Winning is just the first step

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Winning is just the first step, avoiding the obstacles and landmines will be the next.

While many Filipinos and businesses are celebrating that San Miguel Corporation won the rehabilitation and management project for the NAIA, there is now serious concern among NAIA insiders that a snake or snakes in the pit will soon be causing obstructions, delays and challenges to the forward movement of the project.

The ominous warnings started to come out once it became obvious that San Miguel Corporation had outgunned other bidders, and since losing is a bitter pill to swallow, losers tend to chase down their loss with threats. I was reminded of how the new administration and leadership at the DOTr confidently walked into a NAIA full of unseen resistance guerillas from the past, as well as traps and well-planned set-ups to block the change that was coming. As a result, the general manager ended up becoming collateral damage.

While most of us are focused on the physical rehabilitation of the NAIA complex, we overlook the fact that in order for the government to make money, the improved NAIA must become profitable and in order to do so, timelines need to be met and the entire facility must be run professionally and free of political and vested interests.

This is why word has come out that San Miguel Corporation and Ramon Ang should watch out for imbedded assets or officials who were politically appointed through the money and influence of certain “investors” or vested interests in MIAA and with powerful connections in Malacañang. The tip is to watch the people on the MIAA/NAIA board to pinpoint who is/are the rear guards assigned to slow down the rehabilitation project.

The physical rehabilitation is one thing, but the work required to make NAIA profitable for the Philippine government is another. A new management or a team of professional managers will surely disrupt the way “The Boys’ Club” has been doing business. Perhaps the biggest reason that vested interest groups are scared of Ramon Ang has to do with the fact that RSA knows all there is to know about planes since he has owned several, is an avid reader and follower of aviation developments, he has operated an airline called PAL and is very familiar with private and commercial airports.

All that puts Ang in a league of his own, unlike other competitors who are just businessmen or investors and do not have a working knowledge of aviation, aircraft operations, etc. “Scariest” of all is the fact that RSA has a streak of patriotism and is partly populist, so there is a big chance that the previous set-up where airlines and certain conglomerates called the shots at the NAIA may soon become a thing of the past.

To be expected as well would be attempts to turn NAIA professionals against SMC-RSA by scaring them or selling tales of retrenchments, etc.

My advice to the NAIA personnel is to ask the many professionals that belonged to other companies absorbed by SMC. They all got better deals and chances are, those who stick it out at NAIA under SMC will do likewise, not to mention benefits from trainings and technical upgrades that will all come with the upgrade of NAIA.

If Filipinos want to have a better and improved NAIA complex, then all of us have to be vigilant and invested in making sure that the project goes through with as little opposition or resistance as possible. Aside from the imbedded agents of the Losers, there will also be politicians who will surely want to piggyback on the project for their personal gain or political mileage. There will surely be negative PR campaigns as was done many times in the past, and last but not least, let’s watch out for those fakes who claim public interest but are simply free riders and unproductive noisemakers. Let us protect what matters to us.

Frustrated Cabinet members?

A keen observer of Malacañang affairs shared with me that two Cabinet members may be experiencing serious frustration in the performance of their duties simply because they have the title but not the power to choose or appoint people to key positions.

After pushing for the clean-up of the PNP and successfully forcing undesirables to leave the service, DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos finds himself in an awkward position where he allegedly does not get to appoint police provincial directors, something past SILGs got to do unchallenged. I’ve heard that SILG Benhur Abalos is not happy about the set up where a certain dynamic duo in Malacañang has had better results appointing their MUPs than the secretary of DILG.

At the recent Command Conference of the PNP, it was noted that the outgoing and extended Chief PNP Benjamin Acorda sat between the President and Secretary Abalos, as if suggesting who had the President’s ear. Later on, it was essentially Acorda doing all the talking with the media.

Aside from the SILG, another frustrated official is probably the new Finance Secretary Ralph Recto, who has been emphasizing the importance of the Bureau of Customs in generating the much-needed revenues to fund government operations and projects. Recto’s media bureau has consistently sent out statements attributed to Recto pushing hard on the Customs’ all-important roles.

Folks down at the docks sense that the Finance Secretary is in a ticklish situation since he supposedly cannot order, direct or tell the Customs commissioner what to do because the BOC commissioner was put in place by the same dynamic duo in Malacañang who are being accused of controlling all appointments to revenue generating units of government, whether it involves jueteng or tara, etc.

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