San Miguel can run NAIA better than the government

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Having worked for San Miguel, Petron, and Pepsi-Cola for a combined tenure of 28 years, and having also worked for the government for 27 years, I can be a resource person to testify to the thesis that the private sector can manage our airports better than the government. My main arguments are that San Miguel has more competent, committed, and conscientious professional technocrats, less politics, and almost zero corruption. And SMC is led by the best corporate genius, RSA.

The decision to outsource the development, administration, management, and operation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to SMC can turn out to be the strategic tipping point that can turn around the massive inefficiencies, notorious ineffectiveness, and the commonly-expected lack of customer orientation among airport managers and personnel in what, for the longest time, has been dubbed as one of the worst airports in the world.

Mr. RSA, the low-key and hardworking visionary, strategist, and master planner, organizer, and implementer of multi-billion projects may yet be the Philippine version of a corporate genius and even the Filipino copy of Lee Kwan Yew. He is not corrupt and very focused on building the nation and uplifting peoples' lives.

The SMC under RSA hires people for competence, character, credentials, and proven track record of conscientiousness. The government hires people based on transactional politics, influence-peddling, and for a shady and graft-ridden recruitment system. Despite the heroic efforts of the Civil Service Commission and the Career Executive Board to professionalize the bureaucracy, the politicians in Congress and in the executive departments are putting too many roadblocks by bringing in incompetent, corrupt, lazy, and too-talkative Cabinet members, undersecretaries, regional directors, and other functionaries who control public funds and critical decision-making. All these are not done in San Miguel. If you do any of these, you would be fired.

In San Miguel, managers and professional staff talk less and work most of the time. They make decisions based on scientific and strategic forward thinking, complete with anticipatory problem-solving. In government, undersecretaries and directors spend a lot of time in press conferences, radio and TV interviews, and in grandiose press releases that promise heaven and the stars if only to mesmerize the listeners and regale the citizens with too much awe and expectations. Bureaucrats and political appointees are always on the phone and on their computers as well as in useless meetings, conferences, and ceremonies. They hardly have time to do their work.

In San Miguel, only RSA talks to the press and all the rest just do their work and deliver results.

RSA, assisted by the financial genius Ferdie Constantino, can even run the entire country more efficiently, more effectively, and do it very fast to impact on most people. The government is constantly beset with too-expensive political posturing, much-deleterious partisan bickering, and too-shallow investigations in aid of reelection. San Miguel thrives on team work, synergy, and constant coordination orchestrated by only one person assisted by a well-behaved and trusted inner circle of enforcers and implementers of strategic directions and well-formulated plans, programs, and projects. In government, every little Indian wants to become the Big Chief.

If RSA were in charge of the government today, he would most likely fire those senators and congressmen who call for investigations 99% of the time and never write a good law as a little token for being paid millions from the poor people's taxes. Perhaps, RSA would even send some of them to prison for their ineptitude, callousness, or plain stupidity. And so, if we need to privatize the entire government, why not outsource the whole bunch of non-performing, overpaid, and inept caboodle to SMC under the ever-reliable RSA. I am sure we shall have a better Philippines.

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