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'Small dot in a big pond'

SPY BITS () - July 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Newly appointed Securities and Exchange Commission chief Tess Herbosa hopes to resolve the ownership issue involving PLDT sooner than later. According to PSE director Vivian Yuchengco, the SC ruling has shaken investor confidence with foreign companies having second thoughts about the reliability of the Philippines as a business destination. An insider at the Supreme Court however says that former Chief Justice Art Panganiban penned the decision allowing the PCGG to sell the PTIC shares of the Marcoses to First Pacific that is majority owned by Indonesian business tycoon Anthony Salim. Art Panganiban now sits in the PLDT board as an independent director. Nonetheless, SEC Chairman Herbosa vowed to revitalize the SEC and institute changes to bolster investor protection. All eyes are now on her to see how she will go about in determining ownership issues involving utility companies. A company like PLDT which is one of the biggest in the country clearly cannot afford to be embroiled in something that would undermine the position of its foreign partners like Japan’s NTT Docomo Inc.

The Philippines is already facing problems with German firm Fraport that has decided to revive its compensation complaint amounting to $425 million (plus interest) in a Washington-based arbitration court. PLDT chairman Manny Pangilinan lamented that this new ruling is tantamount to economic suicide because it could set a negative precedent that might drive away investors. After all, the Philippines is just a “small dot in a big pond” such as the Asian market, making it easy for investors to look elsewhere.

Even President Noy understands the far-reaching implications of the PLDT ownership issue, saying it could result in a “disruption” (to put it mildly) of a number of interconnected projects with the giant company.

Sigarilyo, boss’

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) seems serious in its anti-smoking campaign, apprehending almost 200 offenders on the first day of implementation. As a matter of fact, doctors from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) are joining MMDA personnel in the apprehensions to educate people on the perils of smoking. Seven of the 10 major causes of death in the Philippines – namely stroke, cancer, heart attacks, TB, chronic respiratory diseases, pneumonia and childbirth related illnesses are linked to smoking. The World Health Organization and the Department of Health disclosed that 240 Filipinos die every day due to smoking-related illnesses. Economic costs due to smoking related deaths and illnesses are estimated at P148 billion per year. According to the Philippine Cancer Society, 43 persons die every day due to lung cancer.

The dangers of smoking were brought to mind once again with the death of Jo Ramos – who succumbed to lung cancer. FVR and former First Lady Ming Ramos were smokers but they both dropped the habit 25 years ago. Unfortunately, their daughter Jo did not follow their example. With the renewed campaign against smoking, President Noynoy Aquino – the ‘Smoker-in-chief’ – has become the main target of anti-smoking groups. P-Noy may be irritated by their persistence in urging him to kick the habit but a recent informal survey asking a number of people on what they thought of P-Noy’s smoking habit shows 85 percent saying he should stop smoking because as President, he should set the example and stay healthy for the country’s sake, while 15 percent say P-Noy’s smoking habit is a matter that is both private and personal. Many concerned citizens however insist that since P-Noy keeps saying that the people are his bosses, then he should listen to them. They strongly believe he owes it to the people to stay healthy and finish his term.

Environmental conflict

Families involved in businesses like energy, power and others that affect the environment one way or another have been at the receiving end of criticisms because their activities may be in conflict with the advocacies of some of their family members. In the Philippines, environmental advocacy groups have also been targeting companies engaged in mining, waste disposal and similar activities. Unfortunately, these groups do not make much distinction between responsible and irresponsible business entities. In mining for instance, a lot of companies have been instrumental in positively changing the lives of people in the communities where they operate, building schools, roads, clinics and giving away scholarships.

The best thing for these families would be to make sure that their records are impeccable and as much as possible, spotless when it comes to business practices that affect the environment. Otherwise, the advocacies of their kin – no matter how good or laudable the intention may be – would just backfire. As some people would say, let’s make sure we clean up our own backyard first before we start telling others to clean up the dirt in their homes.

Hasta la vista, buddy!

– Maria Shriver – one of the “princesses” of America’s political royalty, the Kennedys – has finally filed for divorce from the “Governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger after 25 years of marriage. Maria cited the usual “irreconcilable differences” as her reason for seeking the divorce but everyone knows she wants out because Arnie fathered a baby with their maid.

In the Philippines, the practice of siring children with the household help became prevalent during the Spanish times with the friars largely guilty of such transgressions. Even to this day, the practice has carried on, and there have been many instances where Filipinos of Spanish descent fathered children with household help, female caddies, masahistas and the like. Modern-day Filipina wives however are no longer willing to swallow such shenanigans. Maria Shriver has just opened the floodgates because wives married to prominent men who normally shun publicity, are now prepared to say, “Hasta la vista, buddy!”

***

Email: spybits08@yahoo.com

ANTHONY SALIM ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ART PANGANIBAN CHAIRMAN HERBOSA IN THE PHILIPPINES MARIA SHRIVER P-NOY SMOKING
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