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President Ramon Ang – CEO

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2021 - 12:00am

Congratulations to RSA upon being formally declared the Chief Executive Officer of San Miguel Corporation. As for those who thought that today’s column title would actually be another unsolicited push for Ramon Ang to run for higher office or president of the Philippines, sorry to disappoint you but I have long known that only an act of God would move RSA from his chosen path to stay in business and to slowly transition towards retirement. As for politics, RSA has intimated more than once that the Philippines deserves a president who can surround himself with truly the best and the brightest individuals with real experience, not just titles or political connections or loyalties. RSA has clearly been observing and sifting the talkers from the doers, listening and watching the outcomes from the ideas and solutions put forward by certain personalities.

Don’t expect Ramon Ang to openly come up with his list of candidates for public office or future members of Cabinet because as president and CEO of San Miguel Corporation, it is incumbent for RSA to be seen as impartial and apolitical to protect SMC’s image as an independent global organization with no political ties or compromises. On the other hand, anyone who listens to Ramon Ang intently will pick-up on who impresses him or who he finds credible or makes sense. Top of mind for him are apparently at least three members of Congress who have actively pushed for economic stimulus packages, laws intended to rescue the economy and are generally open-minded about who and how to develop business and infrastructure in the Philippines. When asked about one or two very unpopular Cabinet members, the only suggestion that RSA made was for the public to present President Duterte with a viable alternative and chances are the ugly ducklings in the Cabinet would be replaced.

So why won’t RSA run for higher office? For starters the last thing Ramon Ang needs is to grow enemies overnight even without wanting, or trying. Philippine politics today is no longer the “Mano Y Mano” or face-to-face contests of old. The current herd of political operators and their social media Black Trolls are backroom cowards who wage their faceless gutless war of character assassination and reputation demolition through the click of a finger. Business leaders such as Ramon Ang would be placing the reputation and image of the companies he is associated with in harm’s way once a targeted demolition job is launched against him. In short, the irony of being CEO of SMC is that it may be a giant conglomerate but it is also a demanding institution that you must protect first.

If the dirty wars of Philippine politics don’t turn off RSA, trying to get things done under the bureaucracy or within the existing system of the Philippines would, and has surely erased any mistaken notion that you can work flawlessly and speedily with the Philippine government. Ramon Ang is a visionary whose ideas and magnitude of concepts is incomprehensible to the ordinary bureaucrat and beyond what the system is designed to initiate or accommodate. Going through the various unsolicited projects that SMC has undertaken, any analyst will quickly notice the numerous occasions when RSA initiated a change of plans, introduced an expensive out of the box solution, or an idea that simply was not the way things are done or thought. When right of way problems hit the Skyway, RSA relocated posts and pillars on canals, esteros, etc. or he would throw money at the problem because as he often told me in the past, “You can earn money, you can’t buy time and time is more expensive.”

When officials were floundering with what to do with the EDSA traffic and U-turn issues, RSA suggested an above ground EDSA with the ground level going one way and the top level going the opposite. RSA first suggested the elevated bus stops at intersections or U-turn slots, now it’s being implemented but other people are taking credit for the idea. Even the Bulacan San Miguel Corp. Airport was blocked by people in government whose stomachs were too weak to comprehend that in order to have a legitimate international airport, size matters, having more than two runways matters and having an expressway and train access is a must. Because Ramon Ang is an aviation and engineering expert in his own right, he understood what the “International Airport standards” were. Today an SMC project worth watching is the dredging of selected rivers and creating a “run through” path on the Pasig River. This reportedly will reduce flooding in Marikina and the City of Manila faster than the combined 33 years of saving Pasig River efforts.

The reality is that the Philippine government and its overly legalistic, corruption paranoia does not lend itself to supporting dreams and visions of great Filipinos. Government unfortunately is for politicians who have political agendas, mostly about popularity and longevity in public office. All they have to do is make a certain number of people happy so that a certain number of people will vote them into office. That is why politicians will never get real jobs in real corporations such as San Miguel Corporation. In the private sector such as SMC, it is not about votes but results, results must convert to benefits and profits. You promote the image and interest of the corporation, not yourself. You work with speed, efficiency and integrity. You get things done. Not even RSA can do that in today’s government.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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