Billionaire problems
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2020 - 12:00am

This feuding billionaire family agreed to settle their differences, days before Christmas last year.

It’s not clear who extended the proverbial olive branch, but supposedly the warring siblings agreed that a hefty amount would be paid in exchange for peace to reign in the empire, which has become a Gaza Strip of sorts for these billionaires.

It was an offer one could not refuse – a whopping P10 billion to be paid out in five years or P2 billion every year.

In exchange, the payee would step aside, the feud would die down and everything will be alright. It sounded like a good and fair agreement. The siblings hastily scribbled it on a sheet of yellow pad paper and put their signatures below. Problem solved.

Or so everyone in the empire thought. The next day, it was as if nothing happened. The agreement vanished in thin air. The sibling -- the supposed payee -- changed his mind and decided against retreating. It’s back to war for the siblings.

Money, in turns out, can’t really solve everything. The bitter saga continues and for now, it’s not clear when it will end.

On the rocks

Another billionaire problem concerns a tycoon and his partner, a sprawling foreign business group.

While everyone’s business in their industry is going strong, the relationship of this tycoon and his business partner have reportedly turned sour.  Rumors about cracks in their relationship have been going around for years, but lately the grapevine says, the love-hate business relationship has intensified.

It seems that Mr. Business Mogul has gotten tired of taking a gamble with the business partner. Did he make the wrong bet? Their joint venture isn’t making as much money as expected and the businessman isn’t happy, so says the grapevine buzz.

Illegal courier services

There are also problems hounding the country’s courier industry.

Illegal courier services are proliferating and billionaire owners of existing delivery companies are not happy.

59-year-old Filipino express delivery firm JRS Express, for instance, has raised concerns over the proliferation of unlicensed couriers now operating nationwide.

JRS, owned by the Claparols family, said illegal players have significantly taken away a big chunk of the market from the legitimate freight companies such as JRS.

These so-called “colorum” players allegedly do not follow industry standards and could have a negative impact not only on legitimate businesses, but also on consumers.

“If our government allows colorum couriers to enter our industry, the level of industry will go down. They just came in and operated without regard for the industry,”  JRS administrative officer John Paul Claparols had said.

Last year, during the budget deliberations of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) at the House of Representatives, Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza already called the attention of the agency regarding the proliferation of unlicensed courier service firms in the country.

These are big companies used by major online shopping stores to deliver goods all over the country.

The DICT, the agency with jurisdiction to regulate and control courier services, had issued a warning to the general public not to make use of unlicensed couriers.

The DICT said consumers should instead use private express and messengerial delivery service operators authorized by the agency as listed in its website. There’s also the Philippine Postal Corp, it said.

“Accordingly, the department hereby advises the public to refrain from conducting transactions with unlicensed online courier services,” the DICT said.

Most of the new entrants are foreign companies.

For instance, one company J&T Express started in Indonesia in 2015.

Existing players complained about J&T claiming that it was given a license despite previously operating nationwide without a license. According to the DICT website, J& T has a license to operate in the National Capital Region.

Ninja Van, which is supposedly a Singaporean company, also has a license to operate in the NCR.

As a regular user of courier services, I agree that there should be stricter regulation in this industry to weed out the fly by night companies.

But I strongly welcome new players. Competition is always good. Authorities though must just make sure that all players must have the proper license and are compliant with the rules.

After all they’re transporting stuff ranging from the mundane to the important -- costumes, wine, olive oil, passports, Certificates of Land titles and what-have-you. As for me, I’m still waiting for a U2 disc that was supposed to arrive weeks ago.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at

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