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Opinion

From construction to laptops?

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

It’s preposterous that a construction company was one of those involved in the P2.4-billion sale of “pricey” and “outdated” laptops to the Department of Education.

What’s the business (no pun intended) of Southwest Construction and Development Corp. (SCDC) selling computers when it’s supposed to be engaged in infrastructure projects?

The construction company is one of three business entities – the others being LDLA Marketing and Trading Inc. and VST ECS Philippines Inc. – that the Commission on Audit wants blacklisted from dealing with the government for the seemingly irregular deal.

The joint venture of SCDC, LDLA and VST ECS was awarded the contract by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) over three other suppliers despite its failure to meet technical specifications for the project, particularly for the clock speeds and processors for the laptops, according to the COA.

In short, lutong macau or rigged bidding.

By the way, LDLA Marketing and Trading Inc. has little or no active website and social media presence, an indication that it could be a fly-by-night company. You see, dear readers, it’s unusual for a supposedly “big” firm involved in a P2.4-billion deal to have almost no presence online.

The hand of a high public official in the previous administration, suspected to dip his fingers into every government cookie jar, is obvious.

The same official was also reportedly involved in the scandalously overpriced P8.7-billion sale of COVID-19 medical supplies and equipment. His tentacles were in all government offices, according to unimpeachable sources.

In other words, the concerned official was all over the place in the previous administration, doing lutong macau in government projects.

Back to SDSC, there are rumors that Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co owns the construction company.

Co says that yes, he was once a stockholder of SCDC, but has since divested himself of all shares after he was elected congressman six years ago in 2019. He’s now into his second term.

“Hi, Sir Mon, please be informed that I divested all my interests in Sunwest Construction and Development Corp. (SCDC) in 2019, in faithful compliance with existing laws, rules and regulations. No member of my family is an SCDC shareholder,” Co said in a text message to this columnist.

*   *   *

Under the present dispensation, the human and constitutional rights of crime suspects will be respected and upheld.

President Bongbong Marcos said as much when he said, “The use of force by the police must always be reasonable, justifiable and only undertaken when necessary.”

The statement was in apparent reference to reports of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects during the previous administration.

“Let us continue to conduct our business with utmost integrity and accountability and let us not allow even a hint of dishonesty and abuse of power to enter into (the) narrative,” Mr. Marcos exhorted policemen in a speech during the 12lst Police Service Anniversary.

Although he didn’t say it, BBM implied that there would be corresponding punishments for abusive and dishonest cops.

*   *   *

One of the awardees in the ceremonies held at Camp Crame, Quezon City Monday was retired police general Ricardo de Leon, newly appointed head of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the country’s version of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Dick de Leon has been a think tank in the police service and out of it. He was president of the Philippine Public Safety College and Mindanao State University, and commissioner of the Independent Commission for Policing in the Bangsamoro.

When he was still in the police service, Dick came out with the “New Cop on the Block” idea for crime prevention, which involves the participation of the citizenry. His brainchild still exists in the form of a police community precinct in the neighborhood much like the koban concept of the Japanese police.

De Leon has one notable trait; he can be counted on by friends and superiors when push comes to shove. He not only stayed with the Marcoses in their darkest hour in 1986, but he also accompanied them to Hawaii. Talk about loyalty!

*   *   *

Bongbong Marcos does not bear any ill feelings towards people who have offended his family. This was shown in the appointment of Juan Ponce Enrile as his chief legal counsel and his presence at the wake of former president Fidel V. Ramos.

As we all know, Enrile and Ramos led the civilian-backed coup d’état in February 1986.

This early, Mr. Marcos is showing signs of being a statesman.

*   *   *

Hard times force even seniors to look for jobs – news headline.

I suggest they go into networking or multi-level marketing employed by some companies to create a network of people to sell their products.

Networking has gained a bad reputation because of some unscrupulous individuals who engage in Ponzi schemes.

The dictionary defines Ponzi scheme as an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.

People engaged in Ponzi schemes are either greedy or dumb, to whom the saying “the fool and his money are soon parted” apply.

Legal and honest networking sells various products from food, vitamins and minerals in bottles, cosmetics to appliances.

I know of some diligent networkers who earn as much as tens of thousands of pesos a week in commissions.

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