Wise move
() - January 26, 2003 - 12:00am
A Mafia-like organization is out to take command and control of clearing performing artists for overseas employment and has wrongly accused the chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA of anomalies in the processing of their documents to force him to resign.

Unfortunately for them, TESDA Director-General Dante Liban was able to nip this vicious attack in the bud by renouncing his office’s clearance powers and giving the authority instead to the industry.

According to Overseas Performing Artist (OPA) concerns operations center chief Retired Gen. Nestor Castillo, Liban has written President Arroyo informing her that the best move would be to take the OPA out of TESDA and give it to the industry starting March of this year.

Castillo says it is disheartening to find Liban the victim of a well-financed, well-orchestrated ouster move lodged against someone who’s firmly committed to good governance, or at least meaningful reforms at TESDA.

Liban’s move effectively doused cold water on unfounded claims that he has been cornering a huge chunk of the lucrative business for favored parties. The policy shift caught the syndicate offguard and took the winds off the sails of a campaign to unseat the former legislator of Quezon City and to derail his reform agenda.

This syndicate, which has the backing of TESDA’s workers organizations, has been controlling the industry for a long time now and even boasted that it can change the TESDA DG whenever it pleases, according to Castillo. In fact, a national signature campaign was launched by TESDA employees for the immediate ouster of Liban.

The group claims responsibility for having been instrumental in the ouster of two former TESDA DGs. In the case of these two officials, the employees started protesting during their first month in office. At least in the case of Liban, it took them six months before they started pointing their accusing fingers.

Sources say the syndicate, which rakes in millions of pesos every month, is headed by one Assessment (Testing) Center manager who is said to be related to a former senator. As part of its modus operandi, the Artist Record Book, a basic requirement for a performing artist to be able to work abroad, is being issued to unqualified OPAs without undergoing the usual auditions for a fee of P20,000 to P30,000, as against an assessment fee of only P1,000 per applicant. If one thinks that there are more than 400 aspiring artists being assessed everyday by seven accredited assessment centers, that is a lot of money.

The syndicate reacted violently to Liban’s recent move to take in as testing officers, in addition to the present crop, competent people from the UP College of Music, UST, PWU, and National Center for Culture and the Arts. This of course would be against the mafia’s interest so it plotted against Liban.
It’s confirmed. Gokongwei-owned Digitel has finally sent out invitations for the long-delayed commercial launch of its cellular mobile telephone service which will be held on Feb. 1 in Manila and Cebu. So Digitel has decided to go for it despite the absence of an interconnection agreement with industry leaders Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. The agreement would allow subscribers from one network to call the other and vice-versa. Without this agreement in place, Digitel cellular subscribers will only be able to call Digitel subscribers. Texting will require another agreement.

How true is it that after getting Regine Velasquez as endorser for their landline service, Digitel has tapped Sharon Cuneta to make the sales pitch for the cellular business? The megastar’s fee is of course very steep but she is said to be a very effective endorser. In fact, she is top of mind among the advertising industry’s choices of endorsers, followed by Jolina Magdangal (of the AMA Computer College) fame, Aga Muhlach, and lately Kristine Hermosa.

Good luck to Digitel on its launch.
Things abuzz at Capwire
Capwire Telecommunications has been a beehive of activity lately. The industry grapevine has it that the telco, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, is putting the finishing touches on a series of new and enhanced services it is set to launch.

Contrary to rumors that the telco would need a white knight to simply remain competitive, Capwire has caught the attention of both industry analysts and the financial community with its ability to internally generate all resources it needs to fund both the company’s capex and the recent major exercise in product development.

The new products will be launched under the brand names Capwire Direct, which represents a slew of premium international long distance voice service variants, and Capwire Prime, which covers a series of high-speed, customized data and Internet solutions. In both cases, the products to be offered are either new or enhanced.

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