Making way for readers
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa () - April 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Once again, we would like to give way to some of our readers’ comments, in particular, on two particular topics. In the first part, we have two views relating to my column “Some Views on Domestic Tourism,” published last March 27 in this newspaper.

Jose Parco of Kalibo, Aklan writes: “One of the hindrances why hotel and lodging rates in Boracay are still in the stratosphere even when the rest in the region, e.g., Hong Kong [and] Bali, have significantly reduced theirs. It’s still the very exorbitant electricity rate we consumers pay not only in Boracay but the whole province of Aklan! Ours is the most expensive in Region VI, Western Visayas!

“On my electricity bill, almost 50 percent of it is generation system charges, which simply means the consumer pays for the operational cost of the power plant which is sourced hundreds of miles from the Province of Aklan!

“Hence the farther you are from the source, you pay TransCo (National Transmission Corp.) more than if it is locally sourced.

“Aklan is blessed by a potential renewable clean power source. The mighty Aklan River a very doable project for a hydropower plant but all you hear is empty talk on the radio!”

You are right, Mr. Parco, about the cost of electricity in many parts of our country – and unfortunately, many of these are in areas that are considered tourist destinations.

Most generation charges are still under the jurisdiction of the government’s National Power Corp., especially if the power plants have still not been sold to the private sector. The license to operate TransCo had recently been sold; so let’s hope that in private business’s hands, distribution costs of electricity will go down.

Two rates

Next, we share Ron Nethercutt’s views on our country’s tourism efforts. Mr. Nethercutt has introduced himself as a director for the Center for American Studies at the Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City, Pampanga. Here is his view.

“I appreciated your BizLinks column in The Philippine Star of March 7th re tourism. For both international and local tourists, that industry plays a vital role the economy of any nation. It has long been the opinion of many that tourism can pay significant benefits to both those involved, and perhaps more importantly, to the area in which tourism exists.

“Tourism does not 1) deplete natural resources as does petroleum, lumber, mining, etc., or 2) pollute the air as does many manufacturing companies.

“But tourism does 1) bring in new and outside finances to the area, 2) bring in visitors that can easily promote the business of tourism, and 3) spreads outside funds to several local industries.

“I do however have concern with one point you mentioned, that of discriminating hospitality. You mentioned that the tourism industry tends to favor ‘dollar-carrying counterparts’ re the local tourist traveling Sagada. It has been my personal experience to see just the opposite.

“Many of the hotels have two rates; one for locals and another for internationals. The higher rate is that given the international tourist. My Filipino wife always books our rooms because she gets the lower rate.

“Regrettably, this applies to gifts and other items we purchase. We enjoy traveling, and have found this to be true not only in Manila, but from Cebu to Laoag.”

Clarifications

We received a couple of e-mails that called our attention to the role of NBDB in the ongoing campaign to clean up the mess left behind by some incompetent education department bureaucrats perhaps in cahoots with selected publishers.

My attention had been called that “The website [http://nbdb.gov.ph] says: However, it must be clarified that the National Book Development Board (NBDB) is not a regulatory agency and is not empowered by law to have regulatory powers over public school textbooks. This is made clear under Rule VII, Sec. 2 of Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Act, which states: ‘The DECS (DepEd) shall ensure the quality of instructional materials to be adopted in the public schools.’”

Another reader who calls himself Julian Makabayan sent in this comment: “Mr. Rey Gamboa, you are wrong here! There is one error in your column. Your claim that – ‘As mandated by law, it is the National Book Development Board (NBDB) that has the responsibility of reviewing the quality and content of textbooks up for bidding and/or procurement.’

“You yourself or your assistant should double check your claims as there is nothing written in RA 8047 about NBDB being responsible for textbooks. With your premise wrong, your questions show how you are not doing your research well.

“At least you should try checking out their website www.nbdb.gov.ph or surf the internet so you can find the statement ‘NBDB is no textbook police.’

“’If CHED is taking over, what is the purpose of NBDB? Why not save the government a few millions by getting rid of this agency which has allowed or condoned the pollution of our youth’s minds for years?’

“We have poor columnists too with erroneous claims and errors due to lack of research. I am sure that the Philippine Star has higher standards of newspaper or column writing, this one doesn’t pass that standard.”

Inutile agencies must be abolished

We appreciate the initiative of our readers in their effort to ensure that this column is able to share accurate information as well as opinions that are based on facts.

When NBDB was created, it had to be for a purpose. It may not strictly be a “textbook police,” but it can initiate much needed moves to weed out the local publishing industry of inept stakeholders. I understand that the NBDB has come up with a rule in 2005 that enables the agency to cancel the registration of publishers that produce poor quality textbooks.

Under the mechanism, the NBDB can undertake evaluation proceedings on a publisher’s book if a sworn complaint is filed with the agency by a teacher, parent, student or concerned citizen that alleges at least 10 erroneous items on the complained book, even without the book publisher’s consent.

If the book is found to be of poor quality, and the publisher is unable to refute the findings, the NBDB’s Board of Governors may come out with a resolution recommending that the publisher stop selling the book.

If the NBDB cannot or does not act to purge erroneous textbooks from the system, then I reiterate my view that this agency should be scrapped and save the financially strapped government a few million pesos.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

AKLAN AKLAN RIVER AMERICAN STUDIES ANGELES CITY BOOK NATIONAL BOOK DEVELOPMENT BOARD NBDB TOURISM
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