Support MSMEs and buy local
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

I was requested to support MSMEs as SM launched the Kasama ng SM, a nationwide campaign inviting all its customers to buy local to help all of us bounce back better. The country’s MSMEs contribute about one third of total jobs nationwide.

Of course we need to support our people, many of whom have started a new career inside their homes during the lockdown period. I have friends who started to cook and sell their wares in the comfort of their homes… at least it kills the boredom of being locked down inside your home.

Mind you, the other Sunday was the first time I went to SM City in Cebu City and yes, the store was already decorated for the Christmas season with the usual Christmas songs being played. But day after tomorrow is already October and this means next month is already Christmas. For as long as the coronavirus is still very much around, it truly cuts our Christmas cheer. There is no question that the Year 2020 will come out as the worst year we’ve had since World War II.

SM shares the inspiring stories of its MSME partners and their resilience in adapting to the new normal with a passion to serve. However, all these are dependent on the return of its clientele under the “new normal.” If you ask me, all this can immediately return if and when the huge pharma companies release their anti-COVID-19 vaccines. Then the world would begin to heal itself.

According to Steven Tan, president of SM Supermalls, “we can bounce back better through this crisis” by “supporting our own MSMEs. Together is our only road to recovery. We invite everyone to join us to support our MSMEs and help keep jobs. Buy local today!”

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I couldn’t believe this news report that former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez tagged as a “failure” the coronavirus pandemic response of President Duterte, his longtime ally and partymate in the ruling PDP-Laban. Actually he sounded more like Vice President Leni Robredo as he faced Karen Davila on ANC’s Headstart last Wednesday, Sept. 23. The Davao del Norte 1st District representative stood by his assessment of the COVID-19 recovery efforts, which he first made in his local radio program on Aug. 28. According to Rep. Alvarez, “Kaya ko naman sinabi ’yun dahil nga alam natin lahat – ‘wag na tayong magbolahan dito – na pataas nang pataas, paakyat nang paakyat pa rin ‘yung ating COVID-positive instead na pababa siya. Now, ano’ng tawag natin dito? Alangan namang tawagin natin ‘tong success (The reason I said that was because – let’s not fool ourselves here – the COVID-19 cases have been rising and rising instead of decreasing. Now, what would you call that? We can’t call that a success),” Alvarez said.

“Para sa akin (For me), Karen, let’s be honest about it. It’s really a failure. ‘Yung approach, the way it was handled, was a failure,” he added. Mind you, when then mayor Duterte was speaking before a group of Cebuano businessmen at the Cebu Country Club in a meeting that I attended, it was former DOTC secretary Pantaleon Alvarez telling me that we should support Mayor Duterte for president. Why is Pantaleon Alvarez now talking against Pres. Duterte? It can only be because he was booted out of the speakership in Congress.

When Alvarez was secretary of the DOTC, he called me and asked me how we could stop the anti-carnapping permits which was blocking the economic growth of our tourism industry as you cannot bring your car out of your province, like what happened to Cebu. It was then that we envisioned the Strong Republic Nautical Highway as the backbone project of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Today there are so many Ceres buses that travel from Cebu to Negros Oriental and Occidental because we removed that government bureaucracy.

However, since he was removed as House speaker I supported this move because House speaker Alvarez did not even conduct a congressional investigation when Comelec chairman was exposed by his own wife as corrupt. Alvarez knew that the collusion between Comelec and Smartmatic was a kind of corruption that needed to be exposed to the public, but he failed to do his job. So now he acts like the opposition by attacking Duterte’s government, which has long been criticized for its slow response to the COVID-19 crisis. Eight months since the coronavirus was first detected in the Philippines, cases have been steadily rising, with total infections now over 300,000. At this point, all I can say is… Pres. Duterte is not perfect…and isn’t experienced in handling a pandemic with global implications. What the President needs is the people’s support, including that of former speaker Alvarez who sounds like a bitter man!

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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