee, Florete recently met the Iloilo press together with Iloilo City Tourism Officer Junniel Divinagracia and publicty assistant Florence Hibionada.
Florete went down from the totem pole of his corporate cocoon to solicit the suggestions of media people on how to ensure the successful coverage of next year’s brand-new edition of Dinagyang Festival.
Florete is supported by the foundation’s interim officers who are also mostly corporate geniuses in their own right: Felipe Uygongco as vice chairperson; Atty. Jobert Peñaflorida as president, Dr. Ronald Raymond Sebastian as vice president, Roland Uy as treasurer, and Judgee Peña as public relations officer.
The gathering of stars in the business sector to help spruce up the city’s festivals and other tourism programs is a major pull upward for the new City Hall administration.

-o0o-

As the new director Iloilo City’s MICE or meetings, incentives, travel, conferences, conventions, exhibitions, and events, Sarabia recently hogged headlines when he officially announced the major changes in next year’s Dinagyang Festival.
Under the new festival, where Kasadyahan will be separated from the Dinagyang, revelers can now join in the “sadsad” merrymaking, according to Sarabia.
“It will be more vibrant because Dinagyang will now be more experiential, there will be a twist, more people involvement,” Sarabia, who is Treñas’ executive assistant, explained.
The foundation headed by Florete will partner with the city government to handle the Dinagyang and Sarabia suggested that the celebration will be joined by private companies, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders that will form their own tribes.
Under the new plans, the street dancing will start at the Provincial Capitol and will end with a mass or any religious event at the Plaza Libertad.
They held stakeholders’ consultation in July, where they gathered feedback on how the public would like to see next year’s Dinagyang Festival set on January 25-26.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 5, 2019 in Uncategorized