The 11th commandment
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2019 - 12:00am

In case you don’t know what the 11th commandment is: “Thou Shall Not Push Thy Luck.” I cite it today because there seems to be a mindset nowadays among people in government to try push for things that can be controversial or highly unpopular, in the hope of getting away with it. For instance, there is the CITIRA bill or TRAIN 2 proposed law that is designed to remove many of the incentives that are being enjoyed by investors and companies that put up their offices and factories in the Philippines because of those incentives. The taxman’s idea is that these incentives have been there for too long and have become overly generous to investors but disadvantageous to government. The problem with pushing your luck is that you might also push investors and companies away, as well as thousands of jobs that Filipinos currently hold. Consider the following:

An article about Lufthansa Technik Philippines did the rounds on Facebook when their president and COO stated “the company is at risk of closing its operations if the government passes the CITIRA law.” He also pointed out that the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul service provider (MRO) had no representation in the CITIRA law.  If Lufthansa Technik were to shut down their operations, that will mean goodbye to a $270 million service and training facility that employs 3,000 Filipinos. We can also kiss an inbound investment of $40 million that will train and employ 300 Filipinos.  None of these might concern the stubborn government officials and legislators, but let me remind all of them that not so long ago, there were direct flights from Manila to Amsterdam. KLM did the route, Air France also had its long haul flight out of Manila etc.

But some not so smart Asses thought it was a great idea to tax the airlines for all the passengers they were getting from Manila particularly OFWs. The airlines politely pointed out that they were providing a much-needed service of great convenience to our OFWs as well as income for the airport, hotels and tourism. No! said the Congressmen and pushed their luck. So we lost the convenient direct flights, we lost the business and gave it to Taiwan, we lost the flight crews who billeted in our hotels and only when it was too late, did the lawmakers try to reverse the irreversible! Incidentally, the prime mover of the CITIRA bill is Albay Congressman Joey Salceda who is also pushing for a 300% increase of the Road Users Tax that all vehicle owners pay during their annual vehicle registration. This in spite of the fact that the money collected for the Road Users Tax got corrupted and ended up as pork barrel for Congressmen in the past! 

Three weeks ago, officials of the DOH announced a second round of price cuts for medicines under the Cheaper Medicines law covering 124 medicines at an average of 56% price reduction. That of course shocked a handful of manufacturers who pointed out that if the price cuts were forced on them, it would be tantamount to legislated bankruptcy. The Pharma companies also complained about not being consulted properly about what they could and could not afford. To be fair DOH Secretary has agreed to meet with representatives of the Pharma Industry to a public consultation sometime today or next week with the goal of arriving at an honorable and acceptable resolution.

Last Saturday, I learned from an insider at an Export processing zone in Batangas, that a huge Japanese electronics firm that reportedly employs 20,000 people inside a technology park might be forced to relocate after a labor union group managed to set up shop inside the Techno park. What I heard is that if the situation becomes disruptive of the established work environment and relations, the Global Japanese firm will simply pull the plug on their techno park facility and bring their business to Vietnam or Thailand where chaotic labor unions don’t ruin everything. Since 20,000 employees are equal to 20,000 votes, it might be a good idea for Congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto, Governor Mandanas, and the Mayor of Malvar, Batangas to check out the story because it will impact the economy of several towns and Batangueños.

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I don’t know if he’s aware of it, but when SMC president and COO Ramon Ang spoke with Ted Failon on DZMM and took full responsibility for the traffic jams caused by the initial engineering works for the Skyway extension, many listeners praised his move and some even went as far as suggesting that he could give traditional politicians a run for their money as a presidential candidate!

Politics is probably the farthest thing in Ramon Ang’s mind, but there is no arguing the fact that when he came out with his “unexpected” interview, he literally redefined how corporate leaders should handle challenges or crisis. By speaking out on one of the toughest programs to be interviewed on, and by saying “Sorry, my bad,” Ramon Ang showed that CEOs and COOs can face the music and come out smelling like a rose. Many CEOs and COOs avoid the cameras and the microphones primarily because they have been brainwashed in the past by self-serving PR consultants and agencies to leave the talking and explaining to the experts. Some avoid media encounters out of fear or intimidation or plain “stage fright”. But very few people are born with the gift for gab or born talkers. When Ramon Ang first spoke to the media, I remember he also had the first timer’s shakes. But after many years of media engagement and literally developing friendships with them, he now sees them as allies instead of enemies. This should be the mindset of today’s business people and leaders. Build up relations, undertake engagements then share all your knowledge and experience as much as admitting your mistakes.

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